Erasmus Earle 1590-1667

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Erasmus EARLE 1590-1667

Biographical Note

Born at Sall, Norfolk, son of Thomas Earle. Matriculated at Peterhouse, Cambridge 1609, but did not graduate; admitted at Lincoln's Inn 1611 (barrister, 1618). He developed a successful legal career in East Anglia, becoming Recorder of Thetford by 1641. He became a parliamentarian supporter during the Civil War, was elected MP for Norwich in 1647, and after being made a serjeant at law in 1648 he was Recorder of Norwich from 1649. He was deprived of this post in 1660 but continued to practice successfully as a lawyer. He bought the manor of Heydon Hall, Norfolk, which became the family seat thereafter.


In his lengthy will, seeking to cover many possible eventualities in his family, Earle left all his household goods, and most of his property, to his wife Frances; there is no specific reference to books. Her probate inventory, after her death in 1671, lists 51 books in "the study where [the] libbrary is". It is not clear whether these were her books, or a joint library; Earle would almost certainly have had a larger library to support his legal work, but some may have been dispersed after 1667.