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Univerfal, Historical, and Literary



Life of



TOW (JOHN) an eminent English antiquarian, was Strype's born in London about the year 1525; and very pro- Stow, prebably in Cornhill, fince it is certain, that both his fixed to father and grandfather dwelt there, and were perfons of Stow's Survey of good fubftance and credit. There is no account of any cir- London, cumftances relating to his youth, except that he was bred printed in to his father's bufinefs, which, there is reafon to fuppofe, was that of a taylor. When he quitted Cornhill is uncertain; but in 1549, we find him dwelling within Aldgate, from whence he afterwards removed to Lime-ftreet ward, where he continued till his death. He began early to apply himfelf to the study of the history and antiquities of England, even fo as to neglect his calling, and hurt his circumftances. It was about the year 1560, that he conceived thoughts of compiling an English chronicle; and he spent the remaining part of a long life, in collecting fuch things relating to this kingdom, as he esteemed worthy to be transmitted to pofterity. He had purfued thefe ftudies fome time, and had acquired a name by his fkill in them, when perceiving how little profit he was likely to gain from his inA 2


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duftry, he was upon the point of deferting them, in order to apply himself more diligently to the bufinefs of his profeffion; and the expensiveness of purchafing manufcripts was an additional motive to this refolution. But dr. Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, who was an excellent antiquarian, and a generous encourager of those studies, perfuaded him to continue his pursuits, and affifted him during his life by feveral benefactions.

The first work which he published was, A fummary of the chronicles of England, from the coming in of Brute unto his own time. He began this work at the defire of the lord Robert Dudley, afterwards earl of Leicester; and the occafion of it was this: in the year 1562, mr. Stow, in his search after curious and uncommon tracts, met with an ingenious one written by Edmund Dudley, his lordship's grandfather, during his imprisonment in the Tower, intitled, The tree of the commonwealth, which he dedicated to king Henry VIII. though it never came to his majesty's hand. Mr. Stow kept the original himself, and tranfcribed a fair copy of it, which he prefented to lord Dudley, who upon this requested him to draw up fome work of the fame nature. Our antiquarian therefore collected this fummary, and dedicated it to his lordship: it was reprinted in 1573, 8vo, with additions. This fame year came out the laborious and voluminous collections of Reiner Wolfe, printer to the queen; being a chronicle of Britain, and the kings and queens of that kingdom, printed and reprinted by Raphael Hollinfhead, and going commonly under his name. The last and largest edition of that work in 1587, contains many confiderable additions by mr. Stow; indeed the main part of the continuation of that history from 1573, to 1587. In 1598, he published his Survey of London, containing the original, antiquity, increase, modern estate, and description of that city, in 4to, This ufeful and valuable work has been reprinted feveral times, with additions and improvements by the author, and after his death by others; and in 1720, the fifth and laft edition was published in two volumes folio, by mr. Strype, with the author's life, and additions by himself. In 1600, mr. Stow fet forth his Flores hiftoriarum; that is, his annals of this kingdom from the time of the ancient Bri


tons to his own. This work was nothing else but his fummary greatly inlarged, which he dedicated to archbishop Whitgift. It was reprinted five years after with additions; but even in this improved state it was no more, than an abridgement of a much larger hiftory of this nation, which he had been above forty years collecting out of a multitude of ancient authors, regifters, chronicles, lives, and records of cities and towns; and which he intended now to have published, if the printer, probably fearing the fuccefs of it, after the late appearance of fo large a chronicle as that of Holinfhead, had not chofe rather to undertake this abstract of mr. Stow's work.

Towards the latter end of his life, finding himself reduced to narrow circumftances, for his purfuits had been rather expenfive than profitable to him, he addreffed the lord mayor and aldermen, that, in confideration of his fervices to the city, and in order to affift him in farther defigns, they would grant him two freedoms of the city and fome years after, he presented another petition to them, fetting forth, that he was of the age of threefcore and four; that he had for the space of almost thirty years laft paft, fet forth divers works to them, and that he therefore prayed them to bestow on him a yearly penfion, whereby he might reap fomewhat towards his great charges. Whether these applications had any fuccefs is not known; nor do we find that he received any reward from the city, equal to the extraordinary pains he had taken for its glory, unless we reckon for fuch his being appointed the feed-chronicler of it: yet no great falary could be annexed to this place, fince he was obliged to request a brief from king James I. to collect the charitable benevolence of well-difpofed people for his relief. What the city contributed upon this occafion may be estimated from what was collected from the parishioners of St. Mary Woolnoth, which was no more than seven shillings and fix-pence. He died of a stone-cholic the 5th of April 1605, and was interred in the church of St. Andrew Underfhaft, where a decent monument was erected to him by his widow; from which it appears, that he was then in his 80th year. His perfon and temper are thus described by mr. Edmund Howes, who knew him very well: "He was


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" tall of stature, lean of body and face; his eyes fmall and "chrystalline; of a pleasant and chearful countenance; his "fight and memory very good; and he retained the true "use of all his senses to the day of his death. He had an "excellent memory; was very fober, mild, and courteous "to any that required his inftructions. He always protefted "never to have written any thing either for envy, fear, or "favour, nor to feek his own private gain or vain-glory; " and, that his own pains and care was to write truth."

As to his literary character, he was an unwearied reader of all English hiftory, whether printed or in manufcript; and a feacher into records, regifters, journals, original charters, inftruments, &c. Nor was he contented with a mere perufal of these things, but was ambitious of poffeffing them as a great treasure; and by the time he was forty years of age, he had raised a confiderable library of fuch. His ftudy was ftored, not only with ancient authors, but likewife with original charters, regifters, and chronicles of particular places. He had the greater opportunity of enriching himfelf with these things, as he lived fhortly after the diffolution of the monafteries, when they were difperfed and fcattered abroad into divers hands out of thofe repofitories. It was his cuftom to tranfcribe all fuch old and ufeful books, as he could not obtain or purchase; thus he copied fix volumes of collections for his own ufe, which he afterwards fold to mr. Camden, who gave him for them an annuity of eight pounds for life. He was a true antiquarian, fince he was not fatisfied with reports, nor with the credit of what he found in print, but had recourfe to the originals: and he made ufe of his own legs, for he could never ride, travelling on foot to many cathedrals and churches, where ancient records and charters were, to read them. With regard to his religion, he was at firft in all probability a favourer of po pery; for in 1568, the ftate had a jealoufy of him, which occafioned an order of council to dr. Grindal, bishop of London, to caufe his library to be fearched for fuperftitious books, of which fort feveral were found there. And it is very likely, that his known inclination that way might be the ground of other troubles, which he underwent either in the ecclefiaftical commiffion, or in the ftar-chamber: for it


is certain, that about the year 1570, he was accufed, though falfely, as appeared upon trial, before the ecclefiaftical commiffioners, upon no less than a hundred and forty odd articles. Papift or proteftant, he was an honest and generous man, unspotted in his life, and ufeful in his generation.

To conclude, is it not a little extraordinary, that Stow, our moft famous antiquarian, and Speed, our most famous hiftorian, fhould both have been taylors?

Græc. tom. i. and Sira

bonis vita ab J. Cafaubo

no prefix.

edit. Stra

bon. Amft. 17971

STRABO, an excellent writer of antiquity, who died Fabric. Bibl. at the beginning of the emperor Tiberius's reign, and has left us a very valuable work, in feventeen books, De rebus geographicis. His family was ancient and noble, and originally of Choffus, a city of Creta; but he was born at Amafia, a town of Pontus. The greatest care was taken of his education; for, as we learn from himself, there was, not a school in Afia, whofe mafter had any reputation, that he was not sent to. He was fent to Nyfa when he was very young, to learn rhetoric and grammar, and afterwards applied himfelf to philofophy, and heard the mafters of the feveral fects. Xylander, his Latin tranflator, fuppofes him to have embraced the Peripatetic doctrines and difcipline; but this, as the learned Cafaubon and others have obferved, is exprefsly against feveral declarations of his own, which fhew him plainly enough to have been a Stoic. Ancient authors have faid fo little about him, that we know fcarcely any circumstances of his life, but what we learn from himself. He mentions his own travels into feveral parts of the world, into Egypt, Afia, Greece, Italy, Sardinia, and other iflands: he fays, that he went from Armenia weftward, till he came to that part of Hetruria, which is over againft Sardinia; and fouthward, from the Euxine fea to the extremities of Ethiopia. He did not go fo far as Germany, on which account it is lefs to be wondered, if he has not defcribed the countries this way with his ufual clearness and accuracy: Cluver fays, that he has not; yet others have commended even this part of his geography. He mentions feveral of his contemporaries, and several facts, which fhew him to have lived in the reigns of Auguftus and Tiberius; but the year of his death is not known,

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Germ. I. ill,

c. 1.

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