Peter Heylyn 1559-1662

From Book Owners Online

Peter HEYLYN 1599-1662

Biographical Note

Born in Burford, Oxfordshire, son of Henry Heylyn, a minor country gentleman. BA Magdalen College, Oxford 1617, fellow 1618, MA 1620, BD 1629, DD 1633; he was lecturing in historical geography from 1618. Chaplain in ordinary to Charles I in 1630, he became an active supporter and propagandist for Laud and his ecclesiastical politics, particularly writing and informing against John Williams. He was made a prebendary of Westminster 1631, rector of Houghton-le-Spring, co Durham 1633 (swapping it for Alresford, Hampshire), and presented to various other benefices in the 1630s. Increasingly caught up in the troubles leading to the Civil War, he joined the King in Oxford in 1643; he was ejected from his benefices in 1644-45 and had his goods confiscated. In the late 1640s he moved to his brother’s estate at Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, before buying Lacy’s Court, near Abingdon, in 1653, where he spent the Interregnum. He was restored to his livings in 1660, but not further promoted. Heylyn was a prolific author throughout his life, writing many historical as well as political works. His Microcosmos: a little description of the great world appeared in 1621, and became much expanded as Cosmographie (1652); his historical writings, which had a lasting influence on the perception of the development of the Anglican church, included A help to English history (1641) and Ecclesia restaurata (1661).


According to Walker, when Heylyn’s estates were seized in the 1640s, “they seiz’d his books, which themselves appraised at one thousand pounds, and carried them to Portsmouth; where they were put into a publick library, from whence he could never after redeem them”. We do not know anything more about this Portsmouth library.

Characteristic Markings

None of Heylyn’s books have been identified.