‘A Book of Travail’

We gain an unparalleled picture of Hoby’s travels from his journal. Many of his journeys abroad were made in the company of his half-brother, Philip, who successively held important positions at the courts of Henry VIII and Edward VI. Thomas seems to have assisted his half-brother as a deputy or assistant, although it is likely that his work gave him ample opportunities for study and recreation. These experiences would have served as vital preparation for Thomas’ own career as a courtier.

The neat handwriting and careful attention to presentation show that the journal is a fair copy. (The notes or drafts on which it was based are not known to have survived.) That Hoby produced such an elegant and well-executed document is evidence of his desire to be perceived and remembered as someone well-acquainted with European languages and cultures.

Below the title which Hoby has given to his journal is a quotation, in Latin and English, which is ascribed to Saint Cyprian. It emphasises placing faith in God and God alone, which is commensurate with Hoby’s committed Protestantism.

Below this, it is noted that the journal follows the ‘Romish Computation’ of having the year begin on ‘Newyers Day’. This means that Hoby was following the continental practice of having the year start on 1 January, rather than the English practice of having it start on 25 March. That Hoby followed this convention, even when describing events which took place in England, shows how fully he had embraced life abroad.

This note about dates, like the marginal notes which appear later on in the volume, has been added by Hoby’s eldest son, Edward (1560–1617).

Thomas Hoby, ‘A Booke of the Trauaile and lief’, fol. 5r. British Library, Egerton MS 2148. © British Library Board.

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