Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Murimuth, Adam
MURIMUTH, ADAM (1275?–1347), historian, was born between Michaelmas 1274 and Michaelmas 1275. His family apparently belonged to Fifield, Oxfordshire, where a John de Muremuth occurs as lord of the manor in 1316; of other members of the family, Richard de Murimuth occurs as one of the royal clerks in 1328-9 (Cal. Pat. Rolls Edward III, 1327-30, pp. 329, 360). as dean of Wimborne in 1338, and held the prebends of Oxgate, at St. Paul's, 1340-54, and Banbury, Lincoln, in 1352. An Adam Murimuth, junior, probably held the prebend of Harleston, St. Paul's; he was rector of Thurgarton, Norfolk, 1327-8, and was prebend of Exeter, dying in 1370 ; the last named at least was, from the similarity of his preferments, most likely a relative of the historian. Murimuth was educated at Oxford, where he had graduated as doctor of civil law before 14 June 1312. At that date he was appointed one of the proctors of the university at the court of Rome in a complaint against the Black Friars (Chron. Edw. land II, pp. lxi, n. 1, lxviii). About the same time he was appointed by Archbishop Winchelsey to represent him at Avignon in his cause against Walter Langton [q. v.] (Continuatio Chronicarum, p. 18). Next year he was apparently acting at Avignon, as agent for the chapter of Canterbury, to secure the confirmation of Thomas Cobham in the archbishopric. In 1314 he was employed by the king to secure the preferment of John Sandale to the deanery of St. Paul's (Fœdera, ii. 243), and on 22 Nov. was appointed to the rectory of Hayes, Middlesex. In 1315 he received the rectory of Lyminge, Kent, and on 15 March of that year had letters dimissory from ArchbishopWalter Reynolds permitting him to receive deacon's or priest's orders. On 20 Oct. 1318 Reynolds presented him, being now a priest, to the living of Cliflfe at Hoo. Murimuth was still acting at Avignon for the king (Fcedera, ii. 305, 339), for the chapter of Canterbury, and perhaps for the university of Oxford in 1316 and 1317. In August of the former year he received a pension of 60s. from the chapter for his faithful counsel (cf. Litt. Cant. ii. 59-70). Murimuth must have returned home in 1318, and in May 1319 was proctor for the chapter of Canterbury in the parliament held at York (Parl. Writs, II. i. 199). In a letter dated 28 May 1 319 William de Melton [q. v.] alludes to information with which Murimuth had furnished him (Letters from the Northern Registers, p. 288, Rolls Ser.) In 1319 Murimuth was sent on another mission by the king to obtain the pope's assent to a grant from the clergy (Cont. Chron. p. 30). From 1 April 1320 to February 1321 he held the prebend of Bullinghope, Hereford (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 496), and during 1321 and 1322 was official and vicar-general for Stephen de Gravesend, bishop of London. In August 1323, when he is still styled canon of Hereford, he was sent on a mission to King Robert of Sicily concerning Edward's claims to lands in Provence (Fœdera, ii. 531). This same year he was also employed in the king's behalf against the Scots at Avignon and to represent Edward's complaints against his late envoy, John Stratford [q. v.] (ib. ii. 531-2 ; Cont. Chron. p. 41). On 16 May 1325 he received the prebend of Ealdstreet St. Paul's, which he exchanged for that of Neasden on 2 Feb. 1328 ; the Adam Murimuth who at a later date held the prebend of Harleston was prol>ably not the historian. In 1325 he was vicar-general for Archbishop Reynolds, and on 21 Aug. had letters of protection as intending to go with the king to France (Fœdera, ii. 604). In 1328 Murimuth appears as precentor of Exeter, a post which he may have received as early as 1319 ; he was certainly connected with that cathedral in 1327, when he was one of the deputation from the chapter to the king on the death of Bishop Berkeley. On 21 March 1330 his precentorship was confirmed to him for life (Cal. Pat. Rolls Edward III, 1327-30, pp. 378, 380), but he exchanged it for the rectory of Wyradisbury or Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, in 1331. In 1334 he had a dispute with the chapter of Canterbury as to his pension (Litt. Cant. ii. 59, 70), and in 1335 appears as commissary for the archbishop. He is mentioned on 5 June 1338 as receiving a lease of the manor of Barnes from the chapter of St. Paul's ; references to him occur in the 'Literæ Cantuarienses' under date 27 Oct. 1338 and 2 Feb. 1340 (ii. 196, 219). From 1338 onwards Murimuth records his age in his chronicle year by year ; the last entry is in 1347, when he was seventy-two. He probably died before 26 June 1347, when his successor at Wyradisbury was instituted.
Murimuth was the author of a work which he styles 'Continuatio Chronicarum,' and which covers the period from 1303 to 1347. According to his own account in his preface, he found that the chronicles at Exeter did not proceed beyond 1302, nor those at Westminster beyond 1305. Down to the latter date he uses the Westminster chronicles, and after this, when he was of an age to judge for himself, and write in his own manner 'ex libro dierum meorum,' his history is based on what he had himself heard and seen. Since Murimuth describes himself as canon of St. Paul's, he clearly wrote after 1 325. In its first form the history was brought down to 1337, a second edition carries it on to 1341, and in its final form the work ends with the year of the author's death, 1347. An anonymous continuation extends to 1380. The earlier portion of the history is very meagre, and was 'probably made up from scanty notes and from personal recollections.' While, however, the notices of English history are slight, the record of ecclesiastical affairs and the relations of England with the court of Rome have a peculiar value. But for the last nine years 'the chronicle is much fuller, and is of particular value for the history of the campaigns in France ' and of the negotiations connected with them. For this portion Murimuth's position at St. Paul's gave him the advantage of easy access to documents and private information. The 'Continuatio Chronicarum' is somewhat confused by Murimuth's perverse adoption of Michaelmas as the beginning of the year. It was first edited by Anthony Hall, Oxford, 1722, in which edition we have the true chronicle to 1337 from Queen's College, Oxford MS. 304, with the continuation to 1380. In an edition for the English Historical Society in 1846 Mr. Thomas Hog published the true text to 1346, with the continuation to 1380. The full text down to 1347 was for the first time edited for the Rolls Series by Dr. Maunde Thompson in 1889. An account of the extant manuscripts will be found in the last edition, pp. xvii-xxii.
There seems no reason to suppose that Murimuth's reference to the 'Liber dierum meorum' is anything more than a rhetorical expression. Henry Wharton [q. v.], however, ascribes to him the authorship of the continuation of the 'Flores Historiarum,' which has been published under the title of 'Annales Paulini' in 'Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II' in the Rolls Series. These annals undoubtedly show a close connection with Murimuth's work, and Dr. Thompson (Pref. p. xv) considers that their author was indebted to a copy of the first edition of the 'Continuatio Chronicarum.' Bishop Stubbs discusses the question of the connection of the two works in the preface to 'Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II,' vol. i. pp. lxvii-lxxiv; he concludes that the internal evidence is against Murimuth's authorship, but suggests that 'Adam may have contributed the material which is in common in the two chronicles.' In the 'Flores Historiarum' (iii. 232, Rolls Series), Murimuth is said to have written a history from 1313 to 1347; and the brief narrative of 1325 and 1328 there printed, is in the main extracted from his chronicle.
[Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. pp. 8-9: Maunde Thompson's Preface to Chronica A. Murimuth et R. Avesbury, pp. xx-xxxii.; Bishop Stubbs's Pref. to Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II, vol. i. pp. lix-lxxiv; Archseologia Cantiana, xv. 225-7, 261; Oliver's Bishops of Exeter, pp. 2?8, 315, 318; other authorities quoted.]