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EDMUND SPENSER was born in Lancashire, the only part of England where the name has been found conmonly spelt Spenser, and not Spencer. The name is derived from the office of steward, or house

Spensers of hold dispenser. Dr. Grosart has, through much research, made it evident that the Spenser family to which the poet belonged had been long resident in North-East Lancashire.*

The first Lancashire Spensers appear to have


Dr. A. B. Grosart's ten volume edition of “ The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Edmund Spenser ” has for its first volume, with a few appended essays by other hands, a Life of Spenser by the Editor, unusually rich in new facts and valuable suggestions. Dr. Grosart, in his long and honourable career as an editor of old English writers, has, perhaps, contributed more than anyone else living to a minute accuracy of detail in the histories of many leading men. But he overlooked the list of Corrigenda in “the Letter Book of Gabriel Harvey” when he used, as evidence of Spenser's Lancashire birth, Gabriel Harvey's reference to the height of Pendle Hill “ in your shier.” That was a misprint for “in ye aier."


settled in the vale of Cliviger, south of the town of Burnley. In 1392 an Adam le Spenser had a single farm in the hamlet of Hurstwood.* In the burial registers of Burnley, which date only from 1562, there is record of the burial of a Thomas Spenser in 1572, and of an Edmund Spenser in 1577

An Edmund Spenser of Hurstwood, yeoman-probably the poet's uncle-appears in 1560 in a list of freeholders of Cliviger. He married twice, made his will in December, 1586, and died in April, 1587. His second wife, Margaret, survived him about eighteen years. He left a son by each of his wives, and each son was named John. The younger of these two Johns was old enough to act, in 1586, as executor to his father's will. The will of that Edmund Spenser's second wife was dated in April, 1602, three years after the poet's death, and it contained a bequest to Edmund, son of John Spenserson, that is, of the elder of the two Johns, who had died three months after his father, in 1587.

The elder of those two John Spensers left a wife, Grace, with that son Edmund and a daughter, Mary. In 1593, Grace Spenser married again, her second husband being Nicholas Towne. The younger of those two John Spensers lived for some years on the farm at Hurstwood with his mother, Margaret, and had four illegitimate children before his marriage in May, 1594.

The first son of his marriage was named Edmund, and he was born in October, 1595, four years before the poet's death.

* An Adam the Spenser in the “ Tale of Gamelyn was godfather to the old Adam in Shakespeare's As You Like It."

“ Gamelyn into the woode stalkede stille,

And Adam the Spenser likede sul ylle ;
Adam swor to Gamelyn by seynt Richer,
Now I see it is mery to be a Spenser,
That lever me were keyes for to bere
Than walken in this wilde woode my clothes to tere.”

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