St John’s College I.45 (James 567)

Transcripts of historical letters written in the reign of James I. English. Early 19th century.

Volume lettered on spine: “Thos. Sharp. Transcripts of historical letters, MS. 1603-1627”. The title-page runs “Historical letters written in the reign of James I containing a detail of most of the public transactions in Great Britain during that period with a variety of particulars not mentioned by our historians copied from the originals in the British Museum paper office and private collections with notes by Dr [Thomas] Birch to which are added several letters from the Cecil and Shelborne papers with additional notes historical and biographical.”

The volume is subdivided into sections each with a separate title page.

Volume 1 part 2 (40 letters, 1610-1618)

Volume 1 part 3 (41 letters, 1618-1621)

Volume 1 part 4 (129 letters, 1621-1625)

Appendix containing the letters of Ld Dudley Carleton  to his friends from the years 1607 to 1627 not published with the collection of the Earl of Hardwicke. (51 letters)

The number of letters in each section and the dates covered are pencilled onto each intermediate title page in a different hand.



266 x 208 mm. Frontispiece, 305 leaves of manuscript. Bound in half roan, with paper-covered boards, simple gold tooling and lettering on spine.  A printed portrait of Thomas Sharp (ob. 1841) dating from 1823 has been inserted as a frontispiece. Pages of varying sizes are tipped in, rather than being sewn into the binding. The majority of the volume is in a single hand, but some of the individual letters within the appendix contain different hands.

Pencil notes in several hands (some of which are now much faded) on the front pastedown and facing flyleaf give the information: “Published in 4 vols. Court & times of James I & court & times of Charles I. 2 vols. 8vo. each about 1846” beneath this is pencilled, almost illegibly “Note by Mr Greene[?] 6/3 1854”. Further notes mention the addition of the printed portrait as frontispiece, and comment on the interest of the contents, speculating as to whether they are wholly or partially printed in any publication.

Provenance. The volume appears to have been associated with Dawson Turner, presumably Dawson William Turner (1815-85). A note addressed to  “Dawson Turner F.R.S., Athenaeum”, is loose in the front of the volume, giving the number of letters in each section, commenting that some of the letters in the appendix are just extracts, not whole letters, querying what proportion of the letters has been published and also asking the question “Is this collection, which I bought, mentioned in the memoir of T. Sharp in the Gent. Mag.?”. There is also a note to copy that memoir into this volume and add particulars, and to say something general about the content of the letters. Presented by the administrators of Professor J.E.B. Mayor, 1910. College bookplate and donation label.