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St John's College I.29 (James 323)

Thomas Lee (or Lea), 'The Discovery and recoverie of Ireland'. English, [1599]


Thomas Lea (d. 1601): 'The Discovery and recoverie of Ireland and the Authors Apologie'. The Discovery beg.: 'After I had betaken my selfe'; ends: 'to conclude this generall treatise and to proceede to my pertyculer Apologie'. The Apology beg.: 'As farre (Right honorable) as my slender skill will stretche'; ends: 'craving pardon for the Roughnes of the plott and rudenes of the stile I take humble leave'. A clean, presentation copy. The author's signature at fo. ivr at the close of his introductory epistle, and at fo. 35v of the Apology. Thomas Lee was an adherent of Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex, and was executed in 1601 for a foolhardy attempt to rescue Essex after the latter's Rising of 8 February (DNB). See James P. Myers, '"Murdering heart ... murdering hand": Captain Thomas Lee of Ireland, Elizabethan assassin', Sixteenth Century Journal 47 (1991). Both works are addressed to a 'Right Honourable', but the dedicatee is nowhere identified. It might be Essex, but is more likely Robert Cecil (later Earl of Salisbury), Lord Mountjoy (later Earl of Devonshire) or another Privy Counsellor. The date of composition is either late 1599 or early 1600. A work full of accusation and paranoia. Several other copies of this tract have been identified, among them BL, Add. MS 33743.

205x155 mm. vi+81+35+ii fos. On fo. iir, in Thomas Baker's hand, 'Liber olim ornatiss: viri Thomae Wagstaff' and 'Tho: Baker dedit Coll: Jo: Socius ejectus'. At fo. ivv: 'This Booke was written by Captaine Thomas Lea, and presented to the Erle of Essex The L. Mountioy, Mr Secretarie Cecill etc. in the year 1699 etc. (sic)', and 'Will and Walke aright / Will: Walker' (seventeenth century). College bookplate (eighteenth century) at fo. ivv.

Single hand. Paper. Original stamped vellum binding.