William Lambarde

Last updated
A 16th- or 17th-century portrait of Lambarde by an unidentified artist WilliamLambarde.jpg
A 16th- or 17th-century portrait of Lambarde by an unidentified artist

William Lambarde (18 October 1536 – 19 August 1601) was an English antiquarian, writer on legal subjects, and politician. He is particularly remembered as the author of A Perambulation of Kent (1576), the first English county history; Eirenarcha (1581), a widely read manual on the office and role of justice of the peace; and Archeion (completed c.1591, though not published until 1635), a discourse that sought to trace the Anglo-Saxon roots of English common law, prerogative and government.


Early life, education and career

William Lambarde was born in London on 18 October 1536. His father John Lambarde was a draper who served three times as Master of the Drapers' Company, an alderman and a sheriff of London. The Manor of Westcombe in Greenwich, demolished in 1725, was their family home. [1] [2]

In 1556, Lambarde was admitted to Lincoln's Inn. He studied law with Laurence Nowell, [2] and in 1568, with Nowell's encouragement, published a collection of Anglo-Saxon laws, Archaionomia, which was printed by John Day. [3] In the introduction he acknowledged Nowell's contribution. This publication included a woodcut map ("Lambardes map") depicting the seven kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, which is thought to be the first map of any sort to have been designed, printed and published in England, and which is very likely to have been the work of Laurence Nowell. [4]

In 1570, while Lambarde was courting the daughter of George Multon, [1] he completed his Perambulation of Kent , the first English county history. Circulating in manuscript before being printed in 1576, [5] it proved to be very popular, and was published in a second edition in 1596. Lambarde considered writing a similar work for all of Britain, but he set the idea aside when he learned that William Camden was already working on the same project. [6] On 11 September 1570, Lambarde married Jane Multon on her 17th birthday. She later died in 1573. He lived in the Manor of St. Clere in Ightham. [1] On Laurence Nowell's death, he inherited his books and manuscripts, which may have included the manuscript of Beowulf .

Lambarde probably served as a Member of Parliament for Aldborough in the Parliament of 1563–1567. [7] He was also a bencher of Lincoln's Inn, and a Justice of the Peace for Kent.

Lambarde founded an almshouse in East Greenwich in 1576. He was appointed Keeper of the Rolls by the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas Egerton in 1597, and Elizabeth made him Keeper of the Records in the Tower in 1601. He died on 19 August that same year. [2] Shortly before his death he had a conversation with Elizabeth in which she commented obliquely on Essex's Rebellion, saying "I am Richard II knowe you not that[?]", and "this tragedie was fortie times plaied in open streetes & howses". Her words are often read as a reference to Shakespeare's Richard II , a performance of which was commissioned by Essex's followers shortly before the rising. [8]


Title page of the first authorized edition of Lambarde's Archeion (1635) William Lambarde, Archeion, or, a Discourse upon the High Courts of Justice in England (1635, title page).jpg
Title page of the first authorized edition of Lambarde's Archeion (1635)

Apart from the works already mentioned, Lambarde wrote Eirenarcha: Or of the Office of the Justices of Peace (1581), [9] a manual that became the standard work on the subject. He later completed Archeion, or, A Discourse upon the High Courts of Justice in England by 1591, another important legal work. The manuscript circulated widely, and a copy was published without consent by the printer Daniel Frere in 1635. [10] In the same year, Lambarde's grandson put out an authorized edition of the work to correct certain errors in Frere's version. [11] There is a Lambarde archive at Drapers' Hall.

Related Research Articles

Anthony Munday was an English playwright and miscellaneous writer. He was baptized on 13 October 1560 in St Gregory by St Paul's, London, and was the son of Christopher Munday, a stationer, and Jane Munday. He was one of the chief predecessors of Shakespeare in English dramatic composition, and wrote plays about Robin Hood. He is believed to be the primary author of Sir Thomas More, on which he is believed to have collaborated with Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Dekker.

Polydore Vergil or Virgil, widely known as "Polydore Vergil of Urbino", was an Italian humanist scholar, historian, priest and diplomat, who spent most of his life in England. He is particularly remembered for his works the Proverbiorum libellus (1498), a collection of Latin proverbs; De inventoribus rerum (1499), a history of discoveries and origins; and the Anglica Historia, an influential history of England. He has been dubbed the "Father of English History".

Lathe (county subdivision) county subdivision

A lathe formed an administrative country subdivision of the county of Kent, in England, from the Anglo-Saxon period until it fell out of use in the early twentieth century.

Sevenoaks School Independent day and boarding school in Sevenoaks, Kent, England

Sevenoaks School is a highly selective coeducational independent school in Sevenoaks, Kent. It is the second oldest non-denominational school in the United Kingdom, dating back to 1432, only behind Oswestry (1407). Over 1,000 day pupils and boarders attend, ranging in age from 11 to 18 years. There are approximately equal numbers of boys and girls. In 2006 it became the first major UK school to switch entirely from A level exams to the International Baccalaureate. The school is a former member of the G20 Schools group.

Laurence Nowell antiquary

LaurenceNowell was an English antiquarian, cartographer and pioneering scholar of Anglo-Saxon language and literature.

Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton English noble

The Rt Hon. Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton, KG (1536–1593), was a baron in the Peerage of England. Lord Grey de Wilton is now largely remembered for his memoir of his father, for participating in the last defence of Calais, and for his involvement in the massacre after the Siege of Smerwick on Corca Dhuibhne in County Kerry. He served as Lord Deputy of Ireland from 1580 until 1582.

Teynham Human settlement in England

Teynham is a large village and civil parish in the borough of Swale in Kent, England. The parish lies between the towns of Sittingbourne and Faversham, immediately north of the A2 road, and includes the hamlet of Conyer on an inlet of the Swale, the channel that separates mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey. Other hamlets include Deerton Street, Frognal, and Teynham Street.Teynham also has a carnival court. There is selections every year when girls from 14-18 can audition to be Miss Teynham or a Teynham princess.

Francis Thynne was an English antiquary and an officer of arms at the College of Arms.

Burghal Hidage deed

The Burghal Hidage is an Anglo-Saxon document providing a list of over thirty fortified places (burhs), the majority being in the ancient Kingdom of Wessex, and the taxes assigned for their maintenance. The document, so named by Frederic William Maitland in 1897, survives in two versions of medieval and early modern date. Version A, Cotton Otho B.xi was badly damaged in a fire at Ashburnham House in 1731 but the body of the text survives in a transcript made by the antiquary Laurence Nowell in 1562. Version B survives as a composite part of seven further manuscripts, usually given the title De numero hydarum Anglie in Britannia. There are several discrepancies in the lists recorded in the two versions of the document: Version A includes references to Burpham, Wareham and Bridport but omits Shaftesbury and Barnstaple which are listed in Version B. Version B also names Worcester and Warwick in an appended list.

Events from the 1570s in England.

Dean of Lichfield

The Dean of Lichfield is the head and chair of the chapter of canons, the ruling body of Lichfield Cathedral. The dean and chapter are based at the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Chad in Lichfield. The cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Lichfield and seat of the Bishop of Lichfield. The current dean is Adrian Dorber.

A custumal is a medieval English document, usually edited and composed over time, that stipulates the economic, political, and social customs of a manor or town.

William Fleetwood (judge) English lawyer and politician

William Fleetwood was an English lawyer and politician. He was Member of Parliament for Marlborough in 1558, Lancaster in 1559 and 1567, and for the City of London several times between 1572 and 1592, but his most significant position was as Recorder of London from 1571 to 1591. A lawyer of the Middle Temple, he was a Queen's Serjeant in 1592.

Henry Ferrers was an English antiquary and MP.

Rood of Grace

The Rood of Grace was a crucifix kept at Boxley Abbey in Kent in southeast England. It was a mechanized likeness of Jesus, described by one Protestant iconoclast as an ingenious contraption of wires and rods that made the eyes move like a living thing, and considered spiritually inspirational and a destination for pilgrimages by many of the faithful, including a young Henry VIII. During the dissolution of the monasteries from 1536 to 1541, aimed mainly at increasing the Crown's revenues, the Rood was used as one argument among many to denounce superstitious religion practices within English Catholicism.

John Colleton (1548–1635) was an English Roman Catholic priest.

Michael Dalton (1564–1644) was an English barrister and legal writer, author of two works well known in his time.

Lathe of Scray

The Lathe of Scray is an historic division of the county of Kent, England, encompassing the present-day Districts of Swale, Ashford, and the eastern part of Tunbridge Wells The Lathes of Kent were ancient administration divisions originating, probably, in the 6th century, during the Jutish colonisation of the county.

William Sevenoke was a grocer and politician who served as Mayor of London in 1418, and as warden of London Bridge, alderman of Bishopsgate Ward, alderman of Tower Ward, Warden of the Grocers' Company, Sheriff of London, Member of Parliament for the City of London and Surveyor of the King's works at Isleworth.

LaurenceNowell was an English churchman, who became Archdeacon of Derby and then Dean of Lichfield.


  1. 1 2 3 Cameron, R[oderick] (1981). Great Comp and its Garden: One Couple's Achievement in Seven Acres. Maidstone, Kent: Bachman and Turner Publications. pp. 131–44. ISBN   978-0-85974-100-2..
  2. 1 2 3 Walton, Izaak (1827). The Lives of Dr. John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr. Richard Hooker, Mr. George Herbert, and Dr. Robert Sanderson. London: W. Pickering. p.  469. OCLC   4394977..
  3. William Lambarde (1568), Archaionomia, siue de priscis anglorum legibus libri, London, OCLC   606547050 .
  4. Shannon, William D. (2014), "Laurence Nowell of Read Hall, Lancashire (c.1530–c.1569): Lexicographer, Toponymist, Cartographer, Enigma", in Stringer, K. J. (ed.), North-west England from the Romans to the Tudors: Essays in Memory of John Macnair Todd, s.l.: Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, ISBN   978-1-873124-65-9 .
  5. William Lambarde (1576), A Perambulation of Kent: Conteining the Description, Hystorie, and Customes of that Shyre, London, OCLC   606507618 .
  6. Camden, William (1586). Britannia siue Florentissimorum regnorum, Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, et insularum adiacentium. London. OCLC   228713993., published in English as Camden, William (1610). Britain, or A Chorographicall Description of the most Flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Ilands Adioyning. Translated by Holland, Philemon. London. OCLC   352861344. See Greenslade, M. W. (1997). "Introduction: county history". In Currie, C. R. J.; Lewis, Christopher (eds.). A Guide to English County Histories. Stroud: Sutton. pp. 10–12. ISBN   978-0-7509-1505-2.
  7. Neale, J[ohn] E[rnest] (1963). The Elizabethan House of Commons. Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 219. OCLC   750597926..
  8. Scott-Warren, Jason (2012). "Was Elizabeth I Richard II? The Authenticity of Lambarde's 'Conversation'". Review of English Studies. 64: 208–30.
  9. A later edition Lambarde, William (1581). Eirenarcha: Or of the Office of the Iustices of Peace. London. OCLC   606510559.
  10. Lambarde, William (1635). Archion, or, A Commentary upon the High Courts of Iustice in England. London. OCLC   310094000.
  11. Lambarde, William (1635). Archeion, or, A Discourse upon the High Courts of Justice in England. London. OCLC   216661922..