Tower of LONDON. Office of Records. 114

Tower of LONDON. Office of Records.

Then Roger Wilbraham, Esq; 2. Jacob. Robert Powyer, and Henry Elsing, Esq; 10. Jacob. Then John Burroughs, afterwards Knight, and Nicholas Parker, Esq; the one of Grays Inn, the other of the Middle Temple. The Two last deceased Keepers, viz. Prinn and Petyt were great and laborious Antiquarians. Of whom I shall take some Notice by and by.

The Fee of searching the Records in the Tower, was at first but a Noble for opening the Door; afterwards Ten Shillings in Queen Elizabeth's Reign. But then you might have a whole Day's Search from Morning to Night, with the Attendance of one or two Clerks, and the free Use of all the Records there, and of as many Kalendars as had been made thereof by the continual Labour of Twenty Years and more: Now the Custom is to search Four Terms more for the same Fee.

The Fee of searching these Records.

Before Queen Elizabeth, there was but little searching of the Tower Records. But in and since her Reign, there was greater Resort thither. The Reason wereof was, that such as had the keeping of them, took Pains in sorting and kalendring the said Records; making thereby the Search more easy and readier by much, than it was wont to be.

These Records began to be searched in Queen Elizabeth's Reign.

It was shewn before what a diligent and painful Digester of these old Writings Will. Bowyer was, and who seems to deserve the chief Praise in that useful Work. Yet we must not suffer the Name of Henry Lord Stafford, a Learned Nobleman, to be buried in Forgetfulness, while we are mentioning this. He was one of the Chamberlains of the Exchequer in King Edward VIth's Time unto Queen Elizabeth's; and had a Key of these Records committed to him; and being a Man studious of such Antiquity, bestowed much of his Time thereon: And was one of the first in later Memory that attempted the reducing them into Order. He made an Inventory of most of them, setting them in such Order, that he could have found any notable Matter enquired for. Which nevertheless, after, by tumbling and tossing were displaced again. He made also Repertories of every Matter from King John's Days till Richard III. And of Charters, Rolls, Patent- Rolls, Parliament-Rolls, from Edward III. to Richard III. This Lord is also to be remembred with Honour, for the Informations he gave to Secretary Cecil in the very beginning of Queen Elizabeth, of the Neglects and Embezzilments of these precious Records. Which had this Effect, that the Queen gave the Secretary, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and others, Commissions to view, see, and understand, how and where they were conveyed away; and to draw up Instructions for the better preserving, and Order in keeping them hereafter. Whereupon they appointed two Keys unto the Office: One whereof they commited unto the said Nobleman; and that a perfect Inventory should be made of the Books that remained. And he for the more careful Preservation of them, kept one Fitz his Servant to be always there ready with his Key, when as any Search should be commanded to be made; and to keep a Book of Comptrolment, when any Records went out; and by what Warrant; and how they were brought in again. For Bowyer, the Keeper of the Records at this Time, did use for his own Ease to take home with him some Rolls, and return them at his Pleasure again.

Lord Henry Stafford one of the first Digesters of the Records.

His Informations concerning these Records.

So that these Records have been kept sometimes under two Keys; as above was seen when the Keeper had one, and the Chamberlain of the Exchequer another: And that for the more safe keeping of these most valuable and venerable Writings; and that the Safety of them might not depend upon one Man; whose Clerks or Servants might embezzle them. Upon this Account it was, that the above-mentioned Lord Stafford al- leged, how dangerous a Thing it was for the Queen and Realm, that the same should be under one Key; and shewed, that by sundry Records remaining in the Treasury of the Palace of Westminster, there had been given Allowance unto the Clerks and Deputies of the Lord Treasurer, and Chamberlains, for the arraying [i.e. Setting in Order] and removing of the Records of the Tower.

The Records kept sometimes under Two Keys.

Before the Time of King John are no Rolls perfect, but Fragments and Pieces. The Reason whereof might be, partly the defacing of many (namely, such as were laid up in another House) by reason of the Lime and Dampness of the Walls, against which they were carelesly piled up: And partly by the Neglect of former Keepers; who committed this Office to their Clerks and Servants; who in the Absence of the Keeper, might do what they listed with them, without any Man's Comptrollment.

Records imperfect before King John.

The last Note I shall make on this Subject is this, That strong Towers and Castles were commonly the Places where the State-Records and other Rolls of Moment were wont to be preserved: Of which Places there were divers in former Times, applied to this Use, both in England and France: But the Tower of London was always one. In the Reign of King Edward II. the chief Places appointed for the preserving the Records, were the Castles of Pontefract, in Yorkshire, Tutbury in Staffordshire, and Tonnebrug [Tunbridge] in Kent, and the Tower of London. Which Four Places are mentioned in an old Record. Rex omnibus ad quos, &c. Know ye, that we have assigned our beloved Clerks Robert de Hoton and Thomas de Sibthorp, to search, array, and put in right Order our Charters, Writings, and other our Muniments, being within our Castles of Pontefract, Tuttburie, and Tonnebrug, and those were come lately, and are in the Custody of the Keeper of our Tower of London: And also all those which are in the House of the Friars Preachers within the City of London; that is, The Black Friars; a Place of Strength where Parliaments used sometimes to sit, and where was a Tower.

Records anciently kept in Castles.

1. Pat. de an.16. Edw. II.

There were also in those Times other Records kept in the King's Dominions in the Parts of France; to wit, at the Towers of Bourdeaux and Baion. Which Places are mentioned in a Record in the Time of Edward III. To which (it is to be remarked) the Tower of London is also added. Et ad ponend. omnia hujusmodi jura & cetera predict. quæ per Inquisitionem legitimam clara poterunt invenire in Registra in Turribus, London. Burdigale and Bayone.

Records kept in France.

The Two last Keepers of the Records deceased, deserve to have some more particular Remark: Both learned in the Law, and who also by their incessant Pains, drew out vast Volumes of the usefullest of these Records, for more Publick Service, and for the Illustration of the ancient History and Liberty of this Land. The former was Prinn, whose Transcriptions are printed; the latter was Petyt, whose Transcriptions yet remain in Manuscript.

Remarks on the Two last Keepers.

William Prinn of Lincolns Inn, Esq; on whom King Charles II. conferred this Office during Life, soon after his Restoration, of his own mere Motion by Patent, sent him, without Fees; and conferred on him withal an honourable annual Salary out of the General Receipt of his Exchequer; the better to enable him to peruse, kalendar, and improve the Records for the Publick Good, and to rescue them from Obscurity and Oblivion. Which he performed by the Publication of many of them upon several Subjects and Occasions, in Three great Tomes in Folio. Collecting them, (as he tells us in his Epistles and Prefaces to them) out of the Office where the Records and Rolls lay; and

William Prinn, Keeper of the Records.