Francis Thynne 1545?-1608

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Francis THYNNE 1545?-1608

Biographical Note

Born at Erith, Kent, son of William Thynne, known for his editing of Chaucer. He was admitted at Lincoln's Inn in 1561, but seems not to have stayed long; it is not clear whether he developed a legal practice as an attorney. He lived much of his life in straitened circumstances, with support from wealthier members of his family (particularly Sir John Thynne of Longleat House). He was appointed Lancaster Herald in 1602.


Thynne was an active acquirer of books and manuscripts and he accumulated a large library (including Chaucer manuscripts inherited from his father). "He spent his life in libraries and his study" (ODNB), and as a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries he was associated with many of the other members of that group, including William Camden, Sir Robert Cotton, William Lambarde and John Stow. He transcribed and edited numerous texts from manuscript sources, which were variously published after his death. He left extensive manuscript and printed collections which were dispersed after his death and items will be found today in research libraries around the world.

Thynne's inscription, from the Middle Temple Library

Characteristic Markings

A copy of Dionysius the Carthusian, Elucidissima in Divi Pauli ... epistolas, 1535, has Thynne's inscription at the head of the titlepage dated 1568, and his motto at the foot, "Optimu[m] non nasci promimu[m] quam citissime mori".