Thong Sewing Supports in Renaissance Book-bindings

1571 Noctes Atticae

1571 Noctes Atticae

Leather thongs, often alum-tawed, “whittawed”, were used for sewing supports / board attachment (rather than cords) in bookbinding. This method of binding dates at least to the Middle Ages and was still in use well into the 17th century. The thongs would be stitched to the spine and the ends of two or more thongs laced through channels bored in wood or pasteboard covers;

1611 Workes of John Jewell

1611 Workes of John Jewell, wooden boards with leather thongs

or in the case of vellum, small holes may be made in the skin at the hinges.
1590-paraphrasis-in-psalmos-davidicos-binding-1 1590-paraphrasis-in-psalmos-davidicos-binding-2

1590 Paraphrasis, Plantin, binder's waste

1590 Paraphrasis in Psalmos Davidicos

I don’t have many early bindings in my library with thong supports/board attachment, but I am gladly acquiring more as I progress as a collector.
Once I thought they just “looked cool,” as young people do, but I have increasingly found them of interest. Here are some of my favourite examples I’ve so far acquired.

Bishops Bible (London, 1577), unfortunately scarcely visible. A former owner in the mid-18thC covered the inner boards with brown paper, but there are two small lumps to the front board where I believe the thong ends are.
1577 Bishops' Bible quarto  056

Vautrollier imprint of Hanmer’s Avncient Ecclesiasticall Histories (London, 1585), leather thongs, also a thin whittawed thong on the front board.
1585-hanmer-eusebius-binding-structure  1585 Avncient Ecclesiasticall Histories.

Tottill imprint of St Germain’s A dialogue in English (London, 1593).1593-st-germain-dialogue-in-english-london-tottill-26 1593-st-germain-dialogue-in-english-london-tottill-27

The Workes of .. John Jewell (London, 1611), leather thongs.
1611 Workes of John Jewell Blind-stamped leather over wooden boards (2)

Over the centuries the thongs can deteriorate and break at stress points (as evidenced above: see 1585 Vautrollier imprint). These thongs have lasted well, however the book’s sewing, which held them in place, has completely disappeared. Here is a close-up of one of the 1611 Jewell thongs. Note the slit in the end.

The Historie of the Councel of Trent (London, 1620), leather thongs.
1620-the-historie-of-the-councel-of-trent-1 048

Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Politie (London, 1622).
1622-hooker-ecclesiastical-politie-1 1622-hooker-ecclesiastical-politie-7

Henry King’s An Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (London, 1634).
1634-henry-king-an-exposition-upon-the-lords-prayer-binding-structure-1 1634-henry-king-an-exposition-upon-the-lords-prayer-binding-structure-2

Sir Richard Baker’s Discourses upon Cornelius Tacitus (London, 1642).
1642-baker-discourses-upon-tacitus-1  050

Macclesfield Psalter (2008), Appendix 5, pp. 344-5, “The Conservation of the Macclesfield Psalter,” by Robert Proctor, is of great interest, with prose description and step-by-step photos. “The sewing supports are laid along channels cut into the outside of the board, fed through holes along an inside channel and then through a second hole where they are secured. Traditionally this would have been done with a soft peg, but in this case they are held with wedges of alum-tawed skin soaked in wheat-starch paste, pulled through until tight, allowed to dry, and cut off.”

One may see further examples in Szirmai’s The Archaeology of Medieval Bookbinding (Ashgate, 1999).

See also, Medieval Manuscripts: Bookbinding Terms, Materials, Methods and Models,

There is a great photo of a book being restored in the traditional method in the article “Shakespeare Lives at the Folger,” on the Folger Shakespeare Library, National Geographic 171, no. 2, February 1987, pp. 244-59.


Needham’s Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, 400-1600 (A Pierpont Morgan Library Book).

A great video to see is The Restoration of Books: Florence (1968), particularly from about the 23-minute mark when binding practices are featured.

Evelyn’s Diary, W.C. Hazlitt’s copy

[This set of Evelyn’s Diary was formerly owned and annotated by the bibliographer William Carew Hazlitt (1834-1913). It was last sold in 1960 to Alex Pratt who likely purchased it via UK catalogue; I bought it recently in Vancouver.  In this blog post I’ll be looking first at the anecdote of Lady Evelyn, secondly the inserted clippings, thirdly at the mass of Hazlitt’s marginalia. At the page bottom I have included a bibliography of books Hazlitt names in the margins. For the benefit of Evelyn and Hazlitt scholars alike. Please contact me for further information if required].

1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (111)In the early 1820s somewhat of a literary controversy found its way into the papers. William Bray and William Upcott, the editors of John Evelyn’s Diary, were at odds with each other (see The Times, 1822; also William Hone’s letter to Upcott, 14 Sept, 1822). Later, in 1824 Thomas Frognall Dibdin published Upcott’s alarming anecdote of Lady Evelyn’s misuse of historic papers in his new book the Library Companion, leading Bray to write a letter contradicting Upcott’s story, pleading, “Sir, I appeal to you without the least doubt of my appeal being allowed, and that in consequence you will have the goodness to cancel this note in such copies of your book as remain unsold, if any such there are, and that you will omit it in all future editions.”

Yet Upcott wrote to Dibdin too, in 1825, upon hearing of a second edition, saying “The anecdote is strictly true; but as Mr. B. chooses to feel offended at the mention of it, I do think ’twere better omitted in any future edition, and I shall be greatly obliged if the whole can be left out.”

Nevertheless, the Lady Evelyn anecdote continued to be reprinted elsewhere. William Hone included it in The Year-Book (1831; subsequent editions; left photo below). Again the Lady Evelyn story was printed in The Daily News in 1869, which occasioned the following contradictory letter (top clipping, right photo).
1838 Hone Year Book, Evelyn Upcott anecdote (1)   1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (2)
The contradictions seemed all for nought, as the controversial anecdote of Lady Evelyn’s misuse of historic papers continued its way into print. The Athenaeum in issue 2290 (p.359), led to a printing of Bray’s and Upcott’s correspondence with Dibdin in issue 2293 (p.464) in 1871.

1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (13)The matter is further stirred by what I have found in William Carew Hazlitt’s annotated copy of John Evelyn’s Diary & Correspondence (Bohn, 1859; vol. 1, 1862), where Hazlitt has noted an anecdote coming second-hand from one of Upcott’s “most intimate friends,” on the blank of the preface. It reads,

One of the most intimate friends of W Upcott told me that the Evelyn MSS were thrown into the Lumber-room at Wootton, & that W Upcott’s attention was first drawn to them by an accidental circumstance. One day, during a stay he made at Wootton in Lady Evelyn’s time, he observed on the table at which Lady E. was sitting, some silk-papers which he took up carelessly. He then noticed that there was writing on them – old writing, & on inquiry it turned out that the lumber-room was the (source?) from which the papers were procured to hold Lady E’s skeins. “It is full of them,” she said, “& bye the bye, friend Upcott, you would be interested in them; but I warn you that you will be up to your eyes in dust.” W U did not mind the dust & was soon up to his elbows in Evelyn’s corresp(ondence?) WCH.

Hazlitt further comments on the topic in the margins of the Introduction. On the library at Wotton being where the ancestral book collection then remained, “Except those which have been abstracted. I have notes of 52 books and MSS.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (17)
Further regarding Lady Evelyn and the library, having William Upcott compile a complete catalogue, “O very(?), was it Upcott who purloined the books.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (18)

William Upcott’s depredations of the Evelyn family library are notorious. As Bray wrote to Dibdin, with the question, “whether it would not have been more proper for Mr. Upcott, confidentially employed as he was in the Wotton Library, to have stated the curiosity of the papers in the ebony cabinet, and to have recommended the arrangement of them and the placing them on the shelves of the Library, instead of removing them to the shelves of his own apartment.”

Upcott appears to have had Lady Evelyn’s assurance “‘that I was welcome to lay aside any [hand-writings] that I cared for to add to my own collection.'” It seems he verily believed what he perceived of the situation was correct, as he repeated the story of Lady Evelyn’s misuse with her welcome offer and defended that it was true. If Lady Evelyn had lived further into the 19thC when this came into debate, perhaps she would have cleared up the matter successfully for posterity.

See further on Upcott in De Beer’s edition of the Diary, I.53-4 ; Hoffman (et al) in John Evelyn in the British Library, pp.64-71 ; etc.,_William_(DNB00).
See ODNB for most recent article by Janet Ing Freeman.

Further clippings from volume 1.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence volume 1 pastedown (112)  1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (7)
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (8)

Two clippings relate to Margaret Godolphin, including the 1861 Puttick & Simpson sale of the “Life” (which later found its way to the Houghton Library).
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (5) 1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (3)
Notice (right photo) the comparison of the printed edition vs. the MS “Life”. Looking up the examples of errors in my copy of Evelyn’s Life of Mrs Godolphin (1864; formerly belonging to Lord Rosebery), each error still occurs. Hazlitt comments on the errors in the margin next to the footnote re: Bishop of Oxford’s editing (Evelyn’s Diary, II.83), “And very badly his worship did it. There is, I think, a second MS copy.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (72)
It wasn’t until 1939 that a (thus far) definitive edition was made. See Frances Harris, Transformations of Love, appendix A (ii), p.304.

Some discrepancies in the catalogue listings of letters are shown in this clipping.
1859 John Evelyn MS letters for sale
As commonly happens with pre-Lady Day old calendar dates, there has been a mix-up: the letter dated March 1, 1685 in the clipping (# 238 top) is rather 1686. It can be found published in Guy de la Bédoyère’s Particular Friends (p.167). Hazlitt has noted in pencil at the time the date of sale and “apparently unpublished.”
The listing below it says “unpublished” while Hazlitt himself has noted in pencil “Printed in ed. 1859, III, 313,” that is, printed in the very edition he had in hand. The auction cataloguer might have gotten confused as to which letter was unpublished it seems; or perhaps he looked for the letters in Evelyn and was unable to find either due to the edition he had in reference?
The second letter here, written October 4, 1689, made its first appearance in the octavo edition of 1827. It is not necessary that the cataloguer had the first or second edition quartos for reference, as Putnam published a one-volume edition of the first or second printing in 1870 later reprinted by Frederick Warne & Co., “Chandos Classics” c.1879, presumably as they were unable to encroach on the copyright to the new edition? If the cataloguer had this in possession, without comparison of editions he could be led to think (having a new book) that he had up-to-date information, and would thus miss the letter. Just conjecture.

Volume 1, rear flyleaves.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (59)  1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (60)

Volumes 2 and 3, front flyleaves.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (61) 1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (90)
I am unaware if the letters listed for sale in the clippings (right photo) have been yet published, from Abraham Cowley to John Evelyn, Aug. 17, 1666, and from John Evelyn to Dr. Plot(?) re: Sir Richard Browne, Dec. 9, 1687.

The 1687 letter about Browne is especially interesting for any student of Anthony Wood and the Athenae Oxonienses. Having looked in The Letterbooks of John Evelyn (2014) I was unable to find any reference to this 1687 letter to Dr. Plot, though similar letters were recorded there from Evelyn to Plot (1684) and Evelyn to Wood (1691) for the Ath. Oxon.
Ath Oxon Sir Richard BrowneLooking for evidence of Wood’s use of the letter, I found it (the cataloguer notes the similarity) printed in all three editions of the Ath. Oxon, i.e., Fasti Oxon. under 1628, Sir Richard Browne:

1691-2 (I.859), second edition 1721 (I.240-1), new edition 1813-20 (II.439-40).

Is the MS letter lost?

One final clipping appears on page 319 top of volume 3.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (102)


Hazlitt’s notes in the margins are varied. It has been rather daunting (and exhausting) to photograph and organize all of what he wrote, with research on books, people and places, and deciphering and recording the annotations, etc.
There are text corrections, notes, commentary; sometimes an attention seeking ‘x’ appears in the margin perhaps in the role of a pointing hand. Hazlitt’s corrections are made typically by crossing out (or underlining) a single letter or word in the text, replaced by one in the margin; e.g., I.250, printing typo, “a litte garden” “little.” Sometimes Hazlitt is unsure of the text itself and makes a guess in the margin, I.350, “lately an ample garden.” “Surely apple.”
He makes approximately 80 alterations in the set, 50 of which are in volume one alone – as he wrote on the blank in the introduction of vol. 1, “Note. Curious number of literal slips require correction.” By the end of volume three he points out yet another name which he believes needs editing and asks, “Why not correct the text.”
I am unaware whether Hazlitt himself had plans for making a new edition of Evelyn’s Diary. Likewise I have yet to establish whether Hazlitt may have used this set of the Diary as a source of information for any of his own books.

Often the notes are bibliographical, with occasional reference to booksellers (Dobell, Quaritch) and rare books either referred to in or prompted by the text, e.g., (I.146) Henry VIII’s signed copy of Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (1521) which Evelyn mentions in 1645 and Hazlitt saw prior to the sale to Queen Victoria, acquired for the Royal Library in 1900; and sometimes a person’s name in the text will recall a publication to his mind subsequently recorded in the margins.

Hazlitt often refers to modern printed works for further reading which are sometimes his own publications, e.g., “Coll. & Notes.” (See page bottom for bibliography).

There are also interesting comments on people and places. Sometimes the year in which he’s writing appears in the note, e.g., the year Hazlitt died, “But (1913) I hear that matters have since my last visit much improved.” (I.315).

Occasionally Hazlitt comments on Evelyn’s character or knowledge and “woful havoc” with foreign names, notably I. 118, 190, 267; II. 208, 297; III. 390.
I apprehend that he was illiterate outside a few subjects which interested him. He was also strangely self-complacent in religious matters as well as narrow and bigoted to a high degree.” (I.190).

It would be inconvenient in this space to publish every single mark Hazlitt made throughout the set. Here are the most interesting and important annotations.

Number of pages per volume with Hazlitt marginalia:-
Volume I. 80 pages.
Volume II. 46 pages.
Volume III. 27 pages.
Volume IV. 5 pages.

There are about 50 examples of small text corrections within the 80 pages which have writing. (See page bottom for bibliography).

(1, contents page). “At Hampton Court there is a picture […] and it is said that it maybe a replica of one at Wotton, attributed to Guido […] Law’s Catalogue, 1881, p. 280,” etc., with information on “Robert Evelyn mentioned on a preceding flyleaf,” referring to his handwritten note on a slip (above), “appears to have left England at the commencement of the civil troubles prior to the tour of the Diaries on the continent to avoid the civil war. The latter was recalled to England in 1647 to look after his affairs.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (11)

(1, preface xiii). “At Wootton they have the original MS. from which I understand that much unprinted matter might be obtained. In the Abinger Record some extracts were inserted by the editor, (Mr?) George Paxon.” etc.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (12)

1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (13)(1, preface xvi). “One of the most intimate friends of W Upcott told me that the Evelyn MSS were thrown into the Lumber-room at Wootton, & that W Upcott’s attention was first drawn to them by an accidental circumstance. One day, during a stay he made at Wootton in Lady Evelyn’s time, he observed on the table at which Lady E. was sitting, some silk-papers which he took up carelessly. He then noticed that there was writing on them – old writing, & on inquiry it turned out that the lumber-room was the (source?) from which the papers were procured to hold Lady E’s skeins. “It is full of them,” she said, “& bye the bye, friend Upcott, you would be interested in them; but I warn you that you will be up to your eyes in dust.” W U did not mind the dust & was soon up to his elbows in Evelyn’s corresp(ondence?) WCH.”

(1, introduction). “Note. Curious number of literal slips require correction.”

(1, introduction xxiii).
x Was this the same as A Character of England, 1659?
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (15)
(margin) It should have been explained that Evelyn occupied and eventually (purchased?) Sayes Court jure uxoris daughter and sole heiress of Sir Richard Browne.”

(1, introduction xxxi). “Evelyn’s son’s translation of the Lives of the Viziers, vc. appeared in 1677, and was dedicated ‘To my Governess.’ See Hazlitt’s Coll. & Notes, 1903, p. 100.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (16)
(margin) “See what I say about the Arundel Marbles and Edward Banister (?) or see Hunter New Ill. of Shakespeare. In a copy of Nicholas Culpeper’s Ephemeris for 1653 is the following entry under Oct. 11 and 17, 1653 : x
(bottom) “In the Dict. Nat. Biop. it is stated that John Evelyn the younger was born 19 Jan[uary], 1654-5.
x ‘My sonne John Standfield born at 10 1/2 a clock at night at Sayes Court.’ ‘My son J. S. christned.’ He died 25 Jan[uary] 1653-4

(1, introduction xxxii). “Except those which have been abstracted. I have notes of 52 books and MSS.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (17)

(1, introduction xxxiii). “O very(?), was it Upcott who purloined the books.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (18)

(1, p. 11, May 10, 1637, footnote, on text, “He was the first I ever saw drink coffee.”). “Sir Henry Blount is generally credited with the introduction of a knowledge of coffee-houses. He published his account of his Voyage into the Levant in 1636.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence volume 1 p 11
[See online Dr. Matthew Green, expert on the topic of English coffee drinking].

(1, p. 12, January 22, 1638, footnote, on text, “I would needs be admitted into the dancing and vaulting schools; of which late activity one Stokes, the master, did afterwards set forth a pretty book, which was published, with many witty elogies before it.”).
1655. But there had been earlier issues in 1641 and 1652. Pepys borrowed a copy of the Valter, now at Cambridge.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (20)

(1, p. 118, Nov. 12, 1644).
This and a great number of other names of persons and places require to be corrected. Evelyn was evidently very ill-acquainted with much matter.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (26)

(1, p. 146, January 18, 1645, re: Henry VIII’s Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (1521) acquired for the Royal Library in 1900).
But it seems to be dubious whether the volume was then in the Vatican; it was more probably in the English College at Rome, having been given by Cardinal Allen.”
[footnote] “This is the same volume which Pearson & Co. showed to me, before it was offered to the late Queen, who ultimately bought it, I understand, for l. 600.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence volume 1 page 146 (112)

(1, p. 190, May 19, 1645).
Evelyn is very loose in his forms of foreign names of persons and places. I apprehend that he was illiterate outside a few subjects which interested him. He was also strangely self-complacent in religious matters as well as narrow and bigoted to a high degree.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (27)

(1, p. 215, c. July 1645 [undated in Bray], text “Hence, by Gudala.” [de Beer shows “Gudola” and “Gudalo”; it was changed to “gondola” in the second instance in Bray]). “by gondola.”

(1, p. 218, c.30 July 1645 [undated in Bray], footnote 2, text. “The celebrated Thomas, Earl of Arundel, part of whose collection was eventually procured for the University of Oxford by Evelyn, and is distinguished by the name of Marmora Arundeliana”).
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence volume 1 page 218
There is some question whether some of these antiquities were not brought to England by Edward Banister of Idsworth in the time of Elizabeth. See what Hunter says in his New Illustrations of Shakespeare, 1845.”

(1, p. 219, c.30 July 1645 [undated in Bray], on text re: Margaret Emiliana of Verona).
This was the lady, whom Coryat visited in 1611. She was even then a little (?), judging from her portrait in the Crudities. But the (? ?) commanded a high tariff.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (32)

(1, p. 255, May 30, 1648). “It may not be generally known that there is a mound. Sayes Court, now in a very dilapidated state, as Addlestone, Surrey.”

(1, p. 267, May 3, 1650). “Evelyn is always congratulating himself.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (36)

(1, p. 275, Feb. 24, 1651; correction, footnote 1, “Floriand Marchand.”). “Floram.” [margin] “See for a full and correct account, my Coll. & Notes.”

(1, p. 291, May 30, 1652, re: Charlton). “This seems to be doubtful. See a paper in the Penny Magazine, July, 1845, where there is a view of the house.”

(1, p. 303, June 27, 1654). “Evelyn seems to have missed the church of St Mary Redcliffe, the house of Richard Aldworth the (?) and the church close by where his wife and he are buried.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (42)

(1, p. 311, July 31, 1654, footnote re: King Stephen under a monument of Irish oak not ill carved). “A very fine monument I saw there.

(1, p. 313, August 14, 1654, footnotes). “But see my Additions to Blount, 1874, and the entry in the volume itself.

(1, p. 315, August 15-17, 1654). “…very dirty river […] and very ugly – at least at York. But (1913) I hear that matters have since my last visit much improved.
[footnote] “1 See my National Tales and Legends, 1892, p. 247.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (45)

(1, p. 350, June 7, 1659, text “lately an ample garden.”). “Surely apple.”
[de Beer, “ample”].

(1, p. 364, January 30, 1660). “Poor Evelyn!”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (49)

(1, p. 365, March 13, 1660, re: Prince Rupert and mezzotint; likewise a clipping on front flyleaf). “The claim of the prince has been challenged.”

(1, p. 383, Feb. 17, 1662). “There was (?) lately a second Bristol House on Putney Heath not far from the end of Putney Park Lane.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (52)

(1, p. 386, June 4, 1662). “At Bristol House on Putney Heath now (1903) recently demolished.”

(1, p. 387, June 10, 1662, Evelyn’s History of Chalcography presented to “our Society”). “The R. S. which has probably sold the book.”

(1, p. 401, March 4, 1664, footnote, re: Robert Hooke).
See Huth cat. under Hooke, where I print out the (interest?) of his Micrographia.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (57)

(1, p. 404, August 9, 1664, correction, “Dipden”). “Deepdene.

VOLUME II. marginalia.
There are about 20 examples of small text corrections within the forty-six pages which have writing. (See page bottom for bibliography).

(2, p. 1). “There is an entry in this volume of an apoplectic fit, which Evelyn experienced, but I have missed the exact page. He lets us know, however, that a friend or acquaintance shared the trouble on the same occasion, which makes one suspect that both had been unduly convivial, and were temporarily overcome, as E. at all events promptly rallied.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (63)

(2, p. 5, May 22, 1666, footnote). “Of course Berkeley House stood on the site of Devonshire House, but the grounds in the rear were far more extensive.”

(2, p. 14, Sept. 5, 1666). “All right for you, [John?] Evelyn.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (67)

(2, p. 30, August 3, 1667). “At Hampton Court is the large picture by Van Bassen dated 1637, which represents Charles I. his queen, and the prince dining in public.”

(2, p. 58, January 18, 1671). “Gibbons. There was a good deal of his carving at Archbp Tillotson’s St Valentines, Ilford,(?) but when I was there, it had been replaced by plaister (?).”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (70)

(2, p. 83, July 31, 1672, footnote, on The Life of Margaret Godolphin edited by the Bishop of Oxford). “And very badly his worship did it. There is, I think, a second MS copy.”

(2, p. 85, Sept. 25, 1672). “More of Clayton in my Gilds and my annotated copy.”

(2, p. 130, August 29, 1678). “Mr Quaritch bought them for l. 100 – then given to the Royal Society. I heard that one was worth the money.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (75)

(2, p. 184, May 1, 1683). “See Coll. & Notes under Snape (Andrew). This was Andrew Snape junior, farrier to his majesty; he was in 1683 a man of 38.”

(2, p. 208, July 25, 1684). “Evelyn makes woful havoc of foreign names.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (79)

(2, p. 220, Feb. 4, 1685, near end of entry, “with his concubines, Portsmouth…”).
Phillipps MS. 937, sold in June 1898, was a letter from the Duchess of Portsmouth, dated from Aubigni, 20 Dec. 1729, to someone (summoned?) complaining of her poverty, and stating that she had been in receipt of a pension from his majesty for three years […] The document sold for l. 6.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (80)

(2, p. 297, December 2-9, 1688). “Evelyn seems to have been in ignorance of the course of events leading up to the Revolution of 1688.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (81)

(2, p. 336, April 27, 1693). “Of Addiscombe. She was a widow in 1720. See my Roll of Honour, 1908, for a (?) of a book (now in the British Museum) once belonging to her.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (83)

(2, p. 349, Sept. 25, 1695, footnote, “…and the roads also in winter being extremely bad”).
This note requires to be rewritten. Some of the lanes hereabout are not very clean in winter or bad weather; but the main roads are excellent.”

(2, p. 353, April 19, 1696, footnote “Pamphlets upon the subject were written pro and con, now altogether forgotten”).
Yes it is precisely such publications which shed light on history, and cannot be neglected by any historian or biographer.”

(2, p. 356, June 11, 1696). “I thought that it was Sir Robert Clayton the scrivener who bought it.”

(2, p. 365, April 1699, text “Lord Spencer purchased an incomparable library,” footnote 2, “The foundation of the noble library now at Blenheim”). “formerly.”

(2, p. 371, April 1700, text “The Duke of Norfolk now succeeded in obtaining a divorce from his wife by the Parliament for adultery…”). “Dobell had a pamphlet on this matter, which I failed to see, as I was away from London.”

(2, p. 376). “Lord Carmarthen had been selected to (?) on Peter the Great during his stay in England. As to the later (? ?) of Sayes Court see Thorns’ Environs of London, 1876, under Deptford.”

There are about 10 examples of small text corrections within the twenty-seven pages which have writing. (See page bottom for bibliography).

[Most notable in this volume is John Evelyn’s famous epic letter to Samuel Pepys on August 12, 1689: Hazlitt makes four separate marginal notes (plus inserting a missing comma the printer neglected) and refers to two of his own publications within that one epistle].

(3, contents). “See New Monthly Magazine 1822 or 1821 for a long letter from Evelyn with a facsimile […] Edward Waller to John Evelyn, 5 May, 1648.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (92)

(3, p. 85, John Evelyn to Mr Maddox, 10 Jan. 1657, footnote). “I think that it was in the year, in which this letter was written, that an English version of a biography of Peiresc appeared – the work by Gassendus mentioned in the text. It was dedicated by the translator, Dr. Rand, to Evelyn.”

(3, p. 149, John Evelyn to Robert Boyle, Nov. 23, 1664). “English-Latin, Latin-English, &c, by Francis Gouldman, M.A. 4to, 1664, 1669, 1674.”

(3, p. 149, John Evelyn to Viscount Cornbury, 9 Feb., 1664-5, footnote “Q? the celebrated Ray.”). “No. A different person. See my Coll. & Notes.”

(3, p. 202). “In the Pepys correspondence are (?) Evelyn letters not here. (See one?) of the 10th January, 1667-8.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (94)

(3, p. 204, John Evelyn to Rev Joseph Glanvil, 24 June, 1668, “snarling adversary” footnote 2. “Henry Stubbe, an inveterate enemy of the Royal Society, which he attacked in various pamphlets, now happily forgotten.”)
Why so? Surely the Royal Society exposed itself pretty often to hostile criticism, if not to ridicule.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (94)

(3, p. 217, John Evelyn to Henry Lord Howard, March 14, 1668-9). “Fortunately the heraldic portion of the library went elsewhere. It is a sad pity that Evelyn did not (name?) the whole of the Arundel treasures for Oxford.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (95)

(3, p. 226, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, to John Evelyn, Feb. 1670, footnote). “Lamb said, in speaking of findings, that no casket was too costly to hold such a jewel as one of her Grace’s works – one, which he perhaps had, and no doubt, if so, a pretty vilainous copy.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (96)

(3, p. 294. John Evelyn to Lord Spencer, 1688). “Howell’s Letters have been lately arranged by a modern Editor. They are extremely interesting and the sole doubt about them is, whether they were in all cases written at the time specified.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (97)

(3, p. 296, John Evelyn to Samuel Pepys, 12 Aug., 1689). “There were many members of the Sforza family distinguished in public affairs in Milan, but I suppose that the individual here named was Isabella Sforza, as to whom see my C & N.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (98)

(3, p. 299, ditto, on text, “Mr. Ashmole, our common friend, had collected all the ancient and modern coins of this kingdom…”). “Not all. Not even all the rarities of which a large proportion were not even known in Ashmole’s time.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (99)

(3, p. 300, ditto). “In my Venetian Republic, 1900, ii, 240-3.”

(3, p. 306, ditto, on text, “Were not this loss enough to break a lover’s heart? The Royal Society at Gresham College has a mixture…”).
Would not the treatment of the Arundel books by the R. S. have broken the heart of the collector of them – not the donor who had no value for such things?
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (101)

(3, p. 371, Dr. Thomas Gale to John Evelyn, Jan. 19, 1697-8, postscript). “When the King of Italy came to England in 1903, he does not seem to have enjoyed this opportunity much better. He was mainly confronted with the royal family and court.”

(3, p. 375, John Evelyn to Dr. Godolphin (Provost of Eton), 8 Feb, 1697-8, text, “[As for CONOB….]”, footnote). “The form Con-Ob is not obscure. See Stevenson’s Dict. of Roman Coins, 1889, p. 582.” etc.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (104)

(3, p. 386, Rev. Richard Richardson to John Evelyn, June 2, 1702). “Barpoae is doubtless wrong? cannot immediately guess what the name should be.”

(3, p. 390, ditto, text “Sir Maurice Fenton”, footnote 1, “A question partly founded on a mistake of names, Evelyn noting in the margin, ‘Felton it should be.’”).
Why not correct the text. Is not Evelyn’s authority sufficient?
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (107)

(3, p. 396, John Evelyn to William Wotton, 12 Sept, 1703. [final marginal notes in volume 3 re: Ware and the Earl of Cork]).
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (108)

VOLUME IV. marginalia.
No clippings, no corrections, only five examples of marginalia. (See page bottom for bibliography).

(4, p. 126, Sir Edward Nicholas to the King, 18 Nov., 1641, footnote 2). “Thomas Beale printed an account of the plot, 4to., 1641.”

(4, p. 190, letter dated Nov. 6, 1649, at text “This Marsys is one who setting out the tryall of the late King,…”). “This must be the same person, who occurs again at p. 308.”

(4, p. 284, Sir Edward Hyde to Sir Richard Browne, 19 Aug, 1653, footnote). “The (? ?) execution of Blackburn is recorded in a tract, 4to., 1649, described in my Coll. & Notes, 1903, p. 441.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (112)

(4, p. 308, Sir Edward Hyde’s letter to Sir Richard Browne, 1656). “Le Sieur de Marsys of Paris wrote and probably printed in 1647 a Prophetic Ode presented to Charles, then Prince of Wales, as N. Germain (?).”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (113)

(4, p. 312, postscript of Sir Edward Hyde’s letter to Sir Richard Browne, 26 May, 1656, footnote 3). “It was William, King of Scots, who was known as the Lion. (? ?) James I. of Scotland.”
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (114)


I have yet to make the effort in matching the specific citations for all applicable books. Listed here are the titles and the places in the Diary margins that they appear, arranged according to their appearance and by classification pre-1800, post-1800, and Hazlitt’s own publications.

{Pre-1800 titles referred to in the margins}:

[Evelyn, John, (anon)]. A Character of England, as it was lately presented in a letter to a noble man of France. .. London, Printed for Jo. Crooke, and are to be sold at the Ship in St. Paul’s-yard, 1659. [Wing (2nd ed.), E3486].
(E’s Diary, 1, introduction xxiii).

[Evelyn, jr., John]. The History of the Grand Visiers, Mahomet, and Achmet Coprogli, of the three last grand signiors .. London, printed for H. Brome, at the Gun at the west-end of St. Pauls, 1677. [Wing (2nd ed., 1994), C3728].
(E’s Diary, 1, introduction xxxi).

[Culpeper, Nicholas]. An Ephemeris for the year of our Lord, 1653. Being the first year after leap-year, and (as is shrewdly to be feared) a sickly year, especially to London .. Printed by J[ohn]. M[acock]. for the Company of Stationers, 1653.
(E’s Diary, 1, intro xxxi).

[Blount, Sir Henry]. A Voyage into the Levant. A breife relation of a iourney, lately performed by Master H.B. Gentleman, from England .. London, Printed by I[ohn] L[egat] for Andrew Crooke, and are to be sold at the signe of the Beare in Pauls Church-yard, 1636. [STC (2nd ed.), 3136].
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 11, May 10, 1637).

[Stokes, William]. The Vaulting-Master: or, The Art of Vaulting [Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), S5728, in Pepys Catalogue Census of Printed Books, # 1434(6), p.150].
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 12, January 22, 1638).

[Henry VIII]. Assertio septem sacramentorum aduersus Martin. Lutheru[m], aedita ab inuictissimo Angliae et Franciae rege, et do. Hyberniae Henrico eius nominis octauo. .. Apud inclytam urbem Londinum : in aedibus Pynsonianis, An. M.D.XXI. [1521] quarto idus Iulij. [STC (2nd ed.), 13078].
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 146, January 18, 1645).

[Coryate, Thomas]. Coryats Crudities; hastily gobbled vp in five moneths trauells in France, Sauoy, Italy, Rhetia co[m]monly called the Grisons country .. London, Printed by W[illiam] S[tansby for the author], anno Domini 1611. [STC (2nd ed.), 5808].
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 219, c.30 July 1645).

[Evelyn, John]. Sculptura: or The History, and Art of Chalcography and Engraving in Copper. .. London, Printed by J[ames]. C[ottrell]. for G. Beedle, and T. Collins, at the Middle-Temple Gate, and J. Crook in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1662. [Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), E3513].
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 387, June 10, 1662).

[Rand, William (tr.); Gassendus]. The Mirrour of True Nobility & Gentility. Being the life of the renowned Nicolaus Claudius Fabricius Lord of Peiresk .. London, Printed by J. Streater for Humphrey Moseley, and are to be sold at his shop at the Princes Arms in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1657. [Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), G295].
(E’s Diary, 3, p. 85).

[Gouldman, Francis]. A Copious Dictionary in Three Parts .. London, Printed by John Field. M.D.C.LXIV. (1664). [Wing (CD-ROM, 1996), G1443].
(E’s Diary, 3, p. 149).

[Beale, Thomas]. A Bloudy Plot, brought to light by Gods providence .. [London] Printed according to the true coppie, presented to the High Court of Parliament by the author himselfe, 1641. [Wing (2nd ed., 1994), B1559].
(E’s Diary, 4, p. 126).

[Morris, John]. An Exact Relation of the Tryall & Examination of John Morris, Governour of Pontefract-Castle [London : s.n.], Printed in the yeare, 1649. [Wing (2nd ed.), E3699].
(E’s Diary, 4, p. 284).

There are two that I cannot find out just yet, I.384, IV.308.
1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence volume 1 p 384 1859 John Evelyn Diary and Correspondence (113)

{Post-1800 titles referred to in the margins}:

[Law, Ernest]. A Historical Catalogue of the Pictures in the Royal Collection at Hampton Court. .. LONDON: George Bell and Sons, 1881.
(E’s Diary, 1, Contents).

[Evelyn, W.J.]. The Abinger Record.
Unfortunately I cannot find any information online, but in The Surrey Hills by F. E. Green (1915; p. 125), “To ventilate his ideas and to confound his enemies [W. J. Evelyn] ran a paper called The Abinger Record…”
(E’s Diary, 1, preface xiii).

[Hunter, Joseph]. New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare. .. LONDON: J. B. Nichols & Son, 1845.
(E’s Diary, 1, intro xxxi ; p. 218).

[Stephen, Leslie; Lee, Sidney]. Dictionary of National Biography. .. LONDON: Smith Elder & Co. (1885-1903 first edition; reissued by Macmillan, 1908-9).
(E’s Diary, 1, introduction xxxi).

The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Knowledge, July, 1845.
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 291).

[Thorn, James (F.S.A.)]. Handbook to the Environs of London, Alphabetically Arranged. .. LONDON: John Murray, 1876.
(E’s Diary, 2, p. 376).

The New Monthly Magazine [“1822 or 1821”]. LONDON: Henry Colburn.
(E’s Diary, 3, Contents).

[Howell, James; Jacobs, Joseph (editor)]. Epistolae Ho-Elianae. The Familiar Letters of James Howell, Historiographer Royal to Charles II .. LONDON: David Nutt, 1890 ; new edition, 1892.
(E’s Diary, 3, p. 294).

[Stevenson, Seth William]. A Dictionary of Roman Coins, Republican and Imperial. .. LONDON: George Bell and Sons, 1889.
(E’s Diary, 3, p. 375).

{W.C. Hazlitt’s own publications to which he refers in the margins}:

Collections & Notes, 1903.” Bibliographical Collections and Notes on Early English Literature, made during the years 1893-1903. .. LONDON: B. Quaritch, 1903.
(E’s Diary, 1, introduction xxxi ; 275 ; (2) 184 ; (3) 149 ; 296 ; (4) 284).

Additions to Blount, 1874.” Tenures of Land & Customs of Manors Originally Collected by Thomas Blount and Republished with Large Additions and Improvements in 1784 and 1815 .. LONDON: Reeves and Turner, 1874.
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 313).

National Tales and Legends, 1892.” Tales and Legends of National Origin or Widely Current in England From Early Times .. LONDON: S. Sonninschein, 1892.
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 315).

Huth cat.” The Huth library. A catalogue of the printed books, manuscripts, autograph letters, and engravings, collected by Henry Huth, with collations and bibliographical descriptions .. LONDON: Ellis and White, 1880.
(E’s Diary, 1, p. 401).

Gilds.” The Livery Companies of The City of London: Their Origin, Character, Development, And Social And Political Importance .. LONDON: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1892.
(E’s Diary, 2, p. 85).

Roll of Honour, 1908.” A Roll of Honour: A Calendar of the names of over 17,000 men and women who throughout the British Isles and in our early colonies have collected mss. and printed books from the XIVth to the XIXth Century .. LONDON: B. Quaritch, 1908.
(E’s Diary, 2, p. 336).

Venetian Republic, 1900.” The Venetian Republic. Its Rise, its Growth, and its Fall 421-1797 .. LONDON: Adam and Charles Black, 1900 (2 vols.).
(E’s Diary, 3, p. 300).

[see William Carew Hazlitt online books].

Anyone wanting further information regarding Hazlitt’s annotations in Evelyn’s Diary is most welcome to contact me. I hope that I have done the set justice.

Great Fire 1666

Great Fire (10)

September 2nd, 2016, is the 350th anniversary of the start of the Great Fire of London, 1666.
There is a slight possibility that without Samuel Pepys’ and John Evelyn’s diaries (first published in the 1810s-20s), that the Great Fire would have died out in the popular imagination long ago: the extraordinary vivacity with which they wrote about the destruction of their beloved city made the Pepys and Evelyn diaries classics of their genre, so that they have gone through innumerable reprints during the past 200 years, with countless quotations. The fire is typically the section to which one gravitates when picking up copies of their diaries for a little light reading.
In Canada, I first encountered Pepys’ diary in Grade 12 English Literature as part of the curriculum, reading his entry on the Great Fire. School children in England hear about Pepys and the Great Fire at an even younger age.
Pepys and Evelyn (1)  Pepys and Evelyn (2)

Some other diarists also recorded their experiences of the fire. The Oxford antiquary Anthony Wood,
2 Sept., 1666, a lamentable fire broke out in London in the morning, being Sunday. The wind being eastward blew clouds of smoke over Oxon the next day, and chiefly Tuesday, and the sunshine was much darkned. The same night also the moone was darkned by clouds of smoak and looked reddish. The fire or flame made a noise like the waves of the sea. . . . . . Soe suddenly did it come and therby caused such distraction and severall forgat their names when they with their money or goods under their armes were examined by the watch that then immediately was appointed. Others that had occasion to write letters a day or 2 after it ended, forgat the day of the mounth and the mounth of the year. Others quite distracted for the generall loss they have received. Thousands utterly undone that had houses there. Those that had a house to-day were the next glad of the shelter of an hedge or a pigstie or stable. Those that were this day riding wantonly in coaches, were, the next, glad to ride in dung-cards to save their lives. . . . . This fire did soe much affrighten the nation that all townes stood upon their owne defence day and night, and particularly Oxon, every one being soe suspicious that noe sorry fellow or woman could pass but they examined him, noe gun or squib could goe off but they thought it the fatall blow.” [The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, 2.85-6].

1696 Reliquiae Baxterianae (22)Another is Richard Baxter in the Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696),
“. . . The people having none to conduct them aright, could do nothing to resist it, but stand and see their Houses burn without Remedy; the Engines being presently out of Order, and useless.  The streets were crowded with People and Carts, to carry away what Goods they could get out: And they that were most active, and befriended (by their Wealth) got Carts, and saved much; and the rest lost almost all. The Loss in Houses and Goods is scarcely to be valued: And among the rest, the Loss of Books was an exceeding great Detriment to the Interest of Piety and Learning: Almost all the Booksellers in St. Paul’s Church-Yard brought their Books into Vaults under St. Paul’s Church, where it was thought almost impossible that Fire should come. But the Church it self being on fire, the exceeding weight of the Stones falling down, did break into the Vault, and let in the Fire, and they could not come near to save the books. The Library also of Sion-Colledge was burnt, and most of the Libraries of Ministers, Conformable and Nonconformable, in the City; with the Libraries of many Nonconformists of the Countrey, which had been lately brought up to the City. I saw the half burnt Leaves of Books near my Dwelling at Acton six miles from London; but others found them near Windsor, almost twenty miles distant. . . .
. . . .  Thus was the best, and one of the fairest Cities in the world turn’d into Ashes and Ruines in Three Days space, with many score Churches, and the Wealth and Necessaries of the Inhabitants. The Number of Houses are recorded by others.
It was a sight that might have given any Man a lively sense of the Vanity of this World, and all the Wealth and Glory of it, and of the future conflagration of all the World. To see the Flames mount up towards Heaven, and proceed so furiously without restraint: To see the streets filled with people astonished, that had scarce sense left them to lament their own calamity. To see the fields filled with heaps of Goods, and sumptuous Buildings, curious Rooms, costly Furniture and Household-Stuff: Yea, Warehouses and furnished Shops and Libraries, &c. all on a flame, and none durst come near to receive any thing. To see the King and Nobles ride about the streets beholding all these Desolations, and none could afford the least Relief. To see the Air, as far as could be beheld, so filled with the smoak, that the Sun shined through it, with a colour like Blood; yea even when it was setting in the West, it so appeared to them that dwelt on the West side of the City. But the dolefullest sight of all was afterwards, to see what a ruinous confused place the City was, by Chimneys and Steeples only standing in the midst of Cellars and heaps of Rubbish; so that it was hard to know where the streets had been, and dangerous, of a long time to pass through the Ruines, because of the Vaults, and fire in them. No man that seeth not such a thing, can have a right apprehension of the dreadfulness of it.” [Reliq. Baxt. 3.16-17].

The classic book on the subject of the Great Fire is Walter George Bell’s, The Great Fire of London (1920; reprinted numerous times). Unfortunately I don’t yet have a copy at the time of writing this, but copies are readily available online. One can find references to this work in modern works on the topic.

Great Fire (2)T. F. Reddaway in 1940 published a timely book, The Rebuilding of London After the Great Fire. In 1943 he wrote, “Since this book appeared, London has been repeatedly bombed. Much damage has been done and in considerable though scattered areas every building is now demolished. Rebuilding, forbidden in most cases until the war ends, has been for that reason the more widely discussed. Inevitably, references to the rebuilding after the Great Fire have been freely made. Lessons have been sought and comparisons drawn.”

A certain emotional attachment comes with Reddaway, naturally, considering the firestorm that occurred during the Blitz on 29/30th December 1940, shortly after his book was first published. Aside from the famous link between the Great Fire 1666 and the Blitz fire; i.e., that the mediaeval St Paul’s was destroyed in the Great Fire and Wren’s replacement was a spectacular icon of indomitability in 1940 that still unites and strengthens hearts to this day (St Paul’s stood while all London burned); there are further contrasts and connections that can be made.

Unfortunately it was the case that hysteria and mob rule occurred among London’s populace in 1666: rumours abounded that fireballs and incendiaries were purposely thrown in houses about the city by the French and Dutch who were innocent. During the Blitz thousands of incendiaries were indeed dropped by Germans to purposely set the city on fire; i.e., the 17thC Londoner’s fears came true 274 years later, though no one then could have imagined the method.

Reddaway’s book is the text for knowing the rest of the story of 1666 (of which he says, “Every schoolchild in England learns the date”), once the flames were out and the devastation realized, how the long process of rebuilding was decided and progressed under Robert Hooke and Sir Christopher Wren and others; landowners, renters, lawyers, etc.

For the 300th anniversary of the Fire, John E. N. Hearsey wrote his London and the Great Fire (1965), which I’ve just bought and will read asap. It appears to include some useful material.
1965 Hearsey Great Fire (1)  1965 Hearsey Great Fire (2)

There are several more recent books on the topic of the Great Fire. Most of them are for children. For more mature readers, see Stephen Porter’s The Great Fire of London (1996). Porter in June 2016 gave a Gresham College lecture on the topic which is viewable online both at the Gresham website (with transcription and audio) and on YouTube.

Great Fire (1)Neil Hanson and Adrian Tinniswood have written great books on the subject:

The Dreadful Judgement (2001) by Hanson.

By Permission of Heaven (2003) by Tinniswood.

Coincidentally they were at some point given the same subtitle by publishers along the way, The True Story of the Great Fire of London.

They both have their merits. Both are splendid works of research and highly readable accounts. Both provide small maps of the daily gradual progression of the fire, as well as maps of the full extent.
Great Fire of London maps (2) Great Fire of London maps (1)

Hanson is rather intriguing on the topic of Bishop de Braybroke’s corpse which was put on display. He contends that the body, which was as stiff as a plank and had a red beard and hair; nails, etc.; hailed as a miracle of preservation, “was almost certainly not that of de Braybroke but one of those fleeing from the Great Fire who sought sanctuary in St Paul’s. Finding himself cut off as the flames roared through the cathedral, the man would have taken refuge in the broken tomb. There he would have suffocated as the firestorm drew every breath of oxygen from the air, and then mummified, baked by the heat until the flesh of his body was as dry as bone. A similar body was found after the firestorm that engulfed Dresden during the Second World War, ‘a completely shrivelled corpse of a man, naked, his skin like brawn leather, but with a beard and hair on his head.'”  Tinniswood by contrast goes along with the old story that it was de Braybroke (read more about it in Pepys).

If you can’t choose which to read, whether Hanson or Tinniswood, read both books. In my opinion the two complement each other nicely.

Regarding antiquarian items related to the Great Fire of 1666, aside from collecting early copies of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn (not just the diary, but Fumifugium and London Redivivum), the enthusiast might like to collect pamphlets of that time period. There were several pamphlets prophesying the fire; more pamphlets about the fire, such as Thomas Vincent’s Gods Terrible Judgments in the City, and the anonymous Observations Both Historical and Moral Upon the Burning of London September 1666 by Rege Sincera (shown below is my copy of the Observations printed in the Harleian Miscellany, 1793).
Great Fire (11)  Great Fire (12)
A copy of the original pamphlet printed in 1667 was sold at Bonhams.

Also printed at the time were poems, e.g., Dryden’s “Annus Mirabilis” printed 1667 (second edition 1688) which is a splendid piece. The fire begins around stanza 211.

“Such was the Rise of this prodigious fire,
Which in mean Buildings first obscurely bred,
From thence did soon to open Streets aspire,
And straight to Palaces and Temples spread.”

There were also common ballads about the fire, one of which can be heard on the CD Penny Merriments: Street Songs of 17th Century England on the Naxos label, track # 17, “London Mourning in Ashes” (here is another recording of it on Youtube).
Great Fire ballad

Antiquarian engravings of the Great Fire and Monument are also available dating from the 18th-19th centuries. Plenty can be found on various sites such as ABE and eBay. Cassell’s Illustrated History of England comes to mind. Photographs of the Monument are another collectable.

Regarding printed books, collections of books printed in London just prior to and just after the Great Fire dating 1665-6-7 are also worth collecting. One such book is Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity, the first thus prefixed with Izaak Walton’s life of Hooker.  Samuel Pepys bought a copy of this, which he records in his diary on April 15, 1667, “Thence I to my new bookseller’s, and there bought Hooker’s Polity, the new edition.”
1666 Hooker Ecclesiastical Polity (4)

One can also collect printed sermons preached and published shortly after the fire occurred. The most common perhaps are Seth Ward and Edward Stillingfleet preaching on the Fast Day, October 10th, 1666, to the houses of Parliament.
1666 Ward Great Fire Sermon to Peers (1)  1666 Ward Great Fire Sermon to Peers (2)
1666 Stillingfleet Great Fire Sermon to Commons (1)  1666 Stillingfleet Great Fire Sermon to Commons (2)
Stillingfleet is the more interesting historically; he is more expressive, seemingly venting his emotions somewhat,
“Who among all the Citizens of London could have been perswaded, but the day before the fire brake out, nay when they saw the flames for near a day together, that ever in four days time, not a fourth part of the City should be left standing? For when were they ever more secure & inapprehensive of their danger than at this time? they had not been long returned to their Houses, which the Plague had driven them from, and now they hoped to make some amends for the loss of their Trade before; but they returned home with the same sins they carried away with them; like new Moons, they had a new face and appearance, but the same spots remained still: or it may be, increased by that scumm they had gathered in the Countries where they had been. . . . But that which betrayed them to so much security, was their late deliverance from so sweeping a Judgement as the Plague had been to the City and Suburbs of it: they could by no means think, when they had all so lately escaped the Grave, that the City it self should be so near being buried in its own ruines; that the fire which had missed their blood should seize upon their houses; that there should be no other way to purge the infected air, but by the flames of the whole City.” (pp.8-9).

Stillingfleet’s sermon was almost attended by Samuel Pepys, “Thence with [Batten] to Westminster, to the parish church, where the Parliament-men, and Stillingfleete in the pulpit. So full, no standing there; so he and I to eat herrings at the Dog Taverne.”

On the same day, October 10, 1666, a sermon was preached before King Charles II., which in my opinion is the most sought-after – the title-page features Wenceslaus Hollar’s famous engraving of old St Paul’s Cathedral on fire – William Sancroft’s, Lex Ignea or, The School of Righteousness. A sermon preached before the King, Octob. 10, 1666, at the solemn fast appointed for the late fire in London.

Two passages are particularly memorable:
“And all to teach us this Lesson, That ’tis Sin puts the Thunder into Gods Hand, and turns Flames of Love into a consuming fire.  And therefore dream no longer of Granado’s or Fire-Balls, or the rest of those witty Mischeifs; search no more for Boutefieus or Incendiaries, Dutch or French . . . Turn your Eyes inward into your own Bosoms; there lurks the great Make-bate, the grand Boutefieu between Heaven and us.” (pp.21-2).
“A City in the Meanness of the Materials, the Oldness of the Buildings, the straightness of some Streets, the ill Scituation of others, and many like Inconveniences, so expos’d to this dismal Accident, that it must needs have been long since in Ashes, had not his miraculous Mercy preserv’d it.” (pp.26-7).

Another antiquarian Great Fire collectable, though I don’t know how easily found, would be London indentures dating post-1666 during the rebuilding of the city. So far I have only one, dated 1681, a release to Mr Abraham Wessell of the ground rents of houses in St Clements Lane, Eastcheap.
Great Fire (3)  Great Fire (4) Great Fire (5)  Great Fire (6)
Here is St Clements Lane in the upper left corner; detail map provided in Hanson’s The Dreadful Judgement facing p.109.
Great Fire map
There is a splendid section in the indenture with the words “lately erected”, and the lane is near where the Great Fire began.
Two Messuages or Tenements with the yards and Outhowses thereunto belonging Scytuate lyeing and being in St Clements Lane in the parish of St Clements Eastcheape London and there lately erected by Thomas Bristow Citizen and Turner of London upon certaine Tofts and peeces of ground fronting to the saide Lane called St Clements Lane on the East, and Conteyning from North to South in ffront Thirty Nyne foot and tenn ynches of assize little more or lesse, abutting upon the Messuage on the west of Richard Glover backwards from the said Streete,” etc. etc.
1681 Sir Eliab Harvey London Indenture (3)
In rebuilding the city it was highly important that every inch was accounted for and that landowners rebuilt within the plots that they legally owned prior to the fire. To keep order and sort out the inevitable problems, a Fire Court was established.

It is worth remarking here that at the Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections, there is a folio KJV printed by Barker in 1617 (220.5 B58 AU26) that reputedly suffered damage in the Great Fire of 1666. Unfortunately it seems impossible to verify this.
1617 pulpit KJV (21)  1617 pulpit KJV (1) 1617 pulpit KJV (2) 1617 pulpit KJV (19)
The Bible was “restored” in Victoria’s reign, completely rebound in full leather (which has been covered with a removable black slip) over wooden boards; some of the pages were re-edged or mounted; and the block was gilt goffered, covering up whatever evidence may have existed. It is absolutely possible that it was in a church in London in 1666 and carried away during the fire (records exist of such scenarios occurring); but there is no evidence of church ownership extant that I can find, nor any evidence of damage such as from flames or smoke. That the first and last pages are tattered is commensurate with use.

Something rather more factual is held at Simon Fraser University, Special Collections, Weever’s Ancient Funerall Monuments (DA 28 W38 1631). The book was owned by an avid London antiquarian in WW2; he wrote up a sort of diary entry on the endleaves together with some mediaeval research. The book itself is an antiquarian’s dream as it records so many inscriptions of funereal church monuments destroyed in the Great Fire only thirty-five years after printing. Yet, the owner during the time of the London Blitz included an equally valid piece of modern history :-
1631-weever-at-sfu-2 1631-weever-at-sfu-3
The Temple Church is one of 3 round ones in England, the other 2 being Cambridge and Northampton. Fortunately the Temple Church in London escaped the Erial(?) Fire but not an incendiary bomb in the May 1941 Air Raid – which burnt the roof and the great iron girders 14 ft long by 6 inches thick fell down on the Crusaders tombs below crushing their faces and legs and bodies in most cases but leaving some faces untouched and even some of the figures. It was a great mistake to leave built a heavy iron roof above these ancient relics, but (?) as they depict war (he that taketh up the sword shall perish by the sword) so did in part these ancient effigies. I myself went into the Temple Church in April 1941 (?) a month before they were bombed. I went because the Temple Library and (?) other buildings had already suffered by bombs, and even by land mines. I wished to (have?) a last (parting?) look at the old tombs. I was shocked that no brickwork had been built over these tombs to protect them from the (terrible?) fall of the roof. But (? ?) lose in money matters and even the necessary funds were not forthcoming to protect what they should have treasured. (?) wrong in saying they are (?) marble. For only Purbeck Marble is found in England. The (?) pieces showed only too well that they are made of a soft limestone. I felt sad I was one of the last to see them in their original condition. But I consoled myself that the Crusaders did not do any real good. They only irritated the Saracens and Turks so that (from?) Constantinople and almost to Vienna they came and conquered. Had they gone out as (r?) unarmed they might have won the people back to Christianity. But are we much better in AD 1942?
He also pasted in a glossy postcard stamped Daily Mail depicting the Temple Church on fire during the bombings in 1941 onto a rear endpaper.

While not related in any way to the 1666 Great Fire, but specifically to the Blitz, nevertheless I’d like to share, that some years ago I bought a copy of Willis’ Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral (1845), with no indication of its provenance. Upon receiving it in the mail and looking it over, I found that it had once belonged to Lambeth Palace and was given away by the librarian C. R. Dodwell in the 1950s during the post-war cleanup.
1845 Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral, Lambeth Palace Copy (2) 1845 Architectural History of Canterbury Cathedral, Lambeth Palace Copy (4)
Since the book has no shelf marks (it was re-spined ca1970s with new endpapers), it’s impossible to tell where in the building the book was kept during the time that the Palace was bombed; likely the Great Hall; yet it seems certain the book was present in the Palace at the time of the air raids which did much damage to the library.


If you are in the London area, visit the Museum of London’s exhibit, Fire! Fire! which looks splendid. The exhibition is on from 23 July 2016 – 17 April 2017. A 17th century fire engine has been restored and is on display there.

Medieval Great Fires of London

Great Fire of London 1666

Great Fire Monument

The Great Fire’s Great Column – a History of the Great Fire of London

Five ways the Great Fire changed London

Robert Hooke, Early Science and Surveying

Robert Hooke: Victim of Genius

Lisa Jardine on Christopher Wren and St Paul’s Cathedral

Scientists and Craftsmen in Sir Christopher Wren’s London

In 2015, Dr Anthony Geraghty gave a Gresham College lecture entitled Sir Christopher Wren and the Rebuilding of the City Churches, which is viewable online both at the Gresham website (with transcription and audio) and on YouTube.

In 2016, Dr Simon Thurley gave a Gresham College lecture entitled Sir Christopher Wren: Buildings, Place and Genius, which is viewable online both at the Gresham website (with transcription and audio) and on YouTube.

Peter Ackroyd’s London, Fire & Destiny


John Evelyn: Living for Ingenuity, by Gillian Darley, in which there is an excellent chapter on the Great Fire.

‘A More Beautiful City’: Robert Hooke and the Rebuilding of London after the Great Fire, by Michael Cooper.

England’s Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution, by Allan Chapman.

The Curious Life of Robert Hooke, by Lisa Jardine.

On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Career of Sir Christopher Wren, by Lisa Jardine.

A learned paper on the subject of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the legend that it was once the site of a Temple of Diana, considered by Wren and early antiquaries,

Revelation Restored: The Apocalypse in Later Seventeenth-Century England
, by Warren Johnston.

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker : Surviving the Great Fire of London, by Hazel Forsyth, recently published and can be bought at the Book Depository.

&c &c

London Arms fob

Marginal Pointing Hands

Pointing hands in my collection (1)One of the most fun aspects of reading antiquarian books is coming across marginal reading marks in the form of pointing hands, or “manicules” (see William Sherman’s superb book on the subject, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England, 2008).

Besides underlining or dotting, pointing hands were perhaps the most common form of bringing attention to the text during the Renaissance period. Unfortunately underlining is still current in our modern society, while the pointing hand has been relegated to antiquarians.

I’ve got a fair number of pointing hands in my collection of 16th-17th century books. The first book I acquired that contained any was, A Continuation of Morning Exercise-Questions and Cases of Conscience (1683; see above photo and below).
Pointing hands in my collection (2)  Pointing hands in my collection (3)

There are differing degrees of likenesses according to the reader’s ability with a pen, or the time he or she was willing to spend on such things. Sometimes pointing hands rather resemble mutton or pork chops than anything else, as here in A Summons for Sleepers (1589).
Pointing hands in my collection (5)  Pointing hands in my collection (4)

There are some more of the meaty variety in Jewel’s A Defence of the Apologie (1567), which is a strange book as there are also finely drawn hands amongst the chops, and one case where a mutton chop is juxtaposed with a nice hand with crossed fingers.
1567 Defence of the Apologie   1567 Defence of the Apologie

Stephen Batman (c1542-1584) is acknowledged to be responsible for the finer drawings in the Defence of the Apologie (1567). Among the several pointing hands in that book are these three with fore-arms, one bare, two with sleeves
1567 Jewel Defence of the Apologie (36) 1567 Jewel Defence of the Apologie (35)1567 Defence of the Apologie

and two superb drawings of hands holding quills.

1567 Defence of the Apologie

1567 Defence of the Apologie

Not that English books were the only to receive such marks. While at MacLeod’s Books in June 2016 I discovered a small tome in a pile which turned out to be Anotomia delli vitii printed at Florence in 1550 which is full of marginal notes with a few pointing hands, which I promptly bought
Pointing hands in my collection (10) Pointing hands in my collection (9) Pointing hands in my collection (7) Pointing hands in my collection (6)
Pointing hands in my collection (8)

In 2011 I began my research in Special Collections at the Vancouver Public Library looking precisely for pointing hands, “manicules”. While I didn’t find very much particularly in that regard, nevertheless I made some pretty nice discoveries of annotations, which I might not have found without the symbolic pointing hand guiding me there in first place.

For more on Batman’s copy of Jewell’s Defence of the Apologie see my blog post.

Further reading, remember Sherman’s Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England. There are some other volumes on the topic as well, but this is the guide to get, and it includes extensive notes and bibliography.

No Room in the Modern Church

Books (1) How does an antiquarian such as myself with a social disorder navigate successfully in a sociable, ever-modernizing world? My question goes beyond church attendance, but it is most pertinent to it because church is a social function. Many denominations today have thoroughly modernized themselves to coincide (but conservatively) with Pop Culture.

With this modernization, where does that leave the old English Church Antiquary with his 400 year old books? I began struggling with this issue in my 20s (I’m 30). The result is that I have little desire to attend.
One would think that with the Christian Church being pretty old someone such as myself would find a home there. This was the case until this past half century. I tend to long with John Aubrey for a monastery to live in, yet cannot because the theology I adhere to would dissolve monasteries rather than let quiet men be themselves in them.
1718 1723 Dugdale Monasticon Anglicanum (3) 1718 1723 Dugdale Monasticon Anglicanum (48)

Being a church antiquary, or any other sort of antiquarian, doesn’t especially seem to be a way of life that has made the trip across the ocean from England to the new world, least of all to the northwest coast of North America. The oldest churches in British Columbia (my home province) only date from about 1860, which is fascinating and important, but that’s nothing compared to AD 860 for instance. Nevertheless, Christ Church in Surrey, built 1884, in all probability has much to do with my current interest, having spent part of my most impressionable time of childhood walking around the church and the graves, living in the neighbourhood at that time. The church is only used now for special occasions; the congregation gathers at a newer building across the road.
1884 Christ Church Cloverdale exterior (10) 1884 Christ Church Cloverdale exterior (25)1884 Christ Church Cloverdale interior (3) 1884 Christ Church Cloverdale interior (14)

Here’s what I would drive there on a Sunday morning if I could
Surrey Museum (1) Surrey Museum (10)

From Micro-cosmographie first printed 1628, the Antiquary:
Hee is one that hath that vnnaturall disease to bee enamour’d of old age, and wrinckles, and loues all things (as Dutchmen doe Cheese) the better for being mouldy and worme-eaten. He is of our Religion, because wee say it is most ancient; and yet a broken Statue would almost make him an Idolater. A great admirer he is of the rust of old Monuments, and reades only those Characters, where time hath eaten out the letters. Hee will goe you forty miles to see a Saints Well or a ruin’d Abbey; . . . . He loues no Library, but where there are more Spiders volums then Authors, and lookes with great admiration on the Antique work of Cob-webs. Printed bookes he contemnes, as a nouelty of this latter age; but a Manuscript he pores on euerlastingly, especially if the couer be all Moth-eaten, and the dust make a Parenthesis betweene euery Syllable. He would giue all the Bookes in his Study (which are rarities all) for one of the old Romane binding, or sixe lines of Tully in his owne hand.” etc.

c 1270 Essex land grant

Isn’t this delicious?! c1270 Essex land grant

Thomas Fuller wrote in his work The Holy State (1642) of The true Church Antiquary:
He is a traveller into former times, whence he hath learnt their language and fashions. If he meets with an old manuscript, which hath the mark worn out of its mouth, and hath lost the date, yet he can tell the age thereof either by the phrase or character. . . . .
He desires to imitate the ancient Fathers, as well in their Piety, as in their Postures.
1716 Cave Apostolici Ecclesiastici (23) 1585 Hanmer Avncient Ecclesiasticall Histories (16)

Not onely conforming his hands and knees, but chiefly his heart to their pattern. O the holinesse of their living and painfulnesse of their preaching! how full were they of mortified thoughts, and heavenly meditations! Let us not make the ceremoniall part of their lives onely Canonicall, and the morall part thereof altogether Apocrypha, imitating their devotion not in the finenesse of the stuff, but onely in the fashion of the making.
He carefully marks the declination of the Church from the Primitive purity. Observing how sometimes humble devotion was contended to lie down, whilest proud superstition got on her back. . . .
He is not zealous for the introducing of old uselesse Ceremonies. The mischief is, some that are most violent to bring such in, are most negligent to preach the cautions in using them; and simple people, like Children in eating of fish, swallow bones and all to their danger of choking. . . .”

The 8th maxim has particular resonance with me, “He doth not so adore the Ancients as to despise the Modern,” –which is to say, I dislike modernity even more than I love antiquity.

[I am aware of the irony posting this online instead of writing it with a quill on parchment for posterity].

Sir Walter Scott and Washington Irving also picked up on the antiquary characterization.
The latter in his Sketch-Book in the story Christmas Day wrote regarding the parson,
He was a complete black-letter hunter, and would scarcely read a work printed in the Roman character. The editions of Caxton and Wynkin de Worde were his delight, and he was indefatigable in his researches after such old English writers as have fallen into oblivion . . .
He had pored over these old volumes so intensely, that they seemed to have been reflected into his countenance; which, if the face be indeed an index of the mind, might be compared to a title-page of black-letter. . . .
The parson gave us a most erudite sermon on the rites and ceremonies of Christmas, and the propriety of observing it, not merely as a day of thanksgiving, but of rejoicing; supporting the correctness of his opinions by the earliest usages of the church, and enforcing them by the authorities of Theophilus of Cesarea, St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and a cloud more of saints and fathers, from whom he made copious quotations . . . The worthy parson lived but with times past, and knew but little of the present . . .
Shut up among worm-eaten tomes in the retirement of his antiquated little study, the pages of old times were to him as the gazettes of the day; while the era of the Revolution was mere modern history. He forgot that nearly two centuries had elapsed since the fiery persecution of poor mince-pie throughout the land; when plum porridge was denounced as ‘mere popery,’ and roast beef as anti-Christian; and that Christmas had been brought in again triumphantly with the merry court of King Charles at the Restoration. . .

These characterizations are rather satirical and pleasant to read; there is a great deal of truth in them.

1607 Breeches Geneva Bible (1)While the majority of my fellow church-goers were totally ignorant of the fact that there were English Protestant versions of the bible that predated the KJV (1611), being annoyed by their ignorance and having the opportunity I bought my 1607 Geneva and took it regularly to churches with me on any given occasion. It turned some heads, which in itself was not my intention. Bringing it weekly to the men’s prayer meeting worked well, and it was rather fun on occasion in juxtaposition with one’s digital versions on his smartphone. Next I bought my facsimile 1537 Matthews Bible, which I likewise (without verses) used in prayer meeting. Eventually these were followed by the 1577 Bishops Bible, which I was excited about not only because of the version and its age, but also for its decrepit early leather over wood, with a manuscript fragment in front dating to about 1400 most likely cut from a mediaeval breviary.
1577 Iugge Bishops Bible quarto (7)  1577 Bishops' Bible, NT  1577 Iugge Bishops Bible Quarto (21)

Just as I prefer the Mediaeval and Tudor English biblical versions over the KJV (which has nothing to do with a dislike of modern scholarship which I greatly appreciate), I also prefer the 1559 Book of Common Prayer over the 1662. If anyone wants to use the Modern revised BCP (which was the point of some to-do re: Wm & Kate’s wedding), go ahead, but it’s not for me. I’d use an Anglo-Saxon one from Bede’s time if it existed, preferably in his own handwriting.

Here’s my copy of Sternhold & Hopkins, The Whole Booke of Psalmes printed by Daye in 1576, which even includes a brief lesson to initiate the parishioner in the scale.
1576 Whole Booke of Psalmes  1576 Whole Booke of Psalmes, with "solfaying"  1577 Iugge Bishops Bible quarto (43)

First printed in 1562, Sternhold & Hopkins remained the primary songbook of the Anglican Church for approximately 200 years (it was still being printed in the 19thC). Isaac Watts and the rest of that 18th-19th century crew replaced the time-honoured book of Psalms with their own lyrics: the Psalms had been the primary source for Judaeo-Christian hymnody for thousands of years. Very few people in any given congregation would know much about this hymn revolution of the Georgian-Victorian period, or more specifically what it replaced. Not even I have heard any renderings of Sternhold & Hopkins, or even much of Brady & Tate’s A New Version (1696). I haven’t a clue what these tunes sound like, yet our ancestors in the parish churches must have sung these metrical psalms regularly generation after generation, long before (at some point possibly even concurrent with) the hymns of Watts, Wesley, Newton, Cowper (etc) so familiar to our grandparents and their grandparents.

When I was a teenager attending a Pentecostal church, it was a rare special occasion for youth to perform the music in a Sunday morning service. Not long afterward the “old hymns” (too modern for me) were almost wholly replaced with a newfangled cacophony of Rock&Roll played by youthful musicians with electric instruments who utilized coloured lights and so forth, to the delight of some, to the ire of others. It became a contentious issue in the congregation, as I’m sure it has for many congregations. There are some churches who have dealt with the issue (I think successfully?) by having two separate services, traditional and modern, yet often the “traditional” is a bit of false advertising in some places as the sermon (or homily) will be in the modern mode, rather than traditional with an ageless message. But each to his own.

Modernizing has been a part of the effort to bring young people to church (it drove me out), deemed necessary practically at the loss of all Christian history or tradition in some places. No one in the lower circles seemed to have had the foresight that the worship service in some cases would be led into an updated sort of showmanship of a new Middle Ages, where few of the congregation participated in the actual service but sometimes became spectators of performers (sometimes with fog machines), of which the Protestant pastor -not especially sticking to his text but often rambling in unconnected byways with a funny story- would be the finale. This is pretty much what church has become. While drinking coffee in the pews (or chairs).

Coffee in church? Not even as a replacement for the communion juice or wine. I am in favour of drinking coffee at all times and all places, but – lest one turn the sanctuary into a Paul’s Walk – reverence, prayer, devotion would rather be more suitable for the occasion than satisfying the craving for that ever-desired bean. If one can’t hold off for the measly hour or so, it would seem a fast is in order.

Modernizing at the expense of our history has been a problem ever since the Reformation. It’s nothing new. It probably existed before then (e.g., destroying Roman structures to build Saxon, destroying Saxon to build Norman), but it’s been most pronounced ever since Henry VIII’s Dissolution, Edward VI’s Reformation and the iconoclast Civil Wars in which blockheaded soldiers delighted in petty destruction supposedly with biblical verses to support their nefariousness. Now today with the tremendous Revolution in Protestant liturgy, selling off or destroying the organs (again), ridding themselves of pews and large pulpits, discarding (or mutilating by updating) familiar hymns, abandoning traditional church buildings in favour of movie theatres and other non-traditional structures, the radical changes in sermons, the loss of history in favour of modernity, change for the sake of change to be “contemporary” still continues, following trends it would seem. So where’s my pew?

No offense to anyone who finds great fulfilment in the things I’ve disliked. We all have our tastes. Mine happen to be a few centuries older.

1611 The Workes of John Jewell (8)

Bishop Henry King

Henry King (2) About the age of 17, I discovered the lovely poem entitled “The Exequy” by Henry King (1592-1669) in a mid-20th century poetry anthology Great Poems of the English Language that I bought for a few cents at a thriftshop. The volume included five of King’s poems and no biographical info. Not long afterward, at my first job at a bookstore I happened to come across another mid-20thC anthology, Seventeenth Century Prose & Poetry: this included six of his poems (3 in common) and only a brief notice of his life:

Henry King is remembered primarily for a single poem, the great elegy “The Exequy,” in which the manner introduced by Donne is adapted with impressive skill and individuality to lamenting the death of the poet’s wife. . . . King, indeed, ranks with Herbert of Cherbury as one of the earliest disciples of Donne, who was his close friend and whose literary executor he became.” etc. The notice goes on to say who his father was, John King the bishop of London, and so forth, “In 1617 King had married Anne Berkeley; her death a scant seven years later moved him to the composition of the elegy which gives him his special importance among the minor poets of the century.”

Unfortunately this is how Henry King has been represented to the public at large for the better part of a century – the celebrated Bishop of London John King’s son, Henry the “dearest friend and executor” of John Donne whose poetic disciple he was. Henry King has been constantly in the shadow of those two men. For instance, as Donne’s executor he was apparently responsible for Donne’s marble monument by Nicholas Stone in St. Paul’s Cathedral. We remember Donne, we might even remember the aptly-named Stone, but what about King? I myself have been guilty of talking about him with the explanatory addition, “John King’s son,” and “John Donne’s friend.” He is forever tied to them both. It is time that Henry King stood upon his own legs. Henry King is Henry King.

At the time that I found the above anthologies with a few of his poems, I didn’t know anything about him. I greatly enjoyed “The Exequy” and even read the poem to the tune of John Lennon’s Across the Universe in my head (the rhythm of the two vaguely go well together). The poem sparked an interest in King which has only increased with time.

It’s a nice little coincidence that John King’s wife, Henry’s mother, was Joan Freeman, whose maiden name naturally caught my attention and affection – she may be an (improbable) ancestor of mine.

In 2008 I bought my first set of Pepys’ diary (second edition, 1828), where I was pleased to find on July 8th, 1660, “The Bishop of Chichester [Henry King] preached before the King, and made a great flattering sermon, which I did not like that Clergy should meddle with matters of state.”

This was the first of three mentionings of Henry King in Pepys’ diary (see Latham & Matthews edition).

Lord Braybrooke omits one, i.e., March 12, 1664/5, the most interesting to me as it’s the only reference Pepys makes to a printed sermon by King, which was preached on the 30th of January, 1664/5, on the text 2 Chron.35: Vers.24, 25, “I sat down and read over the Bishop of Chichester’s sermon upon the anniversary of the king’s death, much cried up, but, methinks, but a mean sermon.”

Pepys only made one kind comment upon King’s preaching, March 8, 1662/3 “and hear Dr. King, Bishopp of Chichester, make a good and eloquent sermon upon these words, ‘They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.'”

Shortly after the first of many Pepys acquisitions, I bought Henry King’s first printed work, A Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse (1621) in vindication of his father John King who had been posthumously maligned with the scandalous rumour he had converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.
1621 Henry King Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse (2) 1621 Henry King Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse (3)

Here is John Gipkin’s famous painting showing Henry’s father John King preaching in Paul’s Cross, 1616 (image from Skelton’s Charles I., printed by Goupil, 1898), such a splendid image capturing a soon-lost era at old St. Paul’s:
1898 Skelton Charles I (8)

I coupled King’s 1621 print debut with Sparrow’s edition of King’s Poems (1925). For a little while these remained the extent of my Henry King collection, until I found Berman’s Henry King & The Seventeenth Century (1964).
1925 Sparrow, Poems of Bishop Henry King, copy no 1 (2) Henry King and Seventeenth Century

This year I’ve made some more progress, purchasing a copy of King’s An Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (1634).
1634 Henry King Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (1) 1634 Henry King Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (3) 1634 Henry King Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (4)
I have missed out on two copies of the first edition, 1628, of this title over the years, both in vellum. I am quite glad to finally have this one: King’s works are rare in any early printing.

Whatever the cause, no collective edition of King’s sermons was ever printed other than this thematic volume on the Lords Prayer. Not until Mary Hobbs’ The Sermons of Henry King (1592-1669), Bishop of Chichester printed by the Scolar Press, 1992, which I have also just bought.

Other modern books that should form the basis of any King collection, which I’ll be getting straight away:
Henry King Crum Poems
Margaret Crum’s edition The Poems (1965).
Sir Geoffrey Keynes’ A Bibliography (1977).

Mary Hobbs, “Henry King, John Donne and the Refounding of Chichester Cathedral Library,” The Book Collector # 33 (Summer 1984), pp.189-205.

Mary Hobbs, “The Restoration Correspondence of Bishop Henry King” in Sussex Archaeological Collections # 125 (1987), pp.139-53.

Henry King (1)The Sermons edited by Mary Hobbs is the latest essential volume to have on Henry King. It is a splendid scholarly book, including a good length Introduction placing King in the period with headings The Life, An Adventurer in a Middle Way, The Sermons, Henry King’s Reading, Notes to the Introduction;

The work includes all of King’s printed sermons from the first in 1621 to the last in 1665, each with a facsimile of the title-page (shown below with my originals).

Henry King (3) 1621 Henry King Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse (2)
Henry King (4) 1634 Henry King Exposition upon the Lords Prayer (3)

The Sermons further includes Explanatory Notes;
Appendix 1: Index of Sources Used by King (a compendium of his reading);
Appendix 2: Chronology of his Life;
Glossary, Bibliography, Index to the Sermons, General Index.

Regarding Greek and Latin in the sermons, the editor states, “Because the first aim of this edition is to make King accessible to a modern reader, longer Greek and Latin quotations usually from the Fathers, have also been omitted where (as usually happens) King supplies either a translation or a paraphrase with them.”

Henry King (7)Here is an example of this, with my 1621 Sermon side by side with the new edition, showing the first Greek quotation reprinted in Roman lettering and the second has been removed, while King’s own English translation remains.

Hobbs says in the Preface which is very interesting,
“Modern historians, literary scholars, and theologians have not yet discovered the quality and value of his prose. Nor are they aware of King’s historical significance as a representative figure from the true “middle” of the seventeenth-century Church of England (however broad that middle ground may have moved over the period). My first consideration, therefore, has been to make available to the widest audience, in accessible form, the text of Henry King’s prose. Only by that availability will the unfortunate accidents of history that have led to his neglect be overcome.
A sensitive reading of the sermons, which have a much wider range of interest than sermons of today, suggests their importance on their own merits as fine examples of seventeenth-century prose. Like metaphysical poetry, they cry out to be read aloud. At times, they startle with a beauty of rhythm and phrase comparable to that of Thomas Browne, or of Donne himself at his most melodious. King cannot be shown to have Donne’s compelling vigour and density of thought, or the sudden ingenuity of some of his analogies and imagery. Nor has he the elliptical staccato force of Lancelot Andrewes, or Joseph Hall’s homely vigour of image and hearty coutrier’s bonhomie. At King’s quite frequent best, however, in grace of structure, sweetness of sound, elegiac intensity of mood, and occasional dry wit, he has few equals. . . . .
Of the many sermons King must have preached, only ten, with a further eleven collected and published as An Exposition upon the Lords Prayer in 1628, survive today, spanning his long life as a cleric, from the reign of James I to that of Charles II. In comparison with Donne, therefore, we possess a correspondingly high proportion of his more carefully wrought and polished writing, with inspired meditative passages, fascinating byways of learning, and many contemporary insights. Thomas Fuller was convinced that King’s “printed Sermons on the Lords-prayer, and others which he preached, remaining fresh in the minds of his Auditors will report him to all posterity.” But it was not to be. . . . .
The extraordinary modern disregard of King can be traced in the first place to unkind accidents of chance, the wars that deprived him of his manuscripts, and the absence of a biographer or printed funeral sermon from which literary historians might quote. His neglect in this century is no doubt the result of a cavalier dismissal of him as a ‘kind of pale imitation of Donne'”, etc. (pp. 9-10).

While there was no official biography of Henry King in the 17thC (there isn’t yet; check ODNB for the latest; the current article is also by Hobbs), nevertheless there were brief notices, e.g., in Walton’s Life of John Donne (1658) and Fuller’s Worthies (1662) while King was still living.

Henry King (11)Anthony Wood noted in his manuscripts, “Oct.1, F., <Henry> King, bishop of Chichester, dies; vide Sander’s Almanac 1671, character there. A proper handsome man; made a great noise in his times in the University; and <was> cried up for a celebrated preacher – yet died as an ordinary.” [The Life & Times of Anthony Wood, 2.171].

Of course Wood also wrote a brief life of him in the Athenae Oxonienses. Hobbs points out, “A significant fact about Henry King, rediscovered by Ronald Berman from a nineteenth-century article, is his nomination as Archbishop of York at the Restoration, of which historians say nothing. Wood, perhaps, hints at this in his comment that ‘not being removed to a better see, [he] became discontented . . . and a favourer thereupon of the Presbyterians in his diocese.'”
The reader is then directed to the note, “Ath. Oxon 3.841 [1817]: King’s Visitation sermon and his correspondence show Wood’s information to be inaccurate. Joseph Hall had laid himself open to similar accusation before the wars when he tried to keep the peace in his new diocese of Exeter, see ‘Some Specialities in his Life,’ in Hall, Works 1.xxv-vi.” (pp. 25 ; 55).

Here is the offending paragraph in volume 2 of the first edition (my copy, p.309, 1692), which says that King was “always puritannically affected, and therefore to please the Puritan he was promoted to the See of Chichester.” etc. [It must be remembered Wood wrote over 1,400 lives in the Athenae, etc., he’s not always right].
Wood H King (3)

From his first printed sermon, A Sermon Preached at Pauls Crosse, King made his stance in theology very clear, taking the middle way, likewise against Roman Catholics and “Lay Mechanicke Presbiters,” in the Anglican method of the period. Here is the section against puritans (pp. 5-6, 1621):
Henry King (8) Henry King (9)

One can read Hobbs’ article on the subject, An Adventurer in a Middle Way, in The Sermons. “Thomas Fuller (himself worth closer study as the historian of the middle way) names Henry King among those bishops he considers ‘moderates,’ in contrast to Arminian or Calvinist, at the beginning of the civil wars . . . .
It is important to realise that King’s primary purpose in preaching is not to expound systematic theology. He sees instead, like Robert Sanderson and Jeremy Taylor later (and indeed like the more Calvinist Jacobean and Caroline bishops, amongst whom were his own father and Joseph Hall), the great need for a ‘practical divinity’ to aid Christians in their daily life and prayer. His theological views, chiefly expressed in The Lords Prayer and in the sermons contemporary with it in the period from 1621 to 1628, are elicited in response to particular Roman Catholic and Puritan dogmas and practices that he considers have departed from those of the primitive Church.” (p.31).

Another example of this can be read in his reference to the heretical Adamites in the Visitation sermon, October 8, 1662:
To apparel our Discourses in more Ceremony than becomes the subject, or to use none at all, are Extremes alike culpable.
To put upon a small body more clothes than it can bear is to smoother our Conceptions, and stifle the Argument we preach with multiplicity of words; yet to put on None at all were to establish the Heresie of the Adamites in the Pulpit, and to dogmatize Nakedness. Good matter clad in very thin or ill words is one of the strangest, most misshapen things that may be.
Adam knew not He was naked until he had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, and then his Knowledge made him ashamed of his Nakedness. Ignorance may without blushing walk naked; for darkness needs no Mantle, and night is Covering to it self. But knowing Arguments sent abroad without a decent apparel, like Tapers set up in sluttish Candlesticks, bear Light about them onely to shame the Author.”

1662 Heresiography (9)Adamites were included in Pagitt’s Heresiography, Or a Description and History of the Hereticks and Sectaries Sprang up in these latter times, of which I have the sixth edition, 1662. [I’m unaware if King himself had a copy of this book].

A very informative and useful link, the Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 has much on Henry King, echoing some of Hobbs’ Introduction regarding King’s books etc confiscated during the Civil Wars [her sections on King’s reading and the appendix of his sources are of great interest].
“The precise extent of the despoliation of both King’s episcopal library and his private library is unclear, although at least some books appear to have been ‘redeemed’. Neither is it known what happened to any of the books specifically mentioned in King’s will. However, it seems likely that a number of books which would have been owned or used by King are still preserved in the Cathedral Library at Chichester.” –

Hobbs ends the preliminary part of her life of King, “A list of Lent preachers at Court for 1666 shows that the Bishop of Chichester preached on Sunday, 4 March of that year. Giles Moore records two further Visitation sermons, never printed, in 1666 and 1669, the latter only three weeks before King’s death. In the same year, he had been invited once more to preach at Whitehall in Lent, on 28 February 1669. His letter accepting Sheldon’s invitation exists, and the sermon, again never printed, was heard by John Evelyn, who recorded in his diary only that it was on the very characteristic earlier theme ‘of the preciousness of time etc.’ So King’s sermons, though comparatively few survive, spanned his long life as a priest, from his ordination in 1616/7 to his death at the ripe age of 77.
He died on 30 September 1669 at Chichester, one of only two bishops in the seventeenth century who did not pass through that impoverished diocese on the way to more desirable sees. It seems there was no one left who knew him well enough to write his life or to publish his sermons, despite the significance of his earlier role in the Church of England. His last wishes were disregarded. Like his father, he asked in his will for a plain tombstone (with the words ‘Deposita redditurae animae’ – ‘All that is left of a soul returned home’). He asked to lie in the choir at Chichester. Today, his ornate and fulsome memorial, recut by a descendant in the eighteenth century and twice moved since, now stands in the north transept of his cathedral, though it looks up at the library that his books helped to refound. His real monument is his poetry and this handful of well-wrought printed sermons.” (pp. 30-1).

Besides “The Exequy,” his poetry includes some historically interesting pieces, elegies on the death of Prince Henry (1612), on the death of his father John King (1621), on the death of “his ever desired friend” John Donne (1631). Among my favourites is this pretty little piece on Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.
Henry King (19)

While many have cried out against the “extraordinary modern disregard of King”, I do wonder why there is such silence on his father John King (d. 1621), the celebrated bishop of London? Has anyone printed a collective, scholarly edition of his sermons? It would seem that there has been far more neglect of John King than there has been of Henry. Personally I would be very eager to have such an edition of John King’s sermons to accompany his son’s. Some of John King’s sermons have come up for sale in recent years, but these have predictably sold quickly and are quite rare. While I may introduce Henry King to my friends as “John King’s son,” nevertheless, does anyone really know who John King was either? Other than “John Donne’s friend,” or the preacher in the 1616 St Paul’s Cross painting. He was once greatly esteemed.

John King’s works deserve to be printed again, e.g.:

Lectures upon Jonas, delivered at Yorke in the year of our Lorde 1594.
The fourth sermon preached at Hampton Court on Tuesday the last of Sept. 1606
(STC (2nd ed.), 14974)
A sermon preached in Oxon: the 5. of November. 1607 (STC (2nd ed.), 14974).
A sermon preached in St. Maries at Oxford the 24. of March being the day of his sacred Maiesties inauguration and Maundie Thursday (STC (2nd ed.), 14987).
&c. &c. See English Short-Title Catalogue, and ODNB.

Poems and Psalms of Henry King, edited by Hannah, 1843 (digitized).
The English Poems of Henry King, D.D., edited by Mason, 1914 (digitized).

Amateur Stitch Repairs

Over the past decade of collecting antiquarian books, I’ve come across the occasional stitch repair. Up until recently the examples I had found were thread & needle sutures to hold torn paper in books. Stitch repairs seem to have been common in the old days, sewing tears in paper, leather, vellum, and cracked wooden book boards. It is a fascinating view into a lost world, finding stitch repairs in an old book.

When I bought my first such book, the “repair” in the torn page was pointed out to me by my bookseller friend who was smitten with the volume and reluctant to sell it to any other but me. It was the earliest book that the bookshop had ever handled, Epicteti Enchiridion: The Morals of Epictetus (1716). This was an historical curiosity that neither of us had ever imagined at the time. I was 20 years old.
1716 Morals of Epictetus (6)

A few years later I bought my 1607 Geneva Bible. While reading I came across a small stitch repair to the top margin of one of the pages in Matthew, not unlike the above.
1607 Breeches Geneva Bible (21)

Recently a splendid example of stitch repair to a bookbinding came in at work, which I promptly bought! Thankfully the title is perfect for my antiquarian theological collection, the French Catholic priest Richard Simon’s A Critical History of the New Testament (1689), translated into English and printed in London the year after the Catholic king James II was kicked out. While it’s not an original link-stitch binding, it is much to celebrate (in my opinion) as a previous owner’s idiosyncratic repair work.
1689 Simon A Critical History of the New Testament (1) 1689 Simon A Critical History of the New Testament (2)
1689 Simon A Critical History of the New Testament (10) 1689 Simon A Critical History of the New Testament (8)

For stitch repairs in wooden book boards, see Honey and Velios’ splendid paper, “The historic repair and reuse of Byzantine wooden bookboards in the manuscript collection of the monastery of St Catherine, Sinai”.