Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lilly, Henry

LILLY, HENRY (d. 1638), Rouge-dragon pursuivant, born in Worcestershire, was second son of John Lilly (d. 1590) of London, by Mary, daughter and coheiress of John Gabot, merchant tailor, of the same city (Visit. of Lond. 1633–5, Harl. Soc., ii. 67). After being educated at Christ's Hospital he set up as a ‘painter-stainer,’ or arms-painter, in Little Britain. He possessed great skill in limning and illuminating. His taste for heraldry and genealogy won him the friendship of Sir William Dugdale and a place in the College of Arms. While Rouge-rose pursuivant he was employed in 1634, with George Owen, York herald, to visit Essex and Worcestershire for Sir Richard St. George, Clarencieux, and Sir John Borough, Norroy. His Essex visitation is printed in vol. xiii. of the ‘Publications of the Harleian Society.’ In January 1637–8 he was created Rouge-dragon pursuivant.

Lilly died on 19 Aug. 1638, and was buried in Farnham Church, Essex, where there is a monument to his memory. In 1616 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Gregory Flint of Salisbury (Chester, London Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, col. 846), by whom he had issue Henry, Elizabeth, Hannah, Mary, and Dorothy. He bequeathed 5l. to Christ's Hospital, and a like sum to the Company of Painter-Stainers to be laid out on a piece of plate (will registered in P. C. C. 106, Lee).

Lilly left in manuscript ‘Pedigrees of Nobility,’ which George Allan (d. 1800) [q. v.] considered ‘a book of undoubted authority’ (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. viii. 711). It is in the possession of the Earl of Egmont (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 233). He also executed on 271 leaves of thick vellum a magnificent volume, entitled ‘The Genealogie of the Princelie Familie of the Howards exactly deduced in a right line from 970 to 1638,’ which is enriched with monuments, portraits, armorial bearings, and tasteful compositions. The drawings and their colourings are of the first class. This work was probably undertaken by order of Thomas Howard, second earl of Arundel [q. v.] It was purchased from Lilly's daughter and executrix Elizabeth for 100l. by Lord Northampton in the reign of Charles II, and still remains in the family (ib. 3rd Rep. pp. 209–210; Nichols, Illustr. of Lit. vi. 385–6). In the British Museum are two manuscripts by Lilly, ‘Pedigrees of Families of Worcestershire, 1634’ (Addit. MS. 19816, ff. 100–124), and ‘Genealogies of the Families of Weston and Cave, 1632,’ in Latin (Addit. MS. 18667). Some ‘Extracts from a Roll given by Lilly to William Burton in 1628’ are preserved in the Bodleian Library (Rawlinson MS. B. 350. 40).

[Noble's College of Arms, pp. 249–50; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists, 1878, p. 271; Visitations of Essex (Harl. Soc.), pt. i. p. vi; Howard's Memorials of the Howard Family, fol., 1834, Preface.]

G. G.