Introduction: The documents

Pages li-lii

The Spanish Company. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1973.

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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.