Francis Thynne

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Francis Thynne (c. 1544 1608) was an English antiquary and an officer of arms at the College of Arms.

Officer of arms state officer for heraldic, armorial or ceremonial duties

An officer of arms is a person appointed by a sovereign or state with authority to perform one or more of the following functions:

College of Arms British royal corporation consisting of professional officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth countries

The College of Arms, also known as the College of Heralds, is a royal corporation consisting of professional officers of arms, with jurisdiction over England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Commonwealth realms. The heralds are appointed by the British Sovereign and are delegated authority to act on behalf of the Crown in all matters of heraldry, the granting of new coats of arms, genealogical research and the recording of pedigrees. The College is also the official body responsible for matters relating to the flying of flags on land, and it maintains the official registers of flags and other national symbols. Though a part of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom the College is self-financed, unsupported by any public funds.


Family background and early life

Francis Thynne was born in Kent, the son of William Thynne, who was Master of the Household of King Henry VIII. He attended Tonbridge School.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

William Thynne was an English courtier and editor of Geoffrey Chaucer's works.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.


Francis Thynne was an antiquary before being admitted to the College of Arms after several fruitless applications. He was finally appointed Blanche Lyon Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary in 1602, the first instance of this office being "extraordinary". Immediately after this appointment, he was promoted to Lancaster Herald of Arms in Ordinary.

Blanche Lyon Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary was an English office of arms created during the reign of King Edward IV.

Lancaster Herald

Lancaster Herald of Arms in Ordinary is an English officer of arms at the College of Arms in London. The title of Lancaster Herald first occurs in 1347 at Calais, and to begin with this officer was a servant to the noble house of Lancaster. As a retainer of John of Gaunt (1377–1399) Lancaster was advanced to the rank of King of Arms, and was later promoted to the royal household of Henry IV, and made king of the northern province. This arrangement continued until 1464, when Lancaster reverted to the rank of herald. Since the reign of King Henry VII (1485–1509) Lancaster has been a herald in ordinary. The badge of office is a red rose of Lancaster, royally crowned.

He had an eventful life, having been imprisoned for more than two years as a debtor and crippled with gout for much of his life. He was known to have assisted William Camden in his heraldic work and was recommended by Sir William Dethick for eventual promotion to the office of Norroy King of Arms. This promotion never occurred, and Thynne died circa November 1608. His arms were those of Botfield (his family's original name) and were blazoned Barry of ten Or and Sable. [1]

Gout Medical condition that results in recurrent pain and swelling of joints

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks of a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. Pain typically comes on rapidly, reaching maximal intensity in less than 12 hours. The joint at the base of the big toe is affected in about half of cases. It may also result in tophi, kidney stones, or urate nephropathy.

William Camden 16th/17th-century English antiquarian

William Camden was an English antiquarian, historian, topographer, and herald, best known as author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

Heraldry Profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol

Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on an shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.

Thynne's main importance is as an antiquary who formed part of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, which was active between 1586 and about 1607. [2] . They aimed to "construct a detailed and credible account of the origins and development of the English people". [3] This club of lawyers, heralds and antiquarians largely consulted records in Latin but Thynne was remarkable for his ability to read Old English (Anglo-Saxon) sources. Archbishop Matthew Parker had initiated the searches of the libraries of dissolved monasteries, primarily to find evidence for the historical singularity of the English Church, free from Rome. [4] However, the small circle of scholars he employed largely ceased research after his death, whilst his manuscripts disappeared into university college libraries. Apart from Henry Savile's "poorly-executed" chronicles (1598), no further Anglo-Saxon texts were published until L'Isle's Saxon Treatise (1623) and Wheelock's edition of Bede's Historiae ecclesiasticae gentis Anglorum (1644). [5] [6] What is remarkable about Thynne is that he and only a few other antiquaries were mastering the Anglo-Saxon language. The evidence for this comes from the published volumes of the proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, where references are made to charters and other documents written in Old English. [7] In a 1591 discussion on the origins of English shires, Thynne, together with James Ley and Thomas Talbot, display reasonable knowledge of Old English.

Matthew Parker Archbishop of Canterbury

Matthew Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder of a distinctive tradition of Anglican theological thought.

Henry Savile (Bible translator) English bible translator

Sir Henry Savile was an English scholar and mathematician, Warden of Merton College, Oxford, and Provost of Eton. He endowed the Savilian chairs of Astronomy and of Geometry at Oxford University, and was one of the scholars who translated the New Testament from Greek into English. He was a Member of the Parliament of England for Bossiney in Cornwall in 1589, and Dunwich in Suffolk in 1593.

James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough English politician

James Ley, 1st Earl of Marlborough was an English judge and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1597 and 1622. He was Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland and then in England and was Lord High Treasurer from 1624 to 1628. On 31 December 1624, James I created him Baron Ley, of Ley in the County of Devon, and on 5 February 1626, Charles I created him Earl of Marlborough. Both titles became extinct upon the death of the 4th Earl of Marlborough in 1679.

Thynne was perhaps the most scholarly of the antiquaries: "His work on Anglo-Saxon and medieval chronicles was solid and factual, based on his firm belief in the accuracy of the original manuscripts." [8] For example, only he quotes Textus Roffensis . No one in Parker's circle had known of its existence and it did not appear in print until 1644. Thynne used it in a 1604 discourse on the office of Earl Marshal, accurately transcribing the sentence from Peace (pax), "Ðus feor sceal beon þæs cinges grið fram his burhgeate, þær he is sittende, on feower healfe his, ðæt is III mila 7 III furlang 7 III æcera bræde 7 IX fota 7 IX scæftamunda 7 IX berecorna." Thynne thought he was quoting a law of Æthelstan, not unreasonably, since it immediately follows the law-codes V and VI Æthelstan in Textus Roffensis. However, Peace is really an extension of Æthelred's Wantage Code which, given its use of what are now known to be Scandinavian loan-words, such as grið (‘peace’,) was probably intended for use in the Danelaw. Thynne thought this was some kind of official term, and such misunderstandings were inevitable when he was having to learn the language with almost no support and certainly no publicly available grammar or gloss. He mostly relied on Ælfric’s Grammar and Glossary and his Colloquy which, intended as teaching aids for Latin, might also be used in reverse; the manuscripts of legal and religious texts available in Latin and English versions, and the few printed works to provide some Old English words or parallel texts.

<i>Textus Roffensis</i> medieval manuscript

The Textus Roffensis, fully entitled the Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum episcopum and sometimes also known as the Annals of Rochester, is a mediaeval manuscript that consists of two separate works written between 1122 and 1124. It is catalogued as "Rochester Cathedral Library, MS A.3.5" and is currently on display in a new exhibition at Rochester Cathedral, Rochester, Kent. It is thought that the main text of both manuscripts was written by a single scribe, although the English glosses to the two Latin entries were made by a second hand. The annotations might indicate that the manuscript was consulted in some post-Conquest trials. However, the glosses are very sparse and just clarify a few uncertain terms. For example, the entry on f. 67r merely explains that the triplex iudiciu(m) is called in English, ofraceth ordel.

Ælfric is an Anglo-Saxon given name.

If Thynne saw Textus Roffensis, then he travelled to Rochester to see it. That is another unusual aspect of his activities. He travelled to see manuscripts, not only in Rochester but also in Winchester and in various gentlemen's private libraries in and around London. For example, his various references to William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum Anglorum suggest he viewed the collection either of John Stow (who had worked on an edition of Chaucer with Thynne’s father in the 1530s) or of John, Lord Lumley. [9]

Thynne was not wealthy. He "spent his life in libraries and his study". [10] He failed to complete several manuscripts and the papers he read to the Society of Antiquaries contain only glimpses of his thoughts and interests. His "significance lies in the manuscripts he collected, transcribed, and translated", [11] but his most impressive achievement was to help keep the study of Old English alive after its shaky revival by Parker's circle.

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  1. British Armorial Bindings: Thynne or Botfield (Stamp 1), University of Toronto Libraries, accessed 16 Dec 2017. The "rose for difference" indicates this stamp is of the family arms of a cousin of Francis Thynne in his uncle's branch of the family.
  2. Christina DeCoursey, "Society of Antiquaries (act. 1586–1607)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2015 accessed 7 Dec 2016
  3. John Niles, The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England, 1066–1901: Remembering, Forgetting, Deciphering and Renewing the Past (Chichester, 2015), 78
  4. Timothy Graham, "Matthew Parker's manuscripts: an Elizabethan library and its use", in E. Leedham-Green & T. Webber, The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland,1: To 1640 (Cambridge, 2006), 335
  5. R. D. Goulding, "Savile, Sir Henry (1549–1622)",
  6. Niles, The Idea of Anglo-Saxon England, pp. 110–116.
  7. Thomas Hearne, A Collection of Curious Discourses written by Eminent Antiquaries upon Several Heads in our English Antiquities (London, 1773: expanded 2-volume edition of 1720 original)
  8. Knafla 2010.
  9. Parker's manuscripts of Gesta Regum in Corpus Christi, Cambridge are unlikely to have been available to Thynne. More likely are any of the London, BL, manuscripts:
    • Add MS 23147 (the catalogue states: "f. 42 John Stow, Historian: Note in a copy of William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum")
    • Add Ch 23147 ("In the margin are numerous notes in a XVIth cent. hand, and at f. 42 a note by John Stow")
    • Royal MS 13 D V, then belonging to Lumley
    Cotton MS Vespasian A V, ff 73r–77v, a few extracts copied by Lambarde, only arrived in Cotton’s collection after Lambarde's death in 1601. Barrett Beer, "Stow, John (1524/5–1605)", Kathryn Barron, "Lumley, John, first Baron Lumley (c.1533–1609)",
  10. Knafla 2010.
  11. Knafla 2010.
  12. Burke, Sir Bernard, (1938 ed) Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Shaw, London. p. 243
  13. 1 2 3 Woodfall, H. (1768). The Peerage of England; Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of All the Peers of that Kingdom Etc. Fourth Edition, Carefully Corrected, and Continued to the Present Time, Volume 6. p. 258.
  14. 1 2 Lee, Sidney; Edwards, A. S. G. (revised) (2004). "Thynne, William (d. 1546)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27426.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  15. Girouard, Mark, Thynne, Sir John (1515–1580), estate manager and builder of Longleat in Oxford Dictionary of Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  16. Booth, Muriel. "Thynne, John (?1550–1604), of Longleat, Wilts". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  17. Lancaster, Henry; Thrush, Andrew. "Thynne, Charles (c.1568–1652), of Cheddar, Som". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  18. Pugh, R. B.; Crittall, Elizabeth, eds. (1957). "Parliamentary history: 1529–1629". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 5. British History Online. London: Victoria County History.
  19. Ferris, John P. "Thynne, Sir James (c.1605-70), of Longbridge Deverill, Wilts". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  20. Helms, M. W.; Ferris, John P. "Thynne, Sir Thomas (c.1610–c.69), of Richmond, Surr". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  21. Marshall, Alan (2008) [2004]. "Thynne, Thomas [nicknamed Tom of Ten Thousand] (1647/8–1682)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27423.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  22. Heath-Caldwell, J. J. "Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth". JJ Heath-Caldwell. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  23. Hayton, D. W. "Thynne, Hon. Henry (1675-1708)". The History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  24. Dunaway, Stewart (2013). Lord John Carteret, Earl Granville: His Life History and the Granville Grants. Lulu. p. 33. ISBN   9781300878070.
  25. "Bath, Thomas Thynne". Encyclopedia Britannica 1911. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  26. Thorne, Roland. "Carteret [formerly Thynne], Henry Frederick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  27. "Thomas Thynne, 2nd Marquess of Bath (1765–1837)". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  28. Escott, Margaret. "Thynne, Lord Henry Frederick (1797-1837), of 6 Grovesnor Square, Mdx". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  29. "John Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath (1831-1896), Diplomat and landowner". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2 January 2016.

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