Harborne, William (DNB00)

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HARBORNE, WILLIAM (d. 1617), the first English ambassador to Turkey, was son of William Harborne, esq., of Great Yarmouth, who was son of George Harborne of Shropshire. He was appointed one of the bailiffs of Yarmouth in 1572. In 1575 he was elected a burgess in parliament for that borough, in the room of John Bacon, deceased, but by a very irregular proceeding his election was rescinded, and Edward Bacon was returned. He went to Turkey in 1577, and procured the first 'heroical letters' from the Grand Signior, inviting the friendship of the queen of England. The Turkey Company was established in this country in 1579 after Amurath III, upon a treaty between Harborne and Mustapha Beg, a Turkish bassa, had granted to the English merchants the same freedom of traffic through his empire as was enjoyed at the time by the French, Venetians, Poles, and Germans.

Harborne was formally appointed Queen Elizabeth's ambassador or agent 'in the partes of Turkie' by a commission dated at Windsor on 20 Nov. 1582. He sailed from Cowes in the Isle of Wight on 14 Jan. 1582-3, and represented this country at Constantinople till 3 Aug. 1588, when he started on his return journey overland to London. Interesting accounts of both journeys are printed in Hakluyt's 'Collection of Voyages.' During his embassy to the Porte he obtained, without any charge to the queen, a general privilege for far more ample traffic than had been granted to any other nation. The trade which followed greatly increased the customs. He likewise succeeded in procuring the redemption from captivity of many English subjects, and induced the sultan to guarantee the future safety of English voyagers throughout the Levant seas. During the six years in which he was employed by the queen he received only 1,200l. for his services, besides 600l. given to him by the Company of Levant Merchants. Nash, writing in 1598, speaks of 'mercurial-breasted Mr. Harborne,' who, he says, 'always accepted a rich spark of eternity, first lighted and inkindled at Yarmouth, or there first bred and brought forth to see the light: who since, in the hottest dayies of Leo, hath echoing noised the name of our island and of Yarmouth, so tritonly, that not an infant of the cur-tailed, skin-clipping Pagans, but talk of London as frequently as of their Prophet's tomb at Mecca' (Lenten Stuffe, in Harl. Miscell. ed. Park, vi. 156, 167).

On his return to England Harborne settled at Mundham, Norfolk, where he died on 9 Sept. 1617. There is, or was, a monument to his memory in that parish, with a eulogistic inscription in English verse. He wrote: 1. An account of his journey from Constantinople to London in 1588. Printed in Hakluyt's 'Collection of Voyages.' 2. 'The relation of my tenn yeares forraine travelle in procuring and establishing the intercourse into the Grand Seignor his domynions, begun in anno 1577 and fynished 1588, specifieng the service donn to hir Matie and Comon Wealth, with such perticuler proffet as the Traders thether have and doe enioye therebie,' Lansdowne MS. 57, f. 65. 3. Many of his letters and documents relating to his embassy are preserved among the Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum, and the Tanner MSS. in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

[Manship and Palmer's Yarmouth, i. 36, 73, 86, 87, 106, 123, 186, 224, 283, ii. 199, 301, 302; Blomefield's Norfolk, v. 57, x. 171, xi. 268; Guillim's Display of Heraldry, 1724; Harleian Soc. Publications, i. 83, v. 308; Harl. MS. 6993, art. 2; Lansd. MSS. 42 art. 15, 57 art. 23, 61 art. 32, 64 art. 82, 65 art. 29, 67 art. 106, 84 art. 4, 86 art. 8, 73, 112 art. 25, 775 ff. 177, 194; Hackman's Cat. Tanner MSS. pp. 950, 1107, col. 3; Ellis's Letters, 1st ser. iii. 83, 84; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. iv. 471; Hakluyt's Voyages, 1810, ii. 275-9, 285-95, 298-306, 316-18, 426 seq.; Purchas his Pilgrimes, 1625, ii. 1642; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547-80, p. 697; Birch's Elizabeth, i. 36.]

T. C.


William Harborne' memorial stone is in the nave of Mundham Church and the inscription reads .. 'Aires spare your cost, he needs no tomb in death, who ambassador for Queen Elizabeth