Collection of the works of William Lambarde (1536-1601)

Scope and Content

The works in the collection are Of the highe courtes of Justice in England and especiallie of the Chancery Courts and of the lord Chancellor that judgethe there, Modus sive forma Regum ... Reginarum coronacionis in regno Anglie sequitur in hune modum, Hic describitur modus quomodo Parliamentum Regis Anglie Anglicorum suorum tenebatur temporibus Regis Edwardi filii Etheldridi regis, and The charge of a Courte Leete and Courte Baron.

Administrative / Biographical History

The historian William Lambarde was born in London on 18 October 1536. He inherited the manor of Watcombe in Greenwich on the death of his father in 1554. He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1556 and studied Anglo-Saxon and history. His first work was a translation of the Anglo-Saxon laws entitled 'Archeion', sive de priscis Anglorum legibus libri, sermone Anglico vetustate antiqissimo, aliquot abhinc seculis conscripti, atq; nunc demum ... e tenebris in lucem vocati (1568). Then came his Perambulation of Kent: containing the description, hystorie, and customes of that shyre (1576) which is probably Britain's earliest known county history. In 1578-1579, Lambarde was chosen as a Bencher of Lincoln's Inn and then became a Justice of the Peace for Kent. His duties were described in the Eirenarcha: or of the Office of the Justices of Peace, into two books (1581). In 1592 he was appointed a Master in Chancery and was made Keeper of the Records at the Rolls Chapel in 1597. Lambarde was made Keeper of the Records of the Tower in January 1601 and produced an account of the Tower records, Pandecta Rotulorum (1601). William Lambarde died at Watcombe on 19 August 1601.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: MS of his Perambulation of Kent, 1570, Centre for Kentish Studies, Ref. U47/48, ZI NRA 3509 Kent misc., and correspondence (copies) with Sir John Leveson, 1585-1601, Ref. TR 1497 NRA 11021; draft of Eirenarcha, 1579-1600, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 41137, also miscellaneous historical collections, Ref. Cotton MS Vesp A V 1, also annotations to papers and transcripts by Lawrence Nowell, Ref. Add MSS 43703-10, also Perambulation of Kent, commonplace book and papers, circa 1570-1571, Ref. Add MSS 4521, 5123, 11750, 20033, 20709, also second draft of his history of Kent, 1572, Ref. Sloane MS 3168, and revision of part of Eirenarcha, Ref. Eg MS 3676; diary and papers as Kent J.P., 1580-1601, Folger Shakespeare Library, Ref. MS V a 207; X d 119, 120, 122 (2-4), 249, see J. H. Baker, English legal MSS in USA (1985-90); miscellaneous papers, circa 1574-1600, University of Virginia Library, Ref. Atcheson L. Hench collection, see W. H. Bond, Census of medieval and renaissance MSS in United States and Canada, suppl, 1962; miscellaneous papers, Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Ref. MS Lat hist d 2, also printed copy of Perambulation of Kent with his corrections and additions, circa 1596, Ref. 4o Rawl 263; legal papers and copy of his Archeion, Harvard University Law School, see Baker, English Legal MSS in the USA; miscellaneous papers including accounts and pedigree, 1575-1601, Drapers' Company, Ref. H/Add.18-22 NRA 39865 Drapers' Co; and, correspondence with Sir John Leveson, 1585-1601, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service, Staffordshire Record Office, Ref. D593/S/4/14/16-18 NRA 10699 Leveson-Gower.