A new Stuarts storybox became available this year and has been used to support study day sessions at the Queens House. It contains four manuscripts and two rare books, covering the period 1638-1671, which spans the reigns of two Kings and the inter-regnum period.

The study session includes interactive palaeography, focusing on a commonplace book written by Sir Thomas Fairfax (1612-1671) and others. This includes a collection of historical notes, transcripts, a seamen's dictionary and contemporary accounts of actions during the civil war. A few sentences from the commonplace book have been provided here to put your palaeographic skills to the test (see right hand image. Full transcription provided at the bottom of this post). AND transcript.jpgAlso included in the storybox is a letter written by Oliver Cromwell, 23 February 1648/9. Notice the discrepancy between the two years to distinguish between the Julian calendar and the Gregorian new year. The letter concerns an order for new flags to be flown in the fleet and new, 'more appropriate' parliamentarian ship names to be used. For example, the Henrietta Maria was renamed Paragon and the Prince Royal was renamed Resolution.Cromwell.jpgAnother item from the manuscripts collection is a holograph letter from Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669) to the Prince of Orange, 27 February 1642/3 (notice the two dates) reporting completion of Admiral Tromp's task to safely transport her from Holland to England and asks the Prince to reward the Admiral for his service.One of the rare-books in this treasure trove of Stuart material is the declaration of Charles II, read in Parliament, 1 May 1660. The proclamation was read to the English fleet by Samuel Pepys, the same year he began his diary and was appointed clerk of acts to the Navy Board; a prominent role in the administration of a leading government department.In contrast to the writing style of the mid-17th century, is text from the Intelligence book of William Lytlestone, 1582, also used in another of the NMM's education events on the subject of the Armada. Here is an example of the writing from Tudor times. Let's see if you can decipher the text here and observe the contrast between the text here and the previous examples!


We shall be running a competition to complete a full and accurate transcription of the excerpt above. Please email answers to manuscripts@nmm.ac.uk. A prize draw will commence on 3 April, the winner will be announced and receive a £5 voucher for findmypast.com, home of Ancestors on Board as well as many other genealogical sources.

Excerpt from the commonplace book (17th century)The Kings field forces for the Midland countyes. The field forces for which the King had for the securing of these Midland countyes and garrisons &c. was 1st the Royall army (countenanced by the Kings own presence in it) com(m)anded by Prince Rupert and Prince Maurice, which was that Army which fought his excellency Sir Thomas Fairfax's his army at Naseby. 2. Besides, the King had a very considerable force of Horse and Foot in Wales, under the com(m)and of the Lord Gerrard. 3. and also a good strength of Horse (continuation sign)  Mike (Manuscripts Department)