iii. The Documents
The documents calendared here contain between them most of the information which still survives concerning the revived Spanish Company of 1604–6.
The Register Book, now in the British Museum, is a folio volume written
in a large, clear hand, with only a few corrections. Its first entry is for 16
March 1604, the last for 2 January 1606. The Book of Oaths, Acts and
Ordinances from the Rawlinson Collection in the Bodleian Library was
written on 30 August 1605 with some subsequent additions covering the
period between then and the dissolution of the company; the last act
relates to an issue first raised at the general court of 6 November 1605. The
charter printed here is a copy of the original enrolment, and is now among
the State Papers Domestic in the Public Record Office. All three documents
are in the same legible hand and it seems likely that they are all the work of
Richard Langley, the lawyer who was appointed secretary to the company
at its first meeting. The section entitled 'Additional Documents' contains
some correspondence and other material to which reference was made in
the Register Book.
After the dissolution of the first Spanish Company on the outbreak of
war, Thomas Wilford the president kept the records at his home, and it is
possible that he or Langley took both them and the later records into similar
safekeeping after 1606. Thereafter, unfortunately, the early records disappeared completely, and nothing is known of the whereabouts of the
documents assembled here until they re-emerge as items in the great national
collections. The British Museum purchased the Register Book in December
1833 from the bookseller Thomas Thorpe the elder of 38 Bedford Street,
Covent Garden; some time earlier, before his death in 1755, the bibliophile
Richard Rawlinson had acquired the Book of Oaths, Acts and Ordinances
for the vast collection which he left to the Bodleian Library. It may perhaps
have come through the City connections of his father, the one-time Lord
Mayor Sir Thomas Rawlinson, but this cannot be firmly established.
In calendaring the documents, the aim has been to eliminate common
form while retaining everything of significance. Christian names have
generally been modernised but the original spelling of surnames has been
followed, although suspension marks at the end of names have been ignored.
Scribal corrections are given in footnotes only if they contain any material of
interest. The Register Book and the Book of Oaths also contain in the
margins brief notes made by the original scribe on the contents of paragraphs. These too have been omitted unless they add to the information
given in the text: they are then noted in footnotes. The original spelling
has been retained in quotations within the calendar; short quotations being
enclosed within single quotation marks and longer ones appearing in a
smaller type size.