Open main menu


JOSCELYN or JOSSELIN, JOHN (1529–1603), Latin secretary to Archbishop Parker and Anglo-Saxon scholar, was third surviving son of Sir Thomas Josselin of Hyde Hall, Hertfordshire, and High Roding, Essex, a direct descendant from Sir Thomas Jocelyn, who was knighted in 1229, and belonged to an ancient family of Brittany. John matriculated at the age of sixteen as a pensioner at Queens' College, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. 1548–9, and M.A. in 1552. When only twenty he was in 1549 elected a fellow of Queens'. In 1551–2 he was Latin lecturer at his college, Greek lecturer in 1551–2 and again in 1555–6, dean of philosophy in 1552, and bursar from 1555 to 1557. He subscribed the Roman catholic articles in 1555, but resigned his fellowship in 1557, whether from religious scruples is not stated. He was afterwards a strong protestant. On Parker's elevation to the archbishopric of Canterbury (1558), Joscelyn entered his household as Latin secretary. Parker also instituted him to a prebend in Hereford Cathedral, on 4 Oct. 1560, which he resigned in 1577, on receiving the living of Hollingbourn, Kent, from the same patron. Joscelyn died on 28 Dec. 1603, and was buried in the church of High Roding, Essex, where a curious, and in its details incorrect, epitaph still exists above his grave. He is called there a friend of the poor. In his will he bequeathed 100l. to found a Hebrew lecture at his college.

Joscelyn was an invaluable assistant to Archbishop Parker in his literary undertakings. Parker has indeed been charged with taking the credit of and putting his name to much of Joscelyn's work, and Joscelyn's epitaph seems to support the accusation. The groundwork of Parker's ‘De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ,’ 1572, fol., was undoubtedly compiled by Joscelyn and the archbishop's other secretary, George Acworth [q. v.] Joscelyn certainly contributed to it the Latin lives of the archbishops; but Parker's own alterations and corrections may be seen in the manuscripts of the whole work at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Strype says he certainly ‘put the last hand to it’ (see Strype, Life of Parker). An English translation of Joscelyn's ‘Lives of the Archbishops,’ apparently by J. Stubs of Lincoln's Inn, was published in 1574, probably at Geneva. Under Parker's direction Joscelyn wrote a history of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, completed up to 1569, and left in manuscript, copies of which exist in the registry of Cambridge University, the library of the college, and in the Baker MSS. v. xxii. in St. John's College, Cambridge. It was published in 1880 for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, with the title, ‘Historiola Collegii Corporis,’ edited by J. W. Clark. In the Corpus Christi College MSS. 105, p. 243, is another work of Joscelyn's, entitled ‘Anglorum oratio, qua partim suæ religionis instaurationem adversus quorundam calumnias defendunt, partim Christianos principes hortantur ut religionis sincerioris procurationem in se suscipiant.’

Joscelyn is chiefly interesting as one of the earliest students of Anglo-Saxon. By Parker's desire he made collections from Anglo-Saxon documents, and many of his notes from these and other historical authorities are extant among the Cottonian, Addit. (No. 4787), Harleian (Nos. 338, 420, and 692), and Royal (5 B. 15, f. 134) MSS. at the British Museum and in Lambeth MSS. (585 and 593). ‘Libri Saxonici qui ad manus J. J[osseline] venerunt, Nomina eorum qui scripserunt historiam Gentis Anglorum et ubi extant’ was printed by Hearne in his edition of ‘Rob. de Avesbury,’ pp. 267–98, from MS. Cott. Nero C. iii. 191, 191b. In conjunction with John Parker, son of the archbishop, Joscelyn also prepared an Anglo-Saxon and Latin Dictionary, now in Cott. MSS. Tit. A. xv. xvi. To Parker's edition of the Paschal Homily of Ælfric Grammaticus [q. v.], which appeared with the title ‘A Testimonie of Antiquity shewing the auncient Fayth in the Church of England, touching the Sacrament of the Body and Bloude of the Lord,’ London, 8vo, 1567? Joscelyn contributed not only a preface but a collection of other Anglo-Saxon pieces, besides the homily, which were printed both in the original and in English translations. The volume was re-edited by William Lisle [q. v.] in 1623. Joscelyn also edited, with a preface, the ‘Epistola Gildæ de Excidio et Conquestu Britanniæ,’ London, 8vo, 1568, and is credited with ‘A Saxon Grammar.’

[Parker Correspondence, pp. xiii, 298, 425, 426; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. preface, xviii; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabrigienses, ii. 366; Willis's Cathedrals, ii. 573; Wright's Essex, ii. 271; Morant's Essex, ii. 466; Clutterbuck's Hertfordshire, iii. 204; Hasted's Kent, v. 477; Dyer's Cambridge, ii. 153; Masters's Hist. of Corpus Christi College, pp. 97, 99; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), i. 399, ii. 766, 782, 798; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 265, 276; Wootton's Baronetage, iii. 484; Selden's Titles of Honour, p. 82; Catalogues of Bodl., Cotton, Brit. Mus., Addit., Harl., and Lambeth MSS.]

E. T. B.