at Hunstanton [see under L'Estrange, Sir Hamon].
Though at this period engaged in the ordinary occupations of a country gentleman, Spelman displayed his antiquarian bent by the composition of a Latin treatise on coats of armour, ‘Aspilogia;’ it was probably written before 1595, although it was not published till 1654. He also transcribed many of the deeds and charters relating to the monasteries of Norfolk and Suffolk, and wrote the description of Norfolk printed by John Speed [q. v.] before 1610. In 1593 he was admitted a member of the original Society of Antiquaries (Archæologia, xxxii. 138; Hearne, Antiq. Disc. ii. 439), and thus made the acquaintance of Camden, Sir Robert Cotton, Richard Carew, and others. Such intercourse encouraged his antiquarian proclivities. In 1594 (Reliquiæ Spelmannianæ, ed. Gibson, p. 208) he wrote a dialogue, probably to be read before the society, concerning the coin of the kingdom and existing prices; he proved that immense treasure had been in the past exported from England. The society discontinued its meetings in 1604. Spelman's efforts to resuscitate them ten years later were frustrated by James I's prohibition. In 1609 he unsuccessfully petitioned James I for admission as a fellow to the new Chelsea College (Draft of Latin petition in Tanner MS. cxlii. 58).
Spelman increased his Norfolk properties in 1594 by the purchase of the leases of Blackborough and Wormegay abbeys from the lessees of the crown, but he became involved by this transaction in proceedings in the court of chancery which lasted many years; the case was ultimately settled by compromise after 1625, while Lord Coventry was lord-keeper (F. S. Cooper in Proceedings of Cambr. Antiq. Soc. ii. 104; Hist. and Fate of Sacrilege, ed. 1853, p. 245). Bacon, when lord chancellor, gave his decision against Spelman in this litigation, and it is significant that Sir Henry's name subsequently appeared among the suitors in chancery who presented petitions to parliament complaining of Bacon's corruption (Hist. Sacrilege, 1853, p. 245; Howell, State Trials, ii. 1107). Summing up the results of this suit in the ‘History and Fate of Sacrilege’ (ed. 1853, p. 247), he declared himself to have been ‘a great loser, and not beholden to fortune, yet happy in this that he is out of the briars, and especially that he hereby first discerned the infelicity of meddling with consecrated places.’
Spelman was returned as member of parliament for Castle Rising on 29 Sept. 1597 (Return of Members of Parl. 1878), and in 1604 he served as high sheriff of Norfolk. His scholarly abilities, combined with his knowledge of affairs, commended him to James I, by whom he was appointed on 2 March 1617 commissioner to determine unsettled titles to lands and manors in Ireland. The business of the commission necessitated three visits to Ireland (Hearne, Antiq. Discourse, ii. 439; Preface to Glossary, ed. 1626).
In 1612 he moved with his whole family to London, in order to be within reach of books and scholarly friends, and to free himself from unspecified annoyances which he had experienced in the country. Although he continued to perform the duties of a justice of the peace in Norfolk, he sold his stock and let his farms and house there. His first London residence was in Tuthill Street, Westminster, close to the library of his friend Sir Robert Cotton (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. p. 424). Here he remained for about twenty years, until his removal to the house in Barbican of Sir Ralph Whitfield, his son-in-law (Addit. MS. 25384; Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. iv. 18; cf. Archæologia, vol. xxiv.; Cal. State Papers, Dom. January 1632).
As soon as he was settled in London, Spelman completed his treatise ‘De non temerandis Ecclesiis, a tracte of the rights and respect due unto Churches,’ which, according to the title, was written ‘to a gentleman who, having an appropriate parsonage, employed the church to prophane uses, and left the parishioners uncertainly provided of Divine service in a parish near there adjoining.’ The gentleman in question was Francis Sanders, Spelman's uncle, a conversation with whom is said to have occasioned the writing of the treatise. In the first instance it was intended only for private circulation, but was printed in London in 1613. Three copies bound together, in the British Museum Library, contain numerous manuscript notes by the author. The third copy has a slightly different title-page. A reissue came from the press of Andrew Hart at Edinburgh in 1616, and contains an address by the author to the bishops of Scotland and a preface signed ‘I. S.’ Spelman's treatise, rough and forcible in style but abounding in recondite learning, exercised an extraordinary influence on lay impropriators, who were in not a few cases induced by its strong argument to restore lay impropriations to the use of the church. ‘While Sir Henry Spelman lived there came some unto him almost every term at London to consult with him how they might legally restore and dispose of their impropriations’ (Reliq. Spelman. ed. Gibson, p. 64). Baptist, Lord Hicks, Baron Scudamore, and Sir Roger Townsend were among those who acted on his advice. The success