See headnote to No. 131. Hughes is the only one of Spenser's biographers in this early period, who has given any thought to the value of his sources. Unfortunately, in the absence of better sources, his scepticism is never materially useful.
The Life of Mr Edmund Spenser, in Works, ed. John Hughes (1715), pp. i-xxii:
As the Reign of Queen Elizabeth is one of the most shining Parts of our History, and an Age of which Englishmen are accustomed to speak with a particular Pride and Delight; it is remarkable for having been fruitful in Eminent Genius's of very different kinds. Among the Romans the Age of Augustus is observ'd to have produc'd the finest Wits, but the preceding one the greatest Men. But this was a Period of Time distinguish'd for both; and, by a wonderful Conjunction, we find Learning and Arms, Wisdom and Polite Arts arising to the greatest Heights together.
In this happy Reign flourish'd EDMUND SPENSER, the most Eminent of our Poets till that time, unless we except Chaucer, who was in some respects his Master and Original. The Accounts of his Birth and Family are but obscure and imperfect; and it has happen'd to him, as to many other Men of Wit and Learning, to be much better known by his Works than by the History of his Life. He was born in London, and had his Education at Pembroke-Hall in Cambridge. Tho in the Dedications of one or two of his Poems, we find him claiming Affinity with some Persons of Distinction, yet his Fortune and Interest seem at his first setting out to have been very inconsiderable: For after he had continu'd in the College for some time, and laid that Foundation of Learning, which, join'd to his natural Genius, qualify'd him for rising to so great an Excellency afterwards, he stood for a Fellowship, in Competition with Mr Andrews, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, but