St John's College L.11 (James 366)

'Leicester's Commonwealth'. English, seventeenth century

Anon.: 'The Copy of a Letter written by a Master of Arts in Cambridge to his frend in London ... Anno Domini 1584'. The notorious work of a Roman Catholic polemicist hostile to the Elizabethan regime, popularly known as Leicester's Commonwealth, which survives in many copies. Formerly and mistakenly attrib. to Robert Parsons (1546-1610), the Commonwealth appears to have been written by a Catholic or group of Catholics familiar with the ways and personalities of Elizabeth's Court, chief among them, perhaps, Charles Arundell (1540-87) and Thomas Lord Paget (d. 1590). Like many MS versions this is apparently copied - directly or indirectly - from the first printed edition. See D. C. Peck (ed.), Leicester's Commonwealth: the Copy of a letter written by a master of art at Cambridge (1584) and related documents (Athens, Ohio, 1985). See also SJC, MS S.46.

Manuscript extra information

180x150 mm. Unfoliated, c. 250 fos. Inscribed by Thomas Baker on the second flyleaf 'Ex dono Dignissimi viri Joannis Bagford [1650-1716], noti in Historiam Typographicam', and inside front cover: 'For The Library'. A later hand has identified the work on the first flyleaf.

A principal, somewhat casual secretary hand throughout; a second, neater hand appears occasionally in the second half of the vol. Paper, slightly wormed, and trimmed with the loss of some marginal notes. Early stamped leather binding, repaired by J. P. Gray, Dec. 1971.