Stow, John

views updated May 23 2018

Stow, John (1525–1605). Self-taught antiquary and historian, famous for his Survey of London (1598), which he revised and extended in 1603. Stow, a third-generation Londoner, began his career in 1547 as a working tailor, but by 1560 was building up an important manuscript collection. Before his Survey, Stow produced the Annales of England (revised edition, 1592) as well as other antiquarian works. His Survey of London takes the form of a perambulation of London by ward. Based on both manuscript and oral evidence, its most evocative passages are those where Stow includes his own personal opinions and memories. He was sympathetic to the old religion and wrote at a time when London was growing rapidly. His Survey, therefore, contains many observations on the decline of community spirit, regret at the destruction of monuments during the Reformation, and laments about the building of suburban slums.

Jeremy Boulton