Avesbury, Robert Of

, a very ancient English historian, of whose personal history, however, we know little. In the title of his history he calls himself register of the archbishop of Canterbury’s court, His design seems to | have been to compose a history of the reign of Edward III. from such authentic materials as came to his hands but when he had laboured about thirty years, he was surprised by death, in the latter end of 1356, or in the beginning of the year following. In this work we have a plain narrative of facts, with an apparent candour and impartiality but his chief excellence lies in his accuracy in point of dates, and his stating all public actions from records, rather than from his own notions. This work, however, remained long in manuscript, and undiscovered by some of our most industrious antiquaries. It was unknown to Leland and to Bale, and the first who mentioned it and had seen it was Fox the martyrologist. ^Archbishop Parker had also perused it, and so had Stowe, who mentions Avesbury in his Chronicle, and from him Pits ventures to tell us, that he flourished about 1340, but does not add that he had any acquaintance with his works. Du Fresne, in his Index of Writers, places Avesbury in the same year. Mr. Jocelyn, however, who was chaplain to archbishop Parker, never saw this ms. though in his patron’s possession, nor did it fall under the inspection of Anthony Wood.

At length, after being so long buried in obscurity, the indefatigable Mr. Hearne printed it at Oxford, from a ms. belonging to sir Thomas Seabright, along with some other curious tracts, under the title of “Roberti de Avesbury Historia de mirabilibus gestis Edvardi III. hactenus inedita,” e Th. Sheld. 1720, 8vo. This ms. was the same that had formerly been in the hands of archbishop Parker, from whom it passed to Mr. William Lambard, the celebrated antiquary; from him to Thomas Lambard; and at length it came to sir Roger Twysden, and with the rest of his valuable library, was purchased by sir Thomas Seabright. Besides these there >are two other Mss. in being, one in the Harleian collection in the British Museum, and the other in the university library at Cambridge, with both which the accurate printed edition was compared. All these Mss. are thought to be as old as the time in which pur author flourished. There is joined to this history, and in the same hand-writing, a French chronicle, from the first planting of Britain to the reign of king Edward III.; but this Mr. Hearne conceived to be the work of some other author, and therefore did not print it. There were likewise added to the ms copies, certain notes of a miscellaneous nature, under the title of “Minutiae,” which Mr, | Hearne has preserved, although of opinion they were not written by Avesbury. 1


Biog. Brit.