HARDYNG or HARDING, JOHN (1378-1465), English chronicler, was born in the north, and as a boy entered the service of Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur), with whom he was present at the battle of Shrewsbury (1403). He then passed into the service of Sir Robert Umfraville, under whom he was constable of Warkworth Castle, and served in the campaign of Agincourt in 1415 and in the sea-fight before Harfleur in 1416. In 1424 he was on a diplomatic mission at Rome, where at the instance of Cardinal Beaufort he consulted the chronicle of Trogus Pompeius. Umfraville, who died in 1436, had made Hardyng constable of Kyme in Lincolnshire, where he probably lived till his death about 1465. Hardyng was a man of antiquarian knowledge, and under Henry V. was employed to investigate the feudal relations of Scotland to the English crown. For this purpose he visited Scotland, at much expense and hardship. For his services he says that Henry V. promised him the manor of Geddington in Northamptonshire. Many years after, in 1439, he had a grant of 10 a year for similar services. In 1457 there is a record of the delivery of documents relating to Scotland by Hardyng to the earl of Shrewsbury, and his reward by a further pension of 20. It is clear that Hardyng was well acquainted with Scotland, and James I. is said to have offered him a bribe to surrender his papers. But the documents, which are still preserved in the Record Office, have been shown to be forgeries, and were probably manufactured by Hardyng himself. Hardyng spent many years on the composition of a rhyming chronicle of England. His services under the Percies and Umfravilles gave him opportunity to obtain much information of value for 15th century history. As literature the chronicle has no merit. It was written and rewritten to suit his various patrons. The original edition ending in 1436 had a Lancastrian bias and was dedicated to Henry VI. Afterwards he prepared a version for Richard, duke of York"(d. 1460), and the chronicle in its final form was presented to Edward IV. after his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464.
The version of 1 436 is preserved in Lansdowne MS. 204, and the best of the later versions in Harley MS. 661, both in the British Museum. Richard Grafton printed two editions in January 1543, which differ much from one another and from the now extant manuscripts. Stow, Who was acquainted with a different version, censured Grafton on this point somewhat unjustly. Sir Henry Ellis published the longer version of Grafton with some additions from the Harley MS. in 1812.
See Ellis' preface to Hardyng's Chronicle, and Sir F. Palgrave's Documents illustrating the History of Scotland (for an account of Hardyng's forgeries). (C. L. K.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)