Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thynne, Francis
THYNNE, FRANCIS (1545?–1608), Lancaster herald, who sometimes called himself Francis 'Botevile,' only son of William Thynne [q. v.], the editor of Chaucer, by his second wife, Anne, daughter and coheiress of William Bonde, esq., was born in 1544 or 1545, certainly in Kent, and probably at Erith. He studied at Tunbridge school under John Procter, and is commonly reputed to have subsequently received his education in each of the English universities. This is an error, to which Wood has given currency in 'Athenæ Oxonienses.' He was admitted a member of Lincoln's Inn on 23 June 1561 (Lincoln's Inn Registers, 1896, i. 68). During the time he studied there he formed an intimacy with Thomas Egerton, subsequently Lord Ellesmere and lord chancellor [q.v.] He was admitted an attorney, but it is supposed that he did not practise his profession to any extent. At the outset of his life he was devoted to poetry and general literature, and eventually he pursued with ardour the study of the history and antiquities of England.
He certainly lived once at Poplar, and in 1573 his residence was in Bermondsey Street. Towards the close of that year his books were dispersed, and he was sent to the prison called the White Lion in Southwark for a debt of 100l. On 13 March 1575-6 he wrote from the White Lion to Lord Burghley, asking for help in his distress. He had then been in confinement for two years and two months. It appears from this letter that his adversaries were by name and nature his kinsmen, who, under the colour of providing for the assurance of his wife's jointure, had withheld from him two hundred marks a year for four years. On the 19th of the same month he wrote again to Burghley, stating that he was famished for want of sustenance and destitute of apparel and means of maintenance.
His countryman William Brooke, lord Cobham, went as ambassador to Flanders in February 1577-8. Thynne was then living with his cousin, Sir John Thynne [q. v.], at Longleat, Wiltshire, and did not hear of the embassy until two days after Cobham's departure, so that he could not accompany him, as very many of his kindred and friends did. On Cobham's return he presented him with a discourse respecting ambassadors. It is dated Longleat, 8 Jan. 1578-9, and in it he expressly says that he was never brought up in any university. In 1588 he had taken up his residence on Clerkenwell Green, where he appears to have remained during the rest of his life.
After the death of Raphael Holinshed [q. v.] about 1580, Thynne, together with Abraham Fleming [q. v.] and John Stow [q. v.], was employed by his editor, John Hooker [q. v.], to continue and revise his 'Chronicle.' Thynne's contributions included 'The Annales of Scotland, 1571-1586,' 'A Collection concerning the High Constables of England,' 'The Protectors of England collected out of Ancient and Modern Chronicles,' 'The Cardinals of England,' 'The Discourse and Catalog of all the Dukes of England,' 'A Treatise of the Treasurers of England,' and 'The Chancellors of England.' Four other contributions, comprising 'A Discourse of the Earles of Leicester,' 'The Lives of the Archbishops of Canturburie,' 'A Treatise of the Lord Cobhams,' and 'The Catalog of the Lord Wardens of the Cinque Ports,' were excised by order of the privy council. They were reprinted in folio in 1728 for insertion in the original edition, and reappeared in the quarto reprint of 1807-8. Thynne's coadjutors suffered more severely from the censorship of the privy council than he himself. The cause of most of the excisions is believed to have been the freedom with which contemporary events were treated. But in Thynne's case it is more probable that his interpolations were removed because of their irrelevance and tedious length.
In 1591-2 Thynne became a member of the old Society of Antiquaries. Several papers read by him at the society's meetings, including a 'Discourse of the Dutye and Office of a Heraulde of Armes;' and dissertations on the antiquity of the English shire and on the office of high steward and of earl marshal appeared in Hearne's 'Collection of Curious Discourses' (2nd edit. 1771).
Thynne, whose father had published an edition of Chaucer in 1532, long occupied himself in preparing notes for a commentary on the poet's works. In 1598, however, Thomas Speght [q. v.] published an edition of Chaucer's works, and Thynne abandoned his idea. He contented himself with criticising Speght's production in 1599 in a letter entitled 'Animadversions,' and afterward assisted Speght in revising a second edition in 1602, to which he contributed a short poem, entitled 'Vpon the Picture of Chaucer.'
On 22 April 1602 he was created Lancaster herald in the council chamber at the palace of Greenwich. His patent did not pass the great seal till 24 Oct. following, but by its terms his stipend was payable as from Lady-day preceding. It is said that he had been previously blanch lion pursuivant-at- arms, though the correctness of this statement is open to question. In a discourse written in 1605 he refers to that cruel tyrant the unmerciful gout, which had painfully imprisoned him in his bed, manacled his hands, and fettered his feet to the sheets for nearly three months. He died in or about November 1608.
He married Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Thomas de la Rivers of Bransby, Yorkshire. She died without issue in 1596.
Of the numerous works that Thynne left in manuscript the following have been separately published: 1. 'The Application of certain Histories concerning Ambassadours and their Functions,' printed in 1651 (London, 12mo) from the manuscript in Sir Robert Cotton's library, and reissued in the following year with the title 'The Perfect Ambassadovr, treating of the Antiquitie, Priviledges, and Behaviour of Men belonging to that Function.' The dedication to Lord Cobham is dated 8 Jan. 1578-9. 2. 'Animadversions on Speght's "Chaucer,"' 20 Dec. 1599 (Bridgwater Libr.) Printed in Todd's 'Illustrations of Gower and Chaucer,' 1810, pp. 1-92; edited for the Chaucer Society by G. H. Kingsley in 1866 and by F. J. - Furnivall in 1875. 3. ‘Emblemes and Epigrams from my Howse in Clerkenwell Greene the 20th of December 1600,’ edited for the Early English Text Society in 1875 by F. J. Furnivall.
A transcript by Thynne of a valuable account of Wat Tyler's rebellion, taken from ‘An Anominall Cronicle belonginge to the Abbey of St. Maries in Yorke,’ was printed in the ‘English Historical Review’ for July 1898 (pp. 509–22). The original is in the Stowe manuscripts (No. 1047, ff. 64 b et seq.).
The following have not been printed. 4. ‘An Epistle dedicatorye of the Books of Armorye of Claudius Paradyne’ (1573); a ‘Dyscourse uppon the Creste of the Lorde Burghley,’ and another ‘Discourse uppon the Philosophers Armes,’ Ashmolean MS. 766, ff. 2–88. 5. ‘Dissertation on the Subject Homo Animal Sociale,’ sent to Lord Burghley in 1576, Lansdowne MS. 27, art. 37. 6. ‘A Discourse of Arms,’ 1593, manuscript in the College of Arms, but missing. 7. ‘The Plea between the Advocate and the Ant'advocate, concerning the Bathe and Bacheler Knightes, wherein are shewed manye Antiquityes towchinge Knighthood,’ 1605, Addit. MS. 12530; Lambeth MS. 931, fol. 42; imperfect copy in Cambridge University Library, Mm. C. 65. 8. ‘Collection of Arms and Monumental Inscriptions in Bedfordshire, Westminster Abbey, &c.’ in Cottonian MS. Cleop. C. iii. 9. ‘Commentarii de Historia et rebus Britannicis,’ 2 vols.; in Cottonian MS. Faust. E. viii. ix. 10. ‘Epitaphia, sive Monumenta Sepulchrorum tam Anglice, Latine, quam Gallice conscripta,’ Sloane MS. 3836. 11. ‘Collections relative to Alchymy, Heraldry, and Local History, 1564–1606,’ Addit. MS. 11388. 12. ‘Catalogue of the Lord Chancellors of England’ (Bridgwater Library). From this catalogue and others formed by Robert Glover [q. v.], Somerset herald, and Thomas Talbot [q. v.], clerk of the records in the Tower, John Philpot [q. v.], Somerset herald, framed his ‘Catalogue,’ London, 1636, 4to. Other manuscripts by Thynne are contained in the Stowe manuscripts, the Lansdowne manuscripts, the Ashmolean manuscripts, the Cottonian manuscripts, and the Bridgwater Library.
John Payne Collier unjustifiably assigned to Thynne four printed works: 1. ‘The Debate between Pride and Lowliness,’ London, n.d., 8vo. 2. ‘A Pleasant Dialogue between the Cap and the Head,’ London, 1564, 8vo. 3. ‘News from the North. Otherwise called a Conference between Simon Certain and Pierce Plowman,’ London, 1585, 4to. 4. ‘The Case is altered. How? Ask Dalio and Millo,’ London, 1604, 4to. Of these works the first is a poem, the other three are in prose. The internal evidence afforded by them is strongly opposed to the possibility of Thynne being their author. They are altogether unlike his genuine productions in subject, style, and treatment.[Introduction to Furnivall's edition of Thynne's Animadversions (Chaucer Society), 1875; Addit. MS. 12514; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert); Ayscough's Cat. of MSS.; Bernard's Cat. of MSS.; Black's Cat. of Ashmol. MSS. pp. 383, 520, 559, 625; Blakeway's Sheriffs of Salop, p. 116; Botfield's Stemmata Botevilliana, pp. 21, 51–3, 56, 59, 66, cxxxvi, clxxvi, cccxliii; Brydges's Restituta, i. 548; Collier's Bridgewater Catalogue, pp. 217, 311, 312; Collier's Bibliographical Account of the Rarest Books in the English Language, vol. i. pp. xlii*, 334, vol. ii. pp. 25, 427, 432, 450; Collier's Reg. Stat. Comp. ii. 101; Cottonian MSS.; Gent. Mag. 1856, ii. 85; Gough's Topographia; Harleian MSS.; Herald and Genealogist, i. 74; Lansdowne MSS.; Stowe MS. 1047, f. 267; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 2682; Moule's Bibl. Herald, pp. 119, 309, 324; Noble's College of Arms, pp. 184, 188, 213; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 60, 3rd ser. i. 242, iv. 505; Ritson's Bibl. Poetica, p. 361; Rymer's Fœdera, xvi. 471; Catalogue of State Papers; Todd's Cat. of Lambeth MSS.; Topographer and Genealogist, iii. 471–3, 485; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 107.]