THE PREFACE OF Sir Simonds D'Ewes
BEFORE THE ENSUING JOURNALS OF ALL THE Parliaments and Sessions of Parliament during the Reign of
Queen ELIZABETH: Wherein are expressed the
several Materials and Authorities out of which the said
Journals were extracted and drawn; As also what Method
and Form bath been observed in the transcribing of them,
together with the excellency and use of them.
In respect that these ensuing Journals both of the Upper House and House of Commons, during the Reign
of that Incomparable Princess, and Virgin Queen,
Queen Elizabeth, whose memory will ever remain
dear and precious to the Church of God, are Collected and Framed up by my exceeding great pains
and diligence out of several Materials, and do contain in them Incomparable Historical matters both
touching the Church and State, as well as matters of
rarity and Precedent incident to the Orders, Priviledges, or Usages of either
House; It shall not be amiss shortly to touch those Heads, that so they may
serve as a Key for the better Direction and Guidance in the use of the Journals
themselves. First therefore I will set down briefly all those Materials out
of which I have Collected these ensuing Journals. Secondly, the Method I
have constantly observed in the cansing them to be Penned or Transcribed. And thirdly, the rich Treasures of rarity and knowledge contained in
First, for the Materials out of which I drew these ensuing Journals of either House, they were for the most part rare and invulgar, viz.
1. The Original Manuscript or Journal-Books of the Upper House of every
Parliament and Session of Parliament of the Queens Reign, remaining in the
Office of the Clerk of the same House; and these are absolute and undeniable Records, and therefore could not be removed out of the said Office,
but I was inforced as often as I had occasion to use them, to repair unto
the same, to which I had most free and respectful access always offered me
(as also to the Bundles of Original Acts and Petitions reserved there.)
2. A large Manuscript Abridgment in Folio of all the said Original Journal
Books of the Upper House during her Majesties Reign, very faithfully for the
most part collected and transcribed with his own hands by Robert Bowyer
Esquire, who continued Clerk of the said House ab an. 6 Jacobi Regis until
the eighteenth year of the same King.
3. The Original Journal-Book Manufacripts of the House of Commons of
every Parliament and Session of Parliament during her Majesties Raign.
4. Another help which I had for the perfecting of these Journals were
the two Manuscript Volumes of Fragmentary and Imperfect Journals, or rather Collections of the Parliaments and Sessions of Parliament of Queen Elizabeth's Reign, which remained in Sir Robert Cottons well known and much
famoused Library, in the said Years 1629, and 1630. out of which I had
most of the Speeches of Sir Nicholas Bacon Knight, Lord Keeper of the Great
Seal of England. Out of these also I had passages which did excellently
serve to enlarge and beautify some of the Journals of the House of Commons,
as is fully mentioned in their proper places. In which two Volumes of Parliamentary Collections which then remained in Sir Robert Cottons Library as
aforesaid (who since Deceased on Friday the 6. day of May, Anno Domini
1631.) many things being either ignorantly or negligently referred to
other times than in truth they belonged unto, are here rectified and enlarged according as the occasion it self required.
5. And another means to enlarge these Ensuing Volumes were Manuscripts
or written Fragments I had by me of Parliamentary Speeches, Petitions and
such like Passages, especially touching the House of Commons, all which
served most fitly in their due places to supply those things and matters in
which the Original Journal-Books themselves were defective.
6. A further material for the furtherance of this present work was a Manuscript Treatise which I had by me Intituled Modus tenendi Parliamentum apud
Anglos, Complied especially as I conceive by Robert Bowyer Esquire, and
afterwards enlarged by Henry Elsing Esquire, at this present Clerk of the
Upper House of Parliament, in which were many good Collections touching
Proxies, Summons, Receivors and Tryors of Petitions, the Commons Prolocutor, and other matters incident to the Passages of the Journals of either
House, and those especially gathered out of Records; of which Treatise
there is very much use chiefly made in the two Journals of the Upper House
and House of Commons in the Parliament held in An. 1 Regin. Eliz.
7. And lastly one other unusual or invulgar help for the raising up of
this ensuing Structure was a Manuscript Diary I had in my Custody of the
greatest part of Queen Elizabeths Reign penned by the Lord Burleigh first Principal Secretary and afterwards Lord Treasurer; which said Diary did serve
very well to the clearing of some things needful to the perfecting of these
And for Printed helps I made especially use of William Camdens Annals of
Queen Elizabeths Reign, penned by him in a fluent and good Latine Stile
(the errors where of in these Journals are likewise discovered in their due
places) and of the Printed Books of Statutes as often as occasion requireth,
in which also some errors and mistakings which escaped in them are fully
and plainly convicted and rectified.
These foregoing materials both in Manuscripts and Print I made use
of in a general nature for all these ensuing Journals more or less.
Now there were also many particular helps I used for several occasions.
And first for the Journals of either House in An. 1 Regin. Eliz. they are all
Illustrated with so many quotations of all manner of Records, that it would
be too tedious to discuss or treat of them at large; only it shall here suffice
to have given this touch upon it, that such as are most frequently vouched
are Parliament Rolls, Patent Rolls and Foreign Rolls kept within the Tower of
London, all which will best appear in the perusal of them. Where also I
had some help out of two Transcripts, the one in Latine, the other in French,
of an old Treatise Intituled De modo tenendi Parliamentum in Anglia tempore
Regis Edwardi filii Etheldredi.
For Sundry Parliaments also I had several private Journals of the House of
Commons, in An. 13 Regin. Eliz. very imperfect, and another in An. 35 Regin. ejusdem moderately exact, each of them taken by some Member of the
House. Two other I had, the first a Journal of the Passages of the same House
in An. 39, & 40 Reg. Eliz. exceedingly defective, and the last de an. 43, &
44. of the same Queen stored with excellent matters. Out of all which, not
only the Journals of the said House of Commons, but even of the Upper House
also of those Parliaments, are much augmented. And for the Lord De la
Wares Petitions inserted verbatim in the Journal of the Upper House, de an. 39,
& 40 Regin. Eliz. I caused it to be transcribed out of the Bundle of Acts
of that Parliament remaining in the Office aforesaid of the Clerk of the Upper
House, and carefully examined it thereby.
And thus much shall serve for the materials out of which these ensuing
Volumes were collected and transcribed, which are all of them for the
most part so authentick, but especially the Original Journal-Books of either
House, as there can be no Exception against any thing that doth follow
out of them.
For the Second thing, touching the Method I have constantly used, it hath
been thus. First before every Journal I have prefixed the just dayes or times
of the Beginning, Proroguing, Dissolving or Adjourning the Parliament or Session
of Parliament; and next under it a Summary draught of the chief scope or
Argument thereof, or at least of some special matter that concerned it. I
have in like manner placed all actions of the first day of the Parliament, as
Commissions of Prorogation or Adjournment, or the solemn passing of her Majesty to the Upper House, in the Journal of the same, as most properly belonging unto it; as likewise all Speeches of that day which passed in the
said House, on that day on which the Speaker was presented. And I have
in the third place constantly inserted into the Journals of the said Upper House
also all Commissions of note at large, all Proxies that were more rare, the
presence of the Lords on some special days, and the names of the Receivers
and Tryors of Petitions; and there is no one day on which the House sate
and did any thing, but some Passages thereof are mentioned.
In the Journals of the House of Commons also are all things inserted and
referred unto their due dayes, and I know not any thing that is doubly set
down in the two Journals of both the Houses in the same Parliament, or Session
of Parliament, but only the Titles sometimes of such Bills as were sent up
from one House to another; and that constantly the manner of the beginning and ending of the Parliament, and of the Presentment of the Speaker,
which is largely set down in the Journal of the Upper House, is shortly touched
in the House of Commons.
And because I know the Original Journal-Book of either House to be more
judiciously observed, and more to be esteemed than the Collections of any
private men, therefore I have distinguished by some Annotation or Animadversion what is taken out of them, or what out of any other material whatsoever. Nor are those Animadversions of mine own at any time added without some necessary motive, or upon some good ground. Very Copious indeed they are in the two first Journals of the Upper House and House of Commons in An. 1 Regin Eliz. because all matters of form were to be once for
all discussed : In all the other Journals they are more succinct and infrequent.
I confess it cost me many days besides other expences to bring these ensuing Volumes to that perfection, in which I now enjoy them. In which
besides the abundance of the knowledge in this kind especially gained by
it, which Sir Edward Cooke Knight a Learned Writer of this Age calls Lex
Parliamentaria, I have as I much desired, done some Honour to the Memory
of that Glorious Queen England's Royal Elizabeth, in that I have Collected
in one body the sum of the agitations of all her Parliaments, or at least so
much of them as could possibly be gotten, being a work not only fingular
in respect that I am the sole enjoyer of it, but also because I rest confident
that never any other man attempted it, much less brought it to perfection.
Which I the rather believe, because when I was one day discoursing with
Sir Robert Cotten the Prime Antiquary of this our Age not long before his
Decease, touching the two aforesaid Volumes he had of the Journals of this
Queens Reign, that I wondred he would treasure up in his Library such
Fragmentary and Imperfect stuff, he made me no other Answer, but that
he was compelled to store up them, because he knew not how to come
by any better. And certainly if this work which I have now by Gods Providence finished, had been performed by any other, it could not have been
hid from him who was a very sedulous gatherer, as of other rarities, so
especially of Parliamentary Passages for about the space of forty Years before
Touching the rarities and treasures of knowledge contained in these ensuing Volumes, to omit many things, thus much it shall not be amiss to premise, that there may not only hence be gathered whatsoever almost concerns the Priviledges, Customs and Usages of either House, but Historical matter
also touching the Church and State; and in the whole frame may be frequently seen the admirable wisdom of her Majesty and this her Great Council
in the happy quenching of such emergent differences as arose, and in their
timely provision against the ambitious Spaniard, the restless and irreconcileable Enemy of her Majesties Religion, Person and Realms.
In all Parliaments and Sessions of Parliaments the Journals of the House of
Commons do for the most part much excel those of the Upper House in variety
and abundance of observable matter, and in their copious and orderly relating each dayes Passages.
I shall not need further to enlarge my self, but here to shut up this present Discourse, this instant Friday the 3. day of February Anno Domini 1631.
That though through Gods Providence I have finished these Volumes, which
are intended chiefly for my own private use, and my Posterities, yet I have
already entred upon other and greater labours, conceiving my self not to
be born for my self alone, according to that old saying, Melius mori quám
sibi vivere; Or this ensuing Distich:
Qui vivat sibi solus, Homo nequit esse beatus.
MALO MORI, nam sic VIVERE NOLO MIHI.
But before I speak further of any future works intended, it shall not be
amiss to add somewhat touching the true transcription of these ensuing
Volumes; for I am not ignorant, that not only the greatest part of our ancient Manuscripts, but all new written materials, for want of able Writers,
and especially for lack of comparing the new Copy written, with that out
of which it was taken, are exceedingly faulty and defective: and therefore it was my care to examine with my own Eye, the presence of the
Lords, the Returns of the Proxies, the Tryors and Receivors of Petitions, the
Commissions and such like entire and most material things.
Neither wanted there just cause of my frequent assistance for the true
discovery of the very Hand-writing it self of all the Journals of the House of
Commons during her Majesties Reign, except of those in the thirteenth, fourteenth, eighteenth and twenty third Years of the same Queen, which four
Journals were very fairly written into one Volume in Folio; but as for the
three first Journals of the same House de An. 1, 5, & 8 dictæ Regin. they were
written in a hand of that time, and had also many obscure abbreviations
in them. And as touching all the other Journals of the House of Commons,
with some part also of the said Journal of the twenty third Year of her
Majesties Reign, being entred and bound up together in one Volume, they
were exceeding difficult to be read, and were certainly the very notes taken
and entred into the said Volume by Fulk Onslow Esquire then Clerk of the said
House during the Continuance of the Parliament, or Session of Parliament.
In all which the said Notes being written in a fast running hand, and in
every Page almost much interlined, and sometimes enlarged by several
Additions, disposed into such vacant places as the page afforded, often distant each from other, it required and took up much time to discover, and
find out not only what was written, but also how each particular was to
be disposed into its due place and order. The like difficulty happened in
the transcription of some Speeches I had my self by me, being the very Autographs or first Copies penned by such as spake them, as did evidently appear
by their many interlinings. But for all other materials out of which these
said Journals or those of the Upper House were Collected, there was no difficulty
at all in reading of them, but only what to collect and insert out of each
dayes Passages, and what to omit, as matter not worthy the transcribing.
The chief of the Works before mentioned, and by me intended for the
publick good, are these ensuing.
A general History of Great Britain from the first Inhabitants to the present
Times, to be drawn especially out of Record and other abstruse and exotick
Monuments, for the reformation of all the Chronicles or Histories of this kind
yet extant, which will require several Volumes.
The Survey of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, out of Records
or Original Deeds.
The Antiquity of the Municipal or Common Laws of the Realm before the
Norman Conquest, out of Record also for the greatest part, or other invulgar
materials: To which I have a desire also if my time will suffice for Collection, to add a second part out of the Itinerant and Plea Rolls, chiefly remaining
in the Treasury at Westminster.
These I have proposed to my self to labour in, besides divers other
maller works as well Theological as Moral, like him that shoots at the Sun,
not in hopes to reach it, but to shoot as high as possibly his strength, art,
or skill will permit. So though I know it impossible to finish all these during my short and incertain Life, having already entred into the thirtieth
Year of my Age, and having many unavoidable imployments and cares of
an Estate and Family, yet if I can but finish a little in each kind, it may
hereafter stir up some able Judgements to add an end to the whole, in the
same way and search I shall have waded in before them. In the mean
time I shall always pray as I do sincerely desire, that by all my endeavours
God may be glorified, the truth divine or humane vindicated, and the
Sic mihi contingat vivere, Sicque mori.