DYER (EDWARD) Document signed ("By me Edward Dyer"), being an indenture and acquittance, 1596
Lot 64
DYER (EDWARD) Document signed ("By me Edward Dyer"), being an indenture and acquittance, 1596
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Document signed ("By me Edward Dyer"), being an indenture and acquittance by "Sir Edwarde Dyer of Weston in the Countye of Somerset knight" for £10 paid to Edward Stanhope, "doctor of lawe and one of the masters of her Majesties highe Courte of Chancerye", in part payment of £400 due to Stanhope by Dyer and by Thomas Dyer, "while he lyved of the Cittye of London", son and heir of John Dyer of Roundhill, Somerset, by their recognizance of 6 December 36 Elizabeth; with an autograph first-person docket by Stanhope carefully noting the transaction, one page, on paper, indented upper edge, some light foxing etc., but overall in good and attractive condition, oblong 4to, 11 November 1596


  • A DOCUMENT SIGNED BY SIR EDWARD DYER, ELIZABETHAN COURTIER POET, and friend of Sir Philip Sidney and John Dee. Dyer's standing as poet has been recently re-assessed by Steven W. May: 'The twelve or more extant lyrics that can be attributed to Dyer include love laments that rank among the most popular and influential poems of the Elizabethan age. Even if he did not write the perennial favourite 'My mind to me a kingdom is' (to which the earl of Oxford holds a slightly better claim), Dyer's 'The lowest trees have tops' and 'He that his mirth hath lost' circulated widely in print and manuscript well into the seventeenth century' (ODNB). His biographer Ralph Sargent concludes that as 'the earliest of the Elizabethan "courtly makers", Dyer brought forth possibly the first fine lyrics of the Renaissance in England' (The Life and Lyrics of Sir Edward Dyer, 1968, pp. 11 and 173).

    A protégé of the Earl of Leicester, Dyer was a prominent courtier and close associate of many of those figures of Elizabeth's court whose names continue to resonate in popular consciousness, especially Sir Philip Sidney (with whom he and Fulke Greville formed a close-knit trio of friends), as well as Burghley, Burghley's son Sir Robert Cecil, and the Earl of Essex. In addition to poetry Dyer cultivated, as Steven May puts it, 'the broad spectrum of intellectual pursuits associated with the ideal of the Renaissance man'; among which were an investment in Frobisher's three voyages in search of the Northwest Passage (which of course yielded Dyer nothing) and close involvement with that great Elizabethan magus and prophet of empire, John Dee, and his disreputable 'skryer' Edward Kelley.

    That April Dyer had been knighted as a prerequisite to being appointed Chancellor of the Order of the Garter. This document, however, testifies to one abiding fact. He was perpetually hard up. Although he inherited a substantial landed income and received frequent gifts from the crown, the costs of life at Elizabeth's court plunged him into a lifelong cycle of borrowing and debt. He was described by the Spanish agent at court in 1582 as 'that bankrupt poltroon' and was to die leaving debts of more than £11,000. Edward Stanhope, beneficiary of this deed – to the tune of £10 out of a substantial total debt of £400 – was one of the most successful civil lawyers of the age, known as 'rich Doctor Stanhope' and for being 'miserly in his expenditure' (Brian P. Levack, ODNB). By marked contrast to Dyer, he was to leave at his death an estate worth some £40,000; plus a library which was bequeathed to Trinity College Cambridge. A similar document, drawn up just over two years later, on 14 November 1598, is listed in the Roy Davids Collection, 29 March 2011, lot 70.
  1. Luke Batterham
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
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