Wallingford, John of (DNB00)

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WALLINGFORD, JOHN of (d. 1258), historical writer, gives his name to a chronicle of English history existing in Cottonian MS. Julius D. vii. 6, and printed by Gale in 1691 in his ‘Historiæ Britannicæ Saxonicæ Anglo-Danicæ Scriptores XV’ (called by him vol. i., though generally described as vol. iii. of Gale and Fell's collection). From internal evidence it appears that John of Wallingford became a monk of St. Albans in 1231, was in priest's orders, served the office of infirmarer, either composed or simply copied as a scribe (scriptor) the chronicle in question, and died at Wymondham, Norfolk, a cell of St. Albans, on 14 Aug. 1258.

John of Wallingford is confused by Gale in his preface, and by Freeman (Norman Conquest, i. 344 n.), with John, called de Cella, abbot of St. Albans, who studied at Paris, where he gained the reputation of being a ‘Priscian in grammar, an Ovid in verse, and a Galen in medicine.’ He was elected abbot of St. Albans on 20 July 1195, rebuilt the west front of the abbey church, and died on 17 July 1214.

The chronicle associated with John of Wallingford's name extends from 449 to 1035, and, as published, takes up only pp. 525–50; but it is longer in manuscript, for Gale, as he says in his preface, omitted some things and abridged in other parts, specially those dealing with hagiology; his omissions are more frequent than would be gathered from his text. The author evidently used several excellent authorities, such as Bede, the Saxon priest's ‘Life of Dunstan,’ Florence of Worcester, and the like; but, though he makes some attempts at comparison and criticism, has inserted so many exaggerations and misconceptions apparently current in his own time, and has further so strangely confused the results of his reading, that his production is historically worthless. More than once he speaks of his intention to write a larger chronicle.

[Mon. Hist. Brit. Introd. p. 22, virtually repeated in Hardy's Cat. Mat. i. 625–6.]

W. H.