The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Leland, John

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LELAND, or LEYLAND, John, English antiquary: b. London, about 1506; d. there, 18 April 1552. He was educated at Cambridge, Oxford and Paris. Returning home he took holy orders and Henry VIII made him his chaplain and librarian. In 1530 he became rector of Pepeling, near Calais; in 1542 he received the rectory of Haseley, Oxfordshire, and he was a prebend of Salisbury Cathedral. In 1533 he received the title of royal antiquary and was empowered by a commission under the great seal to search for objects of antiquity in the archives and libraries of all cathedrals, abbeys, priories, etc.; in consequence of which he spent six years in traveling and collecting materials for the illustration of the history and archæology of England and Wales, but died without having completed his undertaking. The great bulk of his collections was placed in the Bodleian Library. The first part to be published was the ‘Commentarii de Scriptoribus Britannicis,’ issued in 1709 by Anthony Hall. In 1710 Hearne published the ‘Itinerary’ in nine volumes and five years later the ‘Collectanea’ was issued by him in six volumes. Leland wrote Latin poetry with considerable elegance, and a collection of his miscellaneous Latin verse and epigrams was published in 1589. Some of his autographic manuscripts are preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, others in the British Museum. Consult Burton, ‘Life of John Leland’ (London 1896).