Skip to main content

Henry Spelman

Sir Henry Spelman, antiquary, historian and author, was buried in the south ambulatory of Westminster Abbey. He was born in Norfolk in 1563/1564, son of Henry and his second wife Frances (Saunders) and grandson of Sir John Spelman (d.1546), judge. He attended Cambridge university and entered Lincoln's Inn to study law. On 18th April 1590 he married Eleanor L'Estrange and they had several children. Sir John (d.1643) became an author and married Anne Townshend, and Clement (d.1679) rose to be a baron of the Exchequer and married Mary Mason). Henry was knighted in 1604 and later moved from Norfolk, where he had served as sheriff, to Tothill Street in Westminster, near the Abbey. In 1620 he became a member of the New England Company. He wrote several learned works on legal and ecclesiastical history and died on 1st October 1641 at his son in law's house. He was buried in the south ambulatory near the door to St Nicholas' chapel. Eleanor had been buried near the entrance to St Benedict's chapel on 25th July 1620. Henry's grave was not marked until 1867 when Dean Stanley inserted a stone inscribed simply:

Sir Henry Spelman. Antiquary. 1641

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Died

1st October 1641

Field

Writer; historian

Location

South Ambulatory

Memorial Type

Stone

Henry Spelman
Sir Henry Spelman engraving

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Henry Spelman
Sir Henry Spelman grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2019 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related Commemorations

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa)

Olaudah Equiano (Gustavus Vassa)

d.1797
Writer and Abolitionist
Mary Trevor

Mary Trevor

Writer and Poet
Alured Clarke

Alured Clarke

d.1742
Writer and Priest

It’s a privilege to live and work here – the Abbey really is the heart of the country and its history.

spacer

Martin - The Dean’s Verger

Twitter logo Tweet this