Spelman, John (1594-1643) (DNB00)

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SPELMAN, Sir JOHN (1594–1643), royalist and author, was the eldest son and heir of Sir Henry Spelman [q. v.] Clement Spelman [q. v.] was his youngest brother. John was born at Hunstanton in 1594, and was educated at Cambridge. Thence he went as a student to Gray's Inn, where he was admitted on 16 Feb. 1607–8 (Foster, Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn). He had chambers ‘in the corner nere Stanhope Buildings towards Grays Inn Lane’ (Addit. MS. 25384). In his love of history and antiquities John seems to have followed in the footsteps of his father, who regarded him as heir to his literary remains (Concilia, vol. i. pref.). He became well acquainted with the leading scholars of his time, and when in Paris in September 1619 was introduced by his father's friend, Nic. Fabri de Peiresc, to, among others, Bignon and Rigaltius, both of whom seem to have considered him well worthy of their scholarly regard (Peiresc to Sir Henry Spelman, Addit. MS. 25384). On his return to England he married Anne, only daughter of John, son and heir of Sir Roger Townshend of Rainham. He appears to have taken up his residence at Heydon in Norfolk, whence he was writing to his father in 1625 (Tanner MS. lxiv. 145). In the same year he was chosen to succeed his father as member for Worcester city (Return of Members of Parliament, Parl. Papers, 1878). In 1628, by the influence of Sir Roger Townshend, he travelled on the continent for a time in the suite of Lord Carlisle (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 17 May 1628). On leaving Lord Carlisle he went to Italy, where he visited some of the universities, and made the acquaintance of Italian scholars (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 8 May 1629).

When his father refused the mastership of Sutton's Hospital, he vainly asked that the office might be given to his son. He was knighted on 18 Dec. 1641. On the outbreak of the civil war the king wrote to him on 21 Jan. 1642, directing him to remain in Norfolk, where his personal service and residence were especially needed (Norfolk Archæological Soc. ii. 452; cf. Tanner MS. lxiv. 145). Subsequently the king summoned him to Oxford, where he lived in Brasenose College, and attended Charles I's private council. He thoroughly gained the royal favour, and it was intended to appoint him one of the secretaries of state (ib. xxvi. 21). But he died prematurely, on 25 July 1643, of the camp disease (Ælfredi Magni Vita, preface, Oxford, 1678). He was buried in St. Mary's Church, his funeral sermon being preached by Ussher. He left two sons: Roger Spelman of Holme, and Charles, afterwards rector of Congham. His estate was sequestrated by the parliament, ‘to the very great weakening of it,’ from which, wrote a descendant on 3 Feb. 1691, ‘his posteritie too sensibly groan under, this day’ (Tanner MS. xxvi. 21).

Spelman published from manuscripts in his father's library ‘Psalterium Davidis Latino-Saxonicum Vetus,’ London, 1640, and he wrote while at Oxford the following pamphlets: 1. ‘Certain Considerations upon the Duties both of Prince and People,’ Oxford, 1642, and published in ‘Somers Tracts,’ iv. 316, ed. Scott. 2. ‘A View of a printed Book, entitled “Observations upon his Majesty's late Answers and Expresses,”’ Oxford, 1642. 3. ‘The Case of our Affairs in Law, Religion, and other Circumstances briefly examined and presented to the Conscience,’ Oxford, 1643; and 4. ‘A Discoverie of London's Obstinacie and Misery.’ He also compiled, apparently during his residence in Oxford, a ‘Life of King Alfred the Great,’ which, after being translated into Latin by Christopher Wase [q. v.], was published in 1678 with a commentary by Obadiah Walker [q. v.]

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon.; Blomefield's Norfolk, vol. vi.; Brit. Museum Cat.; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Bodleian Libr. Cat.; Norfolk Archæological Soc. vol. vii.]

W. C.-r.