Documents illustrative of Stow's life


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'Introduction: Documents illustrative of Stow's life', A Survey of London, by John Stow: Reprinted from the text of 1603 (1908), pp. XLVIII-LXVII. URL: Date accessed: 21 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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1. How Stow began to write History, and quarrelled with Richard Grafton.

[Amongst John Stow's private papers now bound up in Harley MS. 367 are several disordered fragments (ff. 1–3 and ff. 11, 12) relating to his controversy with Richard Grafton. For the most part they deal with alleged errors of Grafton's, and such points as the extent of his debt to Hall. But f.3, which deals with the beginning of the quarrel, contains autobiographical matter of a wider interest, and helps to explain the prefaces printed on pp. lxxvi to lxxix; it is therefore given in full. The most interesting portion of f. i is given on pp. xi, xii above.]


Richard Grafton published his first boke, intituled 'An abridgment of ye cronicles of England', anno 1563. In ye epistle wherof (dedi cated to ye right honorable lord Robert Dudley &c.), he contemnyth all ye abrydgments before tyme publyshid, saythe yt therin was contayned lytle trewthe & lesse good order, wt ye vncertaynty of yeres to ye deceyvynge of all, & vniust dishonoringe of mayny; but in this boke, quod he, you shall fynd these abusys reformyd, & trewthe more symply vtteryd &c. This boke thus publyshyd was, not wt stondynge ye glorios tytle, of moaste men, or rathar of all (except hym selffe) more myslyked then ye former abridgments of othar.

1564.; 1565.; 1566.

Richard Grafton reprintyd yesame his Abridgment Anno 1564 wt excuse to ye readers that in ye first imprecion partly by miswritynge, partly by misentrynge and mystakynge of yeres, but chefly by mysprintinge, divars and sondry fautes wer commytted, whiche (nowe) aftar he had well parused, he had wt dilygence reformyd and amendyd, in suche maner as he trustyd would apeare in ye imprecion to ye first contentaction of all those yt are desyrus to vnderstund ye trew notes & discorse of tymes &c. This boke beinge little bettar than ye first (nay rathar worse) was as myche or more of all men myslyked, thrwghe occasyon wherof mayny sitisens & othars knowynge yt I had bene a serchar of antiquitis, (whiche were devinite, sorencys, & poyetrye, but nevar extemyed history wer it offeryd nevar so frely) movyd me for ye comoditie of my contry somewhat to travaile in settynge forth some othar abrydgment or somarye, and also to write agaynst & reprove Richard Grafton. To ye first at ye lengthe I grauntyd, but to ye othar I vtterly refusyd; about ye same tyme (fn. 1) it haponyd that Thomas Marche printar requiryd me to corecte ye old comon abridgment, which at ye first was collectyd of Langwit & Copar's epitomy, but then moche coruptyd wt oft reprintynge, and therfore of Richard Grafton so contemnyed as is afore sayd. To this request I grauntyd on condicion yt some one whiche were bettar learnyd mowght be ioyned wt me, for yt it was a stody wherin I had nevar travayled; and for my parte I wolde gyve my labores in that mattar frely wt out takynge for my paynes ye valew of one peny. Shortly aftar Thomas Marche apoynted to me William Baldwyn, mynistar & parson of S. Michels at Powles gate; but or evar we wrote one word of ye mattar it plesyd God to call ye sayd W. Baldwyn to his mercy; (fn. 2) wherupon, I thynkynge myselffe dischargyd of my promys to Thomas Marshe, he nevartheless required me to begyn a letyl, for he wold shortly apoynt one to be ioynyd wt me, whiche promys as yet was nevar performed. But I, aftar I had once begone, I cowld not rest tyll ye same were fully endyd. And then I of myne owne mynd wente to Grafton's howse, & shewyd hyme my boke, requirynge hym not to be offendyd wt my doynges for I ment not to gyve eny suche occasyon. Aftar I had shoyd hym what movyd me to travayle in that mattar I also shewyd hym his owne abridgment of ye laste imprecion, whiche I had coatyd in ye margen, wherin he had not only mysplacyd all moaste all ye yeares of our lord god, but also ye yeres of ye begynengs & endyngs of all ye kyngs of this realme, and of mayne kynges had lefte out how longe they severally reygnyd, but in one place he left out iij kynges togithar, that is to say, Didantius, Detonus, and Gurguinus, (fn. 3) he dothe not so moche as name them, fo. 6. There also lakynge Sygebert, who reygnyd iij yeres, fo. 25. When he comyth to the accompte of ye baylyves, maiors, sheryves of London, he eythar myse placethe them or levithe them owt, in some place one, some place ij, iij, iiij, ye v. togither, fo. 66, wt also ye yeres of our lord, & ye reynes of ye kyngs, & all that was done in those yeres. For ye folowynge of his awctor one noate shall suffyce. Thomas Copar saythe yt xxx garmaynes tawght ye abrogation of ye sacraments of ye awltar, baptisme & wedlocke. (fn. 4) fo. 211., and Grafton saythe they tawght a reformation &c. fo. 42. For ye sterlynge money he saythe it was coynyd beinge & (fn. 5) ounce of silvar, & it had ye name eythar of ye bird cawlyd a starre havyng perhaps ye same put in, or else of a starr in ye element, fo. 94. For ye well placynge of his mattar in fo. 96 he placethe ye conduyte in Grasious strete to be buylded by Thomas Knoles in anno 1410, whiche conduyt was begane to be buylded by ye executors of Sir Thomas Hyll in anno 1490 & finishyd anno 1503. Also in ye same lefe & ye same yere 1410 he saythe K. Henry ye fourthe endyd his lyfe ye 12 yere of his reigne and was buryed at Canterbery, and then declarethe what was done in ye 13 and 14 yeres of his reigne, for yt he makythe hym to raygne ij yeres aftar he was dede and beryed. In folio 154 he placethe ye deathe of kynge Edward ye 6 aftar ye lady lane, ye aftar qwene Mary was proclamed, and yeduke of Northombarland aprehendyd. In ye2 yere of qwen Mary & ye 1 of kynge Philype he saythe ye emperour sent ye Cownty Egmount & othar embassadors into england to make a parfet conclusyon of maryage bitwene kynge Philype & qwene Marye. And as thes fewe thynges are placyd, so is almoste all his whole boke. Ye printar in fo. 97 hathe printyd iiij lynes twyse togethar &c. Aftar I had thus shewyd my owne boke, & also Grafton's late abridgment so coatyd as I have partly declaryd, to the fyrste Richard Grafton sayd he lykyd yesame very well,yt I had bothe taken great paynes and also desarved great commendacion; for ye othar he sayd he had folowyd Fabyan, which was a very nowghty cronycle, and Coper whiche was x. tymes worse, and cursid yetyme ytevar he had sene Copar's cronycle, for ythad cawsyd bym to comyt all thos errours, & Copar was not worthy to be accomptyd learnyd; & then he shewyd me wher Copar had written ij negatyves in on sentence, which was not ye part of a learnyd man; he addyd forthar: 'I do not'(quod he)' write ij negatives in one sentence; I can tell how to wryt, I trowe & c.' To be short he gave me thankes, and professyd his frindshype in eny thynge that lay in hym to do, & so we partyd. Then aftar I had got my boke pereusyd & lycensyd by ye wardens of ye Stacionars, I requirid foord [er] my lord of Caunterbery his grace to auctoryze ye same, and then put ye same in print. (fn. 6) Aftar yecomynge owt wherof, for ytyesame was well vtteryd by ye printar, & well lyked of in ye comon weale, Grafton began then to chaffe and dyvysyd wthym selffe, & toke counsell of mayny othars, whiche way to brynge me out of credyt, and at lengthe toke one of my bokes namyd yeSummarie of Englysche chronicles, and drew out ther of (all togithar leavyng his owne abridgment) a smale boke whiche he printed in desimo sexto, & in ye frontar he entitelythe it, A manuell of yeChronicles of yeworld tyll anno 1565; to ye redar 1565. he cawlethe it a brydgyd abridgement, and over ye page of ye leves cawlethe it a brefe colation of history. This boke he dedicated to his loveynge frends yemastar & wardens of yecompany of yemoste excelent arte & science of Imprintynge, reqwestynge them to take swche ordar wttheyr whole company ytther be no brefe abridgements or manuels of Chronicles imprintyd, but only that &c. To yeredar he saythe, I hope ytnone will showe them selves so vngentle, nor so vnfrindly as to abuse me in this my little labor & goodwill, as of laye I was abusyd by one ytcounterfeacted my volume & order of ye abridgment of yechronicles, & hathe made my travayle to passe vnder his name, (fn. 7) also by omittynge some thynges of myne & worsse put in place, & by alteracion of some thynges & by addicion of some other, whiche kynd of dealynge is not comendable &c. Afftar ytI had viewid this preface & yewhole emanull(six), I havnge also abridged my summery and cawsed yeto be ready pryated, I made a preface ther vnto, wher in I aunsweryd (as reson movyd me) Grafton's vntrew reportyng preface, and dedicatyd my boke (named ye summary of yeChronacles of England abridgid) to yeryght honorable Sir Richard Champion lorde maior of yecity of London,yeworshipfull aldarman &c., in yebiginninge of Anno 1566. Aftar yepublishynge of this my abrigid sommary Grafton marvelowsly stormyd & cawsyd yemastar &wardens of yestacionars to threaten Thomas Marche, my pryntar, &and also to request me to come before them at theyr comon hawle, wher I should, they sayd, talke wt Grafton face to face; but I comynge often thythar Grafton allways made excusys, &drave them of from tyme to tyme &nevar came at them; wherupon yemastar &wardens desyryd me not to be offendyd, for they wer sory they had trobelyd me so ofte, but they wold no more trust to Grafton's worde sythe he had so ofte disapoynted them.

Aftar this in yesame yere 1566 I repryntyd my summary wt adytions. And then Grafton seythe that neythar his great abridgment nor his small emanuell were of eny extemyd, he alltogether forsoke them bothe, & toke my summary of yelast edition laynge that for his grownd worke, whiche sarvithe hym for ye accompte of yeres, for ye reuygnes of kyngs for ye names &years of yebayles maiors & shrives &and also for mayny speciall noates, which by great labour & not wt Robart Fabyon, Iohn Frosart, Edward Hall, & Thomas Copar, tyll he had finishid a great volome, whiche he intituled, 'A Chronicle at large &mere history of yeaffayres of England, and kyngs of yesame, deduced from ye creacion of ye worlde vnto yefirst hacbitation of thie Island &c,. On yesecond page he, counterfeitynge my cataloge of awctors, namethe to yenombar of thre score and odd, the moste parte wherof were devyns &wrote no matar of history towchynge this Realm; the othar beinge historigoraphers; to increase his nombar he resitethe twyse: as in ye letter A. he writethe Antoninus, in ye letter B. byshope, which is all one &c (fn. 8) Also it is easy to vnderstond Grafton nevar saw mayny of thos awctors; for profe wherof I saye yt T. Newton (fn. 9) drewe out of those devyne awctors in the catalog alledgyd almoste all ye matar conteyned in vi partes of his boke, &mastar Keyes (fn. 10) of Oxford few ye seventhe part tyll about ye end of Henry ye second, when the same (being venperfecte) was taken away from hym by Rychard Grafton, who at his pleasar patched it vp wt his foure awctors afore namyd, Fabian, Frossard, Hall &Copper, all comon bokes, tyll ye and of kynge Edward ye 6, and then Mastar G. F (fn. 11) pennyd ye story of qwene mary, wher Grafton endithe his great volume. of this great boke I will make no great descourse, but only by y e way a litle &c.

2. Of Stow's quarrel with his brother Thomas, and how his mother allered her will.

[From Harley MS. 367, ff. 6, 7. The date is June-October, 1568. The begining, middle, and end of the story are all missing.]

f. 6 vo; f. 7 ro; f. 7 vo

… I care not what it be. So I sent for ye best ale and bread, and a cold lege of mutton was put before hir, wherof she eate very hungerly, and thearfter fell both to butter and to cheese. In the end when we departyd she promisyd, that as God had placed me to be the principall of all her children, for that I was the eldyst, she would not conteme me but confyrme the same, and when eythar man or woman should go about to persward hir, for the naturall love yt she owght to beare vnto me she would cry out vpon them, avoyd dyvel. But aftar hir comynge home, Thomas and his wyfe would nevar suffer hir to rest tyll she had could them all the talks that had passed betwixt hier and me. And when her had hard that I lamentyd his beinge matched wt an harlot, he would never let my mother erst tyll he had foarsyd hir to break hir will, wher in she had bequethyd me x. li (equall wt all ye yongar children, except Thomas, whiche had all indede), and to put me in nothinge at all; but even then she could not get William Eyre, to whom she had gyven Rowlands house in Fynkes lane, nor Henry Johnson, whom she had made hir ovarseer, to put theyr hands vnto ye will except I were at ye least put in x. li., and I was afore. And thus, seinge no remedy, Thomas put in v. li., and then said he had put in as it was afore, for theyr pleasure. And so they set theyr handes to it, (fn. 12) and aftar hard it rede, wherin they found but v. li., and wold have wt drawne theyr hands agayne, but was to late. And William Eyre hathe told me synce yt he will take his othe, that lie did beleve that I had some part in x. li., or elles he wold have nevar set his hand to yt and offeryd them xl.s., out of his purse to have put out his hand agayne. Thus was I condemnyd and payd v. pounds (Thomas beinge his owne bayly, whiche is both agaynst law and reasone) for namynge Thomas his wyfe an harlot, prevely only to one body (who knew ye same as well as I); but yf he could so ponysshe all men yt wyll more openly say so moche, he would sone be rychar then eny lord maior of London. yt this … ye hym selfe no longe aftar (as he had done ofttymes before) called her an owld … whores in ye harynge of all his neyghbours … suche and suche, and namyd a great nomber of her customers saynge that he had taken hir from ye … and had thought to have made her a honest woman, but it was past cure, and therefore he thruste hir out of ye dores. (fn. 13) And aftar yt she being convayed agayne into ye house through one of ye nebours wyndows, he bett hir, and threwe hir ageyne into the streat; and all ye neyghbours could not get him to take her in agayne; for he sayd that she would robe hym to kepe her bastardis, be his deathe as she was her other husbands, for she styll went to wytchis and sorcerars. Yet agayne she was conveyed into the house, and at x of ye cloke at nyght he, being bare leggyd, serchyd and found her cropte in to yejakes entry, and then fell ageyn a beatynge of hir, so that my mother lyinge syke on a palet was fayne to crepe vp, and felt about ye chambre for Thomas his hosyn and shewes; and crept downe ye stayres wt them as well as she could, and prayd hym to put them on lest he shuld cache cold. So my mother stode in hir smoke more than an owre entretynge hym for ye lordes sake to be mo quiet. So yt at this tyme my mother toke suche a could yt she nevar rose aftar; but he and his wyffe went to bed and agreyd well i-nowghe. Afftar this Thomas perswadinge hym selfe y t my mother drew nere hir end causyd hir on S. Iames evenes eve (fn. 14) to receyve ye communion, wt whome amongst othar he hymselfe receyved. The ministar of ye parishe, althoughe he were but a stranger, new come out of ye contry, desyryd to se hir wyll, and fyndynge therin yt she had geven me, her eldyst sonn, but v. li. and ye othar children x. li. ye peace, excepte Thomas, to whome she had geven all hir howsys and goodes, and made hym full and sole executer he so moche myslyked therof, yt he desyryed to know ye cause, whiche when by none othar meanes they could excuse, Thomas forcid my mothar to say that I was very ryche and nedyd no parte of hir goodes; wherunto ye mynistar answeryd that yf I should be nevar so ryche yet she must nedes make me equall wt eny othar hir children, or elles should show hir selfe bothe vnfryndly and vnnaturall, for so moche that by reason I was ye cheffe and ought to have ye distributyng of all. Then Thomas cawsyd my mothar to answer yeshe had lyne syke in yecase yespace almost of vj yeres, in all which tyme I had nevar come, nor sent to her, allthoughe she had sent to me by all yefrendes I had, more ovar that I had not axed hir blyssynge in xx yeres; and that I should say; 'wherefore should I care for her, she had done nothynge for me' (and of whiche I may not write, but for reverens of nature, God forgeve hir); (fn. 15) ); and I pray God gyve hym grace to repent ytcaused hir so myche at that tyme and othar to endanger her owne sowle for his filthy pleasure; and more over she sayed, ytall most vj yeres Thomas lyke a good natural child had kept hir to his great charges, or ytshe mought have starvyd, and she was not able wtall hir goodes to make hym amendes, yfit were v. tymes more. This talke beinge all together vntrue (as knoythe God)was allso to this strange ministar vncredible for ythe required that I should be sent for, which was vterly denayed. Then he requeryd to know where I dwelt that he mought go and talke to me, which was allso denayed hym. Wherupon he refusyd to mynystar the comunion to them, but in yeend they wt meny glosys perswadyd hym, and so he mynysteryd. The same day Mystar Rolfe, a priest, who had ma[rried] one of my systars, told me that he had often tymes parswadyd wtmy mother to set thynges in a bettar ordar, and not to gyve all to me and nawght to yeother &c. And(as he said)she always had hym hold his peace, or else speake softly, for hir sonnes wyfe was in one cornar or othar harkenynge, and she should have a lyffe x. tymes worse than deathe yfThomas or his what I would, but as they wyll, excepte yelorde rayse me that I may go abrode, and then I wyll vndo that I have done, and do yt whiche shall pleas bothe God and ye worlde, but two worthe that wicked woman (meaninge Thomas his wyffe) for she wyll be my deathe; (the lyke awnswer she mad to hir brothar, her systar, her cosyn Cutlar, Henry Iohnson, and many othars). Also this Mystar Rolfe told me that my mothar that day should receyve yecommunyon, for she had sent for this wyfe to receyve wther,and so we partyd. And I consyderyd my selfe ytit was tyme for me to atempte some way to speake agayne wtmy mothar, thought it not good that day to do eny thynge. But on Ye morow, beinge Seint Iames even (fn. 16) in ye afternoon I sent my wyffe wt a pot of creme and an othar of strawberys; but ye present beinge no betar she was kept out wt great threats. Wherupon (as I commaundyd hir) she sayd to Thomas: 'why, brothar, are you ye same man ye ye wer wont to be? I had thought ye had bene changyd, become a new man. how dyd yow receyve ye communyon yesterday?' Then he swar wt byttar othes, and sayd: 'how dost thou know yt? by God sowle, thou art a witche, and knowst it by witchcraft.' And she answeryd agayne: 'Nay, I know it not by witchecraft.' 'Yes, by God's sowle,' quod he, 'thou knowyst it by witchecraft, or else that false knave, thy husbond, hathe coniurid for it; but I wyll make the vyllayn be handelyed for it, or it shall cost me an hunderyd poundes. I will make all ye world to know what artes he practysythe; and get ye out of my dores, or by peter, I will lay the at my fete.' Wherupon my wyfe returnyd, and tould me. In ye morows morninge, beynge seynt Iames daye, (fn. 17) I went to my mother's paryshe chirche, and inqueryd for ye parson. Wher it was aunsweryd me that he servyd not ther, but had put in a mynystar. So I taryenge in ye chirche, tyll the mynystar came at vij of ye cloke, and sayd vnto hym: 'I vnderstond ye mynisteryd to my mothar but ij days passyd.' The whiche he confessyd, and told me all that is afore sayd of ye talke betwixt my mother and hym, and how that he perseyvyd my mother durst not speake one word but as Thomas bad her; and yt agaynst his conscience he mynestred to them; moreover he promysyd, when so evar I would, to go wt me to my mother. But on the morow morninge ye same curat (fn. 18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . be the furnacis and ye facis I told you of. And then Thomas put ye great boke of lese (fn. 19) then one quyer of papar, bygar then ye great byble, into the poket of his hose, tryomphinge and swarynge as afore. But mystar Wyntrap (fn. 20) wt myche ado gat ye boke agayne from hym, aftar that he had whisperyd a lyttle. For then Thomas his great heat was alayed, and he was bothe could and quiet. This boke, beinge compilyd by Thomas Norton, (fn. 21) in short vearse, of ye alteracion of certayn mettaylles, I desyryd Mst' Wyntrap to show to some learnyd man for my discharge, as to ye byshope, deane, or arch deacon, Mystar Foxe, (fn. 22) or Mystar Whithed, (fn. 23) which last Thomas vtarly denayed to be judge, for, say the he, he is one that practysethe ye same arte. Thomas, havynge his purpos of ye byll, which he rent in pecis and burnyd, sent for a pynt of ale, and causyd me to drynke, and bothe professyd frindshype and sorowe for his doynges passyd. And my mothar sayd: 'the lord be praysed, for now my children yt were dead ar alyve agayne.' After this tyme I repayryd dayly to my mothar durynge hir lyfe, whiche was not longe, and allways awaytynge to speake wt hir in secret. one tyme I had longe taryed thar, she cried out, as she dyd allwayes (when I was there) 'Ye lorde send me some drynke. O ! that I had some kynd of drynke, what some evar it were.' And at ye last she sayd to Thomas his wyfe: 'Dowghter, for ye lordes sake gyve me some drynke.' Wherunto after many suche callyngs she answeryd: 'I cannot tell what drynke I should gyve you, for yffe I seche eny of owre owne drynke ye wyll not lyke it.' 'Yes, dowghter, yes,' quod she, 'ye lorde knows I would fayne have some drynke.' And then she fetchinge halfe a pynt of small drynke (beare as I supose) my mother sayd: 'good dowghter, for ye lordes sake loke in my cobard for a lytle gyngar, and put into it.' Whiche she dyd. Then my mother desyryed hir to warme it a lytle. Whiche she dyd, and went into ye kitchin whiche was iij romes of, for ye ther was no fyer in ye thoughe it were at Mychelmas. Then I sayd to my mothar in this sort folowynge: 'Mothar, yow know that I and my brothar Thomas ar now become professars of frindshype, and I shall desyre yow for Gods sake so to do towards us yeye frindshipe professyd may become perfecte and vnfaynyd; yow know yt for one word whiche I spake to yow in secret, whiche ye promysyd not to open, he hathe made yow put out of yowr wyll, whiche yow had gyven me … (fn. 24) is but a small mattar in comparison of yt he hathe deceyvyd me in othar ways…pray yow to consyder yt it must nedes offend me moche to pay v. pound for spekynge a word secretly, & in ye way of… fryndshype lamentyng his… estate, and yf ye wyll not be good to me for ye love ye ought to beare to… pore fathar your husbond, nor for ye love you ought to beare to me your naturall sonne & yowr fyrst, yet I pray yow to consydar yt I wax old & dekay in myn occupation, & yt I have a great charge of children, and a wyfe yt can neythar get nor save, & be good to me for theyr sakes. Ye, yf ye wyll not be good to me for all thes cawsys afore shewyd, yet be good to me for Thomas his sake, yt we maye by that meanes contynue, & encrease in fryndshype. I crave no more but to be put in ye v. li. agayne, and so to be made equall wt the rest of yowr children, yt be moste inferiour, and not to make me an inferior vnto them. And Thomas hym selfe, yf he beare eny frindshype at all towards me, or enithinge regard his owne quietnes, he would rather of his owne parte spare xx. pound, than to let me lake that v. pound; for he knowythe yt I must evar while I lyve grudge to pay so deare for so small an errour. I pray you to consydar how you shall pleas God to make peace & vnity amonge yowr chyldren'. And then I red vnto her ye 133 psalme, whiche I had writen, & would have lefte it wt her, but she would not take it. Then I desyryd hir to cawse hir sonn Thomas to read it, whiche she sayd she daryd not do. Ye psalme beginithe thus: 'behold how plesaunt and how ioyfull a thynge it is bretherne to dwell together & to be of one mynd &c.' And this is a spesyall note to be markyd; all the tyme yt I was thus talkynge wt hir, to breake me of my talke she lay as she had bene more afearyd then of deathe, lest hir sonn Thomas or his wyffe shuld here eny of our talke. And styll she cryed to me: 'Peace, she comyth; speake softly; she is on ye stayres harkenynge &c.' And at ye last made me this answer: 'I trust have done, & they shall. not know of it; but excepte ye lord rayse me I can do no thinge for I dare not speake for my lyfe, this wykyd woman (wo worthe hir) wyll be my deathe &c.' Also myn vnkle, & my mothar's brother, contynually perswadyd my mothar from mayny thyngs, as from ye gyvynge an house to a servynge man (who was not kyne to eny of our kyne) and ye rest of hir howsys & goods to hir sonne Thomas from me and ye rest of hir children &c. And she would all ways yeld to her brothar & promes to do aftar his counsell; but as sone as he was gone she was worse than afore, so yt myn vnkell would come to me, and wtwepynge byttarly parswad me to take all things paciently for yt ther was no remandy, he had don what he could, & would do as longe as she lyvyd, but it would not helpe for she was bywitchid to the sayd Will. Eyre and Thomas Stowe. The greffe wherof was suche to my pore vnkle, yt it shortenyd his lyfe. Moreovar Henry Johnson, hearynge moche talke whiche he lykyd not, for yt my mothar had made hym ovarseer of hir last wyll, on a tyme… my mothar alone, he knelynge by her bed sayd yt he had many evyll words of her doynges, and all men cried out on hym for yt he beinge great wt hir gave hir not bettar counsell (whiche fore tyme he dyd, but all prevaylyd not): 'Mystris Stow,' quod he, 'ye have made Willyam Eyar one of yowr children, for ye have gyven hym an howse; it had bene more mete to have gyven it to your sonn Iohn Stowe, to whom, as I have learnyed, ye nevar gave ye valewe of one peny, and now yow had gyven hym but x. pound, and ye have throwghe your sonn Thomas put out v. pound of that, and ye have made your sonne Thomas the … twayne, who hathe bene a deare child to yow, & allwayse spent yow moche money. I praye… to put in ye v. pounds agayne & make your sonn Iohn Stowe x. pound as he was afore.' Vnto whiche she answeryd yt she cowld not put in one peny, for she had it not. Wherupon Henry Iohnson sayd; 'Mystris Stowe, every man cane tell me yt yow could gyve your sonne Thomas xx. pounds to renne away wt an othar mans wyffe, and wyll yow now say ye are not able to gyve Iohn Stowe x. pound &c.' All this talke my mothar told aftarward to Thomas and his wyfe. And he on ye morow, being ye Sonday aftar Barthlmew day, sent for me, and when I cam at my mothars, he sat hym doune on the one syd of my mothar, & his wyfe on ye othar; and I, standynge as a prisonar, he examinyd me as yf he had bene a Iustice, and chargyd me yt I should set Henry Iohnson to have that talke afore sayd wt my mothar; whiche I uttarly denayed, as well I mowght, for yt was ye first tyme yt evar I had hard yt Henry Iohnson had bene so playn wt her. Amonst many fowl words and great threats of Thomas towards me he sayd: 'Mothar, every body grutchid at yt which ye have; breake yowr wyll and make a new, & gyve them ynowghe; ye may gyve them what yow wyll, but yf I pay one peny, I forsake God; Gods sowle, have ye eny more then ye cowche ye ly on, and who wyll gyve xl.s. for it. How say you, have ye eny? yf ye have eny, speake.' Wherunto she answeryd: 'No, sonne. It is true I have no more.' 'No, by Gods sowle,' quod he, 'nor all that nothar, for ye kyveringe (whiche was but frise) is Mege Fyne (I had lent her money on it); every body thynkythe that ye have gyven me myche, whereas ye have gyven me nothynge at all to speke of, and it is not worthe "god have mercy" (fn. 25) ; and yf my mothar had gyven me this howse throwly well furnyshyd to me and myn eyrs for evar, and an hundrend pound or twayne of redy money, it had bene worthe "god have marci", but yf evar I say "god have marcy" for this, I forsake God & gyve my selfe to ye divell, body and sowle.' Then sayd his wyfe: 'I wyll nevar say "god have marcy" for this house and all that is in it, for we have but howse and have loade, & I would not wash hir shiten clowts to have it. I forsake God, yf I have not washyd x. buks of shitten clowts that she hathe shytten.' Wherunto my mothar answeryd: 'Ye, dowghter, ye lord reward you; I have gyven yow all that I have, and wold it war an hunderyd pound bettar for yow.' (fn. 26) [Aftar I was departyd from my mothar, remembrynge yt Richard Brison, a fyshermonger, who stayed Thomas & Richard Kemps (fn. 27) wyfe when they were rennynge away into Flandars, lay at ye marci of god, & ytye bell had told for hym, I toke ij of our neyghbours & went to the sayd fyshemongar, & tould hym how I had that day bene chargyd and threatenyd by Thomas Stow, for that I should (as he sayd) set Henry Iohnson to speak the thynges afore sayd to my mothar. Wherupon ye sayd fyshemonger.] My mothar deceasyed a fortnyght aftar mikellmas Anno 1568, and ye morow aftar hir buryall, whiche was sattardaye, (fn. 28) I met Thomas Stowe, my systar Iohn (fn. 29) 'Rolf allias Froyke, (fn. 30) and Henry Iohnson at leden hall. So we went to ye mayden hed, and dranke a pynt of wyne or twayne. At whiche tyme Henry Iohnson sayd to Thomas: 'I pray you be good to your brothar Iohn. Consyder he your eldar… (fn. 31)

3. Of Willyam Ditcher alias Teleforde.

[This is the draft of a petition, addressed apparently to the Alderman of the Ward, perhaps in June, 1569; since Stow was still in business it cannot have been much later. See p. xxxiii. Harley MS. 367, f. 5.]

Pleasethe it your worshipe to vndarstond how your pore orator Iohn Stowe, hathe of late bene more then to to mutche abusyd by one William Ditcher alias Tetforde, and his wyfe. The proces whereof is to longe to write, but briefly to tuche some parte thereof.

In primis. At Christmas last past the same W. being by the wardemote inqweste forbiden to set his frame with fetharbends in the strete sayd vnto them that the sayde Iohn had complayned on hym, where vnto the forman aunsweryd that he was deceyved, for the sayd Iohn had spoke no word of it. This notwithstandynge when the sayd Iohn went toward his owne house the same W. and his wyffe rayled at hym, first as he passyd by them, and aftar at his owne dore to shamefull and slaunderous to be spoken & hard.

Itm. When the Wardemote enqwest had gyven vp theyr endenture, the same W. dyd arest the sayd Iohn of ij C. pound action, where vnto the sayd Iohn put in surties to aunswer.

Itm. On the next morninge ye same W. & his wife before the stawll of the sayd Iohn rayled agaynst hym more then a longe howre wt ye moaste slaunderous speches that man or devell cowld devyse, but the sayd Iohn to avoyd the breache of peace kepte hym selfe above in his house wt out eny aunswere makynge.

Itm. iij nightes after the same W. causyd his landlorde, Master Ritche, to intreat the sayde Iohn to forgyve the same W., and to gyve hym leave to withdraw his action; where vnto the sayde Iohn graunted wt conditions to have his costs and that ye same W. shuld justifie the talke which he at that tyme vsed, that is, that he had bene procuryd by Thomas Stowe to do all what so evar agaynst ye sayd John Stowe.

Itm. The same W. contrary to his promis made and hand gyven, denayethe to all men that evar he was procuryd by the fore namyd Thomas Stowe to do or say eny thinge agaynste the sayde Iohn Stowe. And also moaste slaunderowsly saythe that the sayde Iohn was fayne to intreat Mastar Ritche to take vp the matar, or eles the same William would have coersed the sayde Iohn, before he would hav wt drawne his accion.

Itm. The same W. hath not payde one peny to ye sayd Iohn towards his charges.

Itm. The same W. continually thretinithe to do such notable acts of displeasure agaynst the sayd Iohn as the lyke hathe nevar bene done to eny man, and that all England shall speake of it, and of this he hathe assurid his frind Thomas Stowe, where of he greatly braggethe.

Itm The same W. slaunderowsly hathe reportyd to the parson of ye parishe, and deputy of the warde, as to all othar he comithe in company wt, that ther comithe none but Roages and Rascalls, the vylest in this land to the howse of the sayde Iohn, which Rascalls & Roages have hym from ale house to ale howse every day and night till ij of the cloke in the morninge.

Itm. The same W. comonly and dayly Raylynge on the sayde Iohn callyth hym prike lowse knave, beggarly knave, Rascall knave, vyllayne and lyenge knave, addinge more ovar that the sayd Iohn hathe made a cronicle of lyes &c.

Itm. The same W. often tymes calendginge to fight wt ye sayd Iohn, one tyme sodaynly lept in his face, foarcyd to have dygged out his eyes, fowly scrate hym by the face, drew blod on hym, and was pullyd of by the neyghbours.

Itm. For that the same W. cannot get his apretises & other servants to fight wt the aprentice of the sayde Iohn, he hym selfe on the 24 of May last past threw tyllshardes and othar stones at the sayd aprentis tyll he had driven hym of the stawll from his worke; and then the same W. cam to the stawll of the syde Iohn, and ther thretened that yf he cowld catche the sayd aprentice abrode he would coarce hym, he wowld provyd for hym, and he wowld accuse hym to have kyllid the man on the Miles end in whitson weke &c.

Itm. The 9 of Iune at x. of ye cloke in the night the same W. callid ye sayd Iohn comon promotor, comon barrator, comon dronkard, Rascall vyllayne &c.; and sayde more ovar he wowld make hym to be cartyd owt of the towne for such a one &c.

Itm. At that tyme he also sayde, as he hath done dyvars othar tymes, that the wyfe of the sayde Iohn had two children by one man before she was maried, to the great slaunder of the sayde Iohn, his wyfe, and hinderaunce of theyr children, iij dowghters mariageable and in sarvyce wt Right worshipfull parsonages.

Itm. On the x. of Iune the same W. cawsyd William Snelynge at that tyme beinge dronken to come to the stawlle of the sayd Iohn, and there to cawle hym by suche a name as hym selfe far bettar deserved.

Itm. The xi of Iune the same W., Raylynge at the sayde Iohn, sayde that he was the falsest man in England, and thretenyd to coerse hym yf he cowlde get hym owt of hys dores, callendgynge hym oft tymes to come owt yf he durst &c. All this he dyde in presence of Mastar Fostar one of the lord maior's officers.

4. A Dispute over a Bill.

[This is a rough memorandum preserved in Harley MS. 247, f. 209, presumably drawn up by Stow, when Crowche took him into court. Crowche may be the Michael Crowche who was churchwarden of St. Michael, Cornhill, 1574.]

1576. Somewhat before Christmas Mst.' Crowche sent vnto me a bill contaynynge parcels to the sume of vs. id., vs. whereof I payde to Iohan his mayde on Christmas evene next folowinge, and sayde I would be his debtor of the odd peny. Where vnto she aunswered and sayde: 'I pray yow to be our debtor of goodwill, and be not angry that I sent for so small a some, for other wyse ye are even with my master, and owe him nothinge.

1577. After this more then halfe a yere, to wite iij or iiij dayes before bartylmew tyde, Mst' Crowche sent me to bylls in one, the first contaynynge parcells to the some of viis. id. due on the xv of Iune 1576, the othar vs. id. due (and confessyd to be payde) at Christmas next folowynge in the same yere.

Aftar the recept whereof, to wit on bartilmew day, I met with Iohan his mayd nere to the wrestelyng place, where I demaundyd of hir what hir master meant to send me suche a bille for money which I had payde. She aunswered: 'Alas I Mst.' Stowe, ye must make smale accompte of my mastar's doinges now, for his heade is intoxicate; he hath maried a wife for Riches, but he had done bettar to have maried a pore wench.'

Sens this tyme Mst. Crowche, metynge me in the strete hath sayd: 'When shall we reoon' ? (sic). Whereunto I have aunswered: 'When ye will: ye demaund of me money, which I have payde longe sence.' 'Well,' quod he, 'I fynd it in my boke, and I will warne you to the corte of conscience.' (fn. 32) Quod I: 'Rathar name to honest indiferent men to here the mattar, and as they shall iudge I will be content.' 'Say you so,' quod he, 'Well one of thes dayes we wyll drynke a qwart of wyne and make an ende of it.' But then have I hard no more of it in one whole yere aftar. The last tyme he spake to me therof was about Eastar last, when he came home to my howse, where we agreyd that Mastar Rickford, his ovarwarte neyghbour, whom he named, shold here and ende the mattar on the Twesday next folowinge; but I gyvynge myn attendaunce that Twesday, I hard no more of it tyll thursday last that I was warned to the [co] rtes, which I take to be no good dealinge towardes me.

5. The Aleconners' Complaint of a disordered Tippler and Unworthy Constable in Castle Baynard Ward in 1584–5.

[This document (Harley MS. 367, f. 4) is in Stow's writing, and since it is written in the first person, is composed in his manner, and found amongst his private papers, it is not unreasonable to suppose that he was personally concerned. If there is no proof that he was one of the surveyors, there is also nothing to show why he should have taken any interest in the matter if he were not.]

In primis. On Wednesday ye 21 of October anno 1584, survayenge the ward of Castle Baynard we found in the house of Iocelyne Turnar, typlar, his gests to be served by vnlawfull measure. Whereupon we gave charge to such of the howse as were then present, that they shuld from thens forthe sell no more sortes of ale & bere but twayne, to wite doble and single, the best for a peny the qwarte, the smale for a peny the potle, by sealed measures and not othar wyse, which charge they promysed to observe in presence of a conystable and the bedle of that warde.

Itm. On friday the 9 of July 1585, agayne surveyenge the same ward of Castle baynard we found in dyvers places ale to be sold in stone pottes and bottles conteyning the pece not a full ale qwarte for 3d., but the offendars promysynge reformation, delt the more favorably with them, as we can shew by writynge, when tyme shall serve; seven barells of beare we have sent into Christs Hospitall, & wold ere this have sent as many more had not bene the late interruption of Iocelyne Turnar, & and his vnlawfull supportars, of the same Castle baynard warde. Into this house of this Iocelyne Turnar we enterid on the day above named, wt one Iohn Topalie constable; where callynge for a bottle of ale we were promysed it; but the conystable perswadynge vs that ther was no bottle ale to be solde, we went farthere into the house, where Turnar's wyfe was, and there vsed suche speeches that she forthwith loked the dore, where hir bottles were, and sayd to vs she had none, whiche speeche of hers the conystable affermyd to be trewe. Then Mastar Symson requerynge her to open the dore which she had locked, she aunswered she woulde not; and we demaundynge to speke with her husbond she sayd he was not within. Then willinge the conystable to loke further into the house for hym, he aunsweryd he would do nothing without warrant vnder my lord maiors hand, for he knew no authority we had, and therefore willed us to loke we ded no more then we mowght well aunswer, for the goodman of the house would put vs to it. At lengthe ye sayd Iocelyne Turnar, beinge amongst vs and vnknown to vs, he sayd: 'I am he, ye seke for. What would you?' We told hym it was reported he sold bottle ale contrary to ordar, which he denyed not, but seyd he ded as othar men ded. Whereunto we answered we had reformed some and wanted to reforme the rest. We told hym how his wyfe had denyed to have eny bottle ale, how she had locked vp the dore, and denyed the openynge there of, which was a resystance &c. Quod he: 'I will not aunswer for my wyfe, nor eny othar then for my selfe; and I had nevar warninge to reforme thos things ye myslyke of.'The conystable also affirded the same with many stowte words. In the end Ioscelyne Turnar opened the dore whiche his wyfe had locked, where we found a 60 pottes and bottles filled with ale, where of we measured one which the wyfe sayd was thre farthinges, and found it not to contayne a full pint of sealed measure. Where vpon Mystar Coad sayd: 'this is inowghe to forfaite all ye ale in yowr house.' We then takyng Iocelyn Turnar asyde willed him to reforme, and sell no more suche vnlawfull measure, which charge he promysed to observe, but would graunt none amends for the fawlt passed. 'Loke, (quod he), what yowr authoritie will serve yow to, and spare me not. I will not resiste yow.' Where vpon we departed with Browne, an officer to the L. maior, & Payne, Ye bedle, who are witnesses that this was the effecte of that days dowynge in that place.

Itm. On Monday the 12 of July we cam agayne to Iocelyne Turnar, and demaundyd of hym, yf he yet would be conformable, and what beare he would send into Christe hospitall for trespase comytted, whose aunswere was that he had not offended nor would make satisfaction, but willed vs agayne to vse our authoritie so far as we would aunswere it, demaundinge whethar the same were by parlyament or by statute. Where vnto we aunswered it was by act of comon counsayle, whereat he made a pufe. Aftar many words vsed by us to perswade hym Topelye, ye conystable, vncalled for cam out of the innar parte of the house with a brewar, as was sayde; this conistable with vehement words charged vs with offeringe wronge to the sayd brewar, for that we had nevar gyven hym warning; addyng that they lyed, that sayd they had gyven eny warninge there, and tellynge Master Symson that he lyed thoward hym. Where vpon Mastar Eliot, barynge his right hand on Toplye left showlder, sayd: 'Ye, mystar conystable, is that well sayd of yow, beinge an officer to gyve a man the lye? I had letle thought to have hard such a worde of your mowthe.' 'What !' (quod Toplye), 'dost thou stryke me?' 'I stryke yow?' quod Mastar Eliot, 'Wherefore should I stryke yow?' 'Why,'quod Toplye, 'I fele myn eare smart yet.' William Lathe, officer to my L. maior, and Payne, the bedle, are witnesses to this.

Thus and othar wayes beinge there abused, we departed thens, and aftar declared to my L. maior, and courte of aldarmen, how we had bene delt with, cravynge to have his honor and theyr worships ayde in this case, or els to be discharged of owr trowblesome offyce. Where vpon my L. maior and cowrte by warrant comytted the sayd disordered typlar, and vnworthy constable to ward. But by meanes of such as neythar hard or saw, nor inquired aftar the lewde demeanor of them, they were forthe with delyvered, and evar sence have bene stowtly suported with great threates agaynst vs, whereof we are to crave remedy in this courte.

6. A Petition for a Pension.

[In Harley MS. 367, ff. 8, 9, there are two drafts of petitions to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen. In the first Stow says that it was 'almost thirty years', in the second 'twenty-five years' since he set forth his Summary. But from the first it appears that Stow was sixty-four years of age, and from the latter that the Annales were in preparation. This seems to fix them to a common date in the earlier part of 1590. Perhaps the drafts were alternatives. The second draft has been printed already by Strype in his Life of Stow, prefixed to the Survey, i, p. vii, but with his own orthography.]

Pleasethe it your honor and worships to vndarstond that where your orator Iohn Stowe citizen &c., beinge now of the age of threescore yeres fowre, hathe for the space of almost xxx yeres last past (besyds his Chronicles dedicated to the Earle of Lecestar) set forth divars somaries dedicated to the lord maiors, his brithren thaldarmen, and comoners of the Citie. In all whiche he hathe specially noated the memorable actes of famows Citizens by them done to the greate benefite of the comon welthe, and honor of the same Citie. As also (in showynge themselves thankefull vnto God for his blessynges) have left a godly example to the posteritie by them to be embrasid and Imitatid. And for as moche as the travayle to many places for searche of sondry records, whereby the veritie of thinges may come to lyght, cannot but be chargeable to the sayde Iohn more then his habilitie can aforde, he now craveth your honor and worships ayde as in consideracion of the premises to bestowe on hym some yere pention or othar wyse, whereby he may reape somewhat towards his greate charges. And your orator according to his bounden dutie shall here aftar, God willinge, employ his diligent labor to the honor of this citie and comoditie of the Citizens there of, but also dayly pray for your honor and worships prosperitie during lyfe.

Pleasethe it your honor and worships to vnderstond that where yowr orator John Stowe, Citizen of this Citie, hathe heretofore, (to wite for the space of these 25 yere last past) besydes his Chronicle, dedicated to the right honorable the earle of Leicestar, set forthe dyvers summaries dedicate to the lorde maior, his brithren the aldarmen, and comoners of this Citie: In all which he hathe specially noated the memorable actes of famous citizens, by them done to the greate benefite of the comon welthe, and honor of the same Citie, as also in shewinge themselves thankfull vnto God, have lefte a godly example by the posteritie to be imbrasid and ymitated. In consideration where of the sayke Iohn Stowe mindithe shortly, yf God so permite, to set forthe a farr larger somary or chronicle of this Citie and Citizens there of, then heretofore hath bene published. And for as moche as the searche of records in the Arches and elsewhere, cannot but be chargable to the sayd Iohn, as heretofore for many yeres it hathe bene altogethar of his owne charges, besids his other travayls and studie, he now humbly cravithe your honors and worships ayde. As in consyderation of the premises to bestowe on hym the benefite of two fre men, such as yowre honor and worships shall lyke to be admitted into the fredome of this Citie, whereby he may reape somewhat towards his Charges &c. And yowr orator shall dayly pray for yowre honors and worships prosperitie during lyfe.

7. Royal Benevolence.

[From a printed copy of James I's Declaration of his royal benevolence, in pursuance of his Letters Patent, ap. Harley MS. 367, f. 10, where there is a note of 7s. 10d. received from S. Mary Woolnoth parishioners. The Declaration has been printed by Strype, and by Thoms in his edition of the Survey, p. xi. The Letters Patent are given by Strype, Survey, i, pp. xii, xiii.]

Iames, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all our well-beloued subjects greeting.

Whereas our louing subiect Iohn Stowe (a very aged and worthy member of our city of London) this fiue and forty yeers hath to his great charge, and with neglect of his ordinary meanes of maintenance, (for the generall good, as well of posteritie as of the present age), compiled and published diuerse necessary bookes, and Chronicles; and therefore we in recompense of these his painfull laboures, and for encouragement to the like, haue in our royall inclination ben pleased to graunt our Letters Pattents, vnder our great seale of England, dated the eighth of March 1603, thereby authorizing him, the sayd Iohn Stowe, and his deputies to collect amongst our louing subjects theyr voluntary contribution and kinde gratuities: as by the sayd Letters Patents more at large may appeare: Now, seeing that our sayd Patents (being but one in themselues), cannot be shewed forth in diuerse places or parishes at once (as the occasions of his speedy putting them in execution may require), we haue therefore thought expedient in this vnusuall manner, to recommend his cause vnto you; hauing already, in our owne person, and of our speciall grace, begun the largesse for the example of others. Giuen at our palace at Westminster.


1 See note on p. ix above.
2 See p. x above.
3 Three mythical monarchs in the first century B.C.
4 The German heretics of 1166. W. Newburgh, 132–4.
5 Read an.
6 See p. lxxxii, below.
7 Stow does not quote quite accurately; cf. p. xi above.
8 I omit some other instances.
9 No doubt Stow's friend: see p. lxxi below.
10 Thomas Caius or Keyes (d. 1572) who was Master of University College, Oxford, 1561–72. See Dict. Nat. Biog., viii. 225. The association of Newton and Caius with Grafton does not appear to be elsewhere noted.
11 George Ferrers, the Poet. in his Annales (p. 1070, ed. 1605) Stow writes of the loss of Calais; 'Whereof Master George Ferrers hath written at large, for he collected the whole history of Queene Mary as the same is set downe vnder the name of Richard Grafton.'
12 On 27 June. Compare the extracts from the will on pp. xliv, xlv above.
13 The MS. is damaged, and several words marked by blanks above cannot be deciphered.
14 23 July.
15 This is in reference to a foul remark attributed to him, which Stow first wrote down but then erased.
16 24 July.
17 25 July.
18 A leaf, or more, is clearly missing.
19 Possibly it should read not less'.
20 Perhaps an uncle of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts; the family were clothworkers in London.
21 Thomas Norton (ft. 1477), alchemist, and author of an 'Ordinal of Alchemy' in English verse, and also De Transmutatione Metallorum, likewise in verse. See Dict. Nat. Biog., xli. 220.
22 John Foxe, the martyrologist.
23 The association with Foxe makes it likely that this is David Whitehead (1492–1571), the Puritan divine. In Bernard's Catalogus MSS. Angliae i. 332, a translation of Riplay's Medulla Alchywriae (ap. Ashmole Ms. 1480, III, B. 6) is attributed to 'David Whitehead, doctor of physicke'; but in the MS. the ascription is merely to D.W (Black, cap of Ashmolean MSS., p. 1319). See Dict. Nat. Biog., lxi. 96–8.
24 The margins of this leaf are much worn.
25 Sunday, 29 August.
26 The passage in brackets was afterwards erased by Stow, and left incomplete.
27 The MS. reads thus; but no doubt it means the 'Margerie Kent, widdow' whom Thomas Stow married in 1567. See p. xlvi.
28 Presumably 16 October. Elizabeth Stowe's will was proved on 13 Oct., probably she died on the 12th or 11th.
29 sc.Johan or Joan.
30 See pp. xlvii and lv.
31 Here the story stops abruptly.
32 Or Court of Requests, established in London in 1518 to hear disputes in cases where the debt or damage did not exceed 40s. See i. 271 below.