Machyn's Chronicle, which was written between 1550 and 1563, is primarily concerned with public events: changes on the throne, state visits, insurrections, executions and festivities. Machyn wrote his diary during a turbulent period in England: the Reformation, initiated by Henry VIII and carried through by Edward VI, was followed by the return to Catholicism (and burning of heretics) under Queen Mary I of England. Judging from his enthusiastic account of the disinterment of Edward the Confessor in 1557, Machyn was apparently a Catholic himself. The brief reign of Lady Jane Grey, and the dangers of speaking up for the losing side, are duly recorded. He circulated libellous information about the Protestant preacher John Véron, for which he made penance at Paul's Cross in November 1561. Machyn's diary comes to an end in 1563, in all likelihood because of his death.
Machyn sold funeral trappings, which explains why so much of his diary is concerned with minute accounts of funerals in London. Very little is known of the author; he is remarkably absent from his own diary. On only two occasions does he refer to his own age (56 in 1554, 66 in 1562).
The (mis)spelling in this diary gives a rare insight into the pronunciation of the times.
- Knowles, Gerry (1997). A Cultural History of the English Language. London: Hodder Arnold. ISBN 9780340676806. (subscription required (. ))
- Lee, Sidney (1893). "Machin, Henry". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 108–109.
- Mortimer, Ian (January 2008) [First published 2004]. "Machyn, Henry (1496/1498–1563 )". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17531. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Henry Machyn.|