1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Weever

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 31:271.



JOHN WEEVER, or WEAVER, an industrious antiquary, is supposed to have been born in Lancashire in 1576; but the exact place of his birth does not appear to have been ascertained by his biographers. He was educated at Queen's college, Cambridge, where he was admitted April 30, 1594, under doctor Robert Pearson, archdeacon of Suffolk, and shortly after went abroad in search of antiquities, a study to which he was peculiarly attached. He appears to have been at Liege and at Rome. At his return to England he travelled over most parts of that country, and of Scotland, under the protection and encouragement of sir Robert Cotton and the learned Selden. In 1631 he published his Funeral Monuments, and the next year died at his house in Clerkenwell-close, aged fifty-six. He was buried in St. James's, Clerkenwell, with an inscription, in Strype's Survey. The following epitaph is of his own composition:

Lancashire gave me breath,
And Cambridge education;
Middlesex gave me death,
And this Church my humation;
And Christ to me hath given
A place with him in Heaven.

Wood states him to have been a man of very diminutive size, and accuses him of being "too credulous in many matters."

Weever's Funeral Monuments is a work of great information. It contains a variety of the most useful and entertaining matter, which must have cost the author much labour, but which he has not, as some say, executed with the greatest fidelity and diligence, being indeed very deficient in point of accuracy, especially in the numeral letters and figures. The title of the work is, Ancient Funerall Monuments within the United Monarchie of Great Britaine, Ireland, and the islands adjacent, with the dissolved monasteries therein contained: their founders, and what eminent persons have beene in the same interred, etc. Intermixed and illustrated with variety of historicall observations, annotations, and briefe notes, extracted out of approved authors, infallible records, lieger bookes, charters, rolls, old manuscripts, and the collections of judicious antiquaries, etc.: composed by the studie and travels of John Weever. Spe labor levis. London, printed by Thomas Harper, 1631. And are to be sold by Lawrence Sadler, at the signe of the Golden Lion in Little Britaine.

Prefixed is an engraved title by Cecill: it contains pp. 871, exclusive of the dedication to king Charles, epistle to the reader, and index; and is illustrated with wood-cuts. The author dates his epistle "from my house in Clerkenwell-close, this 28th of May, 1631." It appears that, had he lived, he intended to have published Modern Monumental Inscriptions, as a companion to his former work, of which a second edition appeared 1661, Lond. folio, with a head of Weever, and a third in 1766, 4to, with some improvements, by the rev. William Tooke, F.R.S. There are many of his original MSS. in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, and he is supposed to have been the author of a History of Christ in verse, noticed in the Censura Literaria.