Anthony Fitzherbert

English judge, scholar and legal author

Anthony Fitzherbert (1470 – 27 May 1538) was an English judge, scholar and legal author, particularly known for his treatise on English law, New Natura Brevium (1534), and his treatise on agriculture, the Boke of Husbandry, (1523/34).

Ryght so euery man is capitayne of his owne soule.
- Anthony Fitzherbert, 1523



The book of the husbandry. (1523/1882)


Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, ‎Walter William Skeat The book of the husbandry. (1523/1882).

  • An housbande can not well thryue by his come without he haue other cattell, nor by his cattell without come. For els he shall be a byer, a borrower or a beggar.
  • Those that be washen wyll not take scabbe after (if they haue sufficient meate); for that is the beste grease that is to a shepe, to grease hym in the mouthe with good meate.
    • p. 47.
  • It is a wive's occupation to wynowe all manner of cornes, to make malte, to washe and wrynge, to make heye, shere corne, and, in time of nede, to helpe her husbande to fyll the muckewayne or dounge carte, drive the ploughe, to loade heye, corne, and suche other. And to go or ride to the market, to sel butter, chese, mylke, egges, chekyns, capons, hennes, pygges, gese, and all manner of cornes.
    • p. 95-98: On the general duties of a wife.
  • Ryght so euery man is capitayne of his owne soule.
    • p. 117.

About Fitzherbert

  • How Fitzherbert could be a practitioner of the art of agriculture for 40 years, as he himself says in 1534, is pretty extraordinary. I suppose it was his country amusement in the periodical recesses between the terms.
  • There is very little of his work that should be omitted, and not a great deal of subsequent science that need be added, with regard to the culture of corn, in a manual of husbandry adapted to the present time. It may surprise some of the agriculturists of the present day, an eminent agricultural writer remarks, to be told that, after the lapse of almost three centuries, Fitzherbert's practice, in some material branches, has not been improved upon; and that in several districts abuses still exist, which were as clearly pointed out by him at that early period, as by any writer of the present age. His remarks on sheep are so accurate, that one might imagine they came from a storemaster of the present day: those on horses, cattle, etc., are not less interesting; and there is a very good account of the diseases of each species, and some just observations on the advantage of mixing different kinds in the same pasture. Swine and bees conclude this branch of the work.
    • John Claudius Loudon (1825) An Encyclopædia of Agriculture. Part 1. History of Archiculture. p. 41.
  • Sir Anthony Fitzherbert (1470-1538) was the English judge whose law books are, or should be, known to all lawyers. His Boke of Husbandry, published in 1534, is one of the classics of English agriculture, and justly, for it is full of shrewd observation and deliberate wisdom expressed in a virile style, with agreeable leaven of piety and humour.
  • The white chalk which Scrofa saw used as manure in Transalpine Gaul, when he was serving in the army under Julius Caesar, was undoubtedly marl, the use of which in that region as in Britain was subsequently noted by Pliny (H. N. XVII, 4).
    There were no deposits of marl in Italy, and so the Romans knew nothing of its use, from experience, but Pliny's treatment of the subject shows a sound source of information. In England, where several kinds of marl are found in quantities, its use was probably never discontinued after the Roman times. Walter of Henley discusses its use in the thirteenth century, and Sir Anthony Fitzherbert continues the discussion in the sixteenth century. In connection with the history of the use of marl in agriculture may be cited the tender tribute which Arthur Young recorded on the tombstone of his wife in Bradfield Church. The lady's chief virtue appears to have been, in the memory of her husband, that she was "the great-grand-daughter of John Allen, esq. of Lyng House in the County of Norfolk, the first person according to the Comte de Boulainvilliers, who there used marl.
  • According to Sir Anthony Fitzherbert it was the custom in England to shear wheat and rye and to leave the straw standing after the third method described by Varro, the purpose being to preserve the straw to be cut later for thatching, as threshing It would necessarily destroy its value for thatching. It was the custom in England, however, to mow barley and oats.
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