John Stow

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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

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John Stow, 1525?–1605, English chronicler and antiquarian. He was a tailor in his youth, but after 1560 he came under the patronage of Archbishop Matthew Parker, whose Society of Antiquaries he joined, and began collecting historical documents and manuscripts. His edition of Chaucer appeared in 1561, and in 1565 he produced a Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles. His work was periodically examined by the government, as he was suspected of Roman Catholic inclinations. His Chronicles of England (1580) was first called Annales of England (its best-known title) in the edition of 1592. He produced editions of the work of Holinshed and other English chroniclers. In 1598 there appeared his Survey of London, an immensely valuable account of the city in Elizabethan times. John Strype issued a new edition in 1720 (repr. 1971). Stow is one of the most trustworthy of 16th-century chroniclers.