Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hartwell, Abraham (fl.1600)

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HARTWELL, ABRAHAM, the younger (fl. 1600), translator and antiquary, speaks of himself in the ‘Epistle Dedicatorie’ of his translation of Soranzo's ‘History,’ dated 1 Jan. 1603, as in his ‘Quinquagenarian yere of Jubile.’ This would make 1553 the year of his birth, and he is probably identical with the Abraham Hartwell of Trinity College, Cambridge, who graduated B.A. in 1571 and M.A. in 1575, and was incorporated M.A. at Oxford in 1588 (Wood, Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 245). Previous biographers have confounded this Abraham Hartwell with Abraham Hartwell (fl. 1565) [q. v.], author of ‘Regina Literata’ in 1564. At Trinity College the younger Hartwell apparently attracted the notice of Whitgift, who made him his secretary. We first hear of him in this capacity in 1584 (Strype, Whitgift, i. 323). Three translations by him from the Italian are dedicated to Whitgift, ‘at your Graces in Lambhith.’ He published: 1. ‘The History of the Warres betweene the Turkes and the Persians. Written in Italian by John Thomas Minadoi,’ London, 1595, 4to. The volume contained ‘a new Geographicall Mappe.’ Minadoi's ‘Epistle to the Reader’ is translated by Hartwell with the title ‘the Author's,’ and has given rise to the groundless notion that Hartwell was a traveller. 2. ‘A Report of the Kingdome of Congo, a Region of Africa. And of the Countries that border rounde about the same. … Drawen out of the writings and discourses of Odoardo Lopez, a Portingall, by Philippo Pigafetta,’ London, 1597, 4to. The ‘Epistle to the Reader’ tells that this translation was undertaken at the request of R. Hakluyt; the volume contains several cuts. It has been reprinted in ‘Purchas his Pilgrimes,’ &c., pt. ii. 1625, and in ‘A Collection of Voyages and Travels,’ vol. ii. 1745. 3. ‘The Ottoman of Lazaro Soranzo. Wherein is delivered … a full and perfect report of the might and power of Mahomet the third, … as also a true Description of divers peoples, Countries, Citties, and Voyages, which are most necessarie to bee knowen, especially at this time of the present Warre in Hungarie,’ London, 1603, 4to. A chance question of the archbishop's about Turkish ‘Bassaes and Visiers’ was the occasion of this translation. 4. ‘A True Discourse upon the matter of Martha Brossier of Romorantin, pretended to be possessed by a Divell,’ London, 1599, 4to, from the French. The dedication to Richard Bancroft, bishop of London, explains that the cases of possession and witchcraft at Nottingham which, in his capacity of secretary to the archbishop, Hartwell had become acquainted with had suggested this translation to him (ib. ii. 341; Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 380). Hartwell was the last member admitted into the old Society of Antiquaries (Archæologia, vol. i. Introd.) Two short papers which he wrote for the society are printed in Hearne's ‘Curious Discourses,’ London, 1771; they are entitled ‘Of Epitaphs’ (ii. 375), and ‘Of the Antiquity, Variety, and Reason of Motts with Arms of Noblemen and Gentlemen of England’ (i. 278), and were both read before the society in 1600. Two Latin letters to Whitgift are in the Harleian MS. 6350, f. 1. Wood (Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 245) ascribes to Hartwell ‘A Continued Inquisition against Paper Persecutors by A.H.,’ found at the end of ‘A Scourge for Paper Persecutors,’ by John Davies, 1624, 4to. Hartwell was collated by Whitgift to the rectory of Toddington in Bedfordshire, where he founded a library. The date of his death is not known.

[Authorities quoted; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 383.]

R. B.