Lambarde, William (DNB00)


LAMBARDE, WILLIAM (1536–1601), historian of Kent, born in the parish of St. Nicholas Acon, London, on 18 Oct. 1536, was the eldest son of John Lambarde, draper, alderman, and sheriff of London, by his first wife, Julian, daughter and ultimately heiress of William Horne of London. On the death of his father in August 1554, he inherited the manor of Westcombe in Greenwich, Kent. He was admitted of Lincoln's Inn on 12 April 1556, and studied Anglo-Saxon and history with Laurence Nowell [q. v.] (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 426). His first work, undertaken at the request of Nowell, was a collection and translation, or rather paraphrase, of the Anglo-Saxon laws published under the title of ‘Ἀρχαιονομία, sive de priscis Anglorum legibus libri, sermone Anglico vetustate antiquissimo, aliquot abhinc seculis conscripti, atq; nunc demum … e tenebris in lucem vocati, G. Lambardo interprete,’ 4to, London, 1568; republished with Bede's ‘Historia Ecclesiastica’ in 1644, fol., by Abraham Wheelock. Some notes and corrections for ‘Archaionomia’ by Francis Junius [q. v.] are in the Bodleian Library (ib. iii. 1142). In 1570, when residing at Westcombe, Lambarde completed the first draft of his ‘Perambulation of Kent: containing the Description, Hystorie, and Customes of that Shyre,’ and sent it to his friend Thomas Wotton. It was read in manuscript and commended by Archbishop Parker and Lord-treasurer Burghley. Wotton printed it with the author's additions in 1576, 4to, London. This, the earliest county history known, is justly considered a model of arrangement and style. The first edition contains ‘The Names of suche of the Nobilitie and Gentrie as the Heralds recorded in their Visitation, 1574,’ which is omitted in subsequent issues. A second edition appeared in 1596, a third edition is undated, and others were issued in 1640 and 1656. A reprint of the second edition, with a life of Lambarde, was published at Chatham in 1826, 8vo. From Lambarde's own letter to Wotton, accompanying the second edition, it appears that he had already collected materials for a general account of England, of which the ‘Perambulation’ was an instalment. He abandoned his design upon learning that Camden was engaged on a similar undertaking (cf. his letter to Camden, dated 29 July 1585, in Camdenii Epistolæ, p. 28). His materials, however, were published from the original manuscript in 1730, 4to, London, as ‘Dictionarium Angliæ Topographicum et Historicum,’ &c., with his portrait engraved by Vertue. Camden, in acknowledging his obligations to the ‘Perambulation,’ eulogises Lambarde as ‘eminent for learning and piety’ (Britannia, ‘Kent,’ Introduction); the ‘piety’ apparently refers to his having founded almshouses at East Greenwich called the College of the Poor of Queen Elizabeth. The queen granted letters patent for the foundation of this charity in 1574, and it was opened on 1 Oct. 1576.

On 9 Feb. 1578–9 Lambarde was chosen a bencher of Lincoln's Inn, and on 6 Aug. of the same year was appointed a justice of the peace for Kent. He fulfilled his duties honourably, and expounded them in ‘Eirenarcha: or of the Office of the Justices of Peace, into two bookes: gathered 1579, and now revised and firste published,’ &c., 8vo, London, 1581. Written in a clear and unaffected style, this manual remained for a long time the standard authority (Fulbeck, Preparative, p. 64). Blackstone (1 Blk. Comm. c. 9) recommends its study. It was reprinted seven times between 1582 and 1610. To the last three editions was added ‘The Duties of Constables, Borsholders, Tithing-men, and such other Lowe Ministers of the Peace. Whereunto be also adjoyned the severall Offices of Churchwardens, of Surveyors for amending the Highwayes,’ &c., another useful handbook by Lambarde, first published in 1583, 8vo, London, and reissued with additions six times between 1584 and 1610. An able and interesting letter from Lambarde to Burghley, dated 18 July 1585, ‘contayning reasons why her Majestie should with speed embrace the action of the defence of the Lowe Countries,’ is printed in Nichols's ‘Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica’ (vol. i. App. viii. pp. 527–9). In 1591 he completed another work, entitled ‘Archeion; or, a Commentary upon the High Courts of Justice in England,’ which was published in 1635 (8vo, London), by his grandson, Thomas Lambarde, from the author's manuscript. Another edition, of inferior authenticity, appeared in the same year.

On 22 June 1592 Lambarde was appointed a master in chancery by Lord-keeper Sir John Puckering, and made keeper of the records at the Rolls Chapel by Lord-keeper Sir Thomas Egerton on 26 May 1597. In 1597 he was nominated by William Brooke, lord Cobham, as one of his executors and trustees for establishing his college for the poor at Cobham, Kent (Archæologia Cantiana, xi. 206, 210, 214–15), and he drew up the rules for the government of the charity. He was personally noticed by the queen in 1601, and appointed on 21 Jan. keeper of the records in the Tower. On 4 Aug. of the same year he presented Elizabeth with an account of the Tower records, which he called his ‘Pandecta Rotulorum,’ and he has left behind a delightfully quaint note of their conversation in the queen's privy chamber at East Greenwich (Nichols, Bibliotheca, vol. i. App. vii. pp. 525–6).

Lambarde died at Westcombe on 19 Aug. 1601 and was buried in Greenwich Church. On the rebuilding of the church his monument was removed by his son Sir Multon Lambarde to Sevenoaks, then as now the family seat. His will is printed in ‘Archæologia Cantiana’ (v. 253–6). He married, first, on 11 Sept. 1570, Jane (1553–1573), daughter of George Multon of St. Cleres, Ightham, Kent; secondly, on 28 Oct. 1583, Sylvestra (1554–1587), widow of William Dallison and daughter and heiress of Robert Deane of Halling, Kent; and, thirdly, on 13 April 1592, Margaret, daughter of John Payne of Frittenden, Kent, widow first of John Meryam of Boughton-Monchelsea in the same county, and secondly of Richard Reder. He had issue by his second wife alone three sons and a daughter (Archæologia Cantiana, v. 247–53).

Many of Lambarde's manuscripts are at Sevenoaks, including several ‘Charges to Juries’ from 1581 to 1600, and a ‘Treatise of the service called the Office of Compositions for Alienations,’ 1590 (list in Nichols, Bibliotheca, vol. i. App. i. pp. 510–12). In the Cottonian manuscripts are his ‘Collectanea ex diversis antiquis historicis Anglicanis’ (Vesp. A. v. i.), his ‘Cycle of Years, from 1571 to 1600’ (Julius, c. ix. 105), and his ‘Letter to Camden,’ 1585 (Julius, c. v. 9).

[Nichols's Bibl. Top. Brit. i. 493–532, from the family papers; Hasted's Kent (Drake), i. 51–2; Marvin's Legal Bibliography; Smith's Bibliotheca Cantiana; Archæologia Cantiana, viii. 300, 301, 309; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn), iii. 1301.]

G. G.