BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Beinecke MS 370 England, s. XVI/XVII
William Camden's Commonplace Book
A collection of material copied primarily by William Camden, antiquary and
historian (1551-1623), from documents that were in the Tower of London and in
the College of Arms. Some selections are from official records, others are
from private papers that were deposited in the Office of Arms. The manuscript
is composed of four parts, the first two of which are laid in. We thank M.
Cole for her assistance with the contents of this manuscript.
Gathering of 8 leaves written in a later hand, laid in:
I. 1. ff. Ai - Aviii List of persons grouped by letters of the
alphabet A-Z (individual sections are not, however, arranged alphabetically) to
serve as an index to sixty pages of escheats taken from Inquisitions post
Mortem, 1399-1422 (ff. 57r-120r in Part III).
Gathering of 14 leaves laid in, with bifolium added after Bi and single leaf
tipped in before Bxv:
II. 2. f. Bi recto blank, except for inscriptions (see Provenance); f.
Bi versoList headed "these made Earle at the Coronation of K. Charles [I]."
3. ff. Bii recto - Biii verso Two columns: in the left-hand column a phrase
in English, in the right-hand possible Latin equivalents using only the letters
of William Camden's name [w = uu]. Examples include: Adam's apple
tree: Declinaui malum; A labirinthe: Linea duci malum; An ermine with a hart:
Illi damnum caue.
4. f. Biv recto - verso Notes on creation of Knights at coronation of King
Henry IV, and on inheritance.
5. ff. Bv recto - Bxi recto Genealogical charts and notes for the following
baronies (note in margin: "Praesidents brought into the office of Armes 10
Decembr. 1598. by M^^r Edw. Nevill, of Baronies descending to heires masles"):
Bewedefert, Bothall, Barkley, Latymer, Gillesland, Blankney, Warwike, Oxford,
Lawarre, Holgat, Killpecke, Groby. f. Bxi verso blank
6. ff. Bxii recto - Bxiii recto Argument by Lady Fane on the inheritance of
females, with respect to her claim to the barony of Abergavenny against Edward
Nevile, the male heir. Note in margin: "putt into the office of Armes by the
Lady Fane 10..Decembris "; heading: "That by y^^e Lawes of y^^e Realme,
Dignities conferred by y^^e kinges writt. of Summons to Parliament descend to
Females where there is a sole heire, and not coheires, and y^^t y^^e alienacion of
y^^e possessions cannot alter y^^e Lawe." f. Bxiii verso blank
7. f. Bxiv recto Questions raised by the Earl Marshal and passed on to
Elizabeth I and the two Lord Chief Justices regarding Lady Fane's claim (see
art. 6) by William Camden, 19 February 1598. Heading: "Questions wherin I
moved the Lord Chiefe Justices 19 February, att the comaund of the E. Marshall,
18 February 1598." f. Bxiv verso blank
8. f. Bxv recto "The Answer of the Lord Chief Justice of England" and "The
Answere of the Lord cheif [sic] Justice of the Common Pleas." ff. Bxv
verso - Bxvii verso blank
Reading from the front of the volume:
III. 9. f. 1r-v blank except for short inscriptions and pen trials;
f. 2r-v Patents of creation
10. f. 3r Notes from the Book of Worcester, dated 1231.
11. ff. 3v-4r Lists of baronies according to descent (e.g., "Baronies
descended to eldest sister when their were sisters and coheirs").
12. f. 4v (written sideways) Copy, in Latin, of legal document of "Edwardus
Rex Anglie", dated 30 April. f. 5r blank
13. ff. 5v-23v (several bifolios inserted sideways; contemporary foliation:
3-12; some leaves, added later, not foliated)Lists of peerage titles, some
dated. ff. 6v-7r, 9r, 10v-11r, 12v, 13v, 14v, 15v, 16v, 18v blank (18 =
14. f. 24r blank; f. 24v (large fold-out sheet, inserted sideways) List of
peerage titles, with dates granted. ff. 25r-26v blank
15. f. 27r-v Lists of individuals whose peerage titles were lost, then
restored. ff. 28r-29v blank
16. ff. 30r-51r (contemporary foliation 18-39) Alphabetical list of names,
with dates, beginning with B that was misbound before A. ff. 31v, 32v,
33v, 34v, 36v, 38v, 39v, 40v, 42v, 43v, 44v-45v, 46v, 48v, 49v, 50v blank
17. ff. 51v-56v (contemporary foliation: 39 and 40 for first and last leaves;
other folios inserted later between them, sideways) Presence lists for House
of Lords, apparently extracted from Journals of the House of Lords, some
before Henry VIII: Die Mercurij 15 April. 14 H 8; Parl. 6 H 8; 1 Edw. 6;
35 H 8;
Domini in parliamento anno Henrici 7^^i xix^^o; Primo die primo anno Elizab.
aderant in Parlamento [sic]. ff. 53v-54r, 55v blank
18. ff. 57r-120r (contemporary foliation 41-100) Escheats taken from
Inquisitions post Mortem, 1399-1422. See also art. 1.
19. f. 120v Alphabetical index for art. 20.
20. ff. 121r-139v (contemporary foliation 101-118) Lists of families and
their descent, arranged by earldoms: Comites Cantabrigiae, Comites
21. ff. 140r-141r (contemporary foliation stops at 119) Lists of Justices of
the Bench, with dates.
22. f. 141v Chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster, with dates.
23. f. 142r Short list, 11 lines, entitled "Bancus", with dates.
24. f. 142v Short list, 14 lines, entitled "Mona Insula", primarily
individuals governing the Isle of Man.
25. f. 143r blank; ff. 143v-144r (later insertion bound in sideways)List of
lieutenants of the Tower of London arranged according to Kings, from Henry VIII;
last entry dated 1616. f. 144v blank
Reading from the back of the volume:
IV. 26. ff. 1r-2r Names of principals involved in the civil war
between Yorkists and Lancastrians and the places where each died between 1459
and 1500. f. 2v blank
27. ff. 3r-5v Report of the pleadings in the Abergavenny trial heard in
February 1599 [MS reads 1598] before the Earl Marshal at his residence, Essex
House, including the Earl of Essex's eulogy of England's aristocratic society
(f. 5r-v). ff. 6r-7r blank
28. f. 7v Summonses to Parliament for 49 Henry III.
29. ff. 8r-17r Short alphabetical lists of lords of Parliament for:
Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI,
Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary, Elizabeth, James
(annotated). f. 17v blank
30. ff. 18r-19v Lists of names, with heading: "28 E 3. Qui literas ad PP
miserunt et coniunctim Procuratores Regis Edw. III authoritate sua munierunt",
and concluding: "Constituerunt Procuratores Regis suos etiam Procuratores
speciales ad tractandum cum Papa Innocentio de pace extra iudicialiter tanquam
coram persona priuata non tanquam coram Iudice nec in forma nec in figura
Iudicij. M. CCC. LIIII. ff. 20r-55v blank
31. f. 56r-v Abstracts from Rolls of Parliament, 11 Henry VI.
32. f. 57r-v Account of the Arundel-Devon dispute, dated 27 Henry VI. f.
Paper (watermarks: unidentified design, Part I; Briquet Lion 10555 and
similar to Briquet Pot 12736, Part II; unidentified grapes and Briquet Lion
10555, Parts III, IV), ff. 8 + 17 + 144 + 58, 114 x 160 mm.; format varies
Codex originally bound in quires of 16; many insertions and deletions make
it difficult to collate with certainty.
Written primarily by William Camden in several styles of cursive (cf. W. W.
Greg, English Literary Autographs 1550-1650 [Oxford, 1932] Part III,
Edges of some leaves crumbled and torn, with loss of text.
Binding: Date [?]. Broken limp vellum case.
Written and compiled by William Camden (1551-1623) at the end of the 16th and
beginning of the 17th century; his signatures on ff. Bi recto and 1r.
Apparently only Part I and miscellaneous later annotations are not in Camden's
hand. Belonged to Sir Richard St. George (d. 1635; DNB, v. 17, pp. 615-16), who
was Camden's successor as Clarencieux king-of-arms in 1623. MS 370 was among
the heraldic manuscripts collected or written by Sir Henry St. George
(1581-1644) that were acquired from Boone by Sir Thomas Phillipps (no. 13160;
tag on spine). Charles W. Traylen Cat. 66, no. 9. Purchased in 1967 from C. A.
Stonehill with the Albert H. Childs Fund.
Bibliography: W. H. Dunham, Jr., "William Camden's Commonplace Book,"
Gazette 43 (1969) pp. 139-56.
Idem, "'The Books of the Parliament' and 'The Old Record', 1396-1504,"
Speculum 51 (1976) pp. 694-712; included in Beinecke Library files is a
handwritten transcript of London, College of Arms Library, MS 2. h. 13, ff.
387v-390r, made for the Yale University Library and referred to in this article.
Barbara A. Shailor