TOWER of London. Office of the Records. 110

TOWER of London. Office of the Records.

pel, under the Leads in the White Tower, Multitudes of Records in several Reigns, (some relating to State Matters, and others to Proceedings in Courts of Justice) were laid in confused Heaps, and that if Care were not speedily taken of them, would be in great Danger of utter perishing. That it would be a publick Damage (as well as Dishonour) to the Kingdom, to suffer such Monuments of Antiquity to be lost. That the preserving of them would be too great Work to be undertaken by the Keeper of the Records, unless there were Allowances made to him for a sufficient Number of Clerks, who understood the Languages and Hands wherein the Records were written, and were capable of making Abstracts of them, under the Care and Direction of that Officer. Further, That it did appear by the Writs, De Calendariis faciendis, De Rotulis & Scriptis in recto ordine ponendis, & Expensis Clericis ministrandis, that these Allowances had been anciently made to Clerks attending the Office of Records within the Tower. And lastly, That if these Records were made clean, and reduced into Order, the same might be placed in the Room where the present Office is kept, at a small Expence.

This was the Substance of the Reports. Hereupon it was immediately ordered, March 30. 1704. That the Lord Treasurer should lay the said Report before her Majesty, humbly moving her to give Directions thereon.

The Queen's Order.

The next Session, the Lord Treasurer gave the House an Account, That her Majesty had signed a Warrant, directed to Sir Christopher Wren, Knight, Surveyor General of the Works, William Lowndes, Esq; John Anstis, Esq; William Petyt, Esq; Peter Le Neve, Esq; and William Grymes, Gent. requiring them, or any Three of them, to repair to the Tower of London, and there to view and inspect Cæsar's Chapel, and examine how and in what manner the Records there might be preserved; as also the Place where the present Office is kept in the said Tower, and what Works were necessary for the receiving, placing, and digesting of the said Records. These Commissioners went accordingly, and made their Report: Upon which the Lord Treasurer ordered 150l. for providing Presses, Drawers and Shelves, for the Records in Cæsar's Chapel, [for the Office was too scanty to hold them:] And for the demolishing a Room, which (having been lately on fire) was thought to be dangerous. And William Petyt, Esq; [Keeper of the Records] was appointed to supervise the digesting, &c. of the Records, with Power to take in Three Clerks for that Service at 150l. per Annum, from Michaelmas 1704, over and above a chief Clerk at 100l. Who was Mr. George Holmes, [now Deputy Recorder.]

Clerks appointed.

The Lords Committees continued their Care for some Winters following, in the Progress of this Affair. And (after occasional Enquiries in about Five Sessions) the forenamed Noble Lord reported, (viz. April 20. 1709.) That a great Progress was made in this Affair. That the confused Heap (which lay before covered with Dust) was now thoroughly cleansed, and put into Chests, Baskets and Shelves, in order to be sorted. That the Rolls (from the first Year of King John, to the last of Edward IV.) and the Escheat Bundles, (from Henry III. to Richard III.) were placed under their proper Years; and a Catalogue made of them. That Abstracts were made of the Norman, Scotch, Welsh and Irish Rolls; with Alphabetical Indexes of the Names of Persons and Places. That Depositions in Chancery (of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, and downwards) were bundled up Alphabetically. That several Things still remained to be done, for putting all in right Order: As Abstracts of some Foreign Rolls, Patent Rolls, Close Rolls, Chartæ Antiquæ, &c. That the Clerks were still employed in this Work; and when finished, the Records would be in very exact and good Order. That the Shelves and Presses were so well made, and the Office fitted up in such manner, that the Records were very dry. And lastly, That there was Room made for a great Number of other Records, which might be transmitted hither. As since there hath been from the Rolls.

These Clerks are still (to this Year 1718) very diligently at Work daily in Cæsar's Chapel; and like so to be, the Records are so numerous.

The Records that lye in the Office do begin in the first Year of King John. For before that Time there were no Rolls, but only Chartæ Antiquæ, i.e. Ancient Charters or Transcripts, made and done, a few before, the rest since the Conquest, until the Beginning of the said K. John. Then follow the Rolls of his Son, King Henry the IIId; where the first Inquisitions post Mortem begin. Then the Rolls of K. Edward I. K. Edward II. K. Edward III. Of K. Richard II. K. Henry IV. K. Henry V. K. Henry VI. K. Edward IV. But the Rolls of K. Richard III. are kept in the Chapel of the Rolls in Chancery-lane: Where be also the Rolls of the succeeding Kings.

Account of the Rolls.

And as the said Chapel of the Rolls, and the Petty Bag Office, do fill with Records out of other Offices, they have been, and still ought to be transmitted into the Tower after some Years. And there is at this Time a special Order in hand, to be had from the Crown, for the bringing the Records, that lye in the Chapel of the Rolls, or elsewhere, into the Tower; there being now very capacious and convenient Places made for their Reception.

Chapel of the Rolls.

These Records in the Tower, among other Things, contain the Foundations of Abbies, and other Religious Houses. And those of later Date in the Chapel of the Rolls, contain the Dissolution of them, and also the Donation of the Lands belonging to them; whereof many Families are now possessed.

What the Records contain.

These Records consist also of Leagues of Foreign Princes, and Treaties with them: (Whereof several Volumes have been of late transcribed and printed, by the Pains of Mr. Rymer, the late Queen's Historiographer:) All the Atchievements of this Nation in France, and other Foreign Parts: The Originals of all the Laws that have been enacted, or recorded, unto the Reign of Richard III. The Homage and Dependency of Scotland upon England: The Establishment of Ireland, and its Laws and Dominions: The Dominion of the British Seas; totally excluding both French and Dutch from Fishing therein, without Licence from England; proved by several Prescriptions, and Records before the Conquest: The Interest of the Isles of Man, and of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and Alderney, being the only remaining Parts of the Norman Possession left to this Crown of England: The Title to the Realm of France; and by what means obtained: And all that the Kings or Princes of this Realm, to the Time aforesaid, have done abroad, or granted and confirmed unto their Subjects at Home or Abroad: Tenures of all the Lands in England; Extents, or Surveys of Manors or Lands: Inquisitions post Mortem, of great Use upon Trials of Interest or Descent: Liberties and Privileges granted to Cities and Towns Corporate, or to private Men; as Court

Mr. Rymer's Pains.