Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Moryson, Fynes

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MORYSON, FYNES (1566–1630), traveller, born in 1566, was younger son of Thomas Moryson (d. 1591) of Cadeby, Lincolnshire, clerk of the pipe, and M.P. for Great Grimsby in 1572, 1584, 1586, and 1588–9 (Harl. MS. 1550, f. 50b; cf. Itinerary, pt. i. p. 19). His mother, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Moigne of Willingham, Lincolnshire, died in 1587 (ib.). He matriculated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, 18 May 1580, and, graduating B.A. (M.A. 1587), obtained a fellowship about 1584. The college allowed him to study civil law; but, ‘from his tender youth, he had a great desire to see foreign countries’ (ib. p. 197), and in 1589 he obtained a license to travel. Two years he spent either in London or on visits to friends in the country, preparing himself for his expedition, and on 22 March 1590–1 he was incorporated M.A. at Oxford. On 1 May 1591 he took ship at Leigh, near Southend, and for the greater part of the six years following wandered about Europe.

At the end of 1591 he reached Prague, where he dreamt of his father's death on the day of the event (ib. p. 19). The news was confirmed at Nuremberg, and after a year's leisurely tour through Germany he retraced his steps to the Low Countries in order to dispose of his modest patrimony. On 7 Jan. 1593 he entered himself as a student at Leyden University (Peacock, Index, p. 65). He subsequently passed through Denmark and Poland to Vienna, and thence by way of Pontena and Chiusa into Italy in October 1593 (Itinerary, pt. i. p. 68). After visiting Naples, he thoroughly explored Rome, where he paid visits to Cardinals Allen (ib. p. 121) and Bellarmine (p. 142). The former gave him every facility for viewing the antiquities. The cities of North Italy occupied him from April 1594 to the beginning of 1595. In the early spring of 1595 he had an interview with Theodore Beza at Geneva, and journeying hurriedly through France, caught a glimpse of Henri IV at Fontainebleau (ib. p. 195), and landed at Dover 13 May 1595.

On 8 Dec. of the same year Moryson started on a second journey, setting sail for Flushing. A younger brother, Henry, bore him company. Passing through Germany to Venice, they went, at the end of April 1596, by sea to Joppa, spent the first fortnight of June at Jerusalem, and thence went by Tripoli and Aleppo to Antioch. At Beilan, a neighbouring village, Henry Moryson died on 4 July 1596 (ib. p. 249); he was in his twenty-seventh year. Fynes afterwards made for Constantinople, where the English ambassador, Edward Barton [q. v.], hospitably entertained him (ib. pp. 260, 265). He finally reached London by way of Venice and Stade on 10 July 1597.

In April 1598 Moryson visited Scotland, but soon came home, and spent some time in the autumn with his sisters, Faith Mussendyne and Jane, wife of George Allington, of the pipe office. The former lived at Healing near the south bank of the Humber. During the greater part of 1599 he remained with his kinsfolk in Lincolnshire. At the time his brother Richard [see below] was taking an active part in the government of Ireland, and strongly recommended him to seek employment in Ireland. Accordingly Moryson went to Cambridge in July 1600 in order to formally resign his fellowship at Peterhouse, and the college presented him with 40l., the amount of two years' income. In November he set out for Dublin (ib. pt. ii. p. 84). On the 13th he reached Dundalk, where his brother was governor; on the same day George Cranmer, the chief secretary of Sir Charles Blount [q. v.], the lord-deputy, was killed at Carlingford, and Moryson was at once appointed to his place (ib. pt. ii. p. 84). He found his new master all that he could wish, aided him in his efforts to suppress Tyrone's rebellion, and remained through life a devoted admirer (ib. pp. 45–50). On 20 Feb. 1601 he was wounded in the thigh while riding with Blount about MacGahagan's castle in Westmeath (ib. pt. ii. p. 88). At the end of the year he took part in the siege of Kinsale (ib. pp. 165 sq.), and he seems to have accompanied Blount on his return to England in May 1603 (ib. p. 296). On 19 June 1604 he received a pension of 6s. a day (Cal. State Papers, 1603–1610, p. 121; but cf. ib. Dom. Add. 1580–1625, p. 445). He continued in the service of Blount, who was created Earl of Devonshire in 1604, until the earl's death in 1606.

Moryson was in London on 26 Feb. 1611–1612, when he carried the pennon at the funeral of his sister Jane, in St. Botolph's Church, Aldersgate. In 1613 he revisited Ireland at the invitation of his brother, Sir Richard, then vice-president of Munster. After a narrow escape from shipwreck, he landed at Youghal on 9 Sept. He judged the outward appearances of tranquillity in Ireland delusive, and anticipated further ‘combustions’ unless justice were severely administered (Itinerary, pt. ii. p. 300).

After Lord Devonshire's death in 1606, Moryson had spent three years in making an abstract of the history of the twelve countries which he had visited, but his manuscript proved so bulky that with a consideration rare in authors he destroyed it, and turned his attention to a briefer record of his experiences of travel. Even this work he designed on a generous scale. It was to be in five parts, written in Latin, and he made an apparently vain appeal to William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, to accept the dedication (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 372). In 1617 he had completed three parts—of the first part the Latin version is in Harl. MSS. 5133—and had translated them into English. He obtained full copyright for twenty-one years for this portion of his undertaking, as well as for ‘one or two parts more thereof, not yet finished, but shortly to be perfected.’ The book, which was entered on the ‘Registers’ of the Stationers' Company 4 April 1617 (ed. Arber, iii. 606), appeared under the title, ‘An Itinerary [by Fynes Moryson, Gent.], containing his ten years Travels through the twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohmerland, Sweitzerland, Netherland, Denmark, Poland, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Divided in three parts,’ London, 1617, fol. The first part supplies a journal of his travels through Europe, Scotland, and Ireland, with plans of the chief cities, ‘the rates of hiring coaches and horses from place to place with each day's expences for diet, horse-meat, and the like.’ The second part is a valuable history of Tyrone's rebellion, with documents of state (cf. Spedding, Bacon, vols. ii. and iii.). The third part consists of essays on travel, geography, and national costume, character, religion, and constitutional practice. A manuscript fourth part, in English, treating of similar topics, is in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford (No. xciv), and was licensed for the press, though not then published, on 14 June 1626 (Ashmol. MS. ccc. 94). The second part, together with part iii. book iii. chapter v. (‘of the geographical description of Ireland, the situation, fertility, trafficke, and diet’) was reprinted as ‘A History of Ireland from 1599 to 1603,’ at Dublin in 1735, and ‘the description of Ireland,’ again in Professor Henry-Morley's Carisbrooke Library, in 1890.

Moryson is a sober and truthful writer, without imagination or much literary skill. He delights in statistics respecting the mileage of his daily journeys and the varieties in the values of the coins he encountered. His descriptions of the inns in which he lodged, of the costume and the food of the countries visited, render his work invaluable to the social historian. He appears to have died in 1617, very soon after the publication of his 'Itinerary.'

His brother, Sir Richard Moryson (1571?–1628), born about 1571, served successively as lieutenant and captain with the English troops employed under Sir Roger Williams in France and the Low Countries between 1591 and 1593 (Cal. Carew MSS. 1603–24, p. 429). In the Islands' Voyage of 1597 he acted as lieutenant-colonel under Sir Charles Blount [q. v.], and went as a colonel with Essex's army to Ireland in 1599 (ib.) He was knighted at Dublin by Essex, 5 Aug. 1599 (Chamberlain, Letters, p. 63), was soon made governor of Dundalk, and was afterwards removed to a like post at Lecale, co. Down. He vigorously aided Blount in his efforts to suppress Tyrone's rebellion, and on Blount's return to England became governor of Waterford and Wexford in July 1604 (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1603–6, pp. 185, 257, cf. ib. 1615–25, p. 61). In 1607, on the death of Sir Henry Brouncker, president of Munster, Moryson and the Earl of Thomond performed the duties of the vacant office until Henry, lord Danvers [q. v.], was appointed to it. In 1609 Moryson became vice-president of Munster, and in August recommended that Irish pirates who infested the coast of Munster should be transported to Virginia. Four years later he is said to have paid Lord Danvers 3,000l. with a view to obtaining the presidency of Munster, which Danvers was vacating (ib. Dom. 1611–18, under date 14 Jan. 1613). He was elected M.P. for Bandon to the Irish parliament in April 1613. In 1614 Danvers made vain efforts to secure the Munster presidency for Moryson, but it was given to Lord Thomond (ib. Ireland, 1611–14, p. 532; Cal. Carew MSS. 1603–24, pp. 428 sq.). A year later Moryson left Ireland after fifteen years' honourable service, and on 1 Jan. 1615–16 was appointed lieutenant-general of the ordnance in England for his own life and for that of his brother-in-law, Sir William Harington (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18, p. 342). He also held from 1616 the office of cessor of composition money for the province of Munster, and in 1618 was granted the reversion of the Munster presidency, which, however, never fell to him. Settling at Tooley Park, Leicestershire, he was elected M.P. for Leicester on 8 Jan. 1620–1. He appears to have zealously performed his duties at the ordnance office till his death in 1628. His widow, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Henry Harington (son of Sir James Harington of Exton), survived him. His eldest son Henry was knighted at Whitehall 8 Oct. 1627. A daughter, Letitia, whose character somewhat resembled that of her distinguished husband, was wife of Lucius Cary, second viscount Falkland (cf. ib. 1629–31, pp. 146, 393; Letters of George, Lord Carew, Camd. Soc. p. 22 note).

[Wood's Fasti Oxon., ed. Bliss, i. 253; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 321–6, by C. H. Cooper and Mr. Thompson Cooper; Retrospective Rev. xi. 308 sq.; Foster's Alumni Oxon.]

S. L.