During the reign of Queen Mary (1553-1558), when England reverted to Catholicism, the Nowell brothers Lawrence and Alexander, both born at Read hall, near Whalley, escaped persecution by living in exile in Frankfurt, Germany. On the accession of Elizabeth I to the throne in 1558, the brothers returned to England and took high office in the newly restored Church of England. Alexander became Dean of St. Pauls, Westminster, a position he held for 44 years, while Lawrence became Dean of Lichfield. Lawrence did scholarship and law a great service by reviving the study of Old English literature (still popularly known as Saxon or Anglo-Saxon.)

"The Elizabethans, Lawrence Nowell, Joscelyn and others, who revived the study of 'Saxon' in the sixteenth century, took classical OE of the later period as their basis, and this practice was followed in dictionaries and grammars till the middle of the nineteenth century."

Randolph Quirk and C. L. Wrenn, "An Old English Grammar", Northern Illinois University Press, DeKalb, 1994, p. 5. (first published in 1955 by Methuen in England.)

The Nowell Codex