George Lily (died 1559) was an English
Roman Catholic priest, humanist
scholar, biographer, topographer and cartographer.
4 Further reading
5 External links
George Lily was born in London, the son of William Lily the
grammarian, and his wife Agnes. He may have attended St Paul's School
(where his father was High Master); and he may have become a commoner
of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1528. He subsequently entered the
service of Reginald Pole, and in the years that followed shared some
of Pole's self-imposed exile in France and Italy. Pole awarded him, by
1535, a prebend in Wimborne Minster. Also by this date, however, he
was studying at the University of Padua, under such scholars as
Giovanni Battista Egnazio, Lazarus Buonamici, and Fausto da Longiano.
In 1538–9 he was living in Rome; and he afterwards travelled with
Pole to Viterbo. At some point before 1543 he was outlawed in England
for treason, presumably on account of his connections with Pole, who
was by now a Cardinal and unofficial leader of the English Catholic
church in exile.
Between 1549 and 1554 Lily served three terms as Pole's deputy as
warden of the English Hospice in Rome. In 1554 he followed Pole to
Brussels; and in November 1555 the two returned to England, now again
a Catholic realm under Queen Mary I. Pole was consecrated Archbishop
Canterbury in March 1556; while Lily became his domestic chaplain,
and was also collated to the prebend of Kentish Town or Cantlers, in
St. Paul's Cathedral, on 22 November 1556, and to the first prebend of
Canterbury Cathedral probably on 10 March 1558.
Lily died on 14 July 1559 in Canterbury. He is thought to have been
buried near the body of his father in St. Paul's churchyard.
Lily was a major contributor to the Descriptio Britanniae, Scotiae,
Hyberniae et Orchadum, a chorography of the
British Isles conceived by
Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Nocera, which was published in
Venice in 1548.
As well as supplying information to Giovio for the geographical
descriptions, Lily was the author of several self-contained historical
appendices: "Virorum aliquot in Britannia qui nostro seculo eruditione
& doctrina clari, memorabilesque fuerunt elogia", a collection of
short biographies of English humanist scholars (including his own
father, William), which was dedicated to Giovio; "Nova et Antiqua
Locorum Nomina in Anglia et in Scotia", a table of ancient and modern
place and tribal names; "A Bruto ... omnium in quos variante fortuna
Britanniae imperium translatum brevis enumeratio", a discussion of the
early history of Britain, in which Lily expressed scepticism about the
legendary foundation of the realm by Brutus; "Lancastrii et
Eboracensis de regno contentiones", an account of the Wars of the
Roses; and ‘Regum Angliae genealogia’, a genealogy of the Kings of
Lily has also been credited as author of "Catalogus sive Series
Pontificorum et Caesarum Romanorum" (a catalogue of Roman Popes and
Emperors), a "Life of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester", and an
account of the life of
Thomas Cranmer ("De vita, moribus, et fine
Thomae Cranmeri"); but the latter two of these attributiona, at least,
are no longer upheld.
Almost certainly intended as a companion-piece to the Descriptio
Britanniae, Lily drew the first map of the
British Isles (at a
reasonably detailed scale) to be printed. It was engraved on
two plates and published in Rome in 1546. The map is recognisably a
relation of the 14th-century Gough Map, although the orientation has
been reversed (West is at the top of the sheet), and many minor
improvements have been made. The Scottish coastline, in particular, is
considerably more accurate than that on the Gough Map, but Lily's
sources for this are not known. The map was pirated on several
occasions in Italy; and Lily and Pole appear to have carried the
plates back to England with them, as they were reworked by the
Thomas Geminus for a London edition published in 1555.
It has also been suggested that Lily had a hand in the large-scale
"Copperplate Map" of London, printed in about 1559.
^ a b c d e f Mayer 2008.
^ a b Cooper 1892.
^ Lynam 1934.
^ Shirley, R.W. (1991). Early Printed Maps of the British Isles,
1477–1650 (2nd ed.). East Grinstead: Antique Atlas.
pp. 20–22. ISBN 0951491423.
^ Delano-Smith, Catherine; Kain, Roger J.P. (1999). English Maps: a
history. London: British Library. pp. 52–3, 61–3.
^ Barber, Peter (2001). "The Copperplate Map in context". In Saunders,
Ann; Schofield, John. Tudor London: a map and a view. London
Topographical Society Publication. 159. London: London Topographical
Society. pp. 16–32 (22–3). ISBN 0902087452.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Cooper, Thompson (1893). "Lily, George". In Lee,
Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 33. London: Smith, Elder
Lynam, Edward (1934). The Map of the
British Isles of 1546.
Mayer, T.F. (2008) . "Lily, George (d. 1559)". Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press.
doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/16663. (subscription required)
Notes from Lily's Map of Great Britain, 1546