STOW, John

(1525-1605)
The most accurate sixteenth-century English chronicler, John Stow amassed a huge manuscript collection, part of which is in the British Library's Harleian manuscripts. Born in 1525 in St. Michael Cornhill, London, where his father and grandfather were tallow chandlers, Stow may have attended grammar school, though rumors said that his Latin was poor. He was apprenticed to a tailor and in 1547 was made free of the Merchant Taylors' Company but never took livery or held office. He published an edition of Geoffrey Chaucer (1561) and may have edited John Lydgate and John Skelton's* works. His Summary of English Chronicles (1565) provoked bitter rivalry with Richard Grafton, who produced similar pocket histories. His collecting prompted official investigations on suspicion of popery but also brought him Archbishop Matthew Parker's pa­tronage, membership in his Society of Antiquaries (founded in 1572), and ac­quaintance with fellow scholars. He edited chronicles by Matthew of Westminster (1567), Matthew Paris (1571), Thomas Walsingham (1574), and Raphael Holinshed* (1585-87). He authored The Chronicles of England (1580), Annals of England (1592, later expanded by Edmund Howes), and the famous Survey of London (1598, often reprinted with additions, notably by John Strype in 1720, and still in print). Though his reputation grew, he died in poverty on 6 April 1605.
Most Tudor chroniclers valued the past for moral examples and accumulated facts without assessing their relative importance or meaning. Stow loved English history for its own sake, was conscious of anachronism, used primary sources extensively, and was more concerned with accuracy, though he defended Geof­frey of Monmouth. Stow's later works, which remain useful, reveal William Camden's* influence and suggest that he was evolving from chronicler to historian. Regrettably, his history of Britain, written near the end of his life, was never published, and the manuscript has been lost.
Bibliography
F. J. Levy, Tudor Historical Thought, 1967.
J. Stow, The Survey of London, ed. H. B. Wheatley with intro. by V. Pearl, 1987.
William B. Robison

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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  • Stow, John — ▪ English author born 1525, London, Eng. died April 6, 1605, London       one of the best known Elizabethan antiquaries, author of a famous Survey of London (1598; revised and enlarged, 1603).       Stow was a prosperous tailor until about… …   Universalium

  • STOW, JOHN —    English antiquary, born in London; bred a tailor; took to antiquarian pursuits, which he prosecuted with the zeal of a devotee that spared no sacrifice; wrote several works on antiquities, the chief and most valuable being his Survey of London …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Stow, John — (1525 1605)    Historian and antiquary, b. in London, s. of a tailor, and brought up to the same trade. He had, however, an irresistible taste for transcribing and collecting ancient documents, and pursuing antiquarian and historical researches,… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • John Stow — (c. 1525 ndash;6 April 1605), was an English historian and antiquarian.The son of Thomas Stow, a tallow chandler, he was born about 1525 in London, in the parish of St Michael, Cornhill. His father s whole rent for his house and garden was only… …   Wikipedia

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