MC:P449 Copies of Papers from the Reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, Charles II, James II & William III
This is a collection of contemporary copies of various historical documents, mainly relating to royal events. There is no indication of how they came to Magdalen College, but they were found with a tag inscribed ‘Historical Papers in the time of Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I & II’ in the hand of W.D. Macray (Cl. 1844–50; Chaplain 1856–70; F. 1891–1916). They have therefore been at the College at least since the later 19th century. It is possible that they were collected at the time of their respective creations by Fellows of Magdalen who were interested in these events and wished to have their own copies of the relevant documents.
Many of these documents (e.g. the correspondence of Mary Queen of Scott and Anthony Babington) are available in modern editions. Perhaps the greatest interest in this collection is the evidence it sheds on the appetite of people in the 16th and 17th centuries to acquire copies of documents which were thought at the time to be of historic importance.
Recatalogued in February 2016.
MC:P449/MS1 – COPIES OF PAPERS DATING FROM THE REIGNS OF ELIZABETH I AND JAMES I
These documents have been copied out on many different hands, and relate to several events dating from the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. To judge from their handwriting, almost all these copies were at various times, made fairly soon after the creation of their respective originals.
They have been arranged in approximate chronological order of the date of the creation of the original document.
MC:P449/MS1/1 n.d. (1577/8?)
A copy of a letter from Pope Gregory XIII (sent from St. Peter’s, Rome) to an Irish Lord to incite rebellion in Ireland and encourage war against Elizabeth, “pretended Queen of England”, for the defence of the Catholic faith. Copied from an original dated 25 Feb 1577.
MC:P449/MS1/2 n.d. (c. 1586/7?)
Copy (two sheets) of four letters between Mary Queen of Scots and Anthony Babington, who was plotting to free her from imprisonment and assassinate Elizabeth I. To judge from their handwriting, this copy appears to have been made at around the time of Mary’s trial in 1586. The copied letters include:
(i) Letter from Mary to Babington
(ii) Babington’s reply to the above.
(iii) Babington to Mawe, the Queen’s secretary, concerning the trustworthiness of Robert Polley
(iv) The Queen to Babington.
On the back of the second sheet is incribed “The copie of some letters betwixt the Queene of Scottes and Babington.”
MC:P449/MS1/3 n.d. (c. 1586–95)
Document (2 sheets) inscribed on the margin “Shelleis Supplicat[ion] to the Q[ueen’s] Ma[jesty]”. In fact the document comprises copies of extracts from several letters from Saint Philip Howard, thirteenth Earl of Arundel (1557–95), to Queen Elizabeth, pleading his innocence after being imprisoned on charges of being a Roman Catholic. He was first imprisoned in 1586 and brought to trial and attained on 14 April 1589. Though he was condemned to death, the sentence was never carried out and he died in prison in 1595.
Document titled “Prayer for the Queen”. This is a copy of a prayer pleading for the protection of the Queen and the country against enemy nations. This is presumably a public prayer used in churches during the threat of invasion by the Spanish Armada.
MC:P449/MS1/5 n.d. (c. 1589-1598)
Copy of a prayer for the French King and his armies (i.e. for Henry IV) against the House of Guise. The prayer claims that the King is “miserably vexed by civill warres & other greevous calamities”.
MC:P449/MS1/6 n.d. (1592?)
Document titled, “The answere to the remembrannces of the Rt. Hon. The Lord Buckhurste”. This concerns the provisioning of plate (both gold and silver), pewter, napery, beer, ale, wine, wood, and coal in Oxford (perhaps available for the use of Queen Elizabeth I and her retinue on her visit to Oxford in 1592). Also included is a list of the parks and forests within 20 miles of the Oxford, with the names of their owners and occupiers.
MC:P449/MS1/7 n.d. (1592)
An account of Elizabeth I’s progress to Sudeley Castle, starting with her departure from Eton. This account provides a detailed itinerary of the days and miles in transit and the places where the royal retinue dined and slept en route. The document is undated, but dates of the week are given (e.g. “Saturday the xij th”). Elizabeth is known to have visited Sudeley Castle in 1592, and the days of the week match those for 1592. This document covers the period from 12 August to 9 September.
MC:P449/MS1/8 n.d. (1592)
A second account, worded slightly differently from MC:P449/MS1/7 above, of Queen Elizabeth’s progress from Reading to Sudeley Castle in 1592, starting with her departure from Reading. Like MC:P449/MS1/7 above, this account provides a detailed itinerary of the days and miles in transit. It covers the period from 19 August to 28 September.
MC:P449/MS1/9 n.d. (after 1596)
Extract of a document from the Spanish fleet that was intercepted by the French king and sent to his embassies. This is a detailed account of the number and tunnage of vessels in the Spanish fleet, together with a list of the names of the “most notable menne of qualitie”, along with a list of the number of Castilian soldiers divided into 14 companies. It relates to an abortive attempt by Philip II of Spain to invade Ireland with a second Armada.
MC:P449/MS1/10 n.d. (Oct 1598)
Copy of an epistolary exchange between Thomas Egerton (later Baron Ellesmere), then Lord Keeper, and Robert Deverux, Earl of Essex, titled “The copie of a letter written by my L. Keeper to my L. of Essex & his answere”. Published sources date this correspondence to October 1598. Egerton’s admonishes Essex for quarrelling and falling out with Queen Elizabeth and claims that Essex’s behaviour has resulted in the ruination of his good name and reputation as a soldier and has, in causing conflict, given comfort and courage to foreign enemies. He advises Essex that it is his lawful and religious duty to put aside his pride and yield to the Queen. Essex, in his reply, defends himself against Egerton’s charges and argues that the Queen has been unjust towards him and has driven him to a private life.
MC:P449/MS1/11 n.d. (1602)
A detailed account (2 sheets) of a quarrel between Sir Francis Vere and Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland. which arose in 1602. After an incident during the siege of Ostend, when he thought that Vere had insulted him, Northumberland, on his return to England, challenged Vere to a duel. Vere obtained the Queen’s protections and ignored the challenge. The account includes copies of two letters from Vere to the Earl during the dispute.
MC:P449/MS1/12 n.d. (April 1603)
Document titled “The poore man’s petition to the Kinge”. This is a copy of a document presented to James I when he arrived at Theobalds in April 1603. It comprises a list of fourteen grievances, concerning such matters as religious uniformity, good wages for soldiers, prevention of bribery in the securing of livings, reduction of licenses and monopolies, the trying of ordinary suits in ordinary courts, not in Chancery; and less oppressive taxes and payments.
MC:P449/MS1/13 n.d. (1604?)
Speech titled “Mr. Holts oration in the Parliament House whether after the uniteing of England and Scotland under one king, those that are borne in one be natural subjects of the other.” A William Holt was elected MP for Preston in 1604, for James I’s first Parliament, so he probably gave the speech then, at a time when such questions would be on people’s minds.
MC:P449/MS1/14 13 & 27 Jan 1607/8
Proposition made by M. De Hovuys in the assembly of the States-Generall, 13 January 1607; and the reply of the States-Generall, 27 January 1607. The proposal concerns restoring the inhabitants of the Low Countries to their “ancient and flourishing estates” following 40 years of conflict and war. De Hovuys explains that this proposal was previously refused due to “his Excll: departure towards the fielde togeather wth some of yor deputies” and that the inhabitants of the Low Countries have requested that De Hovuys make a second appeal for a durable peace or at the very least a sincere truce. The proposal concludes with a request that, should this peace or truce be approved, a time and place be set to meet and discuss the particulars. At the bottom is inscribed, “Signed by Walgrave of Wittenhearst”. Then follows a reply from the States-Generall in which they condemn the tyranny of Spain during the conflict and claim that they have wanted peace in the Low Countries all along. A discussion of the decrees whereby the Low Countries were declared free states follows. This proposition and reply presumably relate to the Twelve Year’s Truce of 1609 between the Netherlands and Spain.
MC:P449/MS1/15 n.d. (1606)
Copies of spoken or presented to King James I and King Christian IV of Denmark when they visited Theobalds, the home of Robert Cecil in 1606. One poem is in English, two in Latin. It may be a fragment of a longer account of the visit.
MC:P449/MS1/16 20 Aug 1623
Letter from Sir Isaac Wake, English diplomat and ambassador (1580-1632), written from Turin, to an unnamed recipient. Wake discusses the situation in Rome following the death of Pope Gregory XV on 8 July, in which many people rejoiced in the death. Wake disagrees with this, claiming that Pope Gregory was a good man and calling the Romans “inconstant”. Wake praises Gregory’s “quiet” rule as opposed to the turbulent rule of Pope Paul V previously. Wake describes the universal praise given to the new pope, Urban VIII. Also discussed is the current scandal of the Princess of Venosa and her impending divorce from her husband, Count Nicolo Ludovisio, along with an accompanying description of a physical altercation between the couple in which the Princess, defending herself against Ludovisio’s violence, struck him in the face and left a scar. Wake explains that the Princess had never desired the marriage.
MC:P449/MS1/17 n.d (most likely 26 March 1624)
A copy of King James I’s speech to Parliament concerning the Palatinate.
MC:P449/MS2 – COPIES OF PAPERS DATING FROM THE REIGNS OF CHARLES II, JAMES II AND WILLIAM III
Bundle of 9 documents, beginning with a sheet of paper marked “Papers found in K. Charles 2d’s strong box” and “Dr. Oldish abt. Pirates etc.” As with the documents in MS1 above these are written in several different hands.
As with the documents in MS1 above, these have been arranged in approximate chronological order of the date of the creation of the original document.
MC:P449/MS2/1 n.d. (1671/2)
Document with three questions concerning the subject’s liberty of conscience and obedience to conflicting privileges of Church and State. These questions were sent out by John Cosin, Bishop of Durham 1660–72, to his clergy.
MC:P449/MS2/2 29 June 1677
Document titled “The substance of the Earle of Shaftesbury’s Speech in the Court of King’s Bench when he was brought thither by Habeas Corpus. The 29th of June 1677”. This is a summary of a speech given by Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, in which he argues against the illegality of perpetual or long-term imprisonment without any particular assigned cause or trial (he later explains that he has been imprisoned for the last 5 months) and claims that the Court should void any act of Parliament or the House of Lords that goes against the terms stated in Magna Carta. He concludes with his proclaimed readiness to tender bail for his release, stating that he is willing to pay any sum.
MC:P449/MS2/3 n.d. (25 Mar 1679)
Document titled “The Earle of Shaftesbury’s speech”. This is a transcription of a speech given the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury in the House of Lords. Shaftesbury discusses the English government’s treatment of Ireland and Scotland, most especially the latter, and argues that the maxims under Magna Carta concerning habeas corpus and the legal terms of imprisonment should be followed in Scotland as well as in England and the rights of the Scottish people should not be ignored by the Government. Shaftesbury blames papist plots in Scotland on the mistreatment of the Scottish people. He also voices concern over growing papist power in Ireland.
MC:P449/MS2/4 28 Feb 1679
Copy of a letter from King Charles II (sent from Whitehall) to his brother, the Duke of York (later James II). Charles asks James to absent himself “for some time beyond the sea” (i.e. voluntary exile to the Spanish Netherlands because of his Catholicism). A postscript reads “Mem. That His R.H. and His Duchesse went away the 3rd of Mar 1678/9”.
MC:P449/MS2/5 n.d. (1685?)
Document (2 sheets) marked “K. Charles 2d. 1st. and 2d. paper”. This is a copy of two letters from Charles II to an unnamed recipient which extols the Catholic religion and condemns the Church of England to a large degree. The original letters were supposedly found in the King’s closet, as noted by an inscription at the bottom of both letters: “I found this paper which is of the late King my brothers own hand, which I found in his clossett”.
MC:P449/MS2/6 n.d. (c. 1685)
Document marked “The Marquess of Normanby’s Character of King Charles ye 2d”, which was written after his death. This account of the life and character of Charles II attempts to rehabilitate the increasing negativity about him following his death.
MC:P449/MS2/7 n.d. (1687/8)
Copy of a statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Ely, Peterborough, Norwich, St. Asaph, Bath and Wells, and Bristol of their doubts concerning the legality of the Declaration of Indulgence and their unwillingness to read it out during Divine Service.
MC:P449/MS2/8 n.d. (1688)
Poem, nine stanzas of three lines each, titled “Advise to the Prince of Orang”. This poem is also known as “To the Prince of Orange; A Pacquet of Advice”. It was written at the time of the invasion of England by William of Orange in 1688.
MC:P449/MS2/9 n.d. (c. 1692/3?)
An account of the examination of Dr. William Oldish (Oldys/Oldis) (1636-1708), Advocate of the Admiralty, for refusing to pronounce certain English or Irish sailors active under the orders of the deposed King James II, to be pirates/privateers or guilty of treason in 1692. The account details how the examination progressed and who specifically was involved in the trial, and ends with an explanation that Dr. Oldish was removed from his post as a result of this examination and a Dr. Littleton replaced him.