St John’s College I.44 (James 335)

Roll. Russian. 1687.

According to the abstract provided by Professor Lang in 1947 the roll is ‘A true copy of the Royal Rescript’ of the Lords Tsars and Grand Dukes Joann Alexeyevich, Peter Alexeyevich and the Princess and Tsarevna and Grand Duchess Sophia Alexeyevna, who ruled all Great, Little and White Russia, sent to their Lord Chamberlain and Governor Conrad Fomiev Narishtein.  The rescript deals with the engagement of pilots by foreign merchants at Archangel to guide ships along the River Dvina from the sea and from the town to the sea. It permits foreign merchants to engage whichever pilots they wish, stipulates that pilots should not meet with any hindrance, and commands that the scribe and translator at Archangel, Andrew Kreft, should hold the monopoly for taking guarantees from the pilots, selecting only those acceptable to the foreign merchants, not drunkards. A copy of the document together with a schedule is to be provided to Andrew Kreft. The roll was written in Moscow on 6 June 7195 [i.e. 1687]. At the foot of the roll, in English, and in a different hand  is the inscription : “Coppy of their Emperial Majties Letter of Grace to Mr Joseph Woolfe A.o Mon.d 7195. June ye 6 Ao Dom.i 1687”. The name Joseph Woolfe does not, however, appear in the Russian text. Sir Joseph Woolfe had connections with Russia at this time, having received a gift from the Tsar of Russia in 1686 for facilitating the valuable potash trade.


Roll, 1014 x 164 mm, paper backed onto linen. Accompanied by a letter from David M. Lang (1924-1991), Fellow of St John’s, to H.P.W. Gatty, enclosing an English abstract of the text of the roll, dated 3 March 1947. Kept in a an oval cylindrical case stamped on the end ‘Railway companion’.  Provenance unknown. This item is not listed in print in Cowie’s catalogue, published in 1842-3, though appears in an autograph note in the Library’s annotated copy of Cowie (MS U.8) as manuscript I.44. There is no corresponding note in J.S. Wood’s copy of Cowie (Wood was Fellow Librarian c. 1861-82), suggesting that its arrival may postdate 1882.