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Report On Histokical Documents In The House Of Lords.
The Commissioners on Historical Manuscripts having requested us to inspect, and make a report on the miscellaneous historical documents preserved in the House of Lords, which were brought under the notice of the Commissioners by Mr. Hardy, we have the honour to state, for the information of the Commissioners, that we waited on Sir John George Shaw Lefevre, Clerk of the Parliaments, and communicated to him the desire of the Commissioners. Nothing could exceed his courtesy and attention: he permitted us to inspect the whole collection, personally attended us, and afforded every information in his power.
With some few exceptions, to be presently noticed, the whole of the documents under consideration are now deposited in 12 rooms on the basement story of the offices of the House of Lords, running parallel with the River Terrace. These rooms are perfectly dry at present, but it is intended to remove the papers into the Victoria Tower, so soon as they have been sorted and examined. The contents of these 12 rooms, before the great lire that destroyed the Houses of Parliament in 1834, were deposited in an old building of the House of Lords, and were saved by the very great exerti^ii of Mr. Stone Smith, then and still an officer of lue house, who placed them in temporary security. Mr. Stone Smith had some traditional knowledge of their value, though he did not actually know their nature. They were several times afterwards removed to and from various temporary receptacles during the course of the erection of the new buildings, on the completion of which they were transferred to their present place of deposit.
It may here be remarked that those documents and papers are not referred to in any printed report of the contents of their Lordships' muniment rooms, so far as we kuow; nor are they alluded to in any of tho reports of the Commissioners on the Public Records, whose inquiries were particularly directed to the discovery of such documents.
The manner in which they have been lately brought to light may deserve mention.
Mr. John Bruce, being engaged in an historical inquiry of some importance, solicited permission to search any papers of the House of Lords likely to bear upon the subject of his inquiry. Sir John George Shaw Lefevre with hi3 accustomed liberality instantly gave the desired permission, and Mr. Smith, who had rescued the papers in question from the fire of 1834, pointed out tho place in which the documents Mr. Bruce required might, be found. On inspecting some of the papers deposited in the room to which Mr. Smith had directed attention, Mr. Bruce saw their historical value, and immediately brought the fact to the attention of Sir John Lefevre, who at once fully recognized their importance, and has since done all in his power to make them accessible. He employed two of his officers, assisted by one of the transcribers of the Public Record Department, to arrange them in chronological order and remove them from their then place of deposit to a room where they might be readily consulted.
Within the last 13 months no less than 228 bundles, containing on an average 127 papers in each, and extending from the year 1479 to 1664, have been examined, and arranged in such a manner as to make them easily accessible.
In addition to these, 387 parchment Rolls, dated between the years 1600 and 1800, besides 164 other parchment documents embracing tho period between 1587 and 1800, have also been examined and arranged.
The wholo of these have been removed from the basement, and secured from further injury and decay. They have all been stamped, so as to show that they belong to the Ho'ise of Lords.
These 29,537 documents, before they were removed upstairs, occupied a very small part of one room. Tho remaining contents, with the exception of the Journals are in no sort of arrangement whatever, and doubtless contain many documents belonging to the period abovo mentioned, and equally valuable. Such papers, if found, can be added to those which have been arranged, without inconvenience. These remarks, we believe, apply to all the other rooms on the basement, which we had not time to explore.
The papers that have been found illustrate the Journals of the House of Lords, or rather are the original documents to which constant reference is made in those time-honoured registers. Sometimes they are there set out in full; at other times they are briefly alluded to; while many of them are not even noticed, having been probably brought to the House in some inquiry upon which their Lordships were engaged, and never returned to their owners. It may here be remarked that the Lords wore never satisfied with tho copy of a document offered in evidence, or brought under their notice ; nothing but the original was allowed to be received. Even the House of Commons submitted to their Lordships' rule, and invariably sent the originals, whilo they retained only a copy for themselves. We mention this as accounting for their Lordships possessing the originals of some papers to which we are about specially to refer.
As the best means of showing their historical value, we will allude to some of the documents to which our attention was directed.
We by no means desire it to be supposed that we have selected the most valuable in an historical point of view, because there might be a diversity of opinion on the subject. Moreover, we have thought it right to confine our remarks to those papers which Sir John Shaw Lefevre has arranged. We cannot, of course, express any opinion upon those which lio unarranged in the basement story. The papers we have selected for comment we consider interesting, and calculated to ensure the attention of the Commissioners, by showing tho necessity for such a Commission as that Her Majesty has lately issued, viz. :—to bring to light materials for history which have not been hiliierto used, because their existence was unknown.
In bringing forward the letters taken at the battle of Naseby, we cannot introduce the subject more appropriately than with an extract from Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion (Book IX., vol. ii., p. 508), as he there in a few words opens the whole subject before us. He speaks of papers which had been purposely concealed from the world; those to which he alludes, we believe, are the identical papers written in King Charles's own hand, and intended for no other eyes than those to whom they are addressed.
Lord Clarendon thus writes :—" In the end the King "was compelled to quit the field, and to leave Fairfax "master of all his foot, cannons, and baggage ; amongst "which was his own cabinet, where his most secret "papers were, and letters between the Queen and him; "of which thoy shortly after made that barbarous use "as was agreeable to their natures, and published them "in print; that is, so much of them as they thought "would asperse either of their Majesties, and improve "tho prejudice they had raised against them; and "concealed other parts that would have vindicated "them from many particulars with which they had "aspersed them."
Unfortunately the whole of the correspondence has not yet been unearthed. The remainder will doubtless be found in one of the unexplored rooms to which we have more than once alluded. In the Appendix to this Report we have given several of the papers that were not printed in the volume published by direction of Parliament, and called " The King's Cabinet."
These letters created great excitement in both Houses of Parliament, as appears by their Journals. ■ t. ±! •„
The victory at Naseby occurred on Saturday, the ]4th of June 1645, and on the Monday following it was announced to the House of Commons by a messenger from Sir Thomas Fairfax. On the same day a message from the House of Commons was sent to tho Upper House. Their Lordships requested Mr. Bowles, Chaplain to Fairfax, to give them an account of the victory, andthree letters addressed to the Speaker of tho House of Commons from Fairfax, Oliver Cromwell, and the Committee with the Army, were read. In these letterB, which are entered in the Lords' Journals, no mention is made of the King's cabinet. They merely tell us that all his baggage and his own waggon were captured.
On the 23rd of June the House of Commons resolved, "that the several letters and papers taken at Naseby "Field shall be referred to the Committee, of which "Mr. Tate was chairman, to translate the French "letters, decipher those that are not deciphered, and "to sort them."
On the 26th, "Mr. Tate was appointed to carry the "originals of the letters sent up by Sir Thomas Fair"fax to the House of Lords, and to desire the Lords "that, in regard they are of very great weight and "concernment, they will be very careful of them, and "that when they have read them they will return them "back to this House."
On the 28th of Juno Mr. Tate was ordered to make his report concerning the King's letters and papers. This he did on the Monday following; and the House of Commons resolved that the most material letters and papers taken at Naseby Field should be communicated to the City at a Common Hall,—that the Lords should appoint a Committee to join with that of the Commons "to peruse the letters and papers, and to consider "what letters are most material and most fit to com"municate to the Common Hall, and to make observa"tion upon them." It was then ordored that no person should "presume to print any part of the letters to be "communicated at the Common Hall without special "order of both Houses, and that it be declared that "both Houses intend to print them speedily, and ".that and this order be sent to the Warden of the "Stationers' Hall, and be published at the Common "Hall." It was also resolved that these letters and papers should be communicated to the Committee of both kingdoms, "to the intent they may take copies to "transmit into Scotland and to foreign parts ;—that the "letters and papers shall be put in a safe and public "hand and place, to the end that all such as desire it "may peruse tho originals." It was also resolved that transcripts of these letters and papers should be sent to Mr. Parker and Mr. Sadler to make observations upon them.
A copy of these resolutions was sent to the Lords, and they agreed to them.
On the 1st of July the Lords sent a message to the Commons, "desiring such other papers and letters as "were taken at Naseby Field, and not yet transmitted "to their Lordships, may be sent unto them before "the Committee appointed for viewing them do "meet."
The Commons answer that they will send a speedy answer by messengers of their own; and Mr. Tate accordingly brought up some letters, in number 22, which were taken at Naseby, and desires the Committee may meet "to consider of these and others formerly "brought up,"—"that there are some others which "have not been read."
There were evidently other letters detained by the Commons, for the Lords again desire that such other papers as were taken at Naseby, and not yet transmitted to their Lordships, "may be sent unto "them before the Committee for viewing them do "meet."
The Commons send Mr. Tate to their Lordships, who carries "all such letters and papers taken at Naseby "Field that have been already read," and informs the Lords that the Commons will send the rest "so soon as "they have perused them themselves."
It is unnecessary to enter into a detail of all that occurred in both Houses respecting these papers, as we
have given extracts from their Journals in the Appendix, but we would stato that the order for printing them was made in tho House of Commons on the 7th of July 1645.
We would, moreover, remark that the book published by special order of the Parliament contains only 39 letters and papers, not one of those we have selected being printed in the book in question. The number of papers at present found in the House of Lords is only 15, so that a large number will probably be discovered among the unsorted papers. Evidence exists of there having been 57 at least. This is also another reason for urging the continuance of the sorting of the papers in the basement story.—
The papers found in tho King's cabinet, which are in the Appendix, will speak for thomselves, but we think the Commissioners will be of opinion that they ought to be printed.
We saw among other papers the original letter, wholly in the handwriting of Charles 1, addressed to the House of Lords on the 11th of May 1641, recommending that tho Earl of Strafford should be imprisoned for life rather than be executed, "although he (the "King) had satisfied the justice of the kingdom by the "passing of the Bill of Attainder against the Earl." Some of the alterations in the letter are curious, as showing the King's desire to save Strafford by an exercise of his royal prerogative of pardon, without asking a favour of the Parliament. The letter in question will be remembered as tho one which contains the remarkable postscript: "If he must die, it were a "charity to reprieve him until Saturday." These words seem to have been added, and the alterations above alluded to made, some time after the letter was written.
It seems that the Peers offered to return into His Majesty's hands the letter itself which he had sent, but he was pleased to say, "My Lords, what I have written "to you I shall be content it be registered by you "in your House. In it you see my mind. I know you "will use it to my honour."
And yet this important letter has been lost for years, and only just recovered from the miscellaneous mass of papers of which we speak!
Wo also saw the original petition of Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, in his own handwriting, while a prisoner in the Tower of London. He had been required to give the presentation of St. Leonard's, Foster Lane, to a Mr. George Smith. In his petition to the House the Archbishop says, manfully but respectfully,—" Your "Lordships knowe it is a dewtye wcU yor petitioner "owes to this Church & State to see y° orders and "examine the sufficiency of such as he p'sents to "benefices; and which should he not doe, yor Lordships "might justly more than find fault with hime. There"fore humbly prayeth that Mr Smith may come to "your Lordships' poor petitioner, that he may in some "sort satisfy his owne conscience and his dewtye to the "publicke," &c.
It will not be irrelevant to say a few words respecting a document of great national importance, which had been missing for some years, but has been lately found among the muniments of the House of Lords. We allude to the original manuscript of the Book of Common Prayer, which was annexed to the Statute 13 and 14 Car. 2. c. 4.
The history of this Book is sufficiently interesting, and is so intimately connected with tho present subject to justify an allusion to it here. It is well known that the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1645 issued an order abolishing the Book of Common Prayer, and that King Charles the Second, upon his restoration, took the earliest opportunity to re-establish the worship sanctioned by the Acts of Uniformity of King Edward the Sixth and Queen Elizabeth. By his letters patent, dated 25th March 1661, he appointed certain Commissioners "to review the Book of Common Prayer, "comparing the same with the most ancient liturgies "which have been used in the Church in the primitive "and purest times, and to prepare such alterations and "additions as they thought fit to offer."*
Out of this Commission arose the Act which was passed in tho 13th and 14th years of his reign.
Both Houses of Parliament were engaged on the subject at the same time.
* The progress of tho Commissioners and the several steps they took appear in the printed Acts of Convocation, commencing on the 21st of November KW1. the day on which the King's letter of dircctiou was received by them to enter upon the review, down to the 20th of December 1661,'when the bishops and clergy subscribed the work. (Gibson's Codex, vol. i. p. 275.)
The House of Commons appointed a Committee to view the several laws for confirming the Liturgy of the Church of England, and to make search whether the original Book of Liturgy, annexed to the Act passed in the fifth and sixth years of the reign of Edward the Sixth, was yet extant. They selected a Prayer Book printed in the year 1604, to be attached to the Bill they were preparing for an Act of Uniformity, provided the Book of Edward the Sixth could not be found.*
While the Commons were thus engaged, the King sent to the House of Lords the book which had been prepared by his Commissioners appointed by his letters patent of the 25th March 1661, and of which he approved.f
The Lords thereupon "directed tho book in question "to be delivered to the House of Commons, as that "being the book to which the Act of Uniformity is to "relate, and also to deliver the book wherein the "alterations aro made out of which the other book was "fairly written." This entry, taken from the Journals of the House, is important, as showing that tv:o books were sent by the King to the Lords, and that they were both submitted to the Commons. It is not necessary to follow the Bill through its various stages. It is sufficient to state that the Bill passed both Houses, and became the law of the land.
In the Act, the Book of Common Prayer as it had been altered, i.e., tho fair copy above mentioned, was ordered to be appended to the Act, and so it appears to have remained until the beginning of this century, when it was severed from the original roll by a clergyman who was permitted to consult it for his own convenience; at least, this is the statement of Mr. Hickman, who was Clerk of the House of Commons. He says "this must have been before the year 1819, "as there in a note in a volume of the folio edition of "tho Statutes of the Bealm, published by the Com"missioners on Public Records in that year." The editor of that volume, speaking of this MS., states that "this book is in manuscript, and is in the Parliament "Office, and in the same press, but not in the same "division of that press, with the Acts of this year."
The book in question remained in the press as described above, and was occasionally exhibited to strangers as a valuable curiosity. It was seen as late as the year 1824, but upon inquiry soon after the fire which destroyed the Houses of Parliament, it could not be found. Several searches have since been unsuccessfully made, and it became generally believed that the book had perished in the flames ; recently, however, during the progress of removing the Acts of Parliament to tho Victoria Tower, from the Old Tower sometimes called the Jewel Tower, at the back of Abingdon Street, not only was the missing manuscript found, which was attached to the Statute Roll of 13th and 14th of Charles the Second, but, with it, a prize little expected and completely unknown, viz. :—A volume, printed in 1636, containing about 600 manuscript alterations, as well as some new forms of prayer, with other offices on various occasions, and subscribed by the bishops and clergy as it was submitted to the King.
Both these volumes are unquestionably the same which King Charles the Second placed before the House of Peers on the 23rd of February 1661, and which the House of Lords "delivered to the House of Commons, "as being the books to which the Act of Uniformity "was to relate, as well as the book wherein the altor"ations are made, out of which the other book was "fairly written."
The discovery of these two books, especially the latter (the existence of which has taken all persons interested in such matters entirely by surprise), encourages tho hope that the Books of Common Prayer attached to the Acts of Uniformity of King Edward the Sixth and Queen Elizabeth may yet be discovered among the buried treasures of the House of Lords.
We can hardly estimate the worth of King Edward the Sixth's two books (the first attached to Statute 2 & 3 Edw. 6. c. 1., and the other to Statute 5 & 6 Edw. 6. c. 1.), for, incredible as it may appear, there is no copy answering in all points to thej book referred to
* By 8tatute 5 and 6 Edward 6. c. 1. s. 4. tho Book of Common Prayer was ordered "to bo annexed and joined to this present Statute."
t Before the King transmitted the book, prepared by the Convocation to the House of Lords, they had received another from the Commons, but the Lords followed tho book from the King. (Gibson's Codex, i. 276.)
% It is there described as " tho Book authorised by Parliament in the "V and sixt yere of tho reign of King Edward tho Sixt, with ouo
in the Act of Elizabeth. It has been missing for many years, and its recovery would be of the first importance. There can, wo think, be but little doubt that it was used by the Commissioners of Charles the Second when they prepared their edition for the King. We have already seen that the House of Commons believed that it was in existence in 1661, for the House desired search to be made for it, a fact which shows that it had been severed from the Act,—wo are speaking now of the Act of 5th and 6th of Edward 6. This severance seems to have taken place in the reign of Queen Mary; as appears by a letter from John Browne, Clerk of the Parliament in 1683, addressed to Mr. Walker, one of the assistant clerks, wherein he writes, " In Q. Marie's "tyme the Comon Praier Booke which was annexed to "the Act was taken away." We have no means of ascertaining whether it was 'brought back when Queen Mary's Act was rescinded by Statute 1 Elizabeth, c. 2, which enacted that the Book of Common Prayer of Edward 6, and none other, should be used; but in all probability it was produced, though not again attached to the Act, for it had again become part of the law of the land, and must have been preserved as a solemn record, and frequently referred to up to the time when the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1645 issued an order abolishing tho Book of Common Prayer.
It would be difficult to prove that Charles's Commissioners used the Book of Edward the Sixth, though in all probability they did.
Its loss may be thus reasonably accounted for. After the collation and alterations had been made by the Commissioners of 1661, and the statute of the 13th and 14th of Charles the Second had passed, with the new Prayer Book attached to the Act, the authorities of the House of Lords at that time may have thrown it aside as of little worth, as the new Act of Uniformity had become the law of the land, and had superseded that of Edward tho Sixth. Though King Edward's Book may have been thus rojocted as a record, it does not follow that it was destroyed; and it may still exist with Queen Elizabeth's Book of Common Prayer among the unexamined manuscripts in the basement story. The mere chance of this hope being realised (on the importance of which it is unnecessary to remark) is more than sufficient to make the authorities of the House of Lords doubly anxious to have the documents in question speedily classified and arranged.
If we were to enter more fully into a description of these documents, or produce further examples of their curiosity and worth, our report would be extended to an inconvenient length. We believe that sufficient evidence has been presented to show the great historical value of these papers, which chance as it were has disclosed. Had not Sir John Shaw Lefevre given Mr. Bruce permission to make researches at tho House of Lords, it is more than probable that the documents now under consideration would have lain unnoticed for many years to come.
The mere knowledge of the fact where public muniments are to be found, which have boon buried for ages, —we are now alluding to the documents in the basement story, for they were not known to exist, either through printed books or tradition, beyond the officers of tho House of Lords,—is certainly no slight acquisition to the historical student of the present age, even if the discovery had not produced fresh historic materials. For instance, some of the most interesting of public instruments, (tho declaration and letter of Charles 2, from Breda, addressed to the House of Lords,) have been frequently searched for, but without success. They have just been untombed from this mausoleum of historic remains. The letters addressed by Charles to the House of Commons from Breda are not now extant: they must have perished, with other valuable papers, at the great fire in 1834.
We therefore express a hope that the Commissioners will think it right to recommend to Sir John Shaw Lefevre, in the strongest manner, the propriety of continuing the sorting and arrangement of the papers which he has so successfully commenced. Nothing can be better than the plan he has been pursuing; but we would venture to suggest that he should accelerate the sorting
"alteration,1 or addition of cortayn Lessons2 to be used on every "Sunday in the yere, & the fourme of the Letanie altered and cor"reeted, & two sentences only added3 in tho delivery of the sacrament "to the communicants & none other or otherwyse."
1 On the subject of the " one alteraeion," see Elizabethan Liturgies, ed. Parker's Society, pref. xiii. note.
2 On this subject see Gibson's Codex, vol. i. p. 268, note (a.)
3 " Two sentences only added:" this is explained in Gibson's Codex, vol. i. p. 268, note (u).
by the employment of an additional force, and direct a skeleton catalogue of the papers to bo made, similar to that he ordered by way of spocimen of the papers of 1660.
The work, so far as it has proceeded, does much credit to the officers employed, and Si- John Shaw Lefevre could not, in our bumble judgment, do better than continue their services.
We cannot close the Report of our visit to the House of Lords without offering our meed of commendation of the perfect arrangement of, and easy access to, the Acts of Parliament which have been lately arranged in the Victoria Tower.
T. Duffcs Hardy.
Holland. I cannot but at least give you a lyne for a letter, you have given me so diligent & good account of your imployment, for (though my judgment goes not with it, yet) I cannot but comend your care & dexteritie in mangin of it; & in the next place, I desyre you, to thanke all the Officers, in my name, for there obedience; & the rather, if that it it is contrair to there judgements (& in this, nather, I canot dislyke them) & in particular tho Officers of those Regiments that ar & shall be disbanded, for there affection showen to me desyring
in A remaineing volotiers, asseuring them that when
God & the Parlament shall give mc meanes, I ehaii
see them rewarded; for you, ye may easilie trHeke
that since I approuo you in this, I am the lykelier to
some iniploiment trust in e«e other A; where my judgement does more
fullie concur: & so I rest.
[Endorsed by the King] Copie of my letter to Holland the 10 July 1641.
[In the King's handwriting. The errors and alterations are as they stand in the MS.]
\% januer. 10.
Mon cher coeur je croyois partir de min qui est le 17 janier mais le vent a estte sy grande que len na peu enbarquer mes hardes aujourduy toute fois jespere que demin il sera fait et ainsy sy le vent vient bon je parteray jendy dieu aydant jay tant daffairos sur mon depart a quoy je ne matandois point que je suis extrememant tourmantee du mal de teete qui fait que je mesteray en syfre par vn autre se qui jovois fait moy mesme autrement ayant beauconp de lettres a escrire en-rance Wat estant reuenu et le ranuoyant encore je vous diray seuellement quil ma raporte de ranee se quo je pouvois desirer: adieu mon cher coeur. tournes.
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31. 17. 46. 31. 21. 51. 7. 17. 45. 11. 50. 5. 27. 45. 58. 27.
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from Ho thnufht
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1 i c i to K.D. the
23. 27. 11. 28. 46. 7. 192. at his ariuall for 45. 31. 7.
31. 10. 36. 16. 6000 17. 50. 72.
t o N t o 46. 35. 226. 45. 36. o t c h e of
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31. 17. 45. 31. 58. 27. 45. 31. 260.
[Seals (two) injured.]
My deare harte. J made an account to depte yesterday being the 17 Jan. but the windes were soe boysterous, that my goods & luggage could not be sent aboard to day, howsoeuer J hope it will be done to morrow, if the winde serues J mean to be gon on Thursday God willing; J haue soe much vnexpected busines now vpon my depure, which causes me to be extreamly troubled w,h the head-ach & to make use of another for the writing in Cypher, which J would haue done myselfe, but that J have many Ires to write into France. Watt being come thence & sending him backe againe; J shall only tell you that he hath brought me all that J could desire from thence, farewell my deare heart.
There being here a sonne of K.D. that hath great creditt w* his father, going now from Ho. 260 thought fitt to speake to him to solicit K. D. at his arriuall for to dispatch of 6,000 armes to be sent to N. to arme the Scottch of the party of 189, or to Jmploy any other way 189 shall tbinke good. W. M. being returned hath aduertised 260 that gome English Catholiques in F. haue layed their purses together for supply of armes for 189. 260 doth therefore desire 189 to aduertise W. M. of the place where they are to be sent, & send the letters in the packet of Brown, or any other place to W. M. 189 may write to W. M. in the cipher 189 hath with 260.
Au Roy Monseigneur.
My deer hart J did think to goe from hence to morrow which is the 17 of Ianuary but the wind was soe great that on could not imbarke my stuff this day, but J hope to morrow it wilbee don and soe if the wind bee good J will part Thursday God willing. J have soe much busynes vppon my departure which J cannot attend beeing extremely trobled with the headake