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° HISTORICAL MANUSCRIPTS COMMISSION.
T. B. CLARKE-THORNHILL, ESQ..
PELHAM R. PAPILLON, ESQ., AND
BY MACKIE & co. LD.
And to be purchased, either directly or through any Bookseller, from
32, ABINGDON STREET, WESTMINSTER, S.W.; or
OLIVER AND BOYD, EDINBURGH; or
The manuscripts of Mr. W. Clarke-Thornhill, of Rushton Hall, consist almost entirely of the correspondence and other papers of Sir Thomas Tresham, owner of Rushton in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. They were discovered in 1828, when (as stated in a memorandum written some few years later and placed amongst the papers), “in pulling down a very thick partition wall, in the passage leading from the Great Hall, the workmen came to a very large recess or closet, in the centre of it, in which was deposited an enormous bundle,” containing the manuscripts and some theological books, “wrapped up in a large sheet.” From the fact that the papers go on pretty steadily from 1576 to November, 1605, and then suddenly stop, and also that there are no later endorsements upon any of them, it is supposed that they were walled up in the alarm following the Gunpowder Plot and the arrest of Francis Tresham, eldest son of Sir Thomas, for complicity therein. Unfortunately there are no papers relating to the plot; perhaps there never were any; for Sir Thomas had died only a few weeks before, and there is not the slightest reason to believe that he knew of it, and every possible reason to believe that he would have disapproved of it.
But there is a great deal of information in the papers concerning the families intimately connected with the conspiracy ; the Treshams, Vaux, Catesbies, Monteagles, &c. The documents have every appearance of having lain undisturbed in their hiding place for two hundred years, and they have been remarkably little injured by damp.
The most valuable aspect of the collection is the light which it throws upon the views of the loyal Roman Catholic party in the reign of Elizabeth and at the accession of James I. Of this party, Sir Thomas Tresham was one of the foremost leaders, and although repeatedly suffering fine and imprisonment on account of his recusancy, the “noble-hearted man,” as Dr. S. R. Gardiner calls him, showed throughout a loyal love for his Queen and country, second only to his devotion to his religion and his church.