- Leland, John
- (ca. 1506-1552)English poet, antiquary, and topographer. He studied at St. Paul's school under the humanist grammarian William Lily and then at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Paris. His Latin poetry attracted patrons at the court of King Henry VIII, and the king appointed him royal antiquary and sent him out to study ancient sites and records. Though sympathetic to the Reformation, he was dismayed by the threat to books and documents caused by the king's dissolution of English monasteries. He urged Henry to take personal charge of the libraries and ensure their preservation. This effort preserved some, but far from all, of the rare library materials. In 1546 Leland published a volume of Englandes Antiquities, but most of his work, including copious notes describing in detail the localities that he visited, remained unprinted, mainly because of his mental breakdown. In the 18th century, his topographical notes were published under the title of Itinerary, a vast but disordered body of details about the landscape and antiquities of many parts of England in the time of Henry VIII.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.