FRANCIS THYNNE, an antiquary, and herald, of the sixteenth century, descended from an ancient branch of the noble family now having the title of marquis of Bath, was the son of William Thynne, chief clerk of the kitchen, and afterwards marquis of the household to Henry VIII. He was born at Stretton, in Shropshire, and educated at Tunbridge school, under Mr. Proctor, the learned master, who is gratefully remembered by him as one of the English historians. From thence he was sent to Magdalen college, Oxford, where he was entered a commoner; and, as himself informs us, was afterwards a member of Lincoln's Inn. Camden, in the preface to his Britannia, gives him the ample character of having prosecuted the study of antiquities with great honour. In that of heraldic and genealogical pursuits, he was particularly an enthusiast, and presented a petition to lord Burleigh, then presiding at the head of the commission for executing the office of earl marshal, requesting to be admitted into the college of heralds, and offering himself to the strictest examination. This was accordingly instituted, and his merit being acknowledged, he was preferred to be blanche lyon poursuivant, after which, when he was fifty-seven years of age, he was, on April 29, 1602, with great ceremony, created Lancaster herald at arms, having previously obtained a patent for that office, dated Oct. 23, 44 Eliz. Wood, in his Athene, and Hearne, after him, place the death of Mr. Thynne in 1611, but it must have happened sooner, since he never surrendered his patent, and that granted to his successor in office bears date Nov. 1608, which was more probably the year of his death.
Hearne published A discourse of the Dutye and Office of an Heraulde of Armes, written by Thynne, the 3d day of March, 1605. In 1651 were printed his Histories concerning Ambassadors and their Functions, dedicated to his good friend William, lord Cobham. He continued the Chronicle, known by the name of Holingshed's, finishing the annals of Scotland, from 1586 down to where they now end. He drew up a list of English cardinals, added to the reign of Mary I. He wrote the catalogue of English historical writers; but his Discourses upon the earls of Leicester, archbishops of Canterbury, lords Cobham, and the catalogue of the wardens of the Cinque ports, were suppressed. He also wrote the history of Dover Castle and the Cinque Ports; the genealogical history of the Cobhams; discourses of arms, concerning the Bath and Bachelor knights; the history and lives of the lord treasurers, mentioned in a manuscript life of him in the collection of sir Joseph Ayloffe, bart. Numerous as these works are, yet there are various other literary productions of his: some of them are preserved in the Cotton library, others were possessed by Anstis, sen. garter. His heraldic collections are in the college of arms, and in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. Some of his manuscripts are collections of antiquities, sepulchral inscriptions, taken by him from English churches, and elsewhere. He intended to have published an edition of Chaucer's works, but declining that, gave his labours relative to it to Speght, who published them in his edition of that poet's works, with his own notes, and those of his father, who printed an edition of this ancient writer in 1542. Thynne had meant to have written a comment upon the text, and some verses of his are prefixed to Speght's edition.