The library was a later addition to the house, and owed its foundation to the liberality of Sir Richard Whittington, the celebrated mayor in the reign of Henry the Fifth.
The few particulars which our Chronicle contains of the history of the Grey Friars may here be briefly indicated. Their arrival in England is noted under the 7th Hen. III.; and their first provincial chapter in London in the last year of Henry V. In 1456 is recorded the activity of their provincial, doctor Goddard, in appeaching Peacock bishop of Chichester of heresy. In August, 1498, was the second provincial chapter of the Friars Minors in London: the stricter order of the Observants commencing at the same time. On Saint George's day, 1502, they relinquished the "London russet," which they had for some time worn, and resumed the undyed white-grey which had been their original habit. On the feast of Saint Francis, July 16, 1508, the mayor and aldermen were
- De fundacione librariæ. Anno domini Mo. cccco. xxjo. venerabilis vir Ricardus Wyttyngton mercer et maior Lond' incepit novam librariam, posuitque primum lapidem fundalem xxjo. die Octobris, in festo sancti Hillarionis abbatis. Et anno sequente ante festum Nativitatis Christi fuit domus errata (erecta?) et cooperta. Et in tribus annis sequentibus fuit terrata (i.e. floored), dealbata, vitrata, ambonibus, scannis (l. scamnis) et cellatura ornate (i.e. furnished with desks, settles, and wainscoting or ceiling; not, as Stevens makes it, "shelves, statues, and carving.") Et libris instaurata. Et expensæ factæ circa prædicta se extendunt ad ccccc.lvj. li. 16 s. 8 d. de qua summa solvit prædictus Ricardus Whyttyngton cccc. li. et residuum solvit Reverendus pater frater Thomas Wynchelsey et amici sui: quorum animabus propicietur Deus. Amen. Stowe has amplified this description of Whittington's Library by stating that it was "129 foot in length and 31 in breadth, all wainscoted about, having twenty-eight desks, and eight double settles of wainscot." The admeasurements were probably his own taking: the desks and double settles, and books on the desks, are enumerated in king Henry's letters patent.
Item pro scripto doctoris De lira in 2bus volubus jacente jam in cathenis c. marcas, de quibus frater Johannes Frensche remisit 20s.
Item pro 4or. archangelis circa sepulturam Reginæ Isabellæ, 37s. Item pro lectura domini Hostiensis jam jacentis in cathenis, 5 marcas. (fol. 325, b.)
- P. 3.
- P. 15.
- P. 20.
- P. 26.
- Compare the three several statements in pp. 27, 28, and the note.