Зображення сторінки

is the largest and best we have hitherto extant.” In another place, “John Speed was a person of extraordinary industry and attainments in the study of antiquities; and seems not altogether unworthy the name of ‘summus & eruditus antiquarius,” given him by Sheringham, who was certainly so himself.” His son John SPEED was born at London in 1595, and educated at Merchant-taylors' school, whence he was elected a scholar of St. John's-college in Oxford, in 1612, of which he afterwards became a fellow, and took the degree of master of arts, and bachelor and doctor of physic. He wrote “2xextrè, utriusque serus rownsvros,” a manuscript in Latin, dedicated to archbishop Laud, and preserved in the library of St. John-college. This piece relates to two skeletons, one of a man, another of a woman, made by Dr. Speed, and given by him to that library. He wrote likewise “ Stonehenge, a Pastoral,” acted before Dr. Rich. Baylie, and the president and fellows of St. John's-college in 1635. It is extant in manuscript. He died in May 1640, and was buried in the chapel of that college. He married a daughter of Bartholomew Warner, M. D. and had by her two sons. One of them, SAMUEL, was a student of Christ-church in Oxford, and was installed canon of that ehurch May the 6th, 1674, and died at Godalinin in Surrey, of which he was vicar, January the 22d, 1681. The other, John, was born at Oxford, and elected scholar of St. John's-college there about 1643, but ejected thence by the parliament-visitors in 1648, he being then bachelor of arts and fellow. At the restoration he was restored to his fellowship, and in 1666 took the degree of physic, and afterwards quitting his fellowship, he practised that faculty at Southampton, where he was living in 1694. He wrote “Batt upon Batt; a Poem upon the parts, patience, and pains of Bartholomew Kempster, clerk, poet, and cutler of Holy-rood parish in Southampton;” and also “The Vision, wherein is described Batt's person and ingenuity, with an account of the ancient and present state and glory of Southampton.” Both these pieces were printed at London in two sheets in fol. and afterwards in 4to. The countess de Viri, wife of a late Sardinian ambassador, was lineally descended from our historian. Such was the friendship between lord Cobham and colonel Speed, her father, that upon his decease, he esteemed her as his own child, brought her up in his family, and treated her with paternal

[ocr errors]

care and tenderness. Her extraordinary merit recommended her to the viscountess Cobham, who left her the bulk of her fortune. This lady, who was eminent for her wit and accomplishments, is celebrated by Gray in his “Long Story,” which indeed was written in consequence of a visit from her." SPELMAN (SIR HENRY), an eminent English antiquary, was descended from an ancient family of his name, which flourished in the time of Henry III. at Bekington in Hampshire, and in the fifteenth century was settled in Norfolk, where our author's great-grandfather was possessed of a considerable estate. This great-grandfather married the heiress of the Narborough family, by whom he had a son who became sir John Spelman, knt. of Narborough, and our author's father, Henry, was the fourth son of Sir John, and lived at Congham near Lynn-regis in Norfolk. He married Frances, daughter of William Sanders of Ewell in Surrey, by whom he had our author, his eldest son, who was born in 1562, and educated at the school of Walsingham in the neighbourhood. In his fourteenth year, when according to his own modest account he was scarcely ripe for academical studies, he was entered of Trinity-college, Cambridge. Here he applied with great diligence for two years and a half, but upon the death of his father, he was obliged to return home, and assist his mother, in managing the affairs of the family. After remaining at Congham about a year, he was admitted of Lincoln’s-inn, with a view to the law as a profession. This, however, he appears to have studied rather in a general way, as far as respected the laws, customs, and constitution of his country, and at the same time cultivated polite literature and antiquities. When almost of age, he returned to Norfolk, and married Eleanor, the daughter of John Le Strange, a gentleman of an ancient family in the same county. He now employed himself in rural and domestic affairs, studying also, at intervals, the constitution and antiquities of his country; and having some property, either paternal or acquired by his marriage, he was enabled to add to it by certain purchases, particularly of the lease of Blackburgh and Wrongey abbies in Norfolk. Besides a family of his own, he had the guardianship of sir Hamon Le Strange, his brother-in-law, and during his minority, resided at Hunstanton, the seat of sir Hamon. The first fruit of his studies, said to have been begun when very young, was a Latin treatise on coats of arms, entitled “Aspilogia,” in which he displays a considerable fund of curious information; and he frequently employed himself in making transcripts of several foundation-charters of the monasteries of Norfolk and Suffolk. Having been admitted a member of the original society of antiquaries, he became acquainted with those celebrated lovers of that science, Camden, sir Robert Cotton, and others, whose conversation improved his knowledge, and decided his taste for pursuits similar to what had engaged their attention. In 1594 he is thought to have written “A Discourse concerning the Coin of this kingdom,” chiefly with a view to prove the immense treasures which had been drawn from England, in consequence of the usurpations of the pope. In 1604 he served as high sheriff of Norfolk, of which county he furnished Speed with a description, and being now distinguished for his abilities, he was sent by king James three several times into Ireland as one of the commissioners for determining the unsettled titles to lands and manors in that country; and at home was appointed one' of the commissioners to inquire into the oppression of exacted fees in all the courts and offices of England, as well ecclesiastical as civil; which bishop Hacket calls “a noble examination and full of justice.” This gave rise to his learned treatise “De Sepultura,” or of “Burial Fees,” in which he proved the existence of very exorbitant exactions. These employments, however, having tended to the injury of his fortune, the government was so sensible of his services, that a present of 300l. was made him, not as a full recompence” (for so it is expressed in the king's writ), but only “as an occasional remembrance,” till something more equal to his merit could be done for him. He was also knighted by James I. who had a particular esteem for him; as well on account of his known capacity for business, as his extensive learning, especially in the laws and antiquities of our nation, which were the constant subjects of his researches. With a view to pursue those researches with more advantage than was possible in a country residence, he determined to remove to London. Accordingly in 1612, he sold his stock upon the farms, let out his estate to tenants, and removed with his family to the metropolis, where he had a house in Barbican. While here employed in investigating “the grounds of the law from original records,” which engaged him in a perusal of the fathers, councils, and ancient historians, he was for some time diverted from this pursuit by a conversation with his uncle, Mr. Francis Sanders, who complained to him of the many crosses and disappointments he had met with in a building he had then in hand upon the glebe of his appropriated parsonage at Congham. Sir Henry, who had a profound veneration for church-property, told his uncle that this was a judgment upon him for defrauding the church, and that it was utterly unlawful to keep appropriated parsonages in lay hands; and finding him somewhat impressed with what he had said, he expatiated more fully on the subject in a written paper, which, owing to Mr. Sanders's death, never reached him. It was, however, published under the title “De non temerandis Ecclesiis,” or, “Churches not to be violated.” He reprinted it in 1615, 8vo, and about the same time a defence of it against an anonymous writer, with a Latin epistle to Mr. Richard Carew, who had made some objections to his treatise. The effect of sir Henry's arguments was very extraordinary ; for several persons actually parted with their impropriations. That he was sincere himself is sufficiently obvious, for being possessed of the impropriation of Middleton in Norfolk, he disposed of it for the augmentation of the vicarage, and also some additions to Congham which lies near it. It is said likewise that during the whole of his life, almost at every law-term in London, he was consulted by various lay-impropriators as to the mode by which they might restore their unlawful possessions of this kind; and some are reported to have thanked him for his book, declaring that they would never purchase any appropriate parsonages to augment their estates. The meetings of the society of antiquaries which had been discontinued for twenty years, were revived, in 1614, by sir Henry Spelman and others, who now drew up his “Discourse concerning the original of the four Law Terms of the year,” in which the laws of the Jews, Grecians, Romans, Saxons, and Normans, relating to this subject are fully explained. This treatise does not appear to have been published until 1684, 12mo, and then from a very incorrect copy, yet was printed from the same in Hearne's

* Biog. Brit.—Ath. Ox. vols. I. and II.-Granger.—Fuller's Worthies.— Gough's Topography.

“Curious Discourses,” along with others on the same subject, by Mr. Joseph Holland and Mr. Thomas Thynn. In 1621, an apology for archbishop Abbot, respecting the death of a park-keeper, (see Abbot) was answered by sir Henry, who endeavours to prove, not only that the archbishop was guilty of an irregularity by that act, but also intimates that he could not be effectually reinstated without some extraordinary form of new consecration. He even goes so far as to assert that by the canons hunting is unlawful in a clergyman; and he also advances' many other positions to which no very cordial assent will now perhaps be given. In the course of those antiquarian studies which respect the origin and foundation of our laws, he frequently found himself impeded by obsolete words. These he began to collect by degrees, with references to the places where they occur, and by comparing these places was enabled to form at least some very probable conjectures as to the meaning of them. This labour he soon experienced must be assisted by a knowledge of the Saxon, which at that time was very rare, and his helps consequently were few, yet by dint of industry he acquired a very considerable knowledge of this language, and before 1626 had, in a great measure, prepared his “Glossary” for the press, and because he would not depend upon his own judgment, he printed one or two sheets by way of specimen, for the perusal of his friends. These were so satisfied, that he received ample encouragement from the most learned persons of that age: at home, from Usher, Williams, then lord keeper, Selden, and sir Robert Cotton; abroad, from Rigaltius, Salmasius, Peiresc, and otbers; as also from Bignonius, Meursius, and Lindenbrokius, whose assistance he very gratefully acknowledges. Upon this, he published it as far as to the end of the letter L. Why he went no farther, is variously explained. Some have fancied, that he stopped at the letter M, because he expressed certain sentiments, under the heads “Magna charta,” and “Maxianum consilium,” which his friends were afraid might give offence; “that not being a season,” says bishop Gibson, “to speak freely, either of the prerogative of the king, or the liberty of the subject, both which upon many occasions would have fallen in his way *.” The author has told us, in an advertisement be

* Aubrey says that archbishop Laud, for sir Henry, “hindered the printing who notwithstanding had a great e-teem of the second part of his Glossary,

« НазадПродовжити »