Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments, a Digital Edition

Plates 1.28-1.33: English Barons’ Letter to the Pope, 1301

Plates: Engraved by George Vertue (1684-1756) in 1729 after a copy made in 1629 by John Bradshaw (dates unknown) of drawings made in 1624 by Augustine Vincent (c. 1584-1626) of what’s now known as the “Baron’s Letter of 1301” (Copy A, also called the White Copy).

Object: Copy A (also called the White Copy) of a document commonly known as the Baron’s Letter of 1301. The letter defended Edward I’s right to rule over Scotland in response to a bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1299 that asserted his precedent claim to Scotland as the country’s feudal overlord. The letter in question was never sent, but it remained an important archival document for establishing peerages and heraldry, the history of parliament, and sigillography. The plate preserves a copy of a seventeenth-century drawing of the letter and seals prepared by the herald, Augustine Vincent. Two copies of the letter were prepared at the Lincoln Parliament in 1301. In the eighteenth century, the copy represented in Plates 1.28-1.33 was kept in the Chapter House at Westminster. Both copies of the Barons Letter are currently held in the National Archives at Kew (ref: E 26). Augustine Vincent’s rendering of the letter is in the College of Arms (Vincent MSS 103[v] and 425).

Transcription:

Plate 1.28, Header: Exemplar Literarum Bonifacio Papæ per Magnates Anglice missarum in defensione / Superiotatis regis Edri Primi et juris sui regni apud Scotos Datarum a.o 1300 in / Parliamento apud Lincoln

Plate 1.28, Letter: Sanctissimo in xp̃o patri Dño B. divina providentia Scæ̃ Romanæ ac universalis ecƚiæ Summo Pontifici sui devoti filii Johannes Comes Warennæ[,] Thomas Comes Lancastriæ[,] Radulphus de Monte Hermeri Comes Gloucestr̃: et Hertford[,] Humfridus de Bohun Comes Hereford et Essex et Constabularius Angliæ[,] Rogerus Bigod Comes Norff. et Marescallus Angliæ[,] Guido Comes Warrewik, Ricardus Comes Arundell, Adomarus de Valencia Dñs de Montiniaco, Henricus de Lancastre Dñs de Munemue[,] Johannes de Hastinges Dñs de Bergeveny[,] Henricus de Percy Dñs de Topclive, Edmundus de Mortuomari Dñs de Wiggemor[,] Roƀtus filius Walteri Dñs de Wodeham, Joħes de Scõ Johanne Dñs de Hannak, Hugo de Veer Dñs de Swaneschaumpis, Wiƚƚus de Breuhosa Dñs de Gower, Roƀtus de Montealto Dñs de Hawardyn, Roƀtus de Tatteshale Dñs de Bukenham[,] Reginaldus de Grey Dñs de Ruthyn, Henricus de Grey Dñs de Codenore[,] Hugo Bardolf Dñs de Wirmegeye, Roƀtus de Tonny Dñs de Castro Matiƚƚ, Wiƚƚms de Ros Dñs de Hamelak, Roƀtus de Clifford Castellanus de Appelby, Petrus de Malolacu Dñs de Mulgreve, Philippus Dñs de Kyme, Roƀtus filius Rogeri Dñus de Clavering[,] Johannes de Mohun Dñs de Dunsterre[,] Almaricus de Scõ Amando Dñs de Widehaye, Alanus la Zuche Dñs de Asheby[,] Wiƚƚms de Ferrariis Dñs de Groby, Theobaldus de Verdun Dñs de Webbele, Tho: de Furnivall Dñs de Shefeld, Thomas de Multon Dñs de Egremonts, Wiƚƚus le Latimer Dñs de Corby[,] Tomas Dñs de Berkele, Fulco filius Warini Dñs de Whitington, Joħes Dñs de Segrave, Edmundus de Eyncourt Dñs de Thurgerton, Petrus Corbet Dñs de Cauz, Wiƚƚus de Cantilupo Dñs de Ravensthorp̃, Johannes de Bellocampo Dñs de Hacche, Rogerus de Mortuomari Dñs de Penketlyn, Johannes filius Reginaldi Dominus de Blenleveny[,] Ranulphus de Nevill Dñs de Raby[,] Brianus filius Alani Dñs de Bedale[,] Wiƚƚus Marescallus Dñs de Hangham[,] Walterus Dñs de Huntercombe[,] Wiƚƚus Martyn Dñs de Cameiso[,] Henricus le Tyeis Dñs de Chilton[,] Rogerus la Warre Dñs de Isefeld[,] Joħes de Ripariis Dñs de Angre[,] Johannes de Lancastre Dñs de Grisdale[,] Roƀtus filius Pagani Dñs de Launuer[,] Henricus Tregotz Dñs de Garynges[,] Radus Pipart Dñs de Linford[,] Walterus Dns de Faucumberge[,] Rogerus le Estraunge Dñs de Ellesmere[,] Johannes le Estraunge Dñs de Cnokyn[,] Thomas de Chaurces Dñs de Norton[,] Walterus de Bellocampo Dñs de Alecestre[,] Ricũs Talebot Dñs de Eckleswell[,] Johannes Buttetourte Dñs de Mendesham[,] Johannes Engayn Dñs de Colum[,] Hugo Poynz Dñs de Cory Malet[,] Adam Dñus Welle[,] Simon Dns de Monteacuto[,] Johannes Dñs de Sullee[,] Joħes de Moeles Dñs de Candebury[,] Edmundus Baro Stafforđ[,] Johannes Lovell Dñs de Dackingg̃ [,] Edmundus de Hastingg Dñs de Enchimeholmok[,] Radulfus filius Wiƚƚimi Dñs de Grymthorp[,] Roƀtus de Scales Dñs de Neuseles[,] Wiƚƚus Touchet Dñs de Leuenhales[,] Joħes Abadam Dñs de Beverstone[,] Joħes de Haveringes Dñs de Grafton[,] Roƀtus la Warde Dñs de Alba Aula[,] Nicholaus de Segrave Dñs de Stowe[,] Walterus de Teys Dñs de Stangreve[,] Joħes de Lisle Dñs de Wodeton[,] Eustachius Dñs de Hacche[,] Gilbertus Peche Dñs de Corby[,] Wiƚƚms Paynell Dñs de Tracynton[,] Bogo de Knovill Dñs de Albomonasterio[,] Fulco le Estraunge Dñs de Corsham[,] Henricus de Pynkeny Dñs de Wedene[,] Johannes de Hudleston Dñs de Aneys[,] Rogerus de Huntingfeld Dñs de Bradenham[,] Hugo filius Henrici Dominus de Raveneswath[,] Johannes le Breton Dñs de Sporle[,] Nicholaus de Carru Dñs Mulesford[,] Thomas Dñs de la Roche[,] Walterus de Moncy Dñs de Thornton[,] Johannes filius Marmaduci Dñs de Hordene[,] Joħes Dñs de Kingeston[,] Robertus Hastangs Dñs de la Desiree[,] Radulfus Dñs de Grendon[,] Wiƚƚus Dñs de Leyborn[,] Johannes de Greystok Dñs de Morpath[,] Matheus filius Johannis Dñs de Stokenhame[,] Nicholaus de Meynill Dñus de Wherleton, Johannes Paynell Dñs de Otteleye, devota pedum oscula beatorum.

Sancta Romana mater ecclesia per cuius ministerium fides Catholica gubernator in suis actibus cum ea sicut firmiter credimus et tenemus maturitate procedit quod nulli preiudicare set singulorum jura non minus in aliis quam in seipsa tanquam mater alma conservari velit illesa sane[.] [C]onvocato nuper per serenissimum Dominum nostrum Edwardum Dei gratia Regem Angliӕ illustrem Parliamento apud Lincoln generali Idem Dominus noster quasdam literas Apostolicas quas super certis negotiis condicoñem et Statum regni Scotiӕ tangentibus ex parte vestra receperat in medio exhiberi et seriose nobis fecit exponi[.] Quibus auditis et diligentius intellectis tam nostris sensibus admiranda quam hactenus inaudita in eisdem audivimus contineri[.] Scĩmqenim Pater Sanctissime et notorium est in partibus Angliӕ et nonnullis aliis non ignotum quod a prima institutione Regni Angliӕ Reges eiusdem regni tam temporibus Britonum quam Anglorum Superius et directum dominium Regni Scotiӕ habuerunt et in possessione vel quasi Superiotatis et directi Dominii ipsius regni Scotiӕ successivis temporibus extiterunt. Nec ullis temporibus ipsum regnum in temporalibus pertinuit vel pertinet quovis jure ad ecclesiam supradictam quin immo idem Regnum Scotiӕ Progenitoribus prӕdicti Domini nostri Regibus Angliӕ atq[ue] sibi feodale extitit ab antique[.] Nec etiam Reges Scotorum et regnum alii quam Regibus Angliӕ subfuerunt vel subjici consueverunt[.] Neq[ue] Reges Angliӕ super juribus suis in regno prӕdicto aut aliis suis temporalibus coram aliquo judice ecclesiastico vel seculari ex libera prӕheminentia status suӕ regiӕ dignitatis et consuetudinis cunctis temporibus irrefragabiliter observatӕ responderunt aut respondere debebant[.] Unde habito tractatu et deliberatione diligenti super contentis in vestris literis memoratis communis concors et unanimis omnium nostrũm et singulorum consensus fuit[,] est ac erit inconcusse Deo propitio in futurum quod prӕfatus Dominus noster Rex super juribus regni sui Scotiӕ aut aliis suis temporalibus nullatenus judicialiter respondeat coram Vobis nec judicium subeat quoquomodo aut jura sua prӕdicta in dubium questionis deducat[.] Nec ad p[rӕs]ntiam vestram Procuratores aut Nuncios ad hoc mittat Prӕcipue cum prӕmissa cederent manifeste in exhӕreditationem Juris Coronӕ regni Angliӕ et Regiӕ dignitatis ac subversionem Status eiusdem regni notoriam[.] Necnon in prӕjudicium libertatum[,] consuetudinum et legum paternarum ad quarum observationem et defensionem ex debito prestiti juramenti astringimur [e]t quӕ manu tenebimus toto posse totisque viribus cum Dei auxilio defendemus[.] Nec etiam permittimus aut aliquatenus permittemus sicut nec possumus nec debemꝰ prӕmissa tam insolita indebita prӕjudicialia et alias inaudita prӕlibatum Dominum nostrum Regem etiamsi vellet facere seu quomodolibet attemptare[.] Quo circa Sanctitati vestrӕ reverenter et humiliter supplicamus quatenus eundem Dominum n[os]trum Regem qui inter alios Principes Orbis terrӕ Catholicum se exhibet et eccƚiӕ Romanӕ devotum Jura sua, libertates[,] consuetudines et leges pđca absq[ue] diminutione et inquietudine pacifice possidere et ea illibata persistere benignius permittatis[.] In cuius rei testimonium sigilla nostra tam pro nobis quam pro tota Communitate pđci regni Angliӕ prӕsentibus sunt appensa[.] Da[ta] apud Lincoln xii die Februar.[,] Anno Domini Millesimo Trescentesimo.

Plate 1.29 Labels and Seal Legends:

Count Warenne
Obverse: S JONIS DE WARENNIA COMITIS DE SURREIA
Reverse: SIGILLVM JOHANNIS COMITIS DE WARENNIA

Com̃ Marescaƚ_.
SIGILLVM ROGERI BIGOD

Count Lancastr.
Obverse: S THOME COMITIS LANCAST LEYCESTRIE ET DE FERRARIIS
Reverse: SI THOME COMITIS LANCAST LEYCESTRIE ET DE FERRARIIS

Count Warrewyk
Obverse: S GWIDONIS DE BELLO CAMPO COM WARREWYK
Reverse: S GVIDONIS DE BELLOCAMPO COMITIS WARREWIK

Count Glocestr̃.
Obverse: S RADVLFI DE MONTE HERMERII COM GIOVERNIE [sic] ET HERTFORD
Reverse: S RADVLFI DE MONTE HERMERII COM GLOVERNIE ET HERTF

Count Arundell.
SIGILLVM RICARDI COMITIS DE ARVNDELL

Count de Hereford
Obverse: S H DE BOHVN COMITIS HEREFORD ET CONSTABVLAR ANGL
Reverse: S HVMFRIDI DE BOHVN COMITIS HEREFORDIE ET ESSEXIE

Adomarus de Valencia
SIGILLVM ADOMARI DE VALENCE

Henr̃: De Lancastr̃.
S HENRICI DE LANCASTER DNI DE MONEMVTA

Joh: de Hasting̃
No legend.

Plate 1.29, Bottom: Sumptibus Soc: Antiq:
 
Plate 1.30 Labels and Seal Legends:

Henr: de Percy
Obverse: SIGILLVM HENRICI DE PERCY
Reverse: SIGILLVM HENRICI DE PERCI

Edmund de Mortuomri
S EDMVNDI DE MORTVOMARI

Roƀtus fil: Walteri
No legend.

Joħes de S.to Johe.
Obverse: S JOHANNIS DE SCO JOHANNE DNI DE HANNAK
Reverse: S JOHANNIS DE SCO JOHANNE

Hugo de Veer
SIGILLVM HVGONIS DE VERE

Wiƚƚus de Brehouse
S WILLI DE BREOUSE DNI DE GOWER

Reginaldus de Grey
No legend.

Robertus de Mohaut.
S ROBERTI DE MONHAVT

Roƀtus de Tateshal
SIGILLVM ROBERTI DE TATESHAL

Hen: de Grey
No legend.

Hugo Bardolf.
No legend.

Roƀtus de Tonny
SIGILLVM ROBERTI DE TON

Wiƚƚus de Roos
S WILIEMI DE ROS

Roƀtus de Clifford
S ROBERT DE CLIFORD

Petrus de Malolacu / le tiers
Obverse: S PETRI DE MALOLACV TERTII
Reverse: SEEL PRIVI SVYA PEIE

Philippus Kyme Obverse:
SIGILLVM PHILIPPI DE KYME

Rob. fil. Rog. / de Clavering
No seal depicted.

Joħes de Moun
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE MOHVN

Amaricus de Scõ Amandon
S ALMAVRICI DE SCO AMANDO

Alanus la Zouche
SIGILLVM ALANI LA SOVCHE

Wiƚƚus de Ferrers
SIGILLVM WILLIELMI DE FERRARIIS

Tebaud de Verdun
Obverse: SIGILLVM THEOBALDI DE VERDVN
Reverse: CONSTBVLARII HIBERNIE

Thom̃ de Furnivall
SIGILLVM THOME DE FOVRNIVAL

Plate 1.30, Bottom: Sumptibus Soc. Antiq: 

Plate 1.31 Labels and Seal Legends:

Thomas de Molton
SIGILLVM THOME DE MOVLTON

Wiƚƚus le Latymer
S WILLIELMI LE LATIMER

Thomas de Berkele
SIGILLVM THOME DE BERKELE

Fulco filius Warini
SIGILLVM FVICONIS FILII WARINI

Joħes de Segrave
No legend.

Edmond de Eyncourt
No legend.

Petrus Corbet
SIGILLVM PETER CORBET

Wiƚƚus de Cantilupo
SI WILLIELMI DE CANTILVPO

Joħes de Bellocampo
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE BELLOCAMPO

Rogerus de Mortuomari
No legend.

Joħes fil: Reginaldi
S JOHANNIS FILII REGINALDI

Randꝰ de Neyvill
SI RADVLPHI DE NEVILE

Brianꝰ fil: Alani
TOT CAPITA TOT SENTENTIE

Wiƚƚm le Marescħ.
SIGILLVM WILLIELMI MARESCALL

Walterus de Huntercombe
No legend.

Wiƚƚus Martyn_
No legend.

Henr̃ic Tyeys
SIGIL HENRICI CIS

Roger le Warre
No seal depicted.

Joħes de Ripariis
No seal depicted.

Johannes de Lancastr̃
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE LONGCASTER

Roƀtus filius Pagani
No legend.

Henric Tregoz
SIGILLVM HENRICI TREGOZ

Radulp Pipart
No seal depicted.

Walterus de Faucomberg
SIGILLVM WALTERI DE FAVCONBERGE

Rog: le Estrange
No legend.

Joħes le Strange
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS LE STRANGE

Tho: de Chaurth
SIGILLVM THOME DE CHAWORTH

Walterus de Bellocampo
S WALTERI DE BELLOCAMPO DNI DE ALCESTRE

Ricardus Talebot
RICARDVS TALEBOT

Joħes Botetourte
SIGILL JOHANNIS DE BOVTOVRT

S. Adӕ de Welle
Obverse: SIGILLVM DOMINI ADE DE WELLE
Reverse: SIGILLVM ADE DE WELLE

Joħes Engayn
No seal depicted.

Hugo Poynz
S NICHOLAI POYNZ

Simon de Monteacuto
S SIMONIS DOMINI DE MONTEACVTO

Plate 1.31, Bottom: Sumptibus Soc. Antiq.

Plate 1.32 Labels and Seal Legends:

Joħes de Sule
No legend.

Joħes de Moeles
No legend.

Edmundus de Estafford
EDMVNDI STAF

Joħes Lovell
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS LOVELL

Edmond de Hasting̃
S EDMVNDI HASTING COMITATV MENETEI

Rađus fil Willi
S RADVLFI FILII WILLIELMI

Roƀtus de Scales
No legend.

Wiƚƚus Tuchet
SIGILLVM WILLIELMI TVCHET

Joħes ap Adam
No seal depicted.

Joħes de Havering
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE HAVERING

Roƀtus la Warde
ROBERTI DE LA WARD

Walterus de Teye
Obverse: S WALTERI DE TEYE DNI DE STEYNGREYVE
Reverse: SECRETVM WALTERI DE TEYE

Joħes de Lisle
No seal depicted.

Eustachius de Hacche
Obverse: SIGILLVM EUSTACHII DE HACCHE
Reverse: S EVSTACHI DE LA HACCHIE

Gilbertus Peche
Obverse: SIGILLVM GILBERTI PECCHE
Reverse: S GILBERTI PECCHE

Wiƚƚus Paynell
SIGILLVM WILLIELMI PAYNELL

Bogo de Knovile
SIGILLVM BOGONIS DE KNOVILE

Fulcu lestr^ange
SIGILLVM FVLCONIS LE STRANGE

Henr̃: de Pynkeny
S HENRICI DE PYNKENY

Johannes de Hodleston
S JOHANNIS DE HOLDESTON

Rogerus de Huntingfeld
S ROGERI DE HVNTINGFELD

Hugo filius Henrici
HVGONIS FILII HENRICI

Joħes le Breton
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS LE BRETOVN

Nicolaus de Carru
S NICHOLAI DE CARREW

Tho: de Roche S THOME DE L ROCHE

Plate 1.32, Bottom: Sumptibus Soc. Antiq:

Plate 1.33 Labels and Seal Legends:

Wal: de Mouncy
SIG WALTERI DE MOVNCY

Joħes de Kingeston
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE KINGESTON

Roƀtus Hastangs
SIGILLVM ROBERTI HASSTANG

Johannis fil: Marmaduci.
S JOHANNIS FILII MARMADVCI

Rađus de Grendon
SIGILLVM RADVLPHI DE GRENDON

Wiƚƚus de Leybourne
S WILLELMI DE LEYBVRN

Joħes de Greystok
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS DE GREYSTOK

Matheus fil Joħis
S MATHEI FIILII JOHANNIS

Nich. De Menyll
SIGILLVM NICHOLAI DE MEYNIL

Joħes Paynell
SIGILLVM JOHANNIS PAYNELL

Plate 1.33, Caption 1: All these Seales were fastened to the said Charter or Letter with silke stringes with divers Seales upon one string, and upon the backe of the writing, right over against every Labell or string were written the names of those whose Seales depended thereon. Copied the xxith of October ao Dñi 1624.

There were 8 these Barons named in the Charter which never sealed, viz
1. Robertus Fitz Roger Dñs de Clavering
2. Rogerus la Warre Dñs de Isefeld
3. Johes de Ripariis Dñs de Aungre
4. Radulfus Pipard Dñus de Lunford
5. Johannes Engayne Dñs de Colun
6. Johannes ap Adam Dñs de Beuerston
7. Nicholaus de Segrave Dñs de Stouwe [sic]
8. Johannes de Insula Dñs de Wodeton.

Aug. Vincent Windesor

Plate 1.33, Caption 2: Ad mandatũ Nobilissimi Thomas Comitis Arundelliӕ & Surreyӕ Anglicӕ Marescalli Domini sui honoratissimi Prӕmissa transcribi fecit, examinavit cum originali Instrumento in Thesauro Dñi Regis Caroli Westmonasterii remanente verbatim concordare vidit, Johes Bradshaw in eodem Thesauro Procamerarius omniaq[ue] prӕlibata sigilla prout in autographo se conspicienda prӕbent exacte delineari curavit idem Joħes Windsor Heraldus mense Novembris 1629.

Plate 1.33, Caption 3: These plates were drawn & Engraved from two authentick Transcripts taken from the Original, which are now preserved in the Heralds Office London, That Original not being now to be found ~

Plate 1.33, Bottom: Sumptibus SOC. ANTIQUARIӔ Long: A.D. 1729.

Translation:

Plate 1.28 Header: An example of the letters sent to Pope Boniface by the English barons in defense of the supremacy of King Edward I and the laws of his realm over the Scots, given in the year 1300 at the Parliament at Lincoln.

Plate 1.28, Letter: To the most Holy Father, B[oniface] by Divine Providence Highest Pope of the Holy Roman and Universal Church, your Devoted Sons John Earl Warenne; Thomas Earl Lancaster; Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford; Humfrey of Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex and Constable of England; Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk and Marshall of England; Guy Earl Warwick; Richard Earl Arundel, Aylmer de Valence, Lord of Moniniaco; Henry of Lancaster, Lord of Monmouth; John de Hastings, Lord of Bergavenny; Henry de Percy, Lord of Topcliffe; Edmund Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore; Robert Fitzwalter Lord of Woodham; John de St John, Lord of Halnaker; Hugh de Vere, Lord of Swanscombe; William de Braose, Lord of Gower; Robert de Montalt, Lord of Harwardyn; Robert de Tateshale, Lord of Bukeham; Reginald de Gray, Lord of Ruthyn; Henry de Grey, Lord of Codnor; Hugh Bardolph, Lord of Wirmegaye; Robert de Tonny, Lord of Castle Matill; William of Ross, Lord of Helmsley; Robert de Clifford, Chatelain of Appleby; Peter de Mauley, Lord of Musgrave; Philip, Lord of Kyme; Robert, son of Roger, Lord of Clavering; John de Mohun, Lord of Dunster; Almeric de St Amand, Lord of Woodhaye; Alan la Zouche, Lord of Ashby; William de Ferrers, Lord of Groby; Theobald de Verdon, Lord of Weobley; Thomas de Furnivall, Lord of Sheffield; Thomas de Multon, Lord of Egremont; William le Latimer, Lord of Corby; Thomas, Lord of Berkeley; Fulk FitzWarin, Lord of Whitington; John Lord of Segrave; Edmund Deincourt, Lord of Thurgeton; Peter Corbet, Lord of Caus; William de Cantelupe, Lord of Ravensthorp; John de Beauchamp, Lord of Hacche; Roger de Mortimer, Lord of Penketlyn; John FitzReginald, Lord of Blenleveny; Ralph de Neville, Lord of Raby; Brian FitzAlan, Lord of Bedale; William Marshall, Lord of Hengham; Walter, Lorde of Huntercombe; William Martin, Lord of Cemais; Henry de Tyes, Lord of Chilton; Roger la Warre, Lord of Isefeld; John Rivers, Lord of Angre; John of Lancaster, Lord of Grisedale; Robert FitzPayne, Lord Lammer; Henry Tregoz, Lord of Garynges; Ralph Pipart, Lord of Linford; Walter, Lord of Fauconberg; Roger le Strange, Lord of Ellesmere; John le Strange, Lord of Knokyn; Thomas de Chaworth, Lord of Norton; Walter de Beauchamp, Lord of Alcester; Richard Talbot, Lord of Eccleswell; John Botetourt, Lord of Mendesham; John Engayn, Lord of Colum; Hugh Poyntz, Lord of Curry Mallet; Adam, Lord Welles; Simon, Lord of Montagu; John, Lord of Sudeley; John de Moels, Lord of Cadbury; Edward, Baron Stafford; John Lovel, Lord of Dacking; Edmund de Hastings, Lord of Inchmahome; Ralph, son of William, Lord of Grimthorp; Robert de Scales, Lord of Neuseles; William Touchet, Lord of Levens Hall; John ab Adam, Lord of Beverstone; John de Havering, Lord of Grafton; Robert de la Ward, Lord of Whitehall; Nicholas Seagrave, Lord of Stow; Walter de Teye, Lord of Standgreve; John de Lisle, Lord of Wootton; Eustache, Lord of Hacche; Gilbert de Pecche, Lord of Corby; William Paynell, Lord of Tracyngton,; Bogo de Knovill, Lord of Whitminster; Fulk le Strange, Lord of Corsham; Henry de Pinkney, Lord of Wedon; John de Hudleston, Lord of Aneys; Roger de Huntingfield, Lord of Bradenham; Hugh Fitzhenry, Lord of Ravensworth; John le Breton, Lord of Sporle; Nicholas de Carew, Lord of Mulesford; Thomas, Lord de la Roche; Walter de Moncy, Lord of Thornton; John FitzMarmaduke, Lord of Horden; John, Lord of Kingston; Robert de Hastang, Lord of La Desiree; Rald, Lord of Grendon; William Lord of Leyborn; John de Greystoke, Lord of Morpeth; Matthew FitzJohn, Lord of Stokenham; Nicholas de Meynill, Lord of Wherleton; and John Paynel, Lord of Otteleye, with devout kisses of his blessed feet.

The Holy Roman Mother Church, by whose ministry the Catholic faith is governed in its acts, proceeds, as we firmly believe and hold, with that gentleness that she wishes to prejudice no one, but, like a gracious mother, to preserve the rights of individuals, not less in other countries than in her own body, unimpaired.1 At a general Parliament lately summoned at Lincoln by the most serene Lord Edward, by the grace of God, illustrious King of England, the same our Lord the King caused to be displayed in our midst and to be categorically explained to us certain Apostolic letters which he had received on your part concerning certain matters affecting the condition and state of the kingdom. And when we had heard and carefully understood them we found that they contained matters which caused as much wonder to our feelings as they were unheard of hitherto. For we know, most Holy Father, and it is notorious in our country and not unknown to many, that from the first foundation of the kingdom of England, the kings of that kingdom, as well in the times of the Britons as of the Angles, had in their possession superior and direct dominion over the kingdom of Scotland, or were captains of the sovereignty and rightful lordship of the same at successive periods, nor at any time did the same kingdom in temporalities belong, nor does it now belong in any way, to the aforesaid Church. Moreover, the same kingdom of Scotland has existed from ancient times as fief to the progenitors of our said king, themselves kings of England, and to the king himself. Nor were even the kings of the Scots and their kingdom subject or wont to be subject to any other than to the kings of England, nor to have the kings of England answered, or ought they to answer, concerning their rights in the kingdom aforesaid or concerning any other their temporalities, before any judge ecclesiastical or secular, because of the pre-eminence of the state of their royal dignity, and custom in all times irrefragably observed. Wherefore, after discussion and careful deliberation on the contents of your letter, the common, concordant, and unanimous consent of all and singular of us has been, and will be, by favor of God, unalterably fixed for the future, that our Lord the King does not answer in any way touching the rights of the kingdom of Scotland or other their temporalities before you, nor undergo judgment in any way, nor bring his aforesaid rights in question, nor send to your presence proctors or ambassadors for that purpose, especially since such proceeding would tend to the disinheritance of the right of the Crown of England, and of the royal dignity, and to the notorious overturning of the state of the same kingdom, as well as to the prejudice to the liberty, customs, and the laws of our fathers, to the observance and defense of which we are bound by the due regard of our oaths, and which we will keep in our hands with all our power, and will defend, by God’s help, will all our might. Nor do we even permit, nor will we in any way permit, for we cannot and ought not to do so, our aforesaid Lord the King to do or in any way attempt (even if he himself wished it) the premises so strange, so undeserved and prejudicial, and hitherto unheard of.

Wherefore we beg your Holiness, reverently and humbly, to graciously permit the same our Lord the King, who, among other princes of the world, displays himself a Catholic and devoted to the Church of Rome, to possess in peace his rights, liberties, customs and laws aforesaid, without diminution or disturbance, and to hold the same uninjured.

In testimony whereof our seals, as well for ourselves here present as for the whole aforesaid Communities of the Kingdom of England, are appended. Dated at Lincoln, 12 February, A.D. 1300.

Note:

[1]: This translation of the letter is taken from Some Feudal Lords and Their Seals (De Walden 1904, xviii-xix).

Plate 1.29 Labels and Seal Legends:

Count Warenne
Obverse: Seal of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey
Reverse: Seal of John, Earl of Warenne

Earl Marshall
Seal of Roger Bigod

Count Lancaster
Obverse: Seal of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, Leicester, and Ferrers
Reverse: Seal of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, Leicester, and Ferrers

Count Warrewyk
Obverse: Seal of Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick
Reverse: Seal of Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick

Count Gloucester
Obverse: Seal of Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford
Reverse: Seal of Ralph de Monthermer, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford

Count Arundell
Seal of Richard, Earl of Arundell

Count de Hereford
Obverse: Seal of Humfrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Constable of England
Reverse: Seal of Humfrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex

Aylmer de Valence
Seal of Aylmer de Valence

Henry of Lancaster
Seal of Henry of Lancaster, Lord of Monmouth

John de Hastings
No legend.

Plate 1.30 Labels and Seal Legends:

Henry de Percy
Obverse: Seal of Henry de Percy
Reverse: Seal of Henry de Percy

Edmund Mortimer
Seal of Edmund Mortimer

Robert FitzWalter
No legend.

John St. John
Obverse: Seal of John St. John, Lord of Halnaker
Reverse: Seal of John St. John, Lord of Halnaker

Hugo de Vere
Seal of Hugo de Vere

William de Braose
Seal of William de Braose, Lord of Gower

Reginald de Grey
No legend.

Robert de Montalt
Seal of Robert de Montalt

Robert de Tateshale
Seal of Robert de Tateshale

Henry de Grey
No legend.

Hugh Bardolph
No legend.

Robert de Tonny
Seal of Robert de Tonny

William of Ross
Seal of William of Ross

Robert de Clifford
Seal of Robert de Clifford

Peter de Mauley, III
Obverse: Seal of Peter de Maule, III
Reverse: Private Seal (in both English and old French)

Philip Kyme
Seal of Philip Kyme

Robert son of Roger / of Clavering
No seal depicted.

John de Mohun
Seal of John de Mohun

Almeric de St. Amand
Seal of Almeric de St. Amand

Alan la Zouche
Seal of Alan la Zouche

William de Ferrers
Seal of William de Ferrers

Theobald de Verdon
Obverse: Seal of Theobald de Verdon
Reverse: Constable of Ireland

Plate 1.31 Labels and Seal Legends:

Thomas de Multon,
Seal of Thomas de Multon

William le Latimer
Seal of William le Latimer

Thomas of Berkeley
Seal of Thomas of Berkeley

Fulk FitzWarin
Seal of Fulk FitzWarin

John de Segrave
No legend.

Edmund Deincourt
No legend.

Peter Corbet
Seal of Peter Corbet

William de Cantelupe
Seal of William de Cantelupe

John de Beauchamp
Seal of John de Beauchamp

Roger de Mortimer
No legend.

John FitzReginald
Seal of John FitzReginald

Ralph de Neville
Seal of Ralph de Neville

Brian FitzAlan
There are as many opinions as there are heads.

William Marshall
Seal of William Marshall

Walter de Huntercombe
No legend.

William Martin
No legend.

Henry de Tyes
Seal of Henry

Roger la Warre
No seal depicted.

John Rivers
No seal depicted.

John de Lancaster
Seal of John de Lancaster

Robert FitzPayne
No legend.

Henry Tregoz
Seal of Henry Tregoz

Ralph Pipart
No seal depicted.

Walter de Fauconberg
Seal of Walter de Fauconberg

Roger le Strange
No legend.

John le Strange
Seal of John le Strange

Thomas de Chaworth
Seal of Thomas de Chaworth

Walter de Beauchamp
Seal of Walter de Beauchamp, Lord of Alcester

Richard Talbot
Richard Talbot

John Botetourt
Seal of John Botetourt

S. Adam de Welles
Obverse: Seal of Lord Adam de Welles
Reverse: Seal of Adam de Welles

John Engayn
No seal depicted.

Hugh Poyntz
Seal of Nicholas Poyntz

Simon de Montagu
Seal of Simon, Lord of Montagu

Plate 1.32 Labels and Seal Legends:

John Sudeley
No legend.

John de Moels
No legend.

Edward Stafford
Edward Staf[ford]

John Lovel
Seal of John Lovel

Edmund de Hastings
Seal of Edmund de Hastings, Lord of Inchmahome

Ralph, son of William
Seal of Ralph, son of William

Robert de Scales
No legend.

William Touchet
Seal of William Touchet

John ab Adam
No seal depicted.

John de Havering
Seal of John de Havering

Robert de la Ward
Robert de la Ward

Walter de Teye
Obverse: Seal of Walter de Teye, Lord of Standgreve
Reverse: Secretary of Walter de Teye

John de Lisle
No seal depicted.

Eustache de Hacche
Obverse: Seal of Eustache de Hacche
Reverse: Seal of Eustache de la Hacche

Gilbert de Pecche
Obverse: Seal of Gilbert de Pecche
Reverse: Seal of Gilbert de Pecche

William Paynell
Seal of William Paynell

Bogo de Knovill
Seal of Bogo de Knovill

Fulk le Strange
Seal of Fulk le Strange

Henry de Pinkney
Seal of Henry de Pinkney

John de Hudleston
Seal of John de Hudleston

Roger de Huntingfield
Seal of Roger de Huntingfield

Hugh Fitzhenry
Hugh Fitzhenry

John le Breton
Seal of John le Breton

Nicholas de Carew
Seal of Nicholas de Carew

Thomas de la Roche
Seal of Thomas de la Roche

Plate 1.33 Labels and Seal Legends:

Walter de Moncy
Seal of Walter de Moncy

John de Kingston
Seal of John de Kingston

Robert de Hastang
Seal of Robert de Hastang

John FitzMarmaduke
Seal of John FitzMarmaduke

Rald de Grendon
Seal of Rald de Grendon

William de Leyborn
Seal of William de Leyborn

John de Greystoke
Seal of John de Greystoke

Matthew FitzJohn
Seal of Matthew FitzJohn

Nicholas de Meynill
Seal of Nicholas de Meynill

John Paynel
Seal of John Paynel

Plate 1.33, Caption 1: Text is in English.

Plate 1.33, Caption 2: By the command of the most noble Thomas, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, his most honored Lord Marshal of England [,] John Bradshaw made this transcription; he examined it and saw that it agreed, verbatim, with the original document in the repository at Westminster of the Lord King Charles. In the same repository, all the attached seals show themselves to be exactly as drawn by John [Bradshaw], the Windsor Herald, in the month of November 1629.

Plate 1.33 Caption 3: Text is in English.

Commentary by Crystal B. Lake and Benjamin Wiechmann: Plates 1.28-1.33 depict a letter that the Earls and Barons of England intended to send to Pope Boniface VIII, dated 12 February 1301. This letter—which appears never to have been sent—is commonly described as the “Barons’ Letter of 1301.” These prints illustrate the Society’s ongoing interest in a range of topics, including: political history, genealogy, heraldry, sigillography, the technologies of manuscript facsimile, the Society’s own institutional history, and George Vertue’s interest as an engraver in the art-historical tradition of metal work. Notably, Plates 1.28-1.33 do not depict the letter itself; rather, they represent a twice remediated copy of the letter by depicting a copy of a copy of the letter. In 1629, John Bradshaw copied Augustine Vincent’s drawings, made in 1624, of what’s now known as Copy A (or the White Copy) of the Baron’s Letter. As the note on Plate 1.33 attests, Vincent’s drawings were considered to be lost at the time that Vertue engraved the prints based on Bradshaw’s copy of Vincent’s drawings; Vincent’s 1624 drawings have since been found—and may always have been—in the College of Arms (Vincent MSS 103[v] and 425).

Vertue completed the prints depicting the Barons’ Letter in 1729, but the history of the document’s facsimiles officially came to the attention of the Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) three years earlier. At the meeting on 30 November 1726, Peter Le Neve (1661-1729) presented “a copy of a letter printed which was sent by the Earls and Barons of England to the Pope…with their several seals engraven by Burghers” (SAL Minutes I.194). The minutes here likely refer to engravings of the seals that had been prepared by Michael Burghers (1647/8-1727) sometime in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century.

The minutes report that the following week, Le Neve “brought an exemplification of the aforesaid letter” in from the Library of the College of Heralds for members to view (SAL Minutes I.194). This time, the antiquaries also admired the depictions of the seals affixed to the end of the letter, deeming them “very curiously designed” (SAL Minutes I.194). Likely, the antiquaries were now examining Bradshaw’s 1629 certified copy of Vincent’s certified copy of the Barons’ Letter.


The Barons’ Letter and Political History

The letter here depicted was originally written in 1301 in response to a series of events that had unfolded in the previous year. In 1298, Edward I thwarted a Scottish uprising in the Battle of Falkirk. Defeated, the Scots appealed to both King Philip IV and Pope Boniface VIII for redress. Consequently, in 1299 Pope Boniface VIII issued a bull that asserted his precedent claim to Scotland as the country’s feudal overlord. Edward I considered several responses to the Pope. One of these responses was the letter here presented in Plates 1.28-1.33. The letter, bearing the signatures of seven earls and ninety-six barons, was the most bellicose option Edward I entertained as one possible response to Boniface; the letter outright refutes the Pope’s claims to jurisdiction in Scotland. Likewise, although the letter defends Edward I’s right to rule over Scotland, it also includes a pointed reminder to both the King as well as to the Pope that Edward I enjoyed such sovereignty at the pleasure of the realm’s peers. The letter went so far as to insist that Edward I couldn’t relinquish his claim over Scotland even if he wanted to because the Barons alone had the authority to bestow the right to rule on a monarch.

The Barons wrote the letter after the close of the Parliament at Lincoln, which was held from 13-20 January 1301. Records of this parliament were entered into the Close Rolls (25 Ed. I. m.16-17) and the Parliament Rolls (6 Ed. III. m.11). Late medieval chronicles such as Flores Historiarum, the chronicle of Thomas Walsingham, Hemming’s Cartulary, and Trivet’s Annales also included summaries, transcripts, and references to the letter (Hume 1762, 2.114). The standard reference source for the Barons Letter later became the transcription that appeared in the second edition of Thomas Rymer’s Foedera (1726, 2.873). In short, the Barons’ Letter has remained a known and significant legal document since the time of its composition.1

Although the Barons’ Letter was useful for rehearsing the history of England’s rule over Scotland, the letter primarily featured as evidence in various debates about the rights of the sovereign versus the rights of the parliament. Questions over what the letter proved about royal and parliamentary prerogatives reached a fever pitch in the midst of the seventeenth century’s political crisis. For some historians, like Edward Coke (1552-1634), the Barons’ Letter showed that England’s sovereigns had willingly constrained their authority by consulting and deferring to a parliamentary body on matters of state. The letter was widely taken as the first document offering proof of sitting in parliament.

For those who shared Coke’s perspectives on the nature of the English government, the Barons Letter stood as a document that Charles I ought to heed: evidence that a century after King John had signed the Magna Carta, England’s monarch continued to feel compelled to summon a parliament in order to collaborate on a response to something as significant as the Pope’s bullish bull. At the Lincoln Parliament, Edward I had also stamped his letters patent to renew the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forests. As William Blackstone put it, the Lincoln Parliament marked “the final and complete establishment of the two charters…which from their first concession under king John A.D. 1215, had been often endangered, and undergone very many mutations, for the space of near a century; but were now fixed upon an eternal basis” (1759, lxxiv).

In the end, however, the Barons Letter appears never to have been sent to the Pope. Edward I sent a letter of his own instead: one that he drafted with the help of advisors and completed after the close of the Parliament at Lincoln. Edward’s letter was more conciliatory in tone and established his right to rule based on a review of legal precedents and the practical exigencies presented by the Scots’ recent rebellion. Edward I’s letter to Boniface was also known and referenced alongside the Barons’ Letter. Up until the nineteenth century, however, historians believed that both letters had been sent to the Pope and some felt that together, the two letters represented a collaborative and united response to Boniface’s bull. It wasn’t until the archives at the Vatican had been searched that historians realized that the Barons’ Letter had likely never been sent.

There were likewise notable discrepancies between the writs of summons for the Lincoln Parliament, the record of those who attended the parliament, and the letter's signatories. There was also confusion about the timing of the letter’s composition, signing, and sealing. According to Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas (1799-1848), the antiquary who would emerge as the expert on the Baron’s Letter in the early nineteenth century, Edward I issued a number of writs in the autumn of 1300 summoning nine earls and eighty barons to a meeting in Lincoln in February 1301 (1825, 87). Comparing the letter’s signatures to the names appearing in the writs shows that of eighty-nine individuals known to have been directly summoned to that parliament, seventeen either declined to sign the letter or did not attend the meeting: two earls and fifteen barons. Yet the letter contains one hundred and three signatures. Even this number could be contested. Rymer’s Foedera records one hundred and four signatures, and Dugdale’s transcript of the letter in his “Copy of All Summons of the Nobility” records one hundred and two signatures (Nicolas 1825, 802). Thirty-one individuals, therefore, apparently signed the letter who are not recorded as having either been summoned or present at the parliament in the Rolls. Variations between who was summoned and who attended the parliament—as well as who signed the letter—proved a challenge for heralds looking to establish lineages for the peerage and thereby settle competing claims to property as well as privileges, but such variations also introduced debate over the balance of power in the fourteenth-century state.2

Some historians claimed the letter had been drafted at the Parliament itself, indicating that it had been treated as official government business. Others claimed the letter had been drafted after the Parliament concluded, indicating that Earls and Barons had elected to take matters into their own hands. Additionally, not all of those who attended the Parliament sealed the document on site. The Wardrobe Rolls, for example, note payments to one of the king’s clerks, Alexander Convers, for his service traveling to collect seals and signatures in the weeks following the close of the Lincoln Parliament.

A number of hypotheses could explain both the timing of the letter’s composition and discrepancies between who was summoned to the parliament, who attended it, and who signed the letter. Such hypotheses also inevitably bolstered competing claims about both the relationships between the king and the barons as well as individual barons’ rankings in the hierarchies of fourteenth-century English society. Nicolas maintained, however, that few hypotheses could ever be proven satisfactorily. For one thing, the conventions of ancient governments were too obscure (Nicolas 1825, 800). For another thing, those conventions could hardly be clarified by an archive that was incomplete. Not only were many ancient documents acknowledged to have gone missing, the letters themselves were hardly legible by the early nineteenth century. Nicolas confidently claimed that the Barons’ Letter in the Chapter House had “in the last two centuries...received more injury than in the three preceding ones” (1825, 806). Nicolas felt that the damage was more than the effect of time; he was convinced that “proof exist[ed] of wilful [sic] spoliation” (1825, 802).

Nicolas never speculates about why anyone would purposefully vandalize the copy of the Barons’ Letter then in the Chapter House. Nor does he describe the state of the copy of the letter that was originally kept in the Treasury of the Exchequer, Copy B, but later moved to the Chapter House by the time Nicolas studied the documents for himself. In 1825, Nicolas found three references to Copy A of Barons’ Letter in previously-published historical reference works: Rymer, in the “early editions of the Foedera,” Dugdale in his Summons, and the print prepared by Vertue included in Vetusta Monumenta (Nicolas 1825, 794). Nicolas concludes, however, that only the version of the letter rendered on Plates 1.28-1.33 was the copy that could be definitively linked to the document in the Chapter House; the others were likely based on previous transcriptions or otherwise corrupted (1825, 802-04). Today, both copies exist in similarly illegible states.

In the meantime, not everyone agreed with Coke that the Barons’ Letter established the authority of a parliament or even evinced a meaningful collaboration between Edward and his barons. Controversy over the Barons’ Letter reached a fever pitch after the royalist Robert Brady insisted in his Complete History of England (1685) that not only did parliaments like the one at Lincoln assemble purely at the pleasure of the king, but also that the collaboration between the barons and Edward I was merely a convenient fiction that the sovereign tendered—one designed simultaneously to placate the barons and present a strong, united front to the Pope (Pocock [1957] 1987, 182-196). The letter’s significance for British political history, then, was likely one important reason why the antiquaries included it in Vetusta Monumenta, which featured a facsimile of at least one other infamous document relevant for determining matters of state: the warrant issued for Charles I’s execution (Plate 2.6).


The Barons’ Letter and Seventeenth-Century Antiquarianism

In their discussions of Barons’ Letter, seventeenth-century scholars referred to one another, to the medieval chronicles that included notice of the letter, or to transcripts of the letter that were made and kept in private collections. Consequently, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century historians do not appear to have realized that there were two copies of the Barons’ Letter. Both currently exist in the archives: Copy A, or the White Copy—on which Plates 1.28-1.33 are based—and Copy B, or the Blue Copy. Early historians proceeded as if there were only one, single copy extant. Given that the letter was never sent, one of the 1301 versions of the letter may be the original and the other a copy made for the purposes of bureaucratic record-keeping. Yet copies were often made in duplicate, even in the early fourteenth century and, consequently, it’s been impossible since at least the sixteenth century to determine whether one of the letters is the original (and if so, which one) or whether both copies are duplicates of an original that’s been long lost.

Although seventeenth- and eighteenth-century historians primarily relied on transcripts and published descriptions of the letter, reports suggest that a few scholars did consult the 1301 documents—they just didn’t always consult the same document. Copy B of the Barons’ Letter was available, at least during the reign of James I, in the Treasury of the Receipt of the Exchequer in the Pell Office at Westminster Hall, and this was the most frequently consulted source. Copy A was across the street in the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey, where it appears to have been since the fourteenth century. Both copies of the letter ended up in the Chapter House by the early nineteenth century, and Copy A was rediscovered in 1819 (Reports from the Lords Committees 1829, 2.325). Sometime later in the nineteenth century, both copies were moved to the Public Records Office; in the twentieth century, both were moved to the National Archives at Kew. The copy of the letter preserved in Vetusta Monumenta is the copy thought to have remained relatively unnoticed in the Chapter House since the fourteenth century (Nicolas 1825, 795).

The fact, however, that there were at least two contemporaneous copies of the Baron’s Letter and that no one seemed to have realized this fact before the early nineteenth century introduced considerable confusion into research that was conducted on the letter. Each copy inaugurated a slightly different line of transmission as transcriptions of both letters snaked their way through histories written by authors who assumed the existence of only one copy of the letter. Competing transcriptions were thus presumed to be fraught with errors.

Nicolas’s research attempting to confirm that the copy of the letter in the Chapter House, Copy A, was either the original letter or an official duplicate (and not, as some suspected, a forgery), leads us back to the seventeenth century and to another controversy: this one over genealogical histories and the antiquaries who compiled them. The two 1301 copies of the Barons’ Letter contain minor variations in the letter itself. What proved more vexing were the minor variations that they preserved in the names listed, especially with regards to spelling and the application of honorifics. With regards to spelling and naming styles, small differences made a big difference when it came to determining which specific rights which specific barons and earls enjoyed in the fourteenth-century state—and what privileges the descendants of those barons and earls were consequently also entitled to enjoy.These differences were compounded when researchers based their claims on transcripts of the letter which often silently corrected (or accidentally emended) the source text.

The copy of the letter that served as the basis for Plates 1.28-1.33 was originally made by the herald and antiquary Augustine Vincent. At the behest of Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel (1586-1646), Vincent created a series of facsimile drawings of Copy A of the Barons’ Letter in 1624. Vincent added his signature as well as a note to his drawings of the letter and the seals affixed to it. Vincent’s note also describes how some of the seals were attached on individual strings, others were attached to a single string, others affixed to the back of the letter, and that labels linking the seals to specific signatories were then affixed on the original document—a gesture of his commitment to accuracy and transparency. In 1624, while he was preparing his drawings of The Barons Letter, Vincent was riding high as one of England’s most celebrated antiquaries. Two years prior, Vincent had personally dealt the death blow in a public feud that had been ongoing for more than twenty years between William Camden (1551-1623) and Ralph Brooke (c. 1553-1625).

For the fourth edition of his Britannia (1594), Camden—who was an important member of the first Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries—added new information regarding the history of heraldry and the peerage, hoping to leverage the accolades he had received as the first author of a comprehensive history of England into a position at the College of Arms where he could live out the rest his days working with their manuscript collections. Camden got his wish and was appointed as the Clarencieux King of Arms in 1597, but he soon met a rival at the College: the York Herald of Arms in Ordinary, Ralph Brooke. Brooke considered himself to be England’s premier expert on the peerage; he bristled at Camden’s appointment to a superior position in the College. After Camden successfully defended the College’s choice to grant arms to the Shakespeare family against the complaints voiced by Brooke, Brooke nursed his resentments and commenced what would become a protracted program of revenge. In 1599, Brooke published his Discoverie of Certaine Errours Published in Print in the Much Commended Britannia, 1594, Very Prejudiciall to the...Auncient Nobilitie of this Realme. Brooke’s Discoverie maligned Camden’s research, listing every error that Camden had made in the fourth edition of his Britannia.

Camden politely responded to Brooke’s Discoverie and quietly corrected many of the errors in the edition of the Britannia that appeared in 1600. Brooke was hardly appeased, and he wrote A Second Discovery of Errors that circulated in manuscript amongst members of the College of Arms. For twenty more years even after that, Brooke continued to rabble-rouse at the College. He set up an elaborate hoax that duped some heralds into granting arms to the City of London’s hangman. He publicly attacked his upstart colleagues at the College, including Camden, again in 1619 when he published his Catalogue and Succession of the Kings, Princes, Dukes, Marquesses, Earles, and Viscounts of this Realme of England—and then he doubled down on those attacks when he reissued a bigger and improved edition of the Catalogue in 1622.

Augustine Vincent had finally had enough. Vincent considered Camden to be a mentor and a friend. Camden helped secure for Vincent a place in the College of Arms as Rouge Rose pursuivant-extraordinary in 1616, and he supported Vincent’s promotion to Rouge Croix pursuivant in 1621. Vincent and Camden worked closely together until Camden’s death in 1623, after which Vincent became the Windsor Herald and the Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London. Like Camden, Vincent preferred to base his historical research on primary source material. Vincent became especially adept at working with medieval manuscripts. Over the course of his life, Vincent compiled more than two hundred and sixty volumes of extracts and reflections on such manuscript materials as well as nearly four hundred pages of pedigrees that he illustrated with painted arms. He used all of these as sources for his work as a herald and he shared his research freely.

After Vincent’s death, his manuscripts were kept and consulted by his son, John, who used them to prepare a work to be titled, Heroologia Anglica; Or, A Genealogical History of the Succession and Creation of all our Princes, Dukes, Earls, and Viscounts (Nicolas 1827a, 84). John never completed this work. The manuscript draft of John Vincent’s Heroologia ended up in Anthony Wood’s materials in the Bodleian, and Vincent’s manuscripts were either willed or sold by John to Ralph Sheldon (1623-1684) who later donated them to the College of Arms. Antiquaries such as John Bridges, William Burton, William Dugdale, John Seldon, and John Weever all referred to Vincent’s work. Vincent had also gathered materials for an intended county history of Northamptonshire and planned to write a Baronage of England, although he completed neither of these projects.

Vincent did, however, manage to publish something based on his vast knowledge of manuscript materials in his own lifetime: a satirical response to Brooke’s first attack on Camden. While he watched Brooke sow discord in the College of Arms, turning from “vinegar to gall and from gall to venom,” Vincent got to work in the archives (Nicolas 1827a, 41). Vincent published his own Discoverie of Errours in the First Edition of the Catalogue of Nobility Published by Ralphe Brooke in 1622. Vincent’s Discoverie reprinted many of Brooke’s initial attacks on Camden with new sections inserted that identified the errors that Brooke—not Camden—had made. Vincent relied extensively on archival material to identify Brooke’s blunders.

Vincent assembled two important allies in this publication venture: the Earl of Arundel, to whom the Discoverie was dedicated, and William Jaggard, the Discoverie’s printer. Jaggard published Brooke’s first attack on Camden in 1599, and Brooke argued that any errors that other antiquaries had identified in that work had been introduced by Jaggard. Brooke also maligned Jaggard’s use of typography and claimed he corrupted the illustrations. Jaggard was therefore happy to throw the weight of his print shop—then one of the largest in England and the official printing house for the city of London—behind Vincent to expose Brooke’s faults in 1622. Vincent’s Discoverie included a defense of Jaggard’s work on Brooke’s original publication, purportedly written by Jaggard himself. Nicolas posits, however, that Vincent was the author of Jaggard’s defense and that Jaggard’s decision to inscribe one of first complete folios of Shakespeare’s plays that issued from his press to Vincent was as acknowledgement of the favor he owed to Vincent.

Vincent’s Discoverie proved to be the concluding, definitive publication in the controversy that raged in the Herald’s Office; Brooke’s scholarly reputation was permanently tarnished. The whole protracted affair involving Camden, Brooke, and Vincent, however, transformed the state of genealogical research in the seventeenth century. As Vincent explained in the Discoverie’s preface, Brooke’s evidence for his claims were “no proofs but Pythagorian [sic] proof;” “instead of scriptum est, ipse dixit” (the text said it; [Brooke] said it) (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 42). Brooke had used “no record, no antiquity, but his own antiquity of forty years practice” for establishing the peerage, lineages, and coats of arms, Vincent quipped (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 42). Brooke, of course, insisted that he had consulted the archives, but Vincent begged to differ. On the one hand, Vincent maintained that Brooke had “perverte[ed] and miscronstru[ed]” what he had read. On the other, Vincent declared that Brooke hadn’t read very much for Vincent had “discovered” “by the books [he] searched a great deal of ignorance and insufficiency” on Brooke’s part (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 42). Brooke frequently attested to his many years of expertise in the College of Arms, but Vincent was not convinced that this meant much, either: “[E]xperience cannot make you wise, experience cannot make you skillful in records,” he retorted (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 46). For Vincent, the records themselves were experienced, and the antiquary had to go “where they were…and come fitly prepared and qualified…to understand the language they speak” (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 46). “Whatsoever my experience be,” Vincent continued, “sure I am the records I quote have experiences; compare yours with theirs: they have years, measure theirs with your own, and then tell me of your fifty years’ practice of study” (quoted in Nicolas 1827a, 47).

Vincent, in short, argued that not only had he consulted more and better archives than Brooke, he also had more expertise in working with and deferring to such medieval source material. Moreover, Vincent pointed out that he, unlike Brooke, had dutifully cited all of his sources. The public agreed.

Vincent’s work, characteristically represented in print by his Discoverie and in practice by his collections of extracts from archival sources, reflected the interest in genealogy taken up by seventeenth-century antiquaries while it also helped establish the examination of manuscript records as the primary and preferred method for conducting genealogical research. Vincent’s reputation for accuracy must have inspired the Earl of Arundel to ask John Bradshaw to make a copy of Vincent’s rendering of the letter and its seals in 1629, just five years after Vincent had completed his work. Bradshaw appended a certificate of his own verifying that he himself had personally consulted the letter then archived in Westminster Abbey and confirmed that the seals as well as signatures depicted by Vincent were authentic representations of those appearing on the original letter. Bradshaw checked (and, perhaps, emended or completed) Vincent’s work. The reference in the Minute Books to the prints of the seals prepared by Burghers that members of the SAL viewed alongside Bradshaw’s copy in 1726 suggests that the eighteenth-century antiquaries were similarly engaged in a comparative research project: one that aimed to match seals to signatures and coats of arms to their bearers.

By including Vincent’s facsimile of the Barons’ Letter in Vetusta Monumenta, the SAL preserved a record of Vincent’s antiquarian work which likewise served as an institutional history of the early Society’s activities. Vincent receives a brief mention from Gough in the introduction to Archaeologia that rehearses the history of the SAL; Gough remembers Vincent as one of “those laborious collectors in the heraldic department” who planned, but did not complete, “a Baronage” (1770, xxiv). After his death in 1626, Vincent continued to be remembered as a first-rate antiquary. For any “point sought relative to the question of Peerage…Vincent’s Collections are generally the first which are consulted,” explained Nicolas (1827a, 80). Le Neve, who brought Bradshaw’s 1629 copy of Vincent’s drawing to the Society’s attention in the first place, also prepared an elaborate annotated copy of Vincent's Discoverie that eventually made its way into Gough’s library (Folger STC 24756 Copy 2). Vincent’s facsimile of the Barons’ Letter was therefore important as a record for political history and as a representative example of exemplary antiquarian research.


The Barons’ Letter and Sigillography

In her History of the Society of Antiquaries, Joan Evans has little to say about Vertue’s engraving of the Barons’ Letter other than it was one project the SAL undertook during the mid 1720s when the Society had no director and apparently little direction. Evans complains that Plates 1.28-1.33 “were not even facsimiles” (1956, 79).

Vertue’s plates—like Vincent’s drawings—never aspired, however, to be perfect facsimiles of the letter itself. The Barons’ Letter likely attracted Vincent’s attention as a herald hoping to settle disputes over pedigrees and lineages because its long list of signatures served as a veritable biographical dictionary of fourteenth-century barons and earls: a who was who of medieval Britain. The print that appears in Vetusta Monumenta, however, is not an exact copy of Vincent’s drawing which was also not an exact facsimile of the Barons’ Letter. Nicolas notes that “several words are abbreviated which in the original are written at length, and in a few instances the names both of persons and places are differently spelt” (1825, 807). Nicolas was convinced that it would have been “impossible” for anyone to create a “verbatim et literatim copy” of Copy A or Copy B of the Barons Letter “for so many parts of the letter are so much torn, that an hiatus in several places, especially towards the end, would be unavoidable” (1825, 807).

While the Barons Letter remained embroiled in debates about both political history and the privileges of the peerage, the seals that were affixed to it became important pieces evidence in their own right. Nicolas could confidently state in 1827 that “[t]he Society is aware that the Seals in question present the earliest and most authentic evidence which is extant of the armorial ensigns used by the Baronage of England in the fourteenth century” (1827b, 195). Vincent’s work was worth preserving and disseminating in Vetusta Monumenta, then, as an example of an excellent method for illustrating, or “tricking,” the coats of arms and legends that appeared on ancient seals. Other trickings of the seals that were affixed to the Barons’ Letter were available in the seventeenth century, but their quality was questionable.4 The difficulties of copying a fourteenth-century document at a distance of two centuries—and in the case of the Barons’ Letter, copying unwittingly from two variant copies of the same document—proved as problematic for those researchers hoping to complete studies of ancient seals as it did for those researchers hoping to settle the histories of the state or the pedigrees of the peerage.

Copy A and Copy B of the Barons Letter are slightly incongruent in terms of how names were spelled, where they appear in the letter, and how honorifics as well as other local descriptions are applied; transcriptions likewise introduced new errors and new confusions that made it difficult to assign seals to their signatories. None of these variations could easily be resolved by consulting the originals given their state of deterioration by the eighteenth century; Vertue’s copy of Bradshaw’s copy of Vincent’s copy of Copy A of the Barons’ Letter proved to be the most reliable way researchers could connect individual seals to their signatories. Only Copy A included the labels identifying which signatories each seal represented, and Vincent had dutifully copied these into his drawing.

Moreover, creating definitive facsimile trickings of the seals was necessarily a tricky business; the seals’ legends and symbols had to be gleaned from the aging wax impressions. When Bradshaw certified Vincent’s drawing in 1629, ninety-five such impressions appear to have been attached to Copy A. Vincent had added to his drawing a note identifying the eight barons who signed but did not seal the document—those eight missing seals may have been lost or never affixed.5 When the Lords Committees purportedly examined both Copy A and Copy B of the Barons’ Letter between 1819 and 1822, they found that several of the wax seals were “broken, but many remained perfect” (Reports 1829, 2.325). When Nicolas examined both copies for himself in 1825, however, he discovered that the seals affixed to Copy A were in a bad state (1827b, 193). Thirteen of the original ninety-five seals from Copy A were missing, many were “mutilated,” and three duplicate seals had been apparently detached from the letter; regarding the seals that were attached several to a string, none of the labels that Vincent found in 1624 remained (Nicolas 1825, 807).6

Until Vertue copied Bradshaw’s copy of Vincent’s copy of the Barons Letter, the Lancaster Herald, Nicholas Charles’s1611 transcription of Copy B seems to have provided the most widely-available trickings of the original seals for researchers to consult, and his trickings of the seals were arguably inferior to Vincent’s. Henry de Walden, who published a definitive study of the Barons’ Letters in 1903, confessed that “accuracy in copying the [seals’] legends” was not Charles’s “strong point,” and only Charles alone could explain his “readings” of many of the legends that he had copied (de Walden 1904, xi).

Accuracy in tricking became especially important in the seventeenth century as the heralds began granting arms in far larger numbers than they had previously. Designing charges as well as legends for all those new coats of arms required an increasingly substantial body of reference material that heralds needed to consult in order to ensure that they avoided creating duplications while also maintaining traditions. Trickings of medieval seals offered ideal source material for this work, and the seals attached to the Barons’ Letter were among the earliest and most reliable evidence of heraldic conventions. Although some debate occurred over whether the seals were the official signets of the signatories they represented, they still offered proof of historic heraldry; their images were matched in the Falkirk Roll of Arms and in stained glass at Dorchester Abbey, both of which were contemporaneous with the Barons’ Letter (Lamborn 1949, 88). Therefore, the seals attached to the Barons’ Letter provided the antiquaries with a guide to consult for designing as well as interpreting coats of arms. The history of heraldry was also useful, as Thomas Moule explained, for histories of “architecture, sculpture, and painting” and for numismatic studies (1822, vi).

Plates 1.28-1.33 offer one example of many illustrated elsewhere in Vetusta Monumenta of the Society’s ongoing interest in sigillography (see, for example, Plates 1.5, 1.53-1.54, and 1.58-1.60). Gough describes the research that John Anstis (1669-1745) and Richard Rawlinson (1690-1755) undertook, alongside Vertue, with regards to the history of seals (1768, xxxi-xxxii). Early antiquaries felt particularly stymied in their research on seals by having to rely, as Dugdale put it, on trickings “not imitated to the life directly,” and Vincent’s trickings were prized for their quality and precision (quoted in Hamper 1827, 158). In 1825, Nicolas observed that some of the wax seals still extant were imperfect impressions, and features of some of them could only be determined by comparing those attached to Copy A with their counterparts on Copy B (Nicolas 1827b, 195). Vincent’s trickings—and Vertue’s engravings of Vincent’s work—came to stand as the best extant records of the designs of those seals that had been lost or whose impressions were incomplete or worn.

Vertue’s personal investments in the history of metalwork, which also informed his interest in coins and medals, attracted him to the study of medieval seals. Vertue’s interests in seals included the history of their design and development as well as the means by which they had been illustrated by subsequent artists. In 1745, he published A Description of the Works of the Ingenious Delineator and Engraver Wencelsaus Hollar, which included a catalogue of Hollar’s illustrations of “Coins, Medals, Seals, Vases and Cups” (Vertue 1745, 103-05). In 1753, he published a lavishly illustrated volume on the “medals, coins, great seals, and other works” by the seventeenth-century medalist, Thomas Simon. Horace Walpole’s (1717-1797) “List of Vertue’s Works,” published in a postscript to the second edition of the Catalogue of Engravers, identifies many seals engraved by Vertue himself under “Class 16. Coins, Medals, Busts, Seals, Charters, Gems, and Shells” (Walpole 1767, 16-18).

In Vertue’s hands, Vincent’s trickings convey detail and depth. Vertue’s engraving renders the depicted figures on the seals—especially those of the horse-riding knights—with proportion, and Vertue’s shading enhances the intricacies in the various arms and ornaments featured on the seals’ coats of arms. In Vertue’s hands, the seals’ legends are especially crisp and legible. Vertue’s engravings eschew representing heraldic features as outline sketches or shapes that can be mixed and matched—as other trickings often did. Instead, Vertue depicts each seal as a fully-realized work of art. Vertue’s detail-oriented renderings of the seals invokes the hard metal of their matrices rather the soft wax of their impressions. Vertue thereby preserves the matrices—many of which were and remain lost—by visually reconstructing them in an idealized state, as he often did when engraving coins and medals, too. Most importantly, however, Plates 1.28-1.33 speak to the Society’s goal of preserving, even monumentalizing, their own institutional history. Not only do the engravings reconstruct the metal seal matrices that were missing and preserve a fourteenth-century document that was then in an advanced state of deterioration, they also serve as a record of the careful, painstaking work that England’s heralds had done in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thereby linking the research of eighteenth-century antiquaries, like Le Neve and Vertue, with that of Camden and Vincent.

Notes:

[1]: In addition to Hume’s history and Brady’s, see William Dugdale’s Summons (1685); James Tyrrell’s The General History of England (1697-1704, 2.781-84); William Nicholson’s The Scottish Historical Library (1702); A General Index to the Twenty-Three Volumes of the Parliamentary or Constitutional History of England(1753, 119-23); A Collection of State Tracts (1705, 1.461); Paul de Rapin’s History of England (1727, 1.382).

[2]: See the Reports from the Lords Committees Touching the Dignity of a Peer of the Realm (1829) for an especially lengthy and detailed explanation of the many difficulties the two fourteenth-century copies of the letter introduced into questions over the peerage (1.238-42, 2.329-41).

[3]: See, for example, Nicolas’s extended discussion about the presence, or lack thereof, of William Lord Molines’s or Willielmus Dominus Molyns’s signature on the letter (1825, 800-804).

[4]: A transcript taken from Copy B in 1611 by the Lancaster Herald, Nicholas Charles, which was in the Cottonian Library (Cotton MS Julius C, VII, f.228b). The Harleian library also included “A Letter or Remonstrance to the Pope, complaining of his infringement of the privileges of the K. of England in regard to the King of Scotland, dated at Lincoln 12 Feb. 1300. Which Letter was subscribed by 96 Persons of the first rank in the Kingdom, & here all their Seals are annexed” (Wanley, et. al 1759, no. 5804); de Walden implies that this is another copy of Charles’s transcription and trickings (1904, xxiv). William Nicholson described a “most Noble Parchment-Roll of the Letter sent from the Barons of England to Pope Boniface, on Account of the Disputes with Scotland, sign’d at Lincoln on the twelfth of February in the year 1301 to which are affix’d the Seals of Arms of the several Subscribers, drawn in proper Colours” that was then “Inter Cimelia” at Oxford (1702, 145). This last example may, in fact, be a reference to Vincent’s drawings because Anthony Wood had frequently corresponded with Vincent’s son, John, about his father’s manuscript collection; John Vincent’s materials for his Heroologia ended up in Wood’s collection at Oxford (Nicolas 1827a, 90).

[5]: Charles’s 1611 transcript of Copy B also includes the names of eight barons who signed but did not seal the letter (de Walden 1904, xxv). Vincent corresponded with Cotton, whose library contained Charles’s transcript, so he may have seen and referred to Charles’s earlier facsimile of Copy B (Nicolas 1827a, 73-74, 106, 119-22). Nicolas notes that the absence of eight seals may indicate that they were once there but have since been “destroyed or taken away,” while he also notes that it was possible for one baron to seal for another either with his own or with a duplicate seal (1825, 808). This might possibly explain the presence of three duplicate seals, unnoticed by Vincent, that were with the letter when Nicolas examined it in 1825.

[6]: The National Archives at Kew maintains that they have ninety-five of the original seals today in total, collated from both Copy A and Copy B. Although detached from the original letters, many of the seals are still attached to their cords.

Works Cited:

Blackstone, William. 1759. The Great Charter and Charter of the Forest. Oxford: Clarendon.

Brady, Robert. 1685. A Complete History of England. London: T. Newcomb.

Brooke, Ralph. 1599. A Discoverie of Certaine Errours Published in Print in the Much Commended Britannia, 1594. London: J. Woodman and D. Lyon.

------. (1600) 1723. A Second Discoverie of Errours Published in the Much Commended Britannia, 1594. London: J. Woodman.

Dugdale, William. 1685. A Perfect Copy of All Summons of the Nobility. London: Samuel Roycroft.

Evans, Joan. 1956. A History of the Society of Antiquaries. Oxford: University of Oxford Press.

General Index to the Twenty-three Volumes of The Parliamentary Or Constitutional History of England. 1753. London: T. Osborn and W. Sandby.

Gough, Richard. 1768. Anecdotes of British Topography. London: W. Richardson and S. Clark.

------. 1770. “Introduction.” Archaeologia 1: i-xxxix.

Great Britain, Parliament. 1705-1707. A Collection of State Tracts, Publish'd on Occasion of the Late Revolution in 1688. 3 vols. London.

------. 1751. The Parliamentary or Constitutional History of England: Being a Faithful Account of all the Most Remarkable Transactions in Parliament. London: T. Osborne and W. Sandby.

Hamper, William. 1827. The Life, Diary, And Correspondence of Sir William Dugdale. London: Harding, Lepard, and Co.

Hume, David. 1762. The History of England. 6 vols. London: A. Millar.

Lamborn, E. A. Greening. 1949. The Armorial Glass of the Oxford Diocese 1250-1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lewis, John. 1740. Dissertation on the Antiquity and Use of Seals in England. London: W. Mount and T. Page.

Moule, Thomas. 1822. Bibliotheca Heraldica Magnæ Britanniæ: London.

Nicolas, Nicholas Harris. 1825. A Synopsis of the Peerage of England. London: J. Nichols and Sons.

------. 1827a. Memoir of Augustine Vincent, Windsor Herald 1617-1624. London: W. Pickering.

------. 1827b. “Remarks on the Seals affixed to two Documents preserved in the Treasure of the Receipt of the Exchequer.” Archaeologia 21: 192-231.

Nicholson, William. 1702. The Scottish Historical Library. London.

Plot, Robert. 1677. Natural History of Oxfordshire. London: S. Miller.

Pocock. J.G.A. (1957) 1987. The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

de Rapin, Paul. 1727. History of England. Translated by Nicolas Tindal. 15 vols. London: T. Osborne and J. Shipton.

Reports from the Lords Committees Touching the Dignity of a Peer of the Realm. 1829. 2 vols. London: Parliament, House of Lords.

Rymer, Thomas. 1726. Foedera. 20 volumes. London: J. Tonson.

Society of Antiquaries of London. 1718-. Minutes of the Society’s Proceedings.

Tyrrell, James. 1704. The General History Of England, Both Ecclesiastical and Civil. 2 vols. London: W. Rogers.

Vertue, George. 1745. A Description of the Works of the Ingenious Delineator and Engraver Wencelsaus Holler. London.

de Walden, Howard. 1904. Some Feudal lords and Their Seals. London: The De Walden Library.

Walpole, Horace. 1767. A Catalogue of Engravers, Who Have Been Born or Resided in England. 5 vols. Twickenham: Strawberry-Hill Press.

Wanley, Humphrey, Thomas Astle, Charles Morton, William Hocker, and David Casley. 1759. A Catalogue of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts. 2 vols. London: D. Leach.