Richard Eden

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Richard Eden (c.1520–1576) was an alchemist and translator. His translations of the geographic works of other writers helped foster a spirit of overseas exploration in Tudor England.[1]

Early life

His father was a cloth merchant. He attended Christ's College, Cambridge and subsequently Queens' College, graduating BA in 1538 and MA in 1544.[2] As a protégé of Sir Thomas Smith, Eden associated with intellectuals such as John Cheke and Roger Ascham and was given a minor position in the treasury from 1544 to 1546.[1]

From the late 1540s he worked for Richard Whalley, who had been sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1595. He was salaried at £20 per annum searching for the secret of turning base metal into gold.[1]

Overseas exploration

The new protector, the earl of Northumberland, wished to challenge Spain's global empire and open up the Far East to European trade; he encouraged publications that would help encourage such enterprise and, under his direction, in 1552 Eden became secretary to Sir William Cecil and, in 1553, published A Treatyse of the Newe India, a translation of part of Sebastian Muenster's Cosmographia.[1]

In 1555 Eden's The Decades of the Newe Worlde or West India translated the works of others including parts of Pietro Martire d'Anghiera's De orbe novo decades, Gonzalo Oviedo's Natural hystoria de las Indias.[1]

In 1561 he translated Martín Cortés de Albacar's Arte de navigar as The Arte of Navigation which became the first English manual of navigation.[1]

In 1562 he entered the service of Jean de Ferrieres, the Vidame of Chartres, as a secretary. He remained in de Ferrieres' service until 1572, and travelled extensively with him in France and Germany.[3][1]

In September 1573 de Ferrieres wrote to the Queen requesting that Eden be admitted as one of her Poor Knights of Windsor.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Hadfield 2004.
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  3. Arber 1885, p. xliv.
  4. Lemon 1856, p. 467.


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External links