John Strype, Clergyman, Historian & Biographer


Following on from my wee post yesterday  , today I look at John Strype, who wrote the Survey I am relying on so much. So, who was he?

John was born the son of a Huguenot immigrant on November 1st 1643. His father, John Van Stryp (who anglicanised his name to Strype)  fled religious persecution in Brabant, and set up in Petticoat lane as a merchant (yes, Strype Street in Shoreditch is named after our lad. He was educated at St Paul’s School, and Jesus college and Catharine hall at Cambridge, gaining an MA . He went on to become perpetual curate of Theydon Bois, and curate and lecturer of Leyton.

Alongside his duties within the Parish, he maintained a firm interest in History, particularly that of the Protestant  Reformation. Through contacts, he was able to access documents which he transcribed, using them as the basis for many of his works.  His first published work was in 1694 – The Memorials of Thomas Cramner , Archbishop of Canterbury .  

This was followed four years later by the Life of the learned Sir Thomas Smith ; in 1701 he wrote Life and Acts of John Aylmer, Lord Bishop of London . Four more biographical works were written: Life of the learned Sir John Cheke with his Treatise on Superstition (1705);  Life and Acts of Edmund Grindal, Archbishop of Canterbury (1710);  Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury (1711) and Life and Acts of John Whitgift,  Archbishop of Canterbury (1718) . One of the biggest of his works was Annals of the Reformation in England a four volume history which had a final edition published in 1738 . All these books have been great sources for Historians since those times.  (He had other written works, sermons and collections thereof also Published)

But, what interests me most (because of its descriptions of the city’s layout is “A survey of the cities of London and Westminster (1720) . This really wasn’t an original work by Strype, he merely updated an earlier work written in 1598 by John Stowe . Since Stowe’s work was published, Tudor London had been built on, expanded, filled in, burned down, and rebuilt and expanded and filled in. This meant that Stowe’s survey was in dire need of an update. responding to this need, Strype commenced the project.

The survey is contained within two volumes, and from the title page, Strype remains humble, stating that all he is doing is updating Stowes work.  It is an invaluable source for anyone interested in London History, and contains some maps and illustrations alongside the written survey. It is the detail that brings the areas to life more than anything.

The online version I have linked to was produced by: The Stuart London Project, Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield.

Oh, Strype Died in 1738, aged Ninety-four, while living with his widowed granddaughter, in case you are interested.

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