The importance of state–papers, as the most solid and useful
foundation of history, is a topic so universally allowed, that
it is unnecessary to enter into a particular discussion of it here.
The editor therefore will proceed immediately to an account of the
present collection, which relates to a period of the English affairs,
remarkable above all others for the variety as well as singularity of
The principal part of this collection consists of a series of papers,
discovered in the reign of king William, in a false ceiling in the
garrets belonging to secretary Thurloe's chambers, No. XIII. near the
chapel in Lincoln's–Inn, by a clergyman, who had borrowed those
chambers, during the long vacation, of his friend Mr. Thomlinson the
owner of them. This clergyman soon after disposed of the papers to
the right honourable John lord Somers, then lord high chancellor of
England, who caused them to be bound up in sixty seven volumes in
folio. These afterwards descended to sir Joseph Jekyll, master of the
rolls; upon whose decease they were purchased by the late Mr.
Fletcher Gyles, bookseller. They contain a very great variety of
authentic memorials of the English history from the death of king
Charles I. to the restoration of his son king Charles II. with some
few papers between the year 1638, and the commencement of that
I. Letters written by the council of state, during the republic,
the two protectors, Oliver and Richard Cromwell, and Mr.
II. Letters from the English embassadors, envoys, generals, admirals, &c. during that period.
III. Letters from the English embassadors, envoys, residents and
consuls in Portugal, Spain, France, Flanders, Holland, the Hansetowns, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Swisserland,
Italy, Turkey, &c.
IV. Letters from the commissioners of the great seal, treasury,
admiralty, and navy; the judges, attorney and sollicitor general,
governors of garrisons, and other officers, civil and military, in
V. Letters from general Monck, lord Broghill, afterwards earl of
Orrery, and other officers, civil and military, in Scotland and
VI. Letters from the major–generals appointed by Oliver Cromwell, over the several counties of England, during their administration.
VII. Letters from Fleetwood and Henry Cromwell, lord–deputies of Ireland, and from the council of that kingdom.
VIII. Letters from the governors, and other officers of New England, Jamaica, Barbadoes, and other English plantations in America.
IX. Letters from the admirals Blake, Montagu, afterwards earl
of Sandwich, and other sea–officers abroad.
X. Intercepted letters from persons of different parties both at
home and abroad, and letters of secret intelligence from all parts of
XI. Copies of letters written by embassadors, and envoys of foreign nations, and of letters sent to them.
XII. Informations and examinations relating to plots.
XIII. Petitions, orders of council, votes, and orders of parliament.
XIV. Treaties, memorials, remonstrances, and addresses.
XV. Accounts of the revenues of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
XVI. Schemes and proposals of various kinds, made to the protectors and others.
XVII. Papers relating to the state of Dunkirk, after it was
delivered up to the English in June, 1658.
Soon after the public had been acquainted with the design of
printing these papers, a considerable number of others very valuable was communicated by several hands, to whom every reader, as
well as the editor, is greatly obliged; and among these were,
1. Part of the original collection of Thurloe, which probably
came into the possession of lord Somers, after the binding up of the
lxvii volumes abovementioned, and therefore were not inserted in
them, as they ought to have been, since they relate to almost every
one of those volumes. They contain near four hundred important
papers; and were communicated by the right honourable Philip
lord Hardwicke, lord high chancellor of Great Britain.
2. Above two hundred and forty letters, written to H. Cromwell
by Thurloe, Fleetwood, lord Falconberg, col. Lockhart, embassador in France, Dr. Thomas Clarges, brother–in–law to general
Monck, lady Mary Cromwell, lady Elizabeth Cleypole, Mr. Cleypole, sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, &c. in the possession of the right
honourable the earl of Shelburne.
3. A series of letters from Thurloe to Henry Cromwell, major
general of the army in Ireland, and afterwards lord deputy of that
kingdom; in the hands of Joseph Jekyll, esq;
4. A series of letters written by Henry Cromwell, during his government of Ireland, communicated by his grandson, William
5. Letters of Thurloe, major general Massey, Mr. John Berwick,
afterwards dean of St. Paul's, to king Charles II. and lord chancellor
Hyde, with many other curious papers, in the possession of Joseph
Radcliffe, of the Inner–Temple, esq;
6. Letters and papers relating to the affairs of England and
Scotland, in the public records in the lower house of parliament at
Edinburgh, transcribed under the care of Mr. Thomas Ruddiman.
7. Extracts of letters written by mons. de Montreuil, the French
resident in England and Scotland, between the years 1645 and
1648, and by mons. de Bordeaux, the French embassador in England, to mons. de Brienne, secretary of state in France, in 1652,
and the two following years, transcribed from the originals in the
library of St. Germain at Paris, by Nicholas Mann, esq; master of the
8. Besides these several other useful papers were communicated,
which are likewise particularly acknowledged in the margin of each,
in order to authenticate them; for which reason references to the
pages of the several manuscript volumes are added to those published from them.
These additions to the original collection have inlarged the work
much beyond what was at first intended or imagined. But as the
suppression of any part of them would have occasioned an obscurity
in the rest, by interrupting the thread of affairs; and as the reader
would undoubtedly be pleased to have all the lights, foreign and
domestic, private and public, exhibited to him, upon which the
persons in the administration in that remarkable period of time
formed their measures, and by that means to find himself in near
the same situation with them; the editor was unwilling to omit any
papers, but such as seemed to him absolutely immaterial or redundant.
And indeed he can with the utmost sincerity declare, that he has
not retrenched, altered, or added a single word through the whole
collection; an assertion, which may easily be verified by having
recourse to the originals themselves. And here he thinks himself
oblig'd to make his sincere acknowledgments to Brian Fairfax and
Edward Burton Esquires, and Mr. John Ward of Gresham–college,
for their advice and assistance in the choice and disposition of the
materials, before they were committed to the press; and to the
rev. Dr. Edward Willes, dean of Lincoln, for his pains in decyphering several letters, of which the keys were wanting.
In the first volume of the MSS. is a complete collection of the
original papers of the treaty at Uxbridge, in which Mr. Thurloe
was one of the secretaries to the parliament–commissioners. But as
the greatest part of these have been already publish'd in the Works
of king Charles I. and sir William Dugdale's Short view of the late
troubles in England; it was thought proper to print those only,
which were omitted there. Several papers have likewise been inserted in the xxth volume of the Fœdera, publish'd by Mr. Sanderson,
from the first twelve volumes of Thurloe's manuscripts. But the
reader will be convinc'd of the necessity of reprinting them in this
collection, when he is assur'd, that the whole are most incorrectly
transcrib'd, the dates often mistaken, and the names of persons and
places generally disguis'd in such a manner, as to be quite unintelligible. Of this the three following letters will serve as a specimen, the originals of which are written in so distinct and clear
an hand, that they afford no excuse for the gross mistakes of the
editor, no less than ninety in the quantity of about a page and an
half, in a large character.
|Thurloe's MSS. vol. i. p. 779.||Fœdera, vol. xx. p. 565.|
|hautes puissances||hauts puissants|
|[deest in MS.]||d'une|
|vos seigneuries||vos seigneurs|
|vos seigneuries||vis seigneurs|
|Thurloe, p. 735.||Fœdera, p. 568.|
|le tort||ler tort|
|Thurloe, p. 805.||Fœdera, p. 572.|
|la race royale||la rayce royaume|
|les histoires||les histoire|
|aucune mention||aucun mention|
|et veu que||et veriqué|
|ses royaumes||sa royaumes|
The editor of the present collection is very far from flattering
himself, that he is exempt from mistakes; but he hopes, they are
not numerous, nor important; and begs leave to represent, in extenuation of such as may occur, the great disorder in the arrangement of the papers, which make up the several manuscript volumes; the extreme difficulty of reading many of the originals;
the want of dates in some, and the perplexity in those of others,
arising from the difference of the legal computation of the year in
England from that of other nations, and of the old and new styles;
and, above all, the hast, with which the impatience of the public
requir'd so vast a work to be dispatch'd at the press.