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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, 2004


1st October 1641


Writer; historian


South Amulatory

Memorial Type


Henry Spelman
Sir Henry Spelman engraving

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library
Henry Spelman
Sir Henry Spelman grave

© The Dean and Chapter of Westminster

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

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