|The Life of JOHN STOW. ||xviij
times tended to decide Differences, and bring Controversies to an end. As in
adjusting Bounds and Limits, he more than once was serviceable to the City. How
he made certain controverted Bounds of Limestreet Ward, towards the Wall both
Bishopsgate Ward and Algate Ward, we have shewn already; by his producing of old
Records and Charters of St. Augustines Papey, a Church and House of Priests that
there: tho' this Ward, whether by the Negligence of the Alderman of it, or some
Cause, had not then Right done it according to the said Evidence.
In the Latter end of Q. Elizabeth's Reign was a Controversy in Law between the
London and the Lieutenant of the Tower, about the Buttings and Boundings of the
Tower Liberties: which had been long in Contest, the City claiming the
Towerhill, and little
Towerhill; and so taking in East Smithfield. Then they made Use of Stow, as, by
Experience and Converse in the City Records, likeliest to state this Matter.
But the Counsil
of the Lieutenant unjustly bestowed this Term upon him, their fee'd Chronicler
wherein surely that diligent impartial Historian was wronged, if the Word were
taken in the
Vol. 1. p. 67. b.
He also set out the Boundaries of the Liberty of Creechurch within Algate, when
it was to
be sold to the City by the Lord Thomas Howard.
But let us go on to take some further Notice of John Stow, as an Antiquarian.
Affectation of Antiquities made him very inquisitive after things of that kind,
and a curious
Observer, and a greedy Collector of them. Of which I will give a few Instances.
It was a notable Remark he made of King James IV. the unfortunate King of
the strange neglect and unseemly Disregard of his Dead Body; which tho' once a
could not obtain a Monument, no, nor a Place of Burial. He was slain in a great
against the English in Floddenfield: and his Dead Corps was brought away into
and interred in the Monastery of Shene. Since the Dissolution whereof, the Duke
Suffolk was lodged and kept House there. But among the Ruins and Violences
this Religious House, the Bodies of the Dead could not rest in quiet. For here
in an old
wast Room, among old Timber, Lead and other Rubbish, did Mr. Stow's Curiosity
him to see the Body of that King thrown, lapt in Lead close to the Head and
what became of the Body afterwards, who can tell? But for the Head, Stow traced
further; telling us, that some Workmen for their Pleasure struck it off.
Young, a Glazier to Q. Elizabeth, feeling a sweet Savour come from thence (by
the Embalming, I suppose) and seeing the same dryed from all Moisture, and yet
remaining with the Hair of the
Head and Beard red; brought it to London to his House in Woodstreet; and kept it
time: and in the end caused the Sexton to bury it with other common Bones taken
His Observation of King James the Fourth of
Another Matter which he took Observation of, and that when he was a Boy, and
worth mentioning when he was a Man, was, that the Prior of Christchurch or
the Holy Trinity within Aldgate, a spiritual Man, was always one of the Aldermen
London: and that he remembred, how he rode in the City as an Alderman of
Ward, in his Habit, yet with some Distinction, as a Churchman: and withal
great Housekeeping he kept for Rich and Poor, as well within the House as at the
all Comers according to their Estates.
Of the Prior of the Holy Trinity.
One Observation more made by Stow may here be mentioned, which I have from
Buck, Esq; who saith of him, that he was a Man indifferently inquisitive after
Relations of the Persons of Princes, and curious in the Descriptions of their
Lineaments. And that in all his Enquiries, he could find no such Note of
King Richard III. as Historians commonly relate: and that he acknowledged viva
he had spoken with some antient Men, who from their own Sight and Knowledge
affirmed, that he was of bodily Shape comely enough; only of low Stature.
Of King Richard III.
Buck's Hist. of King Richard III.
He was also a curious Observer of Manuscripts, and a diligent Procurer of them
wheresoever he could. He was mightily delighted with the Sight of a fair Bible
Vellum (the fairest that ever he saw) written by one John Coke a Brother of St
Bartholomew Hospital, at the Age of Threescore and Eight Years. Which Book had
belonged to the Library of the said Hospital, given to it among other Books by
Wakering Priest, Master of the House An. 1463. And since the Spoil of that
into the Custody of Mr Walter Cope, Stow's worshipful Friend, where he had seen
Curious in MSS.
He had in his Possession a very valuable MS. (both for the Writer and Subject
wrote by a remarkable Man, Edmud Dudley Esq; a great Counsillor to King Henry
beheaded in the beginning of King Henry VIII. his Reign, An. 1509. It was called the
Tree of Common Wealth, and treated of Politicks, intended for the Use and
Service of his
Royal Master King Henry VIII. but being a Prisoner at the Writing, never came to
Hand. A Copy of this Book Stow presented to Robert the great Earl of Leicester,
from the said Dudley: to whom it could not but be a very acceptable Gift. And
he had his
Thanks, but nothing else: as I have observed before.
Dudley's Tree of Common Wealth.
Summary fo. 309.
He giveth us somewhere an exact Account of the Works and MSS. of John Gower, one
our antient Poets; and what were Prin-