Introduction: Manuscripts and collections

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

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'Introduction: Manuscripts and collections', in A Survey of London. Reprinted From the Text of 1603, (Oxford, 1908) pp. lxxxvi-xciii. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


[This account is intended only as a short summary to show the general character of Stow's Collections. The contents of some of the volumes are so varied and fragmentary that a full catalogue would extend to great length. I have, however, included all the items of most interest, and especially such as bear on the history of London. Further particulars of the more important volumes may be found in the Calalogue of Harleian MSS.; but this summary includes a few notices, which are there omitted, together with some fresh identifications.

Touching the history of Stow's Collections it would appear that part of them were purchased at his death by Ralph Starkey, whom Sir Simonds D'Ewes calls 'an ignorant, mercenary, indigent man,' whilst allowing that he had ' great plenty of new written collections and divers original letters of great moment.' Starkey died in 1628, and D'Ewes eagerly purchased his library as an inestimable prize (Autobiography, i. 391–2). D'Ewes' library was sold by his grandson to Robert Harley, and thus this portion of Stow's Collections found its way to the British Museum. Whilst in Starkey's possession Stow's papers were used by Roger Dodsworth in preparing his ' Monasticon' (Hearne, Collectanea, iii. 108). In Hearne's time a quantity of Stow's papers, including collections for the Annales and onecclesiastical foundations and Leland's Itinerary, were in the possession of a Mr. Davies of Llannerch, and were seen and used by Hearne (id. iii. 70, 143). The transcripts of Leland in Tanner MS. 464 are no doubt those which were purchased by Camden (see p. xxv above). In 1657 they were in the possession of Mr. Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt; they came to the Bodleian Library in 1736 (Toulmin Smith, Leland in Wales, p. vi; and Itinerary, i. pp. xxiii, xxiv). The extant papers can be only a small part of Stow's Collections. The fate of the remainder is told by a note at the head of those in Cotton MS. Cleopatra C. iii: 'Bought of Edwardes, the Broker and Fripper, ij.s. 27 Octobr. 1613.' As regards others Anthony Munday states definitely that Stow, while he was alive, delivered him some of this best collections, which were made use of in subsequent editions of the Survey (Epistle Dedicatorie, ed. 1633). In like manner it is probable that some material had passed into the hands of Edmund Howes, to be incorporated by him in his editions of the Annales (see vol. ii, pp. 282, 323–4 and 367).

The great extent of Stow's Library is described by David Powel in 1584 in the Preface to his Historie of Cambria: ' In written hand I had Gildas Sapiens alias Nennius, Henrie Huntingdon, William Malmbury Marianyus Scotus, Ralph Cogshall, lo. Eversden, Nicholas Triuet, Florentius Wigornensis, Simon of Durham, Roger Houeden, and other, which remaine in the hand of I. Stowe, citizen of London, who deserueth commendation for getting together the ancient writers of the histories of this land.' Stow himself mentions that he possessed copies of Gower's Vox Clamantis and Confessio Amantis and of Fabyan's Chronicles (see vol. ii. pp. 57 and 305 below). Camden was indebted to him for a copy of Geoffrey le Baker's Chronicle (see Sir E. M. Thompson's Preface, p. vii). For a MS. (relating to 1513) borrowed from Stow in 1584, see Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, i, p. 632. Sir Robert Cotton would appear to have been a great purchaser of Stow's MSS., and his collection no doubt includes others besides those which I have noted. To make a complete list of extant MSS. which belonged to Stow would be an almost hopeless task.

Of Stow's printed books one containing a few notes in his writing is preserved in the British Museum, viz. a copy of Norden's Hertfordshire.]

A. Collections

I. In the British Museum.

Harley 247. A volume of miscellaneous and fragmentary papers, including many from Stow's Collections. Note: ff. 20–37. Part of a history of the Kings of Kent with notes by Stow. f. 45. A fragment for the Annales. ff. 82–97. Notes out of Hector Boetius made by Stow. ff. 143, and 169–72. Fragments of chronicles in English for 1376–7 (Printed in Sir E. M. Thompson's edition of Chronicon Angliae, pp. lxvii–lxxxiii. See ii. 283 below). ff. 173–4. A fragment of a translation of the Chronicon Angliae (see Sir E. M. Thompson's edition, p. xi), ff. 174, 176. Copies of deeds relating to London. F. 208. Concerning the burning of Moskow by the Crimme-Tartar, written by Iohn Stow. f. 209. A note by Stow of his dispute with Master Crowche (see p. lxii. above), ff. 210, 210*. Fragments of a letter to Stow from Thomas Wicliffe (see p. lxxii. above). f. 217. Notes by Stow on the execution of Barrow and Greenwood in 1593.

Harley 293. A miscellaneous collection containing a few papers of Stow's. e.g. f. 32. Historical notes. ff. 44–5. List of surnames from Froissart.

Harley 367. A volume of miscellaneous papers, the majority of which belonged to Stow. For ff. I–10 see pp. xlix—lxvii above. Note: f. II. Grafton's reply to Stow, with pungent comments by the latter in the margin ('This is a lye,' &c. Much of Grafton's statement is too worn to be fully legible; he claims to have had a principal share in Hall's Chronicle). f. 12. Stow's further vindication of himself against the aspersions of Grafton. ff. 13–18 and 20–45. Various historical notes by Stow. f. 19. An extract from a City Chronicle for 1502 (See ii. 341–2 below). f. 46. The way of coining and examining or trying of money, written by Iohn Stow. f. 48. The relation of what was found at the digging of a vault at the corner of Bread Street, Cheapside. (See ii. 351 below.) f. 86vo A morall Ballad by Henry Scogan (see ii. 241 below). f. 129. A poem, dated 1583 by William Vallans, Salter, addressed to Stow and lamenting his lack of reward for writing in praise of citizens.—Vallans was the author of a peice of verse printed in Leland's Itinerary, vol. v. 'A Tale of Two Swannes'; see Dict. Nat. Biog., lviii. 83.—The last few lines will illustrate sufficiently the character of this poem:

Let citizens themselues declare
What dedes theyre mayors haue done,
What benefactors they haue had,
What honor they haue wonn.
And though your selfe a Cytezen
Regard there lastyng fame
Yet reason is they should reward
Or recompense the same.

This volume also contains copies of poems by Lydgate and other writers made by Stow.

Harley 374. A collection of autograph letters made by Sir Simonds D' Ewes. For letters to Stow on ff. 9–24 see pp. lxviii—lxxiii above. Note also: f. 12. Christopher Ridley to the right worshipful Mr. Will. Claxton of Wynyard with an account of the Picts Wall. (Some notes written thereon by Stow.) f. 20. A note by Camden of inquiries to be made of Mr. Claxton touching the Picts Wall.

Harley 530. Miscellaneous collections of Camden's and Stow's. Note: f.i. A letter from Henry Savile to Stow (see p. lxxii above). ff. 2–12. Collectanea ex chron. de Dunmowe. ff. 19–30. A translation of part of the Vita Henrici Quinti. f. 38. On the buildings of John Churchman (see i. 135). f. 75*. A letter from Camden to Stow (see p. lxxiii above). ff. 77–8. Some corrections by Camden for the Survey (They relate to the western suburbs and Westminster, and apparently refer to a MS. copy; they are incorporated in the printed text.) ff. 81–94. Passages from Greek and Roman writers relating to Britain, perhaps collected by Camden for Stow's use. ff. 115–18. Fragments of a late copy of a Chronicle of London for 1270–88, and 1344–58. ff. 119, 120. A London Chronicle for 1538–9 (see vol. ii. 284, 310 below).

Harley 538. Stow's original draft of the main part of the Survey. See p. xxxvii and Notes passim.

Harley 539. Collections by Stow. Note: ff. 1–82, William Lambard's 'Perambulation of Kent' —'writen by Iohn Stowe in anno 1579.' ff. 95–6. The Foundacion of Betheleme without Byssoppes Gate of London in anno 1247. f. 183vo. Names of the Wards in London with some historical notes by Stow. f. 184. '1590. The 4 of September sir John Leveson, Mistar W. Lambarde and Mystar Leonard dyd ryde to see the monument of Catigern corruptly called Kytts Cotyhouse, I beings with them &c.' (A very brief note made by Stow.) The other collections relate chiefly to ecclesiastical foundations in various places.

Harley 540. Historical collections of Stow's. Note: ff. 3–6. E Chronico Regum Manniate. ff. 7–21. A London Chronicle 1485–1555. (Partly in Stow's writing; very brief to 1527, fairly full to 1541, and very short from 1541 to 1549. Prefixed are two brief notes of the time of Richard II and Henry Iv. —'from a book of Mr. Lordynge'. See Notes ii. 295, 352, 370.) ff. 53–6. Notes on Annals of London. ff. 68–9. Notes on history of the Conduit at Flect. ff. 70–7 Account of the expedoitions into Scotland in 1547 and 1560. f, 79. A fragment on Honour of Citizens. f. 81. Letters patent re St. Nicholas Coleabney. f. 82vo. Some private memoranda of Stow's; for the only one of interest see p. xix above. ff. 83–89. Notes of charitable bequests by London citizens. ff. 93–110. John Cooke's Relation of Sir Francis Drake's voiage unto the West Indies began 15 November 1577. (The only copy extant; in Stow's writing. Printed in The World Encompassed, pp. 187–218, Hakluyt Society.) ff. III–14. 'A Treatise of my Lord of Comberlan's Shippes Voyage (in anno 1592) and of theyr takynge of the great Carack, lately brought into Dartmouth. Writen by Fraunces Seall.' f. 121. Notes for Annales, 1604. f. 122. Notes by Stow as to information to be found in the Survey, relating to the Tower, and the city's claim re St. Martin's, apparently prepared for the use of the Corporation in legal business. f. 123. A note on the Standart at Leadenhall (see Note, vol. ii. p. 302 below).

Harley 541. Collections chiefly by Sir Simonds D' Ewes. But NOTE: ff. 215–19. List of Mayors, with a few notes (see Chron. Lond., p. 321). ff. 220–3. 'Here begynnythe the names of all parishe churches wtyn the fraunchese of London' (with some notes by Stow). f. 224. The Gates of the Cyttie of London. f. 225. List of the Halls of Companies. f. 229. List of trades in London.

Harley 542. Historical collections by Stow chiefly for the Annales. NOTE: ff. 15–27. Excerpts from Peter of Ickham. ff. 28–30. 'Notes gathered by Dr. Talbot out of ye boke of Brute.' ff. 31–3. Richard III, his deathe from a book 'borrowyd of Henry Savill'. ff. 34–7. ' History of a moste horrible murder comytted at ffevershame in Kent' (Arden of Faversham). ff. 54–6. 'Oute of a small pawmflet in parchement wryten in Latyn of the trayterous Scottes' inc: 'In the yeare of Christes birth 1306.' ff. 57–65. Richard Turpyn's 'Chronicle of Calais' (published by Camden Soc.). f. 101. Speeches at the Pageants for Margaret of Anjou, 1446, by Lydgate. f. 102. Lydgate's 'London Licpenny'. ff. 105–8. 'Out of an olde booke of Master Henry Savill' (on history of Lacy family). ff. 109–16. Conquest of Britony (Britain) by Julius Caesar. ff. 125–40. 'Fortescue on Laws of England. Transcribed by Mr. J. Stowe with his owne hand.' ff. 141–66. 'Out of a Chronicle of the Angles pertaynynge to Mast. Rose Carrike, translatyd into Englysshe for John Stowe and by him writen anno 1579.' (For years 1381–99.)

Harley 543. Notes and transcripts by Stow chiefly for the 15th century. NOTE: ff. 31–49. Arrival of King Edward IV. 'Out of Mystar Flyghtwod's Boke.' 'Transcribed by John Stowe the Chronicler with his owne hand.' (Published by Camden Society, and in Chronicles of the White Rose.) ff. 50–92. History of Loys Duke of Orleans. ff. 150–60. Extracts from a London Chronicle of the type of Cotton MS. Julius B.i; events of 1423–6 (see Chron. Lond., 279–86), articles of surrender of French towns 1417–25. ff. 151–75. Copies of documents relating to English history during Wars of Roses (see Chronicles of the White Rose, pp. lviii, lxxiv, 229–38).

Harley 544. Transcripts and historical notes made by Stow. NOTE: ff. 1–12. From Giraldus Cambrensis; on f. 3. 'Out of an old booke of Master Iohn Price's after the description of Wales. Writen in Englysshe by Iohn Stow, marchaunt-taylour in anno domini 1579, and in ye monithe of decembre.' ff. 15–22. On introduction of Christianity to Britain: lists and biographies of archbishops and bishops of London to 1594. ff. 23–5. Names of bishops of London, and Deans of St. Paul's. f. 26. Dimensions of St. Paul's. ff. 30–2. Buryalls in Poles Cherche. ff. 33–64. Registrum Fratrum Minorum London. (Extracts, with list of persons buried at Greyfriars, see ii. 345.) ff. 65–8. Interments at Westminster Abbey, Holy Trinity, Charterhouse, Whitefriars, Blackfriars, Austin Friars (see ii. 300, 350, 364, 376). f. 69. Notes on Cliffords. ff. 72–9. Notes on hospitals and colleges in various towns. ff. 80–95. Charters to St. Katherine's Hospital. ff. 96–9. Draft of the chapter of the Survey on Southwark (see notes, vol. ii. 365–7 below). f. 100. Notes made by Stow from a Cartulary of St. Mary Overy (see ii. 324–6, 352). ff. 101–2. Visitation of Clarencieux in 1533, giving lists of persons buried at St. Mary Abbey at the Tower Hill (see vol. ii. 287), St. Katherine by the Tower, Barking Chapel, Crossed Friars, St. Buttolph's, and St. Olave's. f. 104. Rough notes for the Survey on Westminster. f. 105. A fragment of a translation of FitzStephen. f. 107. A fragment of the Survey.

Harley 545. Chiefly extracts from Chronicles made by Stow in 1575. NOTE: ff. 1–42. Translation of Robert of Avesbury. ff. 133–8. An English Chronicle 1431–55, with copies of documents especially in reference to Cade's rebellion. ff. 139–67. Translation of Murimouth's Chronicle 1303–37, with a continuation to 1381.

Harley 551. Historical collections by Stow. Chiefly translations from Giraldus Cambrensis written by Stow 1576–9. The Conquest of Ireland is said to be translated by Camden.

Harley 563. Translations in Stow's writing of the Chronicles of Florence of Worcester, Asser, Aelred of Rievaulx, and Trivet. The first is said to be by Raphael Holinshed.

Cotton, Cleopatra C. iii. ff. 291–7. Cronicle of Donmow in Estsex. Nicholas de Bromfeld, Canon of Donmowe. ff. 298vo. Latin notes on events in London 1318–20. ff. 297, 300. Boundaries of St. Stephen Coleman parish. ff. 301–19. Extracts from a Llanthony Chronicle and other monastic annals.

Additional MS. 29729. Copies of poems, chiefly by Lydgate, made by Stow from the collections of John Shirley and other sources. On f. 285vo is a note: 'This boke perteynythe to Iohn Stowe, and was by hym wryten in ye yere of our lord M.d. lviij.'

2. In the Bodleian Library.

Tanner 343. On f. 152 some notes by Stow on foundations of Churches.

Tanner 464. Stow's transcripts from Leland's Collectanea, Itinerary, Epigrams, &c. In five volumes. Bound up with vol. i are the draft of a chapter of the Survey (see Note on ii. 269–70 below) and some notes for the Annales. 'Writen by Iohn Stow in anno 1576.'

Ashmole 848. Extracts made by Robert Glover from Stow's Collections.

B. Note of some MSS. which Belonged to or were used by Stow

I. In the British Museum.

Harleian MSS.:—

194. ' An Annale of Queene Marie.' Edited by J. G. Nichols for the Camden Soc., 1850, as a Chronicle of Queen Jane and Queen Mary.

604. Transcript of part of ' Liber Papie.' See vol. ii. 297.

661. Hardyng's Chronicle. See p. xii above.

2251. A volume of John Shirley's. See vol. ii. 361.

3634. Chronicon Angliae. 1328–88. Printed in Rolls Series.

6217. ff. 3–12. Fragment of Chronicon Angliae: a note of Stow's on f. 4.

Harley Roll, C. 8. A London Chronicle with notes by Stow. See p. xxxiv above and vol. ii. 382.

Cotton MSS.:—

Nero D.v. The Chronica Majora of M. Paris. See Luard's Preface, i, p. xii, and Madden's Preface to Historia Anglorum, i. lxi–iv. It is the copy which Stow lent to Parker, and is probably the Flores Historiarum, which Grindal's chaplains found. See pp. xvii, xix above.

Nero D. viii. A collection of various Historical works including Geoffrey of Monmouth, excerpts from Gildas, Giraldus Descriptio Cambriae, Polycronicon.

Nero E. vi. The Cartulary of the Hospital of St. John at Clerkenwell. See vol. ii. 271, 355, 371.

Vitellius A. xvi. A London Chronicle, with notes by Stow (Chronicles of London, pp. 153–263).

Vitellius F. xvi. Liber Papie. See vol. ii. 297.

Vespasian B. ix. Liber S. Bartholomei. Some notes by Stow. See vol. ii. 271, 360.

Faustina B. ii. Cartulary of the Nuns Priory at Clerkenwell. Notes by Stow on ff. 6, 9, 27. See vol. ii. 272, 301.

Additional MSS.:—

23147. William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum. A note by Stow on f. 42.

34360. A collection of poems chiefly by Lydgate.

Stowe MS. 952. An imperfect copy of Lydgate's 'Pilgrimage of the Life of Man'. Stow has added the conclusion from another manuscript.

2. In the Bodleian Library.

Ashmole 59. A volume of John Shirley's. See vol. ii. 361.

Laud. Misc. 557. Lydgate, 'Siege of Thebes.' On fly–leaf: 'This is Iohn Stowe's boke.'

3. Other Manuscripts.

Lambeth 306. A London Chronicle (Short English Chronicle) together with notes on 15th century history and Memoranda, 1561–7. Edited by Dr. Gairdner for Camden Soc. in Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles, 1880.

Christ Church, Oxford. Stow's 'Liber Osney'; see below i. 292, and ii. 337. Given to Christ Church by Sir Robert Cotton in exchange.

Trinity College, Cambridge. R. 3. 19. Poems by Chaucer, Lydgate, and others. See vol. ii. 377.

The Cartulary of Trinity Priory. In the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow. There is a modern transcript in Guildhall MS. 122. For its history see Dr. Sharpe's Introduction to Letter-Book C, p. xviii.

Davies MS. Afterwards belonged to Speed. From it was edited An English Chronicle, 1377–1461, by Rev. J. S. Davies for Camden Soc., 1859.