Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Henley, Walter de
HENLEY, WALTER de (fl. 1250), writer on agriculture, is stated to have been a ‘Chivaler,’ and afterwards to have become a Dominican friar (MS. Dd. vii. 6, in the Cambridge University Library). He wrote about the middle of the thirteenth century a work in French entitled ‘Hosebondrie,’ which remained the best treatise on the subject till Fitzherbert's ‘Boke of Husbandrie’ appeared in 1523 [see under Fitzherbert, Sir Anthony]. The manuscripts are very numerous. Dr. Cunningham gives a list of twenty. Henley's original text has clearly been much garbled and interpolated in the extant manuscripts; the early text is said to be best represented in two manuscripts in the Cambridge University Library (Dd. vii. 6, f. 526, and Dd. vii. 14, f. 228). They appear to date from the time of Edward I or Edward II, and Dr. Cunningham is mistaken in putting them later. A French work, very similar to Henley's, is preserved in manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, under the title of ‘Enseignements Agricoles’ (Paulin Paris, Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi, iii. 359), and has been printed in the ‘Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes’ (4eme série, tome ii. pp. 123–41, 367–81). Henley's French text appears to have been translated into Latin more than once (Digby 147, f. 1), and more than one English translation survives (Brit. Mus. Sloane, 686, f. 1, and Bodleian, Rawlinson, B. 471, f. 16). There was also a translation into Welsh (Brit. Mus. Addit. 15056). One of the English versions was printed by Wynkyn de Worde, and there is a unique copy in the Cambridge University Library. It is called ‘Boke of Husbandry, whiche Mayster Groshede sõtyme Bysshop of Lyncoln made and translated it out of Frensshe into Englysshe.’ It concludes: ‘Here endeth the Boke of Husbondry and of plantynge and graffynge of Trees and Vynes.’ The ascription of this translation to Bishop Grosseteste is incorrect. Henley's work has been much confused with several other thirteenth-century treatises, such as the anonymous work on husbandry in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 6159 and the Senescalcia, and it was largely drawn upon by the compiler of ‘Fleta.’ An edition of Henley's work, together with the anonymous work on husbandry, the Senescalcia, and Grosseteste's ‘Reules Seynt Robert,’ is published by the Royal Historical Society; the transcript, translation, and glossary are by Miss E. Lamond, and the introduction is by the Rev. W. Cunningham, D.D.
[J. E. Thorold Rogers's Six Cents. of Work and Wages, p. 70, and Hist. of Ag. and Prices, vol. i.; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. p. 353; Nouvelle Biographie Générale (Didot); Catalogues of Bodleian MSS.; Catalogue of Manuscripts in Cambridge University Library; Coxe's Catal. Cod. MSS. in Collegiis Aulisque Oxoniensibus, pt. i., 1852, p. 127; J. Orchard Halliwell's Manuscript Rarities of the Univ. of Cambr. 1841, p. 56; Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Commerce, ed. 1890, pp. 223–4; Academy, 30 Oct. 1886.]