St John's College N.29 (594)

Henry Newcome, Diary of contemporary events. English, 1666-1673.


Henry Newcome (bap. 1627, d. 1695), alumnus of St John's College Cambridge, clergyman and ejected minister (see ODNB). During the period covered by this diary, Newcome appears to have resided at Ellenbrook, six miles outside Manchester, at the house of Thomas Topping.

The first dated entry in the diary is for 24 April 1666, the last for 20 November 1673. The entries relate to contemporary political, religious and social events and issues, including popery, conventicles, riots, murders, and plague. The vast majority are in English, a very few being in Latin. Most of the entries are headed with the name of the locality in which the event took place, or from which Newcome received the news. London is predominant, but there are many entries headed Manchester, Oxford and Cambridge, and some headed Acton, Allerton, Denton, Dublin, Harwich, Leeds, Newnham (Glos.), St Albans, Scotland, Weymouth, and York. The entries cover court cases and assizes, speeches in Parliament and elsewhere, proceedings in Parliament, international news (e.g. hostilities with the Dutch), satirical verse and prose (e.g. 'Advice to a painter' poems), and natural disasters (e.g. the Great Fire of London, hurricanes and earthquakes). The entries are drawn from correspondence received by Newcome, from the correspondence of others, and occasionally from 'private intelligence'. Many of the entries end with a name or initials identifying the source of the information. Those identified include the London merchant Henry Ashurst (1616?-80); Samuel Ashurst of London; the army officer and politician John Birch (1615-91); John du Bois, E. Davenport, E. Ecleston, George Eversden, and N. Hulton of London; Thomas Jackson of Cambridge (?BA 1656/7, Fellow of Emmanuel); the nonconformist minister Andrew Parsons (1615/16-84); the biblical commentator Matthew Poole (1624?-1679); R. Saltonstal of London; Thomas Topping of Oxford; the physician Robert Wittie (1613-84); and Richard Wroe (1641-1718) clergyman and fellow of Jesus College Cambridge. This manuscript is apparently mentioned in Thomas Heywood (ed.) The diary of the Rev. Henry Newcome, from September 30, 1661, to September 29, 1663, Chetham Society 18 (1849) p.iv. It is not referred to in Newcome's ODNB entry.

Manuscript extra information

190 x 155mm. 669 pages. Paper. Newcome's small and closely-written but legible hand throughout. A few previously blank pages contain lines written by Sarah Bailey of Clapton in 1819 (e.g. p.238). Binding: seventeenth-century limp vellum on three sewing supports.

The front flyleaf bears the inscription 'John Stone Smallfield September 11, 1830 Homerton, Hackney, Middlesex'. Inserted into the volume is a twelve page list of notable entries in the diary, arranged chronologically, compiled by Smallfield in 1835. The volume appears subsequently to have been in the possession of Thomas Brewer (1807-70) secretary of the City of London School, since a letter to him from Richard Thomson, librarian of the London Institution, dated 1856, is enclosed. St John's College purchased the diary in 1931, for £20, from a Mrs Wheeler, whose husband's first wife was Thomas Brewer's niece. Some correspondence relating to the provenance of the manuscript is kept with it.