Nowell, Laurence

, younger brother to the preceding, and dean of Lichfield, was entered of Brasen-nose college, Oxford, in 1536, the same year in which his elder brother in the same college became B. A. After a little while, Wood says, he went to Cambridge, was admitted to the degree of B. A. in that university, and reincorporated at Oxford in July 1542, where he proceeded M. A. March 18, 1544. In 1546 he was appointed master of the grammar-school at Sutton Colfield, in Warwickshire; but was not yet, as Wood makes him, in sacred orders; for he was not ordained a deacon till 1550. He was not suffered to continue long in quiet possession of the school; for articles of complaint were exhibited against him by the corporation, as patrons of the school, in the court of chancery, upon a pretence of neglect of duty; though the real ground of offence appears to have been his zeal for the reformation; and therefore, on appeal to the king in council, he justified his character and conduct so well, that letters were issued to the warden and fellows of the King’s town of Sutton, not to remove him from his place of schoolmaster, nor to give him any farther molestation or disturbance.

During the troubles in Mary’s days he was concealed for some time in the house of sir John Perrot, at Carewcastle in Pembrokeshire; but before the queen died, he went to his brother Alexander and the exiles in Germany. On his return he was made archdeacon of Derby and dean of Lichfield, in April 1559; had the prebend of Ferring in the cathedral of Chichester in August 1563, and of Ampleford in York in 1566, and the rectory of Haughton and Drayton Basset, in the county of Stafford. He died in or about the month of October, 1576. | He was, as Wood justly observes, “a most diligent searcher into venerable antiquity.” He bad also this peculiar merit, that he revived and encouraged the neglected study of the Saxon language, so essential to the accurate knowledge of our legal antiquities, as well as to the elucidation of ecclesiastical and civil history. In these studies, while he resided, as is said, in the chambers of his brother Robert Nowell (the queen’s attorney- general of the court of wards), he had the celebrated William Lambarde for his pupil, who availed himself of his notes and assistance in composing his learned work on the ancient laws of England. He wrote a Saxon vocabulary or dictionary, still extant in manuscript, which he gave to his pupil Lambarde, from whom it passed to Somner, the learned antiquary of Canterbury, who made use of it in compiling his Saxon dictionary. It then came into the hands of Mr. Selden, and is now, with other books of that great man, printed and manuscript, reposited in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Mr. Thoresby, the historian of Leeds, had a quarto ms. entitled “Polychronicon,” a miscellaneous collection, as it seems, containing perambulations of forests and other matters, in the hand-writing of Lawrence Nowell, 1565. There are also “Collectanea” by him, relating chietiy to ecclesiastical affairs, in the Cotton library. He appears to have been in learning, piety, and meekness of spirit, the worthy brother of the dean of St. Paul’s. 1


Life of Nowell, by Archdeacon Churton.