Buc, George (DNB00)
|←Bryson, William||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 07
BUC or BUCK, Sir GEORGE (d. 1623), historian, poet, and master of the revels, was descended from a good family which had formerly held large estates in Yorkshire and Suffolk. For taking the side of King Richard III at the battle of Bosworth Field his ancestors were deprived of most of their possessions, and, had not a powerful member of the Howard family interceded on their behalf, would have lost everything, These facts we learn from the dedicatory epistle to King James I prefixed to ‘ΔΑΦΝΙΣ ΠΟΛΥΣΤΕΦΑΝΟΣ: an Eclog treating of Grownes and of Garlandes, and to whom of right they a appertaine. Addressed and consecrated to the King’s Maiestie. By G. B., Knight,’ 1605, 4to. The dedicatory epistle is followed by an engraved genealogical table (dated 1602) of the royal line of England from Egbert to the Empress Matilda, mother of Henry II. After the epistle comes a ‘Preface or Argnlment of this poesy,’ consisting of seven leaves. The ‘Eclog,’ containing fifty-seven eight-line stanzas, written in the form of a dialogue between Damaetas, a woodman, and Silenus, the prophet of the shepherds, is an explanation of the nature and properties of trees. Collier, in his ‘Bibliographical Catalogue’ (i. 93-5), describes a copy of this poem containing a poetical inscription to Lord Ellesmere, from which inscription it would appear that Lord Ellesmere had decided a chancery suit in Buc’s favour. A second edition, with numerous alterations and a dedication to Sir John Finch, lord chief justice of the common pleas, was published in 1635 under the title of ‘The Great Plantagenet. Or a Continved Svccession of that Royall Name from Henry the Second to our Sacred Soveraigne King Charles. By Geo. Buck, Gent.' After the preface comes a second title-page, ‘An Eclog treating of Crownes,' &c. Whoever this ‘Geo. Buck, Gent.,’ may have been, he did not scruple to claim the authorship of the ‘Eclog,’ and afterwards of the ‘History of the Life and Reign of Richard the Third,’ written by Sir George Buc. Corset sa s that at the time of the publication of the ‘Eclogue' the author was twenty-three years of age ; but there appears to be no foundation for this statement. The ‘G. Bucke’ who prefixed a complimentary quatorzain to Watson‘s 'Έκατομπαθία’ about 1582 was not improbably Sir George Buc. Two persons of the name of Bucks accompanied the Cadiz expedition in 1596; one a Captain John Bucke, and the other a gentleman adventurer, George Bucke, whom it would be safe to identify with Sir George Buc. In Howes's ‘Stow' (1615), p. 776, col. 2, we read that ‘George Bucke was despatched by the lords generals to her majestie to make relation of that which had passed in the armie since the fleetes departure from the bay of Cadiz.' The instructions given him on that occasion are contained in ‘Otho,’ E. ix. 319 (Cottonian MSS.) In 1601 Buc was sent to Sir Francis Vere at Middleburgh, with instructions from Sir Robert Cecil. Two copies of these instructions are in ‘Cotton. MS. Galba,’ D. xii. 322, and the second copy is signed ‘Vera Copia, G. Buc,' in the unmistakable handwriting of Sir George Buc. On 13 July 1603, the day before the coronation, Buc was knighted by James. On 21 June 1603 he received the reversionary grant of the mastership of the revels (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Series, 1603-1610, p. 16). Collier states that in 1610 he assumed the office as successor to Edmund Tylney, who died in the October of that year (Engl. Dram. Lit. 2nd ed. i. 360). For some time previously he had acted as Tylney’s deputy. On 21 Nov. 1606 he licensed Sharpham’s ‘Fleire ’ for publication; but on 29 June 1607 we find Tylney licensing ‘Cupid‘s Wliirligig’ (Arber, Transcripts, iii. 333, 354). In spite of Col1ier’s statement (for which no authority is given) it would seem that Tylney had been superseded by Buc in the autumn of 1608, for on 4 Oct. of that year Middleton’s ‘A Mad World, my Masters,' was licensed for publication by Buc‘s deputy (ibid. p. 391). It is improbable that there would have been two deputies. From Sir Henry Herbert’s ‘Register’ we learn that Buc's office books, which would have had the deepest interest for students of the drama, were consumed by fire. Chalmers, in his ‘Supplemental Apology’ (198-207), gives a list of the plays licensed for publication by Buc. Among the ‘State Papers,’ under date 6 Sept. 1610, is a document signed by Buc, licensing three men to ‘shew a strange lion brought to do strange things, as turning an ox to be roasted,' &c. There is also preserved among the ‘ State Papers’ a letter of Buc’s, dated 10 July 1615, to John Packer, secretary to lord-chamberlain Somerset, llowing Samuel Daniel to appoint a company of youths to perform comedies and tragedies at Bristol. The writer ends by saying that he has received no stipend since 13 Dec., and begs for payment of arrears. In a letter to Sir Dudley (garleton, dated 30 March 1620, Chamberlain writes: ‘Old Sir George Buck, master of the revels, has gone mad’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Series, 1619-23, p. 364). Two years afterwards Buc had become too infirm to discharge his duties, and on 2 May 1622 a patent was made out appointing Sir John Astley master of the revels. On 22 May he was formally superseded in a privy seal (extant in the Chapter-house, Westminster), which directed that as Buc, ‘by reason of sickness and indisposition of body wherewith it had pleased God to visit him, was become disabled and insufficient to undergo and perform ’ his duties, the office had been conferred on Sir John Astley. From Sir Henry Herbert's ‘Register’ it appears that Buc died on 22 Sept. 1623.
Sir George Buc is the author of ‘The Third Universitie of England, or a Treatise of the Foundations of all the Colledges, Avncient Schooles of Priviledge, and of Hovses of Lenming and Liberall Arts, within and abovt the most famovs Cittie of London,’ a treatise appended to IIowes's edition of Stow's ‘Annales' (1615). In this work the author mentions a treatise which he had written on ‘The Art of Revels,’ of which no copy is now known. The ‘History of the Life and Reign of Richard the Third. Composed in five Bookes,’ was issued in 1646, ful., as the work of ‘George Buck, Esq.’ A charred fragment of a manuscript copy of this work, in the handwriting of Sir George Buc, is reserved among the Cottonian MSS. (Tib. E. x.) In this manuscript the history was described as ‘gathered and written by Sir George Buc, Knight, master of the King's office of the lievels and one of the gentlemen of his majestie’s privy chamber, corrected and amended in every page.' The leaf containing this passage is not now in the manuscript; but so the title is given in Smith’s ‘catalogue of the Cotton. MSS.’ There is preserved in the manuscript a portion of the dedication to ‘the most illustrious Lord, premier coûte of this realme, erl of Arundale,’ &c., dated from ‘the king's office of the Revels, Peter's Hill, the . . . of . . . 1619.’ An advertisement to the reader (in the manuscript copy) informs us that the ‘argument and subject of this discours or story was at the first but a chapter, sc. the thirteenth chapter of the third hook of a rude work of myne entitled “The Baron, or the Magazin of Honour."’ No copy of ‘The Baron’ is known to exist. It is not improbable that many; of Buc’s works perished in the flames which consumed his office books, and that Tib. E. x. was scorched on that occasion. The history attempts to prove that Richard III was a virtuous prince and innocent of the crimes imputed to him, and must be regarded to some extent as an anticipation of Horace Walpole's “Historic Doubts.”’ Early in the present century a certain Charles Yarnold announced his in- tention of issuing a new edition of the history ‘from the original manuscript of Sir George Buck.’ The manuscript referred to by Yarnold, and Yarnold's collections towards the new edition (of which only a few sheets were printed), are in the British Museum, numbered Eg. MSS. 2216-2220. Yarnold’s collections are of little value, and it is certain that his manuscript is not in the handwriting of Sir George Buc. Additional MS. 27422 contains the first two books of the history. The George Buck who had the impudence to issue the work as his own dedicated the printed copy to Philip, earl of Pembroke. In 1710 Buc's history was included in the first volume of Kennet's ‘Complete History of England.’ Camden, in his ‘Britannia’ (ed. 1607, p. 668), speaks of Bac as a man of distinguished learning ‘qui multa in historiis observavit et candide impertiit.’ Some letters of Buc’s to Sir Robert Cotton are preserved in ‘Cottonian MS. Jul. Cæsar,’ iii. 33, 128. Among Heber's manuscripts was sold an undated quarto, p. 524, which was described in ‘Biblioth. Heber.’ (pt. xi. No. 98) as a poem of Sir George Buc. The title is ‘The famous History of Saint George, England’s Brave Champion. Translated into verse and enlardged . . . By G. B.’ Corser gives a full description of this work, and clearly shows that it could not have been written by Buc, as it contains allusions to events which happened long after his death.
[Chalmers’s supplemental Apology, pp. 198-207; Riyson's Bibliog. Poet. pp, l46-7; Collier’s English Dramatic Lit. (2nd ed.), i. 360, 402-5; Corser's Collectanea; Cottonian MSS., Galba D. xii. 322, Otho E. ix. 319, Tib. E. x.; Stow's Annales (ed. Howes), 1615, p. 776; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. Series, 1603-10, pp. 16, 631, 1619-1623, p. 364; Arber's Transcripts, iii. 333, 354, 391; Nichols’s Progresses of James I, i. 215.]