Introduction: Letters to Stow

A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603. Originally published by Clarendon, Oxford, 1908.

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John Stow, 'Introduction: Letters to Stow', in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) pp. lxviii-lxxiv. British History Online [accessed 29 May 2024].

John Stow. "Introduction: Letters to Stow", in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) lxviii-lxxiv. British History Online, accessed May 29, 2024,

Stow, John. "Introduction: Letters to Stow", A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908). lxviii-lxxiv. British History Online. Web. 29 May 2024,

In this section


Note.— The majority of these letters are contained in Harley MS. 374, ff. 9–24. No. 12 is from Harley MS. 247. Nos. 13 and 14 are from Harley MS. 530, f. I and f. 76*. No. 9 from Tanner MS. 464 (iv), f. I.

1. From Henry Savile.

[The allusion to Matthew Parker—' my lordes Grace'—shows that the date was at the latest I May, 1575. Savile's father lived at Halifax. Mr. Hare is Robert Hare (d. 1611) the antiquary, who presented two volumes of his collections on the Privileges of the University to Oxford. See Dict. Nat. Biog., xxiv. 373.]

After my most hartie commendacions being verie glad and desirous to heare from you, trustinge in our lorde that you be in good healthe, or els I might be hertelye sorie, for that I have founde at all tymes good favoure of you, since our first acquaintance; and other acquaintance in London I have none, but that I have by your meanes, as good Mr. Hare, with whom I pray you commende me and desyre him to lett me vnderstande in what towardeness his good workes for the privilleges of Oxforte is. And forther I beseche you to certifye me if Wigornensis (fn. 1) is printed, and wheare I may send to buye it, and the price. And gladlye of all other I would vnderstande that your last booke (fn. 2) weare forthe, that I might sende vnto you for one or two for my money. Forther I woulde vnderstonde if my Lordes grace be aboute to print Roger Howden, Maulbesburie, (fn. 3) and Huntington, and in what forwardnes they be. Good owlde ffrend let me have your letter in the premisses, and God willinge it shalbe recompensed or it be longe. And I must forther desire yowe to have answer by this bearer. At this tyme from Halifaxe, this first of Maye.
By your loving ffrende
Henry Savill.

To my most speciall good friend Mr. Iohn Stowe deliuer this in Cornewall (fn. 4)

2. From Robert Glover.

Thanking him for the loan of a copy of Marianus Scotus. 'It is one of the best bookes I handled a great while. I wishe it were your owne, for so do I wishe welle vnto myself. Fare ye Hartely well. From my house this Wensday the xith of September 1577.
Your lover and freende
R. Glouer, Somersett.'

3. From Thomas Hatcher.

[Dated 15 Jan. 1580 (1581 N. S.). A long letter filling the whole of f. 14. Thomas Hatcher (d. 1583) was a fellow of King's College, Cambridge. See Dict. Nat. Biog., xxv. 151.]

Returning' John Blakeman's treatise of Henrie the sixt'. As to history of King's College. Wishes Stow to publish whatever he has of Leland. And also his own Antiquities under the title of Stow's Storehouse. Desires him to speak to 'Mr. Cambden, yor frend, the vsher of Westminster School', about publishing the history of Tobit in Latin verse. Intends to give an account of the authors cited by Stow in his Chronicle: for this purpose he desires Stow's help, and also sight of Leland De Scriptoribus. Inquires as to author of Book De Episcopis Cantuariensibus, which Archbishop Parker had printed.

4. From William Claxton.

[As his letters show, Claxton was a northern antiquary, and man of position and repute. He was the owner of Wynyard in Durham, whence he wrote these letters. He died in May, 1597 (Durham Wills, ii. 272, Surtees Soc.). The date of this letter is 20 April, 1582.]

Asks for the return of a book by his nephew Thomas Layton the bearer. Promises his help in what concerns the bishopric of Durham. 'To his assured ffrynd Mr. Iohn Stowe, Chronicler, at his house in Leaden haull in London.'

5. From the same.

[Dated 4 Jan. 1584. 'To Mr. Iohn Stowe dwelling by ye Ledon Hall.']

Thanks him for his courteous letter. ' I am glad to heare of your good proseading in these two notable workes you haue in hand, and I wish my abilitie were of credyt to doe you eny good therein.' Asks for the safe return of the book which he had lent. 'I haue also sent you an Inglysshe crowne by Robert Layton for a remembraunce, wishyng yow to assure your selfe yt so long as I lyue yow shall not want a friend to the vttermost of his power.' Encloses some notes on Durham.

6. From the same.

[Unsigned and undated, but in Claxton's writing.]

Returns a book, and tells Stow that he has in store for him a parchment life of Edward the Confessor, together with Alured of Beverley. 'Where as yt appeareth by yor letter that yow had acquaynted the lord Howerd (fn. 5) wt some of our procedynges, I am very sory that I did not see his lordsh. at his being in ye countrey, to whome I would haue done my dewtye, beynge thereunto reythar bound for that I was brought vp by suche as were allyed to his Lp. house.'

7. From John Dee.

[The celebrated astrologer and antiquary. The only date is 4 Dec. Possibly the occasion was the publication of the Chronicles in 1580, or of the Annales in 1592.]

'Mr. Stow, you sall vnderstond that my frende Mr. Dyer did deliuer your bokes to the two Erls, who toke them very thankfully. But (as he noted) there was no return commaunded of them. What sall hereafter, God knoweth. So could not I haue done. —Hope, as well as I.—As concerning your burgesses for the Cinq ports, &c.' As to Stow's copies of Asser and Florence of Worcester

8. From his daughter, John Foster.

[Joan Foster is mentioned in her father's will; see p. xlv above. The hospital is the Hospital of St. Michael outside Warwick, as stated in some notes written by Stow on the letter. John Fyssher, clerk, was made keeper, master or governor of the house or hospital of St. Michael, Warwick, by a grant from Henry VIII, on 14 Nov. 1541 (Letters and Papers, xvi. 1391 (41)). Dugdale has no mention either of Fisher or Brooke.]

After my most hartest commendacions vnto you and to my mother, trusting that you bothe be in good healthe as I and my husband were at my wrytting hereof. Thankes be to God therefor. This is to desyer yowe, father, of all yor fryndly fryndsheppe that you can or maye to pleasure a very ffrynd of myn dwellyng here in Warwyck for to seche owt for the foundacion of a hospetall or spettell house of Warwyck founded by the earelles (fn. 6) of Warwyck in this parte. And yf yow may healpe him ther vnto he wold reward you verye well for yor paynes, and also you shall do me great pleasure therein, for yt he is my verie ffrynd and neyghbour. It is supposed that you shall fynd the foundacion hereof yn the Tower of London, therefore good father, now agayne I pray you take some paynes therin. The hospital house is at the northe syd of Warwyck, the said hospetall was last given by kynge henrye the eyght to a Iohn ffisher master of the said hospetall for ye terme of hys lyffe, and sence his deathe the sayd hospytall was given to my aforsaid neyghbour and frynd Olyver Brooke, who yet leveffe, and is dryven now for to syke oute the foundacion thereof, which and you can helpe him herevnto you shall do him greate good, and I praye you so soon as you have found out any thing to do him good therin send worde to me wt as much spyd as by. And he will Repair vp vnto you wt what spyd he maye. And thus in haste I committ yow to God, from Warwyke the 3 daye of december by yor loving daughter during lyffe to remaine.
Joan ffoster.

To my loving ffather Mr. Iohn Stowe benethe Leadon hall neare vnto the Thrye Towenes in London, gyve this.

9. From Thomas Newton.

[Thomas Newton (1542 ?-1607) was a poet of some eminence, a physician, and rector of Little IIford, Essex, whence this letter was written on 29 March, 1586. See also p. lii above and Dict. Nat. Biog., xi. 402.]

Returns the copy of Leland's Epigrams and thanks him 'for many other your curtesies, frendlie amities many tymes showed vnto me, as namely at this tyme for this yor boke of Mr. Leland his poetries'.

Newton, in his Encomia Illustrium Virorum (ap. Leland, Collectanea, v. 177), has an epigram addressed to his friend William Hunnis, the musician:
De Io. Stoëo Chronigrapho.
Anglica scire cupis solide quis Chronica scribat?
Stous id egregia praestat, Hunisse, fide.
Quottidie e tenebris is multa volumina furvis
Eruit, is mandat plurima scripta typis.
Ex nitida illius deprompsi ego Bibliotheca
Plurima, quae nobis nocte dieque patet.

10. From Henry Ferrers.

[Henry Ferrers (1549–1633), a Warwickshire antiquary and country gentleman of Roman Catholic inclinations. Dict. Nat. Biog., xviii. 385. Undated.]

Mr. Stowe, because I will breake promesse with you no more I have, although it be late, first put you these pamphlets, and therwith youre other booke, which I borrowed last, and desyre you to lend me youre bede and yor pedigree of kinges, and so till or next meeting I bid you farewell.
Yor loving friend,
Henry Ferrers.

11. From Thomas Martyn.

[Thomas Marten (d. 1597) a Roman Catholic controversialist, and fellow of New College, Oxford. See Dict. Nat. Biog., xxxvi. 320. The date must be 1592.]

Likes his Annales and 'the great paynes taken therein'. Offers some criticisms. 'My founder is bound to you, but that tale of Alice Peers is slaunderous, and in my conscience most vntrue.'

'To my well beloved and very freend Mr. Stowe at his house beyonde Leadenhall in London.'

12. From Thomas Wicliffe.

[There is a fragement of a letter, refering to 'Purpool' (Portpool) and Stow's Chronicle in Harley MS. 247, f. 211. The address and a postscript, apparently of the same letter, are on f. 210, as below. There is no date. I find nothing as to the writer.]

'To his assured ffrynd Mr John Stow, chronyclar, dwellinge in the Leaden haul at London. d. d.'

Sr. I besech you of yor answer of this lre. for the within named hartely desireth to here from yow.
Thomas Wicliffe.

13. From Henry Savile.

[As to Mr. Hare see note on I. Lord William Howard's edition of Florence of Worcester, and the first edition of Stow's Annales were about to appear.]

Mr. Stow. After my hertie commendacions. Yor L[ette]re dated the tenthe of maye I receaved at Halifax wt thankes, and synce I am come to Oxford, where I have made enquirie to knowe where the booke showld bee that Mr Hare showlde send hyther, yor L[ette]re dyd ymporte, and as yet I cannot here of the same. Therefore I desyre you to goo vnto the good gentleman Mr Hare in my name, and requeste hym to let me vnderstonde by whome and abowte what tyme hee sent the booke, and to what place he made his direction, and whoo showlde have the custodie therof; for greate pitie yt weare that so worthie woorke showlde be embeazled, and I pray ye wt speede to certefye me in writynge, and delyver yor L[ette]re at the syne of the Owle, that yt maye be delyvered vnto the carier, Richard Edwardes, whome commythe homeward on Wednys daye next. And further I praye ye let me know whoo is the printer of Wygorniensis, and wheare hee dwellethe; and whoo is the printer of yor booke. I haue heere sente yo a mild sixpence to drynke a qwarte of wyne in yor travell. This wisshynge yor healthe I byd ye farewell. Oxon. this sondaye Trinite,
21 May 1592.
Your lovinge frend,
Henry Savill.

Directe yor l[ette]res I praye to Mr. Henrie Shirbourne over agaynste Merton Colledge, to be delyvered to me. Mr Blanksome, God wyllynge, wyll be at London (fn. 7)

14. From William Camden.

[This is without date or address.]

Mr Stow, yff I might finde so much fauor att your handes as to lend me the foundations of the Abbayes in Lincolnshyre, Warwickshire, Darbyshire and Nottinghamshire, you should pleasure me greatly. You shall receaue them againe this day before night.
Yr Louing freende,
William Camden.

15. From William Claxton.

[The writer of 4, 5, and 6. Dated Wynyard 10 April, 1594.]

Thanks Stow for the receipt of a book and his letter. Encourages him to proceed 'to the publishing of such grave histories and antiquities' … 'I perceiue also by yor letter, that you haue awgmented your booke of foundacions, whereof I ame hartelie glad, and doe most earnestly request that you would let me haue a copie of the best sorte wth your newe augmentacions, which trewlie I would make no small accounte of, and keape as a token of your manifeste kyndnes vnto me; and ye more earnest I am to haue it, as in yor letter you said there is no coppie of it but yor owne, wh:, if owght should come vnto you butt good, might happelie be neuer regarded and spoyled, or neuer come to light, and so all yor paynes frustrate; whereas yf I haue a coppie of it, I hope so to vse it and dispose of it, as it shall be extant to all posterities, and amongst them a neuer dying same for you, who bestowed suche paynes in collecting the certentie thereof together. What charge so euer you be at in gettinge it copied fwrth for me, I will repaie vnto you with thankes'…

Postscript. 'The greater your augmentacions are, the greater your same and commendacions be' …'I would also request when you publish your great volume (fn. 8) mentioned in your last booke you sent me, you would let me haue one booke of the same'. Asks for return of three books which he left in Stow's study, when last there. They are not his own.


  • 1. Florence of Worcester.
  • 2. Presumably The Summarie for 1575.
  • 3. William of Malmesbury.
  • 4. A not uncommon corruption for Cornhill: e. g. 'At the end of Cornewall by the Stocks,' in Chronicle of Queen Jane and Queen Mary, p. 40 (Camd. Soc.); see also Inq. p. m. Lond., iii. 61. Cornhill anciently extended to include Leadenhall Street as far as St. Andrew Undershaft: see i. 97 and ii. 292 below.
  • 5. No doubt Lord William Howard (1563–1640), of Naworth. He was the first editor of Florence of Worcester, in 1592. See Dict. Nat. Biog., xxviii. 79.
  • 6. I am very doubtful of the second and third letters of this word; but the sense requires 'Earls'.
  • 7. The last few words are destroyed.
  • 8. Presumably 'The History of this Island'. The book on which Stow worked so long, to no purpose. See p. xxi.