Statutes of the Realm: Volume 7, 1695-1701. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1820.
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Recital that Sir Robert Cotton, deceased, had made a Collection of useful Manuscripts, &c;
and that the same had been long preserved and augmented by his Son and Grandson; and that Sir John Cotton, the Grandson, was desirous that the Mansion House in which the same was kept should not be sold; The said House and Collection limited to Trustees, as herein mentioned; upon Trust to inspect, order, and take Care of the said Library; to appoint a Librarian, who is to give Security in £500; and to take the Oath following before the Lord Chancellor.
Whereas Sir Robert Cotton late of Connington in the County of Huntingdon Baronett did at his own great Charge and Expence and by the Assistance of the most learned Antiquaries of his Time collect and purchase the most usefull Manuscripts Written Books Papers Parchments [Records (fn. 1)] and other Memorialls in most Languages of great Use and Service for the Knowledge and Preservation of our Constitution both in Church and State which Manuscripts and other Writings were procured as well from Parts beyond the Seas as from severall Private Collectors of such Antiquities within this Realm [and (fn. 1)] are generally esteemed the best Collection of its Kind now any where extant And whereas the said Library has been preserved with the utmost Care and Diligence by the late Sir Thomas Cotton Son of the said Sir Robert and by Sir John Cotton of Westminster now living Grandson of the said Sir Robert and has been very much augmented and enlarged by them and lodged in a very proper Place in the said Sir Johns ancient Mansion House at Westminster which is very convenient for that Purpose And whereas the said Sir John Cotton in pursuance of the Desire and Intentions of his said Father and Grandfather is content and willing that the said Mansion House and Library should continue in his Family and Name and not be sold or otherwise disposed or imbezled and that the said Library should be kept and preserved by the Name of the Cottonian Library for Publick Use & Advantage Now for the better settling and assuring the same according to the Desire of the said Sir John Cotton and at his Request Be it enacted by [the Kings (fn. 2)] most Excellent Majesty by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in Parliament assembled and by the Authority of the same That from and immediately after the Death of the said Sir John Cotton the said Mansion House with the Gardens and all other Appurtenances and also all the said Library or Collection of Manuscripts Written Books Papers Parchments Records and other Memorials all which are particularly mentioned and named in a Schedule now remaining in the said Library together with all Coins Medals and other Rarities and Curiosities in the said Library now [remaining (fn. 3)] be settled limitted and vested in the Trustees hereafter named to have hold and enjoy to them and their Successors for ever to the Uses Intents and Purposes following (that is to say) as for the said House Gardens and Appurtenances other then the Room where the said Library now is or hereafter may be lodged and a convenient Way Passage and Resort to the same at the Will and Discretion of the Heirs of the Family and the Library hereafter mentioned to the only proper Use and Behoofe of John Cotton Esquire of Connington Grandson and Heir of the said Sir John Cotton and after his Decease to the First and every Son and Sons of the Body of the said John Cotton to be begotten and the Heirs Males of the Body of such Son or Sons issuing successively And for Default of such Issue to the Use of Thomas Cotton Brother of the said John Cotton for the Term of his Naturall And after his Decease to the First and every Son and Sons of the Body of the said Thomas to be begotten successively and to the Heirs Males of such Son or Sons And for Default of such Issue to Robert Cotton of Giddin in the County of Huntington Esquire Son of the said Sir John Cotton for the Term of his Naturall Life and after his Decease to John Cotton Son of the said Robert Cotton for his Naturall Life And after his Decease to the First and every Son [and (fn. 4)] Sons of the said John to be begotten successively and the Heirs Males of their Bodies issuing And for Default of such Issue to all and every the other Son and Sons of the said Body of the said Robert to be begotten and the Heirs Males of such Son or Sons successively And for Default of such Issue to Sir Robert Cotton of Hatley Saint George in the County of Cambridge Knight for his Naturall Life and after his Decease to the First and every Son or Sons of his Body to be begotten and the Heirs Males of such Son or Sons issuing successively And for Default of such Issue to Philip Cotton of Connington in the County of Cambridge Esquire for his Naturall Life And after his Decease to the First and every Son or Sons of his Body to be begotten and the Heirs Males of such Son or Sons issuing successively And for Default of such Issue to Thomas Cotton of Cotton in the County Palatine of Chester Esquire for the Term of his Naturall Life and after his Decease to the First and every the Son and Sons of his Body to be begotten and the Heirs Males of such Son or Sons issuing successively And for Default of such Issue to the Right Heirs of John Cotton Grandson and Heir of the said Sir John Cotton for ever And as for and concerning the said Library and the Room wherein the same is or shall be contained together with a convenient Passage for resorting thereunto upon this Trust and Confidence That the said Trustees and their Successors shall and will from time to time and at all Times hereafter as Occasion shall require inspect consult and take Care of the said Library and other Particulars above-mentioned and also make and appoint such Orders and Rules as they shall think proper for the reading and using the same and for their better Preservation and to the Intent and Purpose that the said Trustees or the major Part of them shall nominate and appoint a good and sufficient Person well read in Antiquities and Records to have the immediate Care and Custody of the said Library which Person so nominated shall before he takes upon him the said Custody and Imployment give Security to the Value of Five hundred Pounds by Recognizance with sufficient Sureties That none of the Manuscripts Written Books Papers Parchments Records or other Memorials whose Names and Titles are in the said Schedule shall be lost or otherwise imbezelled and shall also before he take upon him the said Custody and Imployment take the Oath following before the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England for the Time being in open Court who is hereby impowered and required to administer the same (viz[en])
I A: B: do swear That I shall and will during my Continuance in the Employment of Keeper of the Cottonian Library use my utmost Care and Endeavour for the preserving of the same and will not willingly or wittingly permitt [or suffer (fn. 5)] the same or any of the said Books Papers Parchments Records or other Particulars contained in the said Library to be given away aliened disposed or otherwise imbezelled So help me God
II. The said Premises and Library free from Judgments, Sale, Forfeiture, &c.
And it is hereby further enacted That the said House with the Appurtenances and the Library and other Particulars aforesaid shall never be subject or liable to any Judgments Statutes Recognizances or any other Incumbrances nor shall ever be sold or aliened forfeited or forfeitable upon any Account or Pretence whatsoever And further That the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper for the Time being The Honourable Robert Harley Esquire Speaker of the House of Commons and the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Commons for the Time being The Lord Chief Justice of the Kings Bench for the Time being Sir Robert Cotton of Hatley S[en]t George in the County of Cambridge Knight Philip Cotton of Connington in the said County Esquire Robert Cotton of Giddin in the County of Huntington Esquire and William Hanbury of the Inner Temple London Esquire shall be the Trustees to and for the Purposes aforesaid And in case of the Decease of any of the said last recited Four Persons the said John Cotton or other Heir Male of the said Family who shall be in Possession or entituled to the Possession of the Mansion House by the Limitations above recited shall nominate and appoint One or more fit Persons to succeed him or them and supply the Place of him or them so dying
III. All Alienations of the said Premises and Library void.
And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid for the better securing and preserving the said Library That all Bargains Sales Gifts Grants Devises or other Alienation whatsoever of any of the Manuscripts Parchments Written Papers Records or other Memorialls in the Schedule now remaining in the said Library and also of all Coins Medalls and other Rarities in the said Library contained are hereby declared to be absolutely void and of none effect And further That within Six Months after any Library Keeper shall undertake the said Office he shall cause another Schedule to be made in Parchment which shall contain not only the Names and Titles of all the said Manuscripts Parchments Written Papers Records and other Memorialls but also the Number of the Pages and Folio's thereunto belonging and cause the same to be inrolled in the High Court of Chancery as also the Names of all such Coins Medalls and other Rarities as he shall find contained in the said Library which said Inrollments so to be made shall be taken and recieved in the said Court without any Fee or Reward for the same
IV. General Saving.
Saving neverthelesse to His Majesty and all Bodies Politick and Corporate their Heirs and Successors and all and every other Person and Persons their Heirs Executors and Administrators (other than the said Sir John Cotton John Cotton the Grandson and John Cotton and all claiming from by or under them or either of them) all such Right Tytle and Interest as they or any of them might have or claim if this Act had never been made Any thing in this Act contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding