Fynes Moryson

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Fynes Moryson
Born 1566
Died 12 February 1630
Nationality British
Other names Fynes Morison
Known for Travel writing and social observation

Fynes Moryson (or Morison) (1566 – 12 February 1630) spent most of the decade of the 1590s travelling on the European continent and the eastern Mediterranean lands. He wrote about it later in his multi-volume "Itinerary", a work of value to historians as a picture of the social conditions existing in the lands he visited.

Life

Moryson was the son of Thomas Moryson and his wife Elizabeth Moigne, daughter of Thomas Moigne of North Willingham, Lincolnshire. His father was a Lincolnshire gentleman who had been member of parliament for Grimsby. Moryson was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, where, after graduating, he gained a fellowship.1 From May 1591 to May 1595 Moryson travelled round Continental Europe for the specific purpose of observing local customs, institutions, and economics. He took written notes. From early 1596 to mid-1597, he journeyed to Jerusalem, Tripoli, Antioch, Aleppo, Constantinople, and Crete, for the same purpose.2

In 1600, Moryson was appointed personal secretary to Lord Mountjoy, head of government and commander-in-chief of the crown army in Ireland, then fighting against Tyrone's Rebellion. One of Moryson's brothers Sir Richard Moryson also held an upper level government appointment in Ireland. 2 When the rebellion ended in 1603, Moryson and Mountjoy both returned to England. Moryson remained Mountjoy's secretary until the latter's death in 1606. Later Moryson wrote a book about the military and government affairs of Ireland during the years when he was there with Mountjoy.

In 1617, Moryson published the first three volumes of An Itinerary: Containing His Ten Years Travel Through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, Netherland, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Turkey, France, England, Scotland and Ireland. The Itinerary was originally intended to consist of five volumes. Only three were published in his lifetime. The fourth volume was preserved in manuscript in the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 3 In 1903, the bulk of the fourth volume was transcribed by Charles Hughes and published under the title "Shakespeare's Europe: Unpublished Chapters of Fynes Moryson's Itinerary. Being a survey of the condition of Europe at the end of the 16th century." Volumes I, III and IV of Moryson's Itinerary primarily cover Continental Europe and secondarily the Ottoman lands, with volume I being travel narrative and volumes III and IV being thematic discourse covering themes of customs and institutions. (Volumes III and IV also have short chapters on customs and institutions in England, Scotland and Ireland.) Volume II, on the other hand, is devoted to affairs in Ireland from 1599 to 1603.

Sometimes Moryson is a prejudiced and unreliable informant. His biographer Charles Hughes says "he had a sane charity for all men, except Turks and Irish priests", which is another way of saying that he was prejudiced against the Turks and Irish priests and is a poor source for information about them.

Online Texts

The first three volumes of Moryson's Itinerary, were republished in year 1907 broken up into four physical parts. In other words, the first three volumes were physically reprinted in four volumes with retention of the conceptual division into three volumes. These are downloadable at Archive.org:

  • Itinerary, Volumes I, II and III: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Also the fourth volume of Moryson's Itinerary, as published in 1903, is available from Archive.org. This volume is prefaced with a lengthy biography of Fynes Moryson written by Charles Hughes.

References and external links

  1. ^ "Moryson, Fynes (MRY580F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Lee 1895.
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