Chamberlain, John (1553-1627) (DNB00)

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CHAMBERLAIN, JOHN (1553–1627), letter-writer, was a younger son of Alderman Chamberlain (sheriff of London in 1561), by his first wife, Anne, daughter of Robert an Margery Downe. He was baptised at St. Olave's, in the Old Jewry, on 15 Jan. 1553–4. The father, in his will (dated 1558), remarks as to his son John: ‘Because that he hath been tender, sickly,and weak, I would have him brought up to learning, hereafter when that he comes to some years, either in the university, or else in some place beyond sea . . . ; and I will commend him to my loving and friendly cousin, Thomas Goore, that he have the bringing of him up.' Accordingly he was sent to Cambridge and matriculated as a pensioner of Trinity College in May 1570, but he left the university without having taken a degree. It is obvious from his father's will that he inherited means which were sufficient for his support, and he appears to have led a quiet private life in the society of his friends. He was an accomplishsd scholar and an admirable letter-writer—the Horace Wa1pole of his day. Hs enjoyed great intimacy with some of the most eminent men in England, including Sir Dudley Carleton, Sir Henry Savile, Bishop Andrewes, Sir Thomas Bodley, Sir Thomas Edmonds, and Sir Ralph Winwood. His letters show that he was sometimes staying with Sir Rowland Lytton at Knebworth, sometimes with Sir Henry Wallop at Farley, sometimes with Mr. Gent at Ascott (a small parish in Oxfordshire), and at various other places. He seldom went far away from London, with the exception of a voyage to Ireland in 1597, and of a journey in 1610, in company with Sir Dudley Carleton on his embassy to Venice, whence he returned in November 1611. His name occurs in the commission for the repair of St. Paul's Cathedral, issued 17 Nov. 1620. He was buried at St. Olave's, in the Old Jewry, on 20 March 1626–7.

One John Chamberlain was member for Clitheroe in Lancashire in the parliament which met on 19 Nov. 1592, and for St. Germans in Cornwall in that which assembled on 24 Oct. 1597; but his identity with the subject of this notice has not been established.

The Birch MSS. in the British Museum (Nos. 4173, 4174, 4175) contain copies of letters, the originals of which are in the Public Record Office, written by Chamberlain to his friends from 4 May 1598 to 19 Jan. 1625. These letters give many details concerning occurrences not mentioned by graver historians. A volume of the ‘Letters written by John Chamberlain during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Edited from the originals by Sarah Williams,’ was printed for the Camden Society, Lond. 1861, 4to. A large number of his letters are printed in ‘The Court and Times of James I,’ 2 vols., Lond. 1848, and in Nichols's ‘Progresses of James I;’ and some others will be found in the ‘Court and Times of Charles I,’ 2 vols. Lond. 1848.

[Ayscough's Cat. of Birch MSS.; Birch MSS. 4106 f. 179, 4173 f. 1; Cooper's MS. collections for Athenæ Cantab.; Dugdale's St. Paul's (1716), 139; Gent. Mag. 1826, i, 484; Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. 277; Maty's New Review, v. 130; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 286, 208, xii. 19, 20, 42; Ruggle's Ignoramus, ed. Hawkins, xxxvi.; Sainsbury's Original Papers relating to Sir P. P. Rubens; Willis's Not. Parl. iii. 130, 138.]

T. C.