Tusser was born into a 'gentle' family at Rivenhall, near
Witham in Essex, the fourth son of Isabella and William
Tusser. The date of his birth is very uncertain, and is
given variously as between 1515 to 1524. The register
at the church of St Mildred supports the 1515 date, but
other references in his youth make the year a little more
uncertain. Tusser was elected to King's College at Cambridge
in 1543 and, as they did not allow anyone under the age
of nineteen, that would put the date of his birth at 1524.
spent his early years as a chorister at Wallingford College.
This was a particularly happy time for him, as Tusser
later claimed he was 'ill-treated, ill-clothed and ill-fed'.
Eventually, however, Tusser had the luck (and perhaps
the influence) to become a chorister at St Paul's cathedral
in London under the tutelage of John Redford.
here Tusser moved to Eton and eventually to Cambridge,
taking up residence at Trinity College where he lived
and studied very happily among many congenial companions.
He became ill at Cambridge, however, and this forced him
to resign the studious life and join the employ of Lord
William Paget, first baron Paget of Beaudesert, as a musician.
spent ten years with Lord Paget, but eventually left Paget's
employ (apparently against Paget's wishes), married, and
settled down as a farmer at Cattiwade in Suffolk. It was
not so much the pleasures of marriage which tempted Tusser
away from Paget's service, but the possibility of military
service - these were tense times during the English reformation,
and wars constantly threatened.
was at Cattiwade that Tusser wrote his first book, "One
Hundred Points of Good Husbandry" (this was expanded
to Five Hundred Points in 1573), while dabbling enthusiastically
in the arts of husbandry. Here also his wife grew ill
(her name has never been recorded) and 'could no more
toil abide, so near the sea side'. Tusser moved their
household to Ipswich, but his wife no more liked the air
there, and she soon died. Tusser later married Amy Moon
(or Moone) by whom he had three sons, Thomas, John and
eventually settled in Norwich where, under the patronage
of Sir Robert Southwell, he found a living, possibly as
a singing man in Norwich cathedral. Sickness again forced
a move - to Essex, then to London (where his third son,
Edmond, was born in early 1573), and then, when plague
swept through London, back to Cambridge, then, eventually,
back to London once more where he died a pauper in 1580,
and was buried in the church of St Mildred in the Poultry.
tell me, when thou wert alive,
Thou, teaching thrift, thyself couldst never thrive;
So, like the whetstone, many men are wont,
To sharpen others when they themselves are blunt.