Harrison, William

, an English historian, was a native of London, and educated at Westminster school, under the celebrated Alexander Nowell. He afterwards studied at both universities, but in what colleges seems doubtful. Wood suspects Christ Church for Oxford, and Baker mentions one of this name a bachelor of arts of St. John’s, Cambridge; but the date, 1571, is obviously too late for our Harrison. He says himself that both universities “are so clear to him that he cannot readily tell to which of them he owes most good will.” After leaving Cambridge he became domestic chaplain to sir William Brooke, knt. lord-warden of the Cinque Ports, and baron of Cobham in Kent, who is supposed to have given him the living of Radwinter, in Essex, in Feb. 1558, which he held until his death in the end of 1592 or beginning of 1593. He wrote a “Historical Description of the Island of Britain,” published in Holiingshed’s Chronicles; and “A Chronology” mentioned by Hollingshed. He translated also “The Description of Scotland,” from Hector Boethius,^ which is prefixed to Hollingshed’s “Hist, of Scotland.” Wood says he obtained a canonry of Windsor, and was buried there, leaving several children by his wife Manan, daughter of Will. Isebrand, ofAnderne, in Picardy. His turn appears to have been more for compiling ancient history than topography; for in his dedication to lord Cobham he says, “Indeed I must needs confess, that un1 now of late, except it were from the parish where I dwell unto your honour in Kent, or out of London, where I was born, unto Oxford and Cambridge, where I have | been brought up, I have never travelled forty miles forth right and at one journey in all my life.1


Ath. Ox. vol. I. Bliss’s edition. Tanner. —Leland’s Collectanea, Praef. p. 55, 58, 77.