Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hardyng, John

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HARDYNG, JOHN (1378–1465?), chronicler, born, according to his own account, in 1378, belonged to a northern family. He was admitted at the age of twelve into the household of Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur), eldest son of Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland. With his master he was present at the battle of Shrewsbury in July 1403, and witnessed Hotspur's death there. Very soon afterwards he entered the service of Sir Robert Urnfreville; fought with him at the battle of Homildon in September 1402, and was made constable of Warkworth Castle in 1405, when Henry IV presented the castle to Umfreville. In 1415 he attended Umfreville to Harfleur; took part in the battle of Agincourt (25 Oct. 1415), and was with the Duke of Bedford at the sea-fight at the mouth of the Seine in 1416. According to a rubric in the Lansdowne MS. of his 'Chronicle,' he was in Rome in 1424, and, at 'the instance and writing' of Cardinal Beaufort, consulted 'the great chronicle' of Trogus Pompeius by favour of 'Iulyus Ceesaryne, auditor of Pope Martin's chamber.' Subsequently his master Umfreville, who died on 27 Jan. 1436, made him constable of his castle in Kyme, Lincolnshire. There Hardyng lived for many years. His 'Chronicle' occupied him as late as 1464, when he had reached the age of eighty-six. He probably did not long survive that year.

From an early period Hardyng busied himself in investigations into the feudal relations of the English and Scottish crowns, and during the reign of Henry V visited Scotland with a view to procuring official documents to prove the subservience from the earliest times of Scotland to England. The itinerary and map of Scotland which he appended to his 'Chronicle' show that he was well acquainted with that country. According to his own account he purchased the chief documents for 450 marks

At bidding and commandement of the fifte King Henry,

and, in his zealous endeavours to secure them, expended large sums of his own money; exposed himself to great personal hardship, and received an incurable wound. He tells us that he presented the results of his search to Henry V at Bois de Vincennes, and received as a reward a grant of the manor of Geddington, Northamptonshire. Very soon after his interview with Henry, the king died, and the grant was never executed. But in 1439, after Hardy ng had apparently renewed his search in Scotland, Henry VI, in accordance with Henry V's promise, granted him for life 10l. per annum from the manor of Willoughton, Lincolnshire, and this gift was confirmed in 1440. On 18 Nov. 1457 an agreement was made between Hardyng and John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, binding Hardyng to deliver into the treasury six specified documents in his possession relating to the homage due from the kings of Scotland. Three days later Hardyng received a grant of 20Z. a year from the county of Lincoln in consideration of his services. Distinct reference is made in the deed of gift to the incurable injury he received in Scotland, and to a bribe of a thousand marks which James I of Scotland offered him in vain if he would surrender the documents or (as Hardyng himself puts it) embezzle some already in the English treasury (cf. Notes and Queries, 4th ser. iv. 446 ; Hardyng, Chron. ed. Ellis, p. 240).

Hardyng's action throughout this matter is highly discreditable. There are still in the Record Office the six documents specified in the agreement with Shrewsbury of 1457, with several others of a like character, doubtless from Hardyng's repertory. The earliest document purports to be an admission on the part of Malcolm Canmore of the homage due by him to Edward the Confessor. All have been proved by Sir Francis Palgrave to be forgeries. Many documents on the same subject ascribed to more recent periods described by Hardyng in his 'Chronicle' are not known to be extant ; but there can be little doubt that all the records which he pretended to bring from Scotland were forged. It has been urged that he was the dupe of others, and bought the documents in the belief that they were genuine. But his antiquarian knowledge, as his 'Chronicle' proves, was considerable, and another forged document still extant in the Record Office (cf. Palgrave) leaves little doubt that he himself manufactured the papers. This last document takes the form of letters patent purporting to be under the great seal of James I of Scotland, and dated 10 March 1434, which grant to Hardyng, with six servants and horses, safe-conduct to come and go to the king's presence wheresoever he may be in Scotland for forty days, on condition that he bring with him 'the things whereof we spoke to you at Coldyngham, for which we bind ourselves by these our letters to pay you one thousand marks of English nobles.' This document Hardyng exhibited at the English court without arousing suspicion, but Palgrave's conclusion that it is a forgery admits of no dispute.

Hardyng's 'Chronicle' occupied his leisure for very many years. His relations with the Percy family and with persons of influence in the first half of the fifteenth century give much value to his later chapters, although his information is usually meagre. The earlier chapters which begin with Brute are useless. The 'Chronicle' is in English verse which is hardly better than doggerel ; each stanza consists of seven lines rhyming ababbcc. Although his name is often mentioned in early lists of English poets, his work has no literary merit. The extant manuscripts of the 'Chronicle' differ in important respects, and show that Hardyng was constantly rewriting it to adapt it to new patrons. The Brit. Mus. Lansd. MS. 204, once the property of Sir Robert Cotton, seems to represent it, in spite of some obviously later interpolations, in its original shape, and is apparently in Hardyng's autograph. Here the work concludes with the death of Sir Robert Umfreville on 27 Jan. 1436, and a dedication to Henry VI seems to show that this version was prepared in the Lancastrian interest. At the close is an illuminated map of Scotland and an itinerary in verse. A different version was subsequently prepared for Richard, duke of York (d. 1460). Finally, Hardyng presented his latest recension to Ed- ward IV, and a reference to Queen Elizabeth shows that in this form the 'Chronicle' could not have been completed before 1464, the date of the king's marriage, although events are not brought laterthan Henry VI's escape to Scotland in 1461. The Harl. MS. 661, which supplies many prose interpolations, is the most valuable of the later versions. It includes a poor drawing of the map of Scotland, with the itinerary in prose. Copies (resembling the Harleian MS. in main points, although differing in many details, largely by way of omissions) are in the Brit. Mus. Egerton MS. 1992 (imperfect) and the Bodleian (Selden MS. B. 26 and Ashmol. MS. 34). A sixth manuscript resembling that in the Ashmolean collection belonged to Francis Douce.

From some manuscripts no longer extant, but obviously differing in many points from any of those noticed above, Richard Grafton [q. v.] printed two editions of Hardyng's 'Chronicle' in January 1543. Curiously enough Grafton's editions themselves differ considerably the one from the other. The printer added a dedication to the Duke of Norfolk and a prose continuation by himself bringing the history down to his own time. Stow objected that Grafton's version of Hardyng's 'Chronicle' was unlike a manuscript of the work which he had read. Grafton rightly replied that Hardynghad written more chronicles than one, and mentioned that he owned a Latin prose chronicle by a John Harding which had little relation to Hardyng's work in English verse. Of this Latin manuscript nothing else seems known. Sir Henry Ellis reprinted one of Grafton's editions in 1812, and added a few collations (chiefly prose interpolations) from the Harl. MS. 661. He afterwards printed from the same manuscript in 'Archæologia ' (xvi. 139) two passages which do not appear in Grafton's edition the one a letter of defiance sent by the rebel lords to Henry IV before the battle of Shrewsbury, and the other an account of the spurious chronicle said to have been produced by John of Gaunt to prove that Edmund Crouchback was Henry Ill's third son. A final edition of Hardyng's 'Chronicle' is yet to be prepared.

[Ellis's preface to his edition of Hardyng's Chronicle (1812); Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica; Warton's History of English Poetry; Kitson's Bibliotheca Poetica. For a full account of Hardyng's collections of forged documents dealing with the feudal relations of the Scottish crown, see Sir F. Palgrave's Documents and Records illustrating the History of Scotland (1837), where most of the papers are printed; and Anderson's Independence of Scotland. For an account of the manuscripts see, besides Ellis, Douce's note in Catalogue of Lansdowne MSS.; Black's Cat. of Ashmolean MSS. and Hearne's note in the index, s.v. 'Hardyng,'to his edition of Spelman's Life of Alfred '(Oxford, 1709).]

S. L. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.147
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
362 ii 20-22 Hardyng, John: omit With his master he . . . . there. Very soon
23 for afterwards read Afterwards
25 for and read was present at the battle of Shrewsbury in July 1403, and witnessed Hotspur's death there. Hardyng