Strype, John (DNB00)

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STRYPE, JOHN (1643–1737), ecclesiastical historian and biographer, born in Houndsditch on 1 Nov. 1643 was youngest child of John Strype or van Strijp (d. 1648), by his wife Hester (d. 1665), daughter of Daniel Bonnell of Norwich. Her sister Abigail was mother of Captain Robert Knox (1640?–1720) [q. v.] The historian's father, a member of an old family seated at Hertogenbosch in Brabant, came to London to learn the business of a merchant and silk-throwster from his uncle, Abraham van Strijp, who, to escape religious persecution, had taken refuge in England. He ultimately set up in business for himself, latterly in a locality afterwards known as ‘Strype's Yard’ in Petticoat Lane, became a freeman of the city, and served as master of his company. According to his will, he died in Artillery Lane. His widow, according to her will, died at Stepney.

John, a sickly boy, who was possibly baptised in St. Leonard's Church, Shoreditch, was sent to St. Paul's school in 1657, whence he was elected Pauline exhibitioner of Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1661, matriculating on 5 July 1662 (Gardiner, Reg. of St. Paul's, p. 51); but, finding that society ‘too superstishus,’ he migrated in 1663 to Catharine Hall, where he graduated B.A. in 1665, and M.A. in 1669 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. p. 423). He was incorporated M.A. at Oxford on 11 July 1671 (Wood, Fasti, ii. 329). In accordance with what he knew to be his father's wish, he subsequently took holy orders. His first preferment was the perpetual curacy of Theydon Bois, Essex, conferred upon him on 14 July 1669; but he quitted this in the following November on being selected minister of Leyton in the same county. In 1674 he was licensed by Dr. Henchman, the then bishop of London, as priest and curate, to officiate there during the vacancy of the vicarage, and by virtue of this license remained unmolested in possession of its profits till his death, having never received either institution or induction. Strype was also lecturer of Hackney from 1689 to 1724 (Lysons, Environs, ii. 478). In May 1711 he was presented by Archbishop Tenison to the sinecure rectory of West Tarring, Sussex, an appointment which, as Cole supposes, he might be fairly said to owe to Dr. Henry Sacheverell (Addit. MS. 5853, f. 91). He spent his later years at Hackney with Thomas Harris, a surgeon, who had married his granddaughter, Susan Crawforth. There he died on 11 Dec. 1737 at the patriarchal age of ninety-four, having outlived his wife and children, and was buried in Leyton church (Gent. Mag. 1737, p. 767). The Latin inscription on his monument is from his own pen. By his wife, Susannah Lowe, he had two daughters—Susannah, married in 1711 to James Crawforth a cheesemonger, of Leadenhall Street; and Hester.

Strype's amiability won him many friends in all sections of society. Among his numerous correspondents was Ralph Thoresby [q. v.], who speaks of him with affectionate reverence (Diary, s.a. 1709, vol. ii.); while Strype was always ready to deface any amount of letters from famous Elizabethans to enrich the other's collection of autographs (Letters of Thoresby, vol. ii.). Another friend, Samuel Knight, D.D. (1675–1746) [q. v.], visited him in 1733, and found him, though turned of ninety, ‘yet very brisk and well,’ but lamenting that decayed eyesight would not permit him to print his materials for the lives of Lord Burghley and John Foxe the martyrologist (Gent. Mag. 1815, i. 27). As Knight expressed a wish to write his life, Strype gave him for that purpose four folio volumes of letters addressed to him, chiefly from relatives or literary friends, extending from 1660 to 1720. These volumes, along with Knight's unfinished memoir of Strype, are in the library of the university of Cambridge, having been presented in 1859–61 by John Percy Baumgartner, the representative of the Knight family. An epitome by William Cole, with some useful remarks, is in Addit. MS. 5853. Another volume of Strype's correspondence, of the dates 1679–1721, is also in the university library.

Strype published nothing of importance till after he was fifty; but, as he told Thoresby, he spent his life up to that time in collecting the enormous amount of information and curious detail which is to be found in his books. The greater part of his materials was derived from a magnificent collection of original charters, letters, state papers, and other documents, mostly of the Tudor period, which he acquired under very questionable circumstances. His position at Leyton led to an intimacy with Sir William Hicks of Ruckholt in that parish, who, as the great-grandson of Sir Michael Hicks [q. v.], Lord Burghley's secretary, inherited the family collection of manuscripts. According to Strype's account (cf. his will in P.C.C. 287, Wake), Hicks actually gave him many of the manuscripts, while the others were to be lent by Hicks to Richard Chiswell, the elder [q. v.], for a money consideration, to be transcribed and prepared for the press by Strype, after which they were to be returned to Ruckholt. Chiswell published Strype's ‘Life of Cranmer’ in 1694, the basis of which was formed on the Hicks manuscripts (Gent. Mag. 1784, i. 179), but, finding it a heavy investment, declined to proceed, although Strype had sent him ‘many great packetts’ of other annotated transcripts for the press. Both he and his son Richard Chiswell, the younger [q. v.], not only declined to pay Strype the sum of fifty pounds which he demanded for his labour, but alleged that they had ‘bought outright’ all the manuscripts from Hicks (Cat. of Manuscripts in Libr. of Univ. of Cambr. v. 182). As Hicks was declared a lunatic in 1699 (Lansd. MS. 814, f. 35), his representatives probably knew nothing of the manuscripts, and Strype, although he was aware of the agreement between Hicks and Chiswell, kept them. In 1711 he sold the Foxe papers to Robert Harley, afterwards earl of Oxford (1661–1724) [q. v.], who complained of their defective condition (Harl. MS. 3782, now 3781, ff. 126–37); these are among the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum. On Strype's death his representatives sold the remainder, amounting to 121 in folio, to James West [q. v.] They were eventually bought by the Marquis of Lansdowne in 1772, and now form part i. of the Lansdowne collection, also in the British Museum.

Strype's lack of literary style, unskilful selection of materials, and unmethodical arrangement render his books tiresome to the last degree. Even in his own day his cumbrous appendixes caused him to be nicknamed the ‘appendix-monger.’ His want of critical faculty led him into serious errors, such as the attribution to Edward VI of the foundation of many schools which had existed long before that king's reign (cf. Leach, English Schools at the Reformation, 1897). Nor was he by any means a trustworthy decipherer of the documents he printed, especially of those written in Latin. But to students of the ecclesiastical and political history of England in the sixteenth century the vast accumulations of facts and documents of which his books consist render them of the utmost value. The most important of Strype's publications are:

  1. ‘Memorials Sof Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury’ (with appendix), 2 pts. fol. 1694. Another edit., 3 vols. 8vo, Oxford, 1848–1854, issued under the auspices of the Ecclesiastical History Society, was severely criticised by Samuel Roffey Maitland [q. v.] in the ‘British Magazine’ for 1848. Of other editions one, with notes by P. E. Barnes, 2 vols. 8vo, London, 1853, may be mentioned.
  2. ‘The Life of the learned Sir Thomas Smith,’ 8vo, 1698.
  3. ‘Historical Collections of the Life and Acts of John Aylmer, Lord Bishop of London,’ 8vo, 1701.
  4. ‘The Life of the learned Sir John Cheke [with his] Treatise on Superstition’ [translated from the Latin by William Elstob], 8vo, 1705.
  5. ‘Annals of the Reformation in England,’ 2 pts. fol. 1709–8. (‘Second edit., being a continuation of the “Annals,”’ 4 vols. fol. 1725–31; 3rd edit., with additions, 4 vols. fol. 1735, 37, 31).
  6. ‘The History of the Life and Acts of Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury,’ 2 pts. fol. 1710.
  7. ‘The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury,’ 2 pts. fol. 1711.
  8. ‘The Life and Acts of John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury,’ 2 pts. fol. 1718, 17.
  9. ‘Ecclesiastical Memorials,’ 3 vols. fol. 1721 (reissued in 1733).

All the above works were reprinted at the Clarendon Press, Oxford, in 19 vols. 8vo, 1812–24, with a general index by R. F. Laurence, 2 vols. 8vo, 1828 (for criticisms on this edition see Gent. Mag. 1848, i. 47 et seq.).

Strype was also the author of a number of single sermons published at various periods. He likewise edited vol. ii. of Dr. John Lightfoot's ‘Works,’ fol. 1684, and ‘Some genuine Remains’ of the same divine, ‘with a large preface concerning the author,’ 8vo, 1700. To ‘The Harmony of the Holy Gospels,’ 8vo, 1705, a posthumous work of his cousin, James Bonnell [q. v.], he furnished an additional preface; while to vol. ii. of Bishop White Kennett's ‘Complete History of England,’ fol. 1706 and 1719, he contributed new notes to the translation of Bishop Francis Godwin's ‘Annals of the Reign of Queen Mary.’ More important work was his edition of Stow's ‘Survey … brought down from 1633 to the present time,’ 2 vols. fol. 1720 (another edit., called the ‘sixth,’ 2 vols. fol. 1754, 55), on which he laboured for eighteen years (Hist. MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. pp. 236, 260). It is invaluable for general reference, although Strype's interference with the original text renders it of little account with antiquaries.

His portrait, engraved by George Vertue, is prefixed to his ‘Ecclesiastical Memorials,’ 1733.

[Biogr. Brit. 1763, vi. 3847; Lysons's Environs, vols. iii. iv.; Morant's Essex; Stow's Survey, ed. Strype; Gent. Mag. 1784 i. 247, 436, 1791 i. 223, 1811 i. 413; Letters of Eminent Literary Men (Camd. Soc.), pp. 177, 180; Remarks of Thomas Hearne (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), who considered him an ‘injudicious writer;’ Cat. of Lansdowne MSS. 1802, preface, and index; Cat. of MSS. in Library of Univ. of Cambridge, vols. iv. v.; Bromley's Cat. of Engraved Brit. Portraits, p. 281; Carte's Hist. of England, vol. iii., pref.; Maitland's Remarks, 1848 (the manuscript is in the Library of Univ. of Cambridge); Maitland's Notes on Strype, 1858; Moens's Reg. of London Dutch Church in Austin Friars, 1884; A. W. Crawley Boevey's Perverse Widow; other letters to and from Strype not mentioned in the text are in Brit. Museum, Harl. MSS. 3781, 7000, Birch MSS. 4163, 4253, 4276, 4277 (mostly copies), Cole MSS. 5831–6–40–52–3–66; Addit. MS. 28104, f. 23, Stowe MS. 746, ff. 106, 111; while many of his miscellaneous collections, some in shorthand and scarcely any of importance, are in the Lansdowne MSS.; other letters are to be found in Coxe's Cat. Cod. MSS. Bibl. Bodl. pt. iv. p. 1126, pt. v. fasc. ii. p. 930; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. p. 470; will of John Strype, the elder, in P.C.C. 8 Essex; will of Hester Strype in P.C.C. 15 Mico.]

G. G.