Henry Spelman 1564?-1641
Sir Henry SPELMAN 1564?-1641
Born at Congham, near King’s Lynn, Norfolk, the eldest son of Henry Spelman (d.1581) of Congham. BA Trinity College, Cambridge 1583, admitted Lincoln’s Inn 1586. Preferring history to law, he helped to found the Society of Antiquaries, through which he made the acquaintance of contemporary antiquaries and scholars, including Sir Robert Cotton and John Selden. Sheriff of Norfolk 1604-1606, JP until 1616; appointed in 1623 a commissioner by James I to investigate court finances. MP for Worcester 1625. Author of numerous tracts, reports and scholarship, his work led to important discoveries for later historians on the origins of feudalism and the establishment of English institutions.
Various manuscript lists of Spelman's books and manuscripts survive, made at various points in the 17th century. Many of his books, together with those of later members of the family, went to Swaffham parish library via the bequest of his son Clement (judge, baron of the exchequer); others were auctioned in London, 28.11.1709, 23.1.1710 (joint sale, with one other). There is evidence that many of his papers remained in the family home at Hunstanton long after his death, where they were accessed by later generations of historians.
- History of Parliament.
- Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues 1676-1800. St Philip, 2010.
- Collins, A. J. The Blackborough chartulary and the library of Sir Henry Spelman, Brit Mus Q 11 (1937), 63-5.
- Cronne, H. The study and use of charters in the seventeenth century: Sir Henry Spelman and Sir William Dugdale, in L. Fox (ed), English historical scholarship, 1956, 73-91.
- Handley, Stuart. "Spelman, Sir Henry (1563/4–1641), historian and antiquary." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Jayne, S. Library catalogues of the English renaissance. Godalming, 1983, 156, 171-2.
- Lucas, Peter, A conspectus of letters to and from Sir Henry Spelman, The Antiquaries Journal 102 (2022), 370-85.
- Lyons, M. C. A catalogue, history and analysis of Swaffham Parish Library, Loughborough MA thesis, 1986.
- Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England. London, 2004, 364-6.
- Rix, W. The pride of Swaffham (1950).