William Camden

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690, 1721) 1:480-85.

WILLIAM CAMBDEN, Sirnamed the Learned, Son of Sampson Cambd. a Native of the city of Litchfield, Citizen, and one of the Society of Painter-stainers of London, by his Wife, descended from the antient Family of the Curwens of Wirkington in Cumberland; was born in the Old Baily, situated partly in the Parish of St. Sepulchre, and partly in St. Martin near Ludgate in the said City, on the second Day of May, 5 Edw. 6. Dom. 1551. When this most eminent Person (of whom I shall be more particular than of another Author) was a Child, he received the first knowledge of Letters in Ch. Church Hospital in London, then newly founded for Blue-coated Children, where being fitted for Grammar Learning, he was sent to the Free-school, founded by Dr. Colet near to S. Paul's Cathedral. About which time (1563,) he being infected with the Plague, was sent to Islington, where he remained for some time to the great loss of his Learning. In 1566, (8 Elizab.) he was sent to Oxford, and being placed in Magd. Coll. in the condition of a Chorister or Servitour, did perfect himself in Grammar Learning in the Free-School adjoining, then lately presided by Dr. Tho. Cooper, afterwards Bishop of Linc. But missing, as 'tis said, a Demy's place of that Coll. tho' of great desert, and partly grounded in Logic, he was transplanted to an antient hostle called Broadgate's, now Pembr. Coll. where he continued two Years and an half under the tuition of a great encourager of Learning, called Dr. Tho. Thornton Canon of Ch. Ch. who finding our Author to be a young Man of great Virtue, and in him tokens of future Worth, he took him to Ch. Ch. and gave him Entertainment in his Lodgings so long as he continued in the University. About that time he being a Candidate for a Fellowship in All-s. Coll. lost it for defending the Religion then established, as Dr. (afterwards Sir) Dan. Donn at that time Fellow, did several times testify, and would often relate how our said Author Cambden was opposed by the Popish Party of that House. In the Month of June 1570, he supplicated the ven. Congregation of Regents, that whereas he had spent four Years in the Study of Logic, he might be admitted Bach. of Arts, but what Answer was made thereunto, or whether he was then admitted, it appears not. In 1571 he relinquished his Conversation with the Muses, to the great reluctancy of those who were well acquainted with the Pregnancy of his Parts, and whether he was afterwards favoured in his Scholastical endeavours by Dr. Gabr. Goodman Dean of Westminster, whom he acknowledgeth to have been Patron of his Studies, I cannot positively affirm. In 1573 he returned to Oxon for a time, and supplicated again in the beginning of March for the said Degree; which though, as it seems, granted, and so, I presume, he took it, yet he did not compleat it by Determination in School-street. In 1575 he was made second Master of Westminster School, upon Recommendations of Godfrey, Nephew to Gabriel, Goodman before-mentioned, (which Godfrey put him upon the Study of Antiquities, and bought, and gave him Books) and in 1581 he contracted an entire friendship with Barnab. Brisson, the learned Chief Justice of France, called by some Varro Galliae. While he continued in teaching at Westm, God so blessed his Labours that Dr. King, Bishop of London, Noyle Archb. of York, Parry Bishop of St. Asaph, &c. (to say nothing of Persons imployed in those times in eminent Places abroad, and many of special Note at home of all Degrees,) did acknowledge themselves to have been his Scholars. Besides also, as a testimony of his sincere love to the Church of England, (which some in his time did doubt,) he brought there to Church divers Gentlemen of Ireland, as the Walshes, Nugents, O-Raley, Shees, the eldest Son of the Archb. of Cashils, Pet. Lombard a Merchant's Son of Waterford, a Youth of admirable docility, (the same who was afterwards titular Archb. of Armagh, Primate of Ireland, domestic Prelate and Assistant of his Holiness the Pope, and Author of a Book entit. De regno Hiberniae, Sanctorum insulae, commentarius. Lov. 1632, qu. and others bred Popishly, and so affected. In 1582 he took a Journey through Suffolk into Yorkshire, and returned through Lancashire in the Month of April, in order to the compleating of his Britannia, which he saith he published in the same Year, having with great Industry, at spare Hours, and on Festival Days, composed it. In 1588, Jun. 3. he, by the Name and Tit. of Will. Cambden Bach. of Arts of Ch. Ch. supplicated the ven. Convocation, that whereas he had spent 16 Years, from the time he had taken the Degree of Bachelor, in the study of Philosophy and other Liberal Arts, he might be dispensed with for the reading of three solemn Lectures, and so be admitted to proceed in that Faculty: which supplication was granted conditionally, that he stand in the Act following, but whether he was admitted, or stood, it doth not appear in the Registers. In the same Month and Year he took a journey (Oxford being in his way) to Ilsarcomb in Devonshire, in order to obtain more knowledge in the Antiquities of that Country, and elsewhere, for the next Edition of his Britannia, and on the sixth of February following he was made Prebendary of Ilsarcomb in the Church of Salisbury in the place of one J. Hotman; which Prebendship he kept to the time of his Death, and then Edw. Davenant succeeded him. The said Journey, and others that he took for that purpose, the charges of them were defrayed by the aforesaid Dr. Gab. Goodman. In 1590 he journeyed into Wales in the company of Franc. Godwin of Ch. Ch. afterwards Author of the Commentary of the English Bishops; and in 1592, Oct. 26, he was taken with a Quartan Ague, which made him often purge Blood. In March 1592-3, he was made chief Master of Westminster School, in the place of Dr. Ed. Grant, and in 1594 in the Month of June, he was freed from his Ague. In 1596 he travelled to Salisbury and Wells, for the obtaining of more knowledge in Antiquities, and returned through Oxon, where he visited most, if not all, of the Churches and Chappels, for the copying out of the several Monuments and Arms in them, which were reduced by him into a Book written with his own Hand, by me seen and perused. In 97 he fell into a most dangerous sickness; whereupon being taken into the House of one Cuthbert Line, he was cured by the care of that Person's Wife, and in that Year he published his Greek Grammar. On the 22d of Oct. the same year he was, for fashion sake, (after he had refused a Mastership of the Requests, which was offered to him,) created Herald of Arms, called Richomond, because no Person can be King before he is Herald, and the next day he was created Clarenceaux King of Arms, in the place of Rich. Lee, Esq; who died on the 23d of Sept. before-going. This was done by the singular favour of Q. Elizabeth, at the incessant supplication of his Patron Sir Foulk Grevill, afterwards Lord Brook; both of them having an especial respect for him, and his great Learning, in English and other Antiquities. In 1600 he took a journey in Summer time to Carlisle in the Company of the eminent Antiquary Rob. Cotton, Esq; (afterwards a Baronet,) for the viewing of some Northern Antiquities to be put into another Edit. of his Britannia, and returned not till Dec. following. In 1603 he sent his first Letters to Jac. Aug. Thuanus the most noted Historiographer of France, from which time to the Death of Thuanus, which was in Apr. 1617, there was a constant commerce of Letters between them. Our Author Cambden stiles him "Galliae Lumen & Historicorum nostri saeculi princeps," to whom he had communicated many material matters concerning English Affairs, which were afterwards remitted into the several Books of Histories published by him the said Thuanus. In 1607, Sept. 7, he fell form his Horse, and dangerously hurt his Leg: so that being perfectly lame, he kept up till the 4th of July following; at which time he went to order, set forth, and attend the Funeral of Sir John Fortescue knight. In 1608, he began to put in order and digest his Annals of Q. Elizabeth; and in 1609, being taken with a grievous Disease on his Birthday, he voided blood twice. At which time one being sick of the Plague in the House next to that where he then was, he was convey'd to that of Dr. Will. Heather in Westminster, and was cured of his Disease by Dr. Joh. Gifford sometimes Fellow of New Coll. in Oxon. Whereupon betaking himself to Chiselhurst in Kent, in the Month of August, he remained there till the 28th of Octob. following. In the beginning of the year 1613, at which time he attended the Funeral of Sir Tho. Bodley at Oxon, he had the Degree of Master of Arts offered to him, but refused, as it seems to take it, it being then too late to gain any benefit or honour thereby; and soon after was made the first Historiographer of Chelsea Coll. by the Founder thereof. In 1619, Jul. 1. his name being then spread over the learned World, six Noblemen of Germany gave him a visit at his House in Westminster, in whose Albums (after they had complimented him for his high worth,) he, at their desire, wrote his name and a Latin Sentence, as a testimony of respect to them, which they took for a very great honour; and on the 18th of Febr. following he coughed up blood so much, that he was left in a manner dead and deprived of all sense. At that time Dr. Gifford before-mentioned taking from him 7 Ounces of Blood, cured him. In 1621, May 5, he by his Deed then bearing date, founded the History Lecture of this University: Which Deed being published in a Convocation of Regents and Non-Regents on the 17th of May 1622, he was in the year following declared a public Benefactor of this University of Oxon. In 1622, June 7, he fell again into a most dangerous sickness, and on the 16th of Aug. following, while he sate musing in his Chair, the office of his Hands and Feet suddenly failed him: Whereupon falling on the ground, rose again much distempered, and was never afterwards well till death convey'd him to the Habitation prepared for old age. He was a very good natured Man, was very mild and charitable, and nothing was wanting in him for the compleating a good Christian. He was an exact Critic and Philologist, an excellent Grecian, Latinist, and Historian, and above all, a profound Antiquary, as his elaborate Works testify. All which accomplishments being compacted in a little body, made him not only admired at home by the chiefest of the Nobility, and the most learned of the Nation, but also beyond the Seas, particularly by Ortereskius, Lipsius, Dousa, Scaliger, Thuanus, Gruterus, Piereskius, Is. Casaubon, Jo. Is. Pontanus, Fra. Sweertius, N. Chytreus, &c. The Epistles of all whom, and of divers others of lesser note, I have seen in the Cottonian Library, and collect thence that he was one of the greatest Scholars of his time (as to the Learning he professed) in Christendom. At home, I am sure he was esteemed the Pausanias of the British Isles, and therefore his Fame will be permanent so long as this Kingdom is known by the name of Britannia. His Works are these,

Britannia; sive regnorum Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, & isularum adjacentium descriptio. Lond. 1582, 85, 87. in oct. Lond. 1590, 94, 1600. in qu. Lond. 1607. in fol. Printed with Maps of every County. Epitomized by Regnerus Vitellius Zirizaeus. Amstel. 1639. in twelv. The folio edit. of 1607, was translated into English by Philemon Holland of Coventry. — Lond. 1610. fol. revised and amended. — Lond. 1637. fol. In both which Editions are several of Holland's Additions scattered in many places. This Britannia being much admired in France, was also translated into the Language of that Country, and printed with Maps in fol. After the first quarto Edition came out, Ralph Brook, or Brookmonth, Herald of Arms by the title of York, made answer to it in a Book entit. A discovery of certain errours published in print in the much commended Britannia. Printed 1594, in qu. In which Book the said Brookmonth endeavours to make the World believe that Cambden composed his Britannia mostly from the Collectanea of Joh. Leland without any acknowledgment, and at the end of the said Discovery adds a little thing written by Leland, called, A New-years-gift given of him to K. Hen. 8. &c. Whereupon came out soon after, against that busy and envious Person, (for so he was by his Society accounted,) a Vindication or Reply, written by Cambden in Latin, containing about 30 Pages in quarto, but not said when or where printed. You may sometimes find it bound with the Discovery before-mention'd, and at other times with the Britannia printed in qu. for by it self I have not yet seen it. A certain credulous Historian is pleased to set down in his Church History a Copy of Verses, like a two-edged Sword that cuts on both sides, reflecting on Cambden for Plagiarism from the said Collectanea. But under favour I think they are unworthily spoken, and unworthily set down. Why is Cambden, I pray, blame-worthy for making use of Leland's Collections? Was it because one was originally of Cambridge, and the other an Oxford Man? Verily, I think, if the truth could be known, that was the chief reason of the Historian's carping. But let those of his opinion, if any there be, know, that Cambden sought not to suppress those Collections, as Pol. Virgil did certain Authors. The other Works of Cambden are these following.

Institutio Graecae Grammatices compendiaria, in usum Regiae Scholae Westmonasteriensis. Lond. 1597. &c. oct.

Reges, Regiae, Nobiles, & alii in Ecclesia collegiata B. Petri Westmonasterii sepulti, usque ad an. 1600. Lond. 1600, and 1606, in about 10 sheets in qu. involved in a Book entit. Monumenta Westmon. or, an historical account of the original, increase, and present State of S. Peter's, or the Abby Church of Westminster, &c. Lond. 1682, in oct. published by Hen. Keep of the Inner-Temple, Gent. sometimes a Gent. Com. of New-Inn in Oxon.

Remains concerning Britain: their Languages, Names, Surnames, Allusions, &c. Lond. 1604, 14, &c. qu. Published at first under the two Letters of M. N. To this Book were several Additions made by Jo. Philipot, Herald of Arms, under the title of Somerset. — Lond. 1637, &c. qu. afterwards in oct. with Cambden's Picture before all the Editions.

Rerum Anglicarum, & Hibernicarum Annales, regnante Elizabetha, in 4 parts. The first half, (with an Aparatus before it,) reaching from the beginning of the Reign of Q. Elizab. to the end of the year 1588, was printed at Lond. in fol. 1615, having had several things therein before that time expunged, especially such that related to the story of Mary Q. of Scots. The other half reaching from the beginning of 1589, to the death of Q. Elizab. and an Appendix, were printed at the same place in fol. 1627. Both printed in two tomes at Leyden in oct. and in a thick oct. at Amsterdam, 1639, and all translated into English by B. N. Gent. and several times printed in fol. The last half was translated into English by Thom. Browne of Ch. Ch. (afterwards Canon of Windsor,) and by him entit. Tomus alter & idem: or, The History, &c. Lond. 1629. in qu.

His opinion concerning the High Court of Parliament. Lond. 1658. oct. Printed with the opinions on the same subject of Joh. Dederidge, Arth. Agard, and Franc. Tate. I have seen also a discourse of his concerning the High Stewardship of England, but 'tis not, as I conceive, printed,

Epistolae ad illustres Viros. Lond. 1691. qu. To which Epistles, as also to those of learned Men to Cambden, is added an Appendix.

Annales ab anno 1603, ad annum 1623, printed with the former. They are the Annals of the Reign of King James I. To these are added Addenda for the years 1603, 1604, and 1605. As also certain Memorables of Cambden's Life written with his own hand. And Commenatius de Etymologia, antiquitate & officio Comitis Mareschalle Angliae, in English Poetry, and Epitaphs in Latin. All published by Thomas Smith, D.D. of Magdalen College 1692, after the first Volume of Athenae Oxonienses was publish'd. Before which Dr. Smith hath put his Life in Latin, with a Catalogue of his Works, which Life was collected and written by the said Smith.

The first Edition of Cambden's Grammar was printed at London 1597. oct. printed afterwards almost an hundred times.

Among the Epistles written to Cambden are many by Thomas Savile of Merton College, some by Abraham Ortelius, Janus Dousa Filius, Janus Gruterus, John Stradling of Wales, Paulus G. F. P. N. J. Lipsius, Jac. Aug. Thuanus, Joh. Jonstonus, Jo. Hotman, Nic. Fabricius de Petrusco or Piereskius, Is Casaubon, M. F. Limerius, Fran. Sweetius, Caspar Dornavius, And. elleius, Christopher Heydon, John de Laet, Isaac Gothofredus, Theodorus Gothofredus, P. Puteanus, Henry Savile, Andr. Schottus, John Budden, Tho. Rivius of New College, Deg. Whear, &c.

The Annals of King James reach from the death of Q. Elizab. 24 March 1602-3, to the 18 Aug. 1623, and no farther, because the Author being then very ill in body (remaining in that condition till his death) he could not well continue them any farther: So that there wants memoirs more than for a year, to the end of the Reign of K. James I. These Annals are written with the Author's own hand in fol. being only a Skeleton of a History, or bare touches to put the Author in mind of greater matters, that he had in his head, had he lived to have digested them, in a full History, as that of Q. Elizabeth. The original came, after his death, into the hands of Mr. Joh. Hacket, afterwards D.D. and at length Bishop of Litchfield; who, as I have been divers times informed, did privately convey it out of the Library of the Author, Hacket being then a Master of Arts of some years standing. This original being communicated by the said Dr. Hacket, while he was living at Litchfield; to Mr. (afterwards Sir) Will. Dugdale, then Norray King of Arms, he, contrary to the Doctor's knowledge, took a copy of it, which I have seen and perused at Sir William's House called Blith-hall in Warwickshire, but therein I found many mistakes, as it afterwards more evidently appeared to me when that Transcript was put into the Ashmolean Musaeum. Another copy I have seen in the hands of Sir Hen. St. George, Clarenceaux King of Arms, which having been transcribed by one that understood not Latin, there are innumerable faults therein, and therefore not at all to be relied upon. After Dr. Hacket's death the original was put into the Library of Trin. Coll. in Cambridge, where it now remains. Our Author Cambden did also put into Latin, Actio in Henricum Garnet Societatis Jesu in Anglia Superiorem, &c. adjectem est supplicium de Hen. Garnet Londini sumptum, &c. Lond. 1607. qu. And also viewed, corrected, and published certain old Writers, to whom he gave this title, Anglica, Normanica, Hibernica, & Cambrica, per various authores, &c. Francof. 1603, 04, fol. The first of which Writers is Asser Menevensis his Book, De vita & rebus gestis Regis Aelfredi. At length our Author Cambden paying his last debt to nature, in his House at Chiselhurst in Dent, on Sunday the 9th of Nov. (about 4 or 5 of the Clock in the Morn.) in sixteen hundred twenty and three, his body afterwards was convey'd to Westminster, to the House there, where he used to dwell; where lying in State for some time, 'twas on the 19th day of the same Month carried to St. Peters, commonly called the Abby-Church within that City, accompanied by several of the Herals in their Formalities, many of the Nobility, Clergy, Gentry, and others. All which being placed, Dr. Chrstoph. Sutton, a Prebendary of that Church, stept up into the Pulpit, and made a true, grave, and modest commemoration of his life: Adding, that as he was not factious in Religion, so neither was he wavering or inconstant, of which he gave good testimonies at his end, professing in the Exordium of his last Will, that he died, as he had lived, in the Faith, Communion, and Fellowship of the Church of England. Sermon being ended, the Body was carried into the S. Cross Isle, where it was buried in the west-side or part of it. As soon as the news of his death was certified to the Sages or Governors of the University, they, in gratitude to so worthy a Benefactor as he had been, caused his memory to be celebrated in an Oration, publicly delivered by the mouth of Zouch Townley, M. of A. and Student of Ch. Ch. who was then the Deputy Orator. To which Speech many of the Academians adding Verses on the Benefactor's death, they were, with the Speech, printed under the title of Cambdeni insignia. Oxon. 1624. Qu. After these things were done, was a Monument erected on the West-wall of the said S. cross Isle with the Bust of the Defunct resting his hand on a Book with Britannia insculp'd on the Leaves thereof. This Monument, which was composed of black and white Marble, was somewhat defaced in 1646, when the Hearse and Effigies of Robert Earl of Essex the Parliamentarian General were cut in pieces and defaced. The Inscription however being left intire, I caused it to be printed elsewhere. In the last Will and Testament of this great Scholar, which I have more than once perused, I find besides his public Benefactions, his Legacies of 16 10 and 5 to all his learned acquaintance then in being, as to Ja. Gruter Library Keeper to the Prince Pal. Elector of Heidelberg 5 To Mr. Tho. Allen of Gloc. Hall in Oxon. 16 To Jo. Selden of the Inner-Temple 5 &c. besides a piece of Plate to Sir Foulk Grevill Lord Brook Chancellor of the Exchequer, who preferr'd him gratis to his Office; and another of 16 price to the Company of Painter-Stainers of London, and this to be engraven thereon, "Gul. Cambden Clarenceaux, filius Sampsonis Cambden pictoris Londinesnis."