The satisfying thing about Richard Lane as a subject of historical research is that although his early life was one of obscurity, the political drama he was swept into brought about a fair number of useful historical artifacts related to him. Perhaps in the end, those bits and pieces will yield a rich and tangible sense of who he was. But, this isn’t Hollywood – history is about building knowledge based on facts, very much like building a legal case. And sometimes, the facts you need simply may not exist. What can really be known about a man who lived 400 years ago? Who was he really? What was important to him? And if you could have met him, what would he have looked like?
“Considering Sir Richard Lane’s spotless integrity, and his uniform adherence to his principles, – notwithstanding his comparative obscurity and his poverty, he is more to be honoured than many of his predecessors and successors who have left behind them a brilliant reputation, and ample possessions and high dignities to their posterity” — Lord John Campbell (1848 “Lives of the Lord Chancellors”, Vol 2)
Why is this quest so important to you? This is a question I have been asked quite often – and given the investment of time, energy and some money it has taken, it’s a fair question!
In the beginning, it was simple curiosity. I bought the “Lane’s Reports” book because it was so fascinatingly old. I wanted to find out what else there might be to know about it, beyond its age and the quill margin notes it contained. What could it tell me about the world it came from? Whose hands had held it long before even the earliest family I have known even existed? Or, for that matter, before most of this country existed?