1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Herbert, Sir Thomas
HERBERT, SIR THOMAS (1606–1682), English traveller and author, was born at York in 1606. Several of his ancestors were aldermen and merchants in that city—e.g. his grandfather and benefactor, Alderman Herbert (d. 1614)—and they traced a connexion with the earls of Pembroke. Thomas became a commoner of Jesus College, Oxford, in 1621, but afterwards removed to Cambridge, through the influence of his uncle Dr Ambrose Akroyd. In 1627 the earl of Pembroke procured his appointment in the suite of Sir Dodmore Cotton, then starting as ambassador for Persia with Sir Robert Shirley. Sailing in March they visited the Cape, Madagascar, Goa and Surat; landing at Gambrun (10th of January 1627–1628), they travelled inland to Ashraf and thence to Kazvin, where both Cotton and Shirley died, and whence Herbert made extensive travels in the Persian Hinterland, visiting Kashan, Bagdad, &c. On his return voyage he touched at Ceylon, the Coromandel coast, Mauritius and St Helena. He reached England in 1629, travelled in Europe in 1630–1631, married in 1632 and retired from court in 1634 (his prospects perhaps blighted by Pembroke’s death in 1630); after this he resided on his Tintern estate and elsewhere till the Civil War, siding with the parliament till his appointment to attend on the king in 1646. Becoming a devoted royalist, he was rewarded with a baronetcy at the Restoration (1660). He resided mainly in York Street, Westminster, till the Great Plague (1666), when he retired to York, where he died (at Petergate House) on the 1st of March 1682.
Herbert’s chief work is the Description of the Persian Monarchy now beinge: the Orientall Indyes, Iles and other parts of the Greater Asia and Africk (1634), reissued with additions, &c., in 1638 as Some Yeares Travels into Africa and Asia the Great (al. into divers parts of Asia and Afrique); a third edition followed in 1664, and a fourth in 1677. This is one of the best records of 17th-century travel. Among its illustrations are remarkable sketches of the dodo, cuneiform inscriptions and Persepolis. Herbert’s Threnodia Carolina; or, Memoirs of the two last years of the reign of that unparallell’d prince of ever blessed memory King Charles I., was in great part printed at the author’s request in Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses; in full by Dr C. Goodall in his Collection of Tracts (1702, repr. G. & W. Nicol, 1813). Sir William Dugdale is understood to have received assistance from Herbert in the Monasticon Anglicanum, vol. iv.; see two of Herbert’s papers on St John’s, Beverley and Ripon collegiate church, now cathedral, in Drake’s Eboracum (appendix). Cf. also Robert Davies’ account of Herbert in The Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Journal, part iii., pp. 182-214 (1870), containing a facsimile of the inscription on Herbert’s tomb; Wood’s Athenae, iv. 15-41; and Fasti, ii. 26, 131, 138, 143-144, 150.