The Library, Fourth Series, Volume VI (1926), pp.329-339


JOHN CLEMENT AND HIS BOOKS

BY A. W. REED

I

S O M E months ago I had one of the kindest
of letters from Mr. H. R. Plomer, asking me
to make any use I liked of a transcript he had
made many years ago of two interesting
Chancery suits in which Dr. John Clement, a
president of the College of Physicians, sued
for the restoration of his property in Bucklersbury and Horn-
church on his return in Mary's reign from exile during the
Protestant rigours of the later years of the reign of Edward VI.
Clement, a protege of Sir Thomas More, married More's niece
or ward, Margaret Giggs, the scholarly and lively companion
of Mores three daughters ; 1 and Mr. Plomer's discovery will
be welcomed by all who are interested in More and his circle.
The long list of books, for the loss of which he sought compen-
sation, will have a special interest for bibliographers and others
who are interested in the history of medicine in England.
Before we proceed, however, to Mr. Plomer's two transcripts
something more ought to be said about John Clement. He
was one of the first scholars of Colet's school, and he passed
from St. Paul's, probably on Colet's recommendation, into
the household and service of Thomas More. In 1515 he
accompanied More to the Low Countries on the famous
embassy that led to the meeting with Peter Giles in Antwerp,

1 There is some reason to believe that one of the Holbein drawings
described as 'Mother Jak' is a portrait of Margaret Giggs.


330 John Clement and his Books

and to the writing of Utopia. In the well-known prefatory
letter to Giles, More specially mentions him as 'my boye,
'who as you know was then present with us, whom I suffer
'to be away from no talk, wherein may be any profit or
'goodness '. He adds humorously that Clement was ques-
tioning the accuracy of Hythlodaye's estimate of the width
of the great bridge of Amaurote. About the same time,
writing to Erasmus, he says that young Clement was making
such rapid progress day by day with his Latin and Greek
that he was confident he would be an ornament to letters.
In 1518, having been promoted to the service of Cardinal
Wolsey, Clement was warned by Erasmus against studying at
night, and advised to learn to write standing when on duty,
an unusual occupation for a gentleman-in-waiting. In 1519
Wolsey made him his Lecturer in Rhetoric and Reader in
Greek at his new college in Oxford. Linacre, friend of More
and Erasmus, had founded the College of Physicians in 1518
at his house, the Stone House in Knight Rider Street ; and
in 1520 More wrote to Erasmus that Clement had taken up
medicine and resigned his readership to Lupset. In 1525
Clement had joined the royal service with the rank, according
to the Eltham statutes, of Sewer of the Chamber ; and later
in the same year an entry appears in the King's Book of
Payments (Egerton 2604) : 'Item John Clement, exhibiceo
ultra mare, 10.' When the King's Book of Payments reopens
in 1528 Clement is found to be in regular half-yearly receipt
of 10 as 'Phisicion' ; and this payment continues to be
recorded in the existing books till 1540 when he drops out of
the accounts. It was probably in the year 1526 that he
married Margaret Giggs. A daughter Winifred was born in
1527, who afterwards became the wife of William Rastell,
More's nephew and the editor of his English works. The
Clements took up their quarters in a well-known house in
Bucklersbury known as The Barge, in St. Stephen's parish,


John Clement and his Books 331

standing opposite the church, in the corner made by Bucklers-
bury with Walbrook ; an interesting house which More had
leased in 1513 from the College of St. Thomas of Acon and
had occupied1 until, moving to Chelsea in 1525, he transferred
his lease to Clement.

   Bucklersbury we know from Shakespeare to have been the
apothecaries' quarter- 'As sweet as Bucklersbury in simple
time.' Clement had been elected a Fellow of the College of
Physicians in 1528, and we are told by Cavendish that when
Wolsey was taken at Esher with his last illness, 'the King sent
Doctor Clement and two others (royal physicians) to consult
'and assist Master Buttes for my lord's health'. He was an
active member of the college and frequently held office as a
member of the Council.

   We have seen how intimate the association of John Clement
and his wife with Sir Thomas More had been, and there is no
need to dwell on the affectionate references made to them by
More in the last letters he wrote to Margaret Roper before his
execution in 1535. In the year of Margaret Roper's death
(1544) Clement was President of the College of Physicians.
The marriage of William Rastell with Winifred, the seventeen-
year-old daughter of the Clements, belongs also to the year
1544. Until the third year of the reign of Edward VI the
members of the More circle, protected probably by the
sympathy of Bonner, continued to hold their offices while
maintaining their loyalty to the old faith, but on 9 June 1549
the use of the First Prayer-book of Edward VI was officially
enjoined. In July (the month in which Bonner's trial began)
John Clement 'for his conscience sake' fled overseas to
Brabant, and in October (when Bonner was imprisoned) was
joined there by his wife Margaret. William Rastell and his
wife Winifred followed in December. Their property was

   1. 'In the parish of St. Stephen's Walbrook where I dwelled before I come to
Chelsith' (More, Eng. Works, p. 131).


332 John Clement and his Books

seized, but not before Margaret Clement had made an
inventory of their books and other belongings. Four days
after the death of Edward VI, Winifred Rastell died of a
fever in Louvain. Her husband returned to England with the
Clements, bringing with him in manuscript the English works
of Sir Thomas More, which he had saved and shortly after
published. Rastell and Clement instituted suits in Chancery
for the recovery of their property, and it is the Chancery suits
of Clement that Mr. Plomer discovered and to which I am
about to draw the reader's attention. I must first note,
however, that in the fourth year of the reign of Elizabeth the
troubles of Rastell and Clement began again, and for a second
time they went into exile, accompanied by John Heywood,
the dramatist, and William Rastell's sister, his wife. From this
exile none of them returned. Nicholas Sanders tells us that
the Clements had four children, all Greek and Latin scholars.
Winifred we know, and there was a son Thomas, named after
More. Dorothy was a Poor Clare in 1571 at Louvain, and
Margaret at St. Ursula's convent there, . 'though a young
'nun and an Englishwoman among Flemings, is superioress
'over eighty sisters by their pre-election '.

   In Mary's reign William Rastell and the Clements won
their suits, regained their property or were compensated for
losses. This we learn from the decree enrolled in Rastell's
case. It is amusing, however, to find that this success was
assisted by their ingenuity in claiming that they were included
in the general pardon passed by Parliament in January
1549-50, an Act which was primarily intended to clear up the
affairs of Ket's rebellion and the disturbances in the West,
matters in which they certainly were in no way concerned.


John Clement and his Books 333

II

   In suing for the recovery of his property John Clement
proceeded first against one Dr. Alban Hill, a physician whom
he found in occupation of his house in Bucklersbury. Later
he subpoenaed Sir John Yorke, who, as Sheriff at the time of
his flight, had officially seized the house and its contents 'to
his own use'. Similarly, for the recovery of his country
residence, lands, and belongings at Hornchurch in Essex he
prosecuted Dame and Sir Robert Wingfield. Although the
inventories in. the Hornchurch suit are full of interest - they
include 'a gret sorte of Greek and Latin Bookes of Aldus
print wt diuers others ' - and the value of the contents of
the house and premises amounted to 100, we shall confine
our attention to the London suits. 

   The case against the physician Hill is unusually well docu-
mented, as in addition to the pleadings found by Mr. Plomer
we have the depositions1 of an admirable witness, Otewell
Wyld, surgeon, made on 26 January 1554/5.  Wyld accom-
panied Clement overseas in July 1549, and returning, took
over the care and occupancy of the house when Margaret
Clement joined her husband in October. He was arrested,
however, on 6 February, spent a month in prison, and found
on his release Alban Hill in possession of the house along
with an adjoining tenement 'late in the tenure of Thomas
Gyggs '. Hill, he states, not only allowed the property to
fall into disrepair, but destroyed 'three fair herberes and a
'gret cage for birds, worth, he says, 10, in the garden
'belonging to the gret mansion. It would cost further 5 to
'replace the pipes of lead he removed.' . He proceeds to give
the following inventory and detailed valuation of the contents
of the house at the time of Margaret Clement's departure :

a hoggeshedd of varges 10s., a vessell of old oyle in the seller 10, certayne old
tymber 40s., a table and, a partycyon of waynscot in the study with laten and

  1. Town Depositions, 42.


334 John Clement and his Books

joyned work 40s., a foteclothe 20s., a serpent hangyng in the chamber next
the galerye 3s. 4d., a gret crucyfyx and dyvers images in the chapell 20s., a
great crapell hangyng in the court 3s. 4d., a tornyng chayer of waynscott in the
somer parlor 5s., a coope for pulleyn before the larder wyndow 3s. 4d., a part of
a hanging of paynted cloth of a chamber 5s., two tomes to work gyrdells and
rybandes in 20s., two portalles in the gret chamber 4, a myll to grynd corne
with a frame of wood 4. (Crapell, a suspended scaffold.)

In the Hall:

two fate stoles 6d., a gret cupbord of waynscott 30s., five venys glasses 5s.,
a gret mapp of all the world 20s., four gylden scutchyns 10s., a payer of
playing tables of waynscott 3s. 4d., a newe certeyn of yellow buckram for
a wyndowe lyned throwowt with canvas 20s., twenty-three booker in a settell
20s., a lytle newe male of Tether 2s. 4d.

In the Galery:

a little dyall of lead gylt 1s., a rapyer 3s. 4d.

In the Chamber next the gallery:

a joyned bedsted 20s., a gret case of sypres full of sypresse boxes 3, a later
candelstyck 1s.4d., an Image of Christ's Head 1s.

In the maydes chamber:

a gret bedsted with girthes 6s. 8d., half a hunderd wayt of ledd 5s., three
peces of lynen and one of dyaper, a pece of launde and two of lampas
duke 10s.

In the Studye:

a girthed bedsted and a seler of saye 20s. In the first end of the presse
90 books gret and small of Greke and Laten besyde old unbound bookes. In the
myddell of the same presse 85 bookes gret and small of Greke and Latin. In 
the third end of the same presse 55 bookes gret and small of Greke and Latin
besyde old papers, all their booker worth two score marks
(26 13s. 4d.), six
gret bottell glasses 6s., seven boordes with papers lyke tabells 7s., certeyn
glasses in the wyndow 6s., a table of Sir Thomas More's face 40s., two
lytle hordes of geometrye 2s., fifteen old bookes upon a lytle presse 20s., a
payer of bellowes of waynscott carved with imagery woorke 3s. 4d.

Uppon the table in the studye:

fourteen bookes of Greke and Latin 20s., a payer of balans to waye medycyns
3s. 4d., a tornyng deske 3s. 4d.


John Clement and his Books 335

In a corner beside the studye:

two Jackes of canvass and mayle and certayne old chaiers stooles and
boordes 20s.

In a closett besyde the gret studye:

seventy seven glasses and erthen paynted potter with medycyns and
salves 40s., one mattresse 3s. 4d., twenty bookes of Greeke, and Latin in the
countyng house in that chamber 20s., 2 trestelles and a forme 3s. 4d., a wayt
of ledd of 7 lbs. 8d.

In the Chapell:

candelstyckes of laten for an alter 5s., a lytle torned stole 6d., a Tether
cusshen 4d.

In the gret Chamber:

a gret gyrthed bedsted with a trundell bedd under it 20s., two foote passes
3s. 4d., a seler of a bed of very fyne paynted clothe 20s., a seler of joyned
worke very fyne carved round abowt the bedsted 20s., a gret waynscot
chest 20s., two deskes to sett bookes on 15s., a torned chayer 1s., two lytle
stoles of waynscott 6d., a gret fyre rake 20d., a payer of gret tonges and a
obyron 20d., a cubbord of waynscott 13s. 4d.

In the lytle chamber within the gret chamber:

a certin of buckeram for the wyndow 12d., a case of twelve dosen boxes
20s., a javelyn 12d., a gret lantern 3s. 4d.

In the kytchen:

a close baskett 8d., a tubbe with old yron 5s., a chest with old ledd and a
4 gret bagge full of soder 5s., a paier of tonges 2s., 14 tubbes gret and small 14s.

In the chamber next the larder:

a girthed bedd 10s., a trundell bedd 3s. 4d., a tester and a seler of paynted
cloth 5s., paynted hangyngs for a chamber 20s., a newe sadel and a brydell
with all thynges to yt and a horse combe and a payer of spurres and a
standysshe of ledd 20s., two brasse pottes 20s., a spytt 1s., a tostyng fork
4d., a fyre forke 12d., a slyse 4d., a round thyng of yron to make fyre on and
to sethe siroppes uppon 7s., a trevet 12d., a payer of tonges 16d., and
certeyne olde lumber 20s.

In the chamber next the stable:

bedsted 2s., part of a hangyng for a chamber 5s.


336 John Clement and his Books

In the Somer Parlor:

two joyned stoles 2s., a form of waynscot 12d., a wasshyng boll 16d., a cover
of tether for two morters and a paper of balans of laten 8d., a tornyng
chayer of waynscott 5s., five towelles of canvas 5s., a smock and certen lynnen
clothes 2s., a wasshyng stole 12d., 18 new bordes 10s., a joyned foorme 20d.,
an other forme 12d., a yoyst 12d., four hoggesheddes 4s., three roulettes
2s. 6d., a kylderkyn. 12d., a powderyng tubbe 2s. 4d., certyn coles and
byllettes in the seller 10s., two chestes full of boxes with wrytynges 2s.,
two other chestes full of boxes 2s., a wyker baskett full of old bookes and
papers 2s.

Besides the references to the disposition and arrangement
of the books to which we draw attention by italics, the most
striking items in these lists are the portrait of More, the
'great cage for birds ' in the garden, the vessel of old oil in
the cellar, worth five times as much as Mores portrait, and the
contents of the study. Counting up, we find that there were
three hundred and two books and that they were valued at
30 13s. 4d., or about two shillings each. The deponent Wyld
vouched for the values of everything but the books, 'but what
all the said books were worth, this deponent knoweth not'.

   In prosecuting the ex-Sheriff, Sir John Yorke, who like
Wyld confessed ignorance as to the value of books, Clement
was bent on recovering his library. The seizure of his books
and papers had no doubt been an official act, and whilst, as
we have seen, the books are merely counted in sets and not
specified in the proceedings against Hill, a list of their titles
was given in the suit against Yorke. That it was the books
themselves and not merely compensation for their loss that
Clement wished to recover seems to be indicated by Yorke's
allusion to the fact that he had already returned some of them
by the hands of one Richard Johnson.

   1. Taking 15 as the modulus, this is thirty shillings each in modern reckoning.


John Clement and his Books 337

III

The membrane containing the catalogue of the books, a
law-clerk's transcript, is damaged on the right margin, and
much of it is rendered almost illegible by discoloration. The
fact that the arrangement is almost alphabetical has enabled
me to offer a reasonable conjectural reading where the MS
was not clear, but I have allowed some apparent errors of
the transcriber to stand. Against the three hundred books
mentioned in Wyld's depositions we have the titles of some
one hundred and eighty, about forty of which are Greek, the
rest Latin with one exception - 'Boetius de consolatione
script-. anglice'. Doubtless the three hundred indicated
volumes rather than works, in which case the catalogue may
be reasonably complete. The Aldus Plato, for instance, was
a five-volume folio edition.

   In all instances the books appear to be printed editions
unless they are described as written. Although the identifica-
tion of the authors and editions has been an interesting
adventure I offer the list without comment. An adequate
commentary would overload the article, though without it
the list is rather, dry bones.

   Of Greek Bookes. Aristotelis omnia opera quater (?),
Aeschinis oraciones cum aliis, Alexandri gesta writen, Aristo-
phanes, Aratus, Actuarius de Urinis, Alexandri in metaphysica
wrytten, Chrysostomi ad riantes (?) wrytten, Damasceni theo-
logia, Chrystomus, Dictionar-- Gal .  .  .,  .  .  . Plato et
Hippocratis et (Galeni) de succedaneis et (de) anatomicis,
Galeni .  .  . quedam opera written, Hermogenes cum commen-
tariis, Homeri Ulissea, Herodotus cum Thucidide, Hesiodus
cum comentariis interlinearibus, Hippocratis de montibus,
aquis .  .  ., Johannes Gramaticus in priora Aristotelis, Johannes
Grammaticus iterum de generacione et corruptione, Julius
Pollux, Johannes Gramaticus de anima wrytten, Libanius
Isocrates et Luciani quedam, Michael Ephosius in parva
naturalia, Magentinus et Psellus imperi (?) Herennii, Mosco-


338 John Clement and his Books

pulus, Oppianus, Officia virginis, Opera diversa, Plato in
duobus voluminibus, Plato in pluribus, Procli stechisseis 1
plures, Porphyrius in predicamenta, Porphyrius de abstinen-
tia ab (esu) animalium cum quibusdam Gregorii Nazianzen.
scriptis, Sibillarum opuscula ( ? oracula), Theodori gramatica,
Testamentum novum scriptum, Thucydides, Xenophon,
Gemistus et Herodianus cum comentariis, Thucydides in mem-
brana scriptus, Theodoretus de providentia, Vis veterinaria.

   Of Latin Bookes.    Ausonius, Astrolabii elucidarius, Acta
octavo synodi Avicene 4. fen, Albinus in ecclesiastes duo,
Alphonsi phillipica in Lutherum, Avenzoar, Averrois collegit,
Aldi gramatica, Aelius Sparcianus cum aliis, Almansoris liber
nonus cum comentariis, Avenzoar cum collegit Averrois,
Boetius de consolatione script. anglice, Brisottus de (m)ittendo
sanguine, Botanologico, Biblia in quinque partibus, Boetius
de consolatione, Salis [? Salutis] ordinarius, Quintus Severus,
Petronii Arbitri satyre,2 Biblia tota, Benedicti anatomia cum
Galeno de differenciis morborum, Billik contra hereticos,
Boetii aliquot  .  .  . opuscula scripta cum Marciano Capella,
Chrysostomus in omnes epistolas Pauli, Columella twyse,
Chronicorum epitome, Comentaria Cesaris, Cornelius Celsus,
Catena aurea in duobus voluminibus, Claudianus, Cantilene
ex quatuor partibus,3 Ciprianus, Catullus, Tibullus, Proper-
tius et Martialis, Canones apostolorum ( ?), Consilia et decreta
pontifica, Consolatorium timorate conscientie, Carpi anatomia, 
Dominici Vincentini de mensuris et ponderibus, Damascenus
et Dionysius de hierarchiis script . , Erasmi exomologesis et alia
quedam, Erasmi Hiperaspistes, Erasmi compendium in theo-
logia, Erasmi versiones quedam, Ephemerides, Erasmi in
novum testamentum, Ekius de locis communibus contra
Lutherum, Galenus de morborum crisibus et aliis, Gellius,
Galeni passionarius, Gratius Oppianus, Galeni therapeutica,

1. stoicheioseis.
2. The alphabetical order breaks in these three entries, unless indeed the books
were bound with the Boethius.                          3.  Four part songs?


John Clement and his Books 339

Gratius de venatione cum aliis, Galenus de locis affectis et
crisibus, Galfredi poetria, Gramatica Hebraice Muskeri, Gylde
Britannorum Historia, Georgius agricola de metallicis, Galenus
de crisibus et motu musculorum, Herbarium diversorum,
Horatii, Dni Haly de iudiciis, Hippocratis presagia et de
acutis, Henricus Stromerus de pestilentia, Julius Firmicus,
Ireneus et Clemens, Index ecclesiasticorum authorum,
Ignatius epistolae, Justus . . . Cornarius de laudibus Hippo-
cratis, Ioannitius cum reliquiis de lapidibus carie (?), Lauren-
tius Valla, Lucanus cum Silio Italico, Leonicenus de plantis . . .
voluminibus, Livius, Luminare maius et minus apothec . ,
Leonardus Joachimus de morbis acutis, Luminare maius,
Macrobius cum censo  . .  . scriptus, Mori epigrammata et
assertiones contra Lutherum, Mantuani opera sine comentariis,
Mainardi epistolae bis, Martialis bis, Magg .  .  . medecine opus
in carie, Macer wrytten, Martialis Nicolai dispensarium,
Ovidii epistole, Orphei argonautica et Valerius Flaccus.
Orbasius,  .  .  . divini amoris, Psalterium Ca(m)pense, Plutarchi
vile(?), Petrus Martyr, Prudentius, Prisciani gramatica one
wrytten iij et [sic] of Aldus print .  .  . histori, Pharmaceutici,
Pontani Urania, Polidorus de prodigiis, Pandecte medicine,
Questiones nonnulle in Aristotelem, Raymundi Summa,
Ruperti, Rationale divinorum in magno volumine, Rosseus
contra Lutherum, Radulphi agricolae dialectica, Roffensis
contra Lutherum, Scribonii medici . . . Benevenius, Statius,
Sadoletus in Paulum ad Romanos, Silius Italicus Scintillarius
Isodori, Savonarola de febribus, Theodolus, Tullii epistole
ad Atticum, . . . [? Tusculane] questiones, Tullii epistole
familiares, Theophilus de urinis, Tertullianus, Tullii prima
pars philosophie et secunda, twyse, Theophrastus . . . Aris-
totelis de animalibus, Tullii oratorum pars tertia, Vives de
officio mariti, in Valdenses de purgatorio et Benevenius de
morbis et Vincensus .  .  . maximus, Virgilius parvus cum
comentariis Servii, Vives de institutione Christiane femine,
Virgilius de incarnatione Verbi written, Virgilius.

Transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2001. D.G.


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