|TOWER of London. Office of the Records. ||109
Of the Offices of keeping the RECORDS in the
Of the REGALIA;
And of the
Lions, and other Wild Beasts and Creatures there.
THE Keepers of the Records have usually been such as
have been skilled in the Law, and studious of Antiquity, and addicted to the
ancient Records and Instruments; and withal Persons of great Faithfulness, such
important Treasure as these Writs and Muniments being committed to their Trust.
that hath the Custody of these Records, is nominated and appointed thereto by
Sovereign King or Queen; who granteth a Warrant to the Master of the Rolls to
and swear him; and he is confirmed by Royal Letters Patents. His Salary is
Year. He hath a Deputy, who always attends at the Office, besides several
occasion serves, under him. Before the taking away of the Courts of Wards and
Liveries, of Requests, &c. it was an Office of considerable Profit; but
present, the Benefit ariseth not to much.
The Keeper of the Records.
The Records are reposited in Two Places chiefly; viz. in the Office, and in the
commonly called Julius Cesar's Chapel in the White Tower. The Place where the
Office is kept is called Wakefield's Tower, which joyns to the Bloody Tower,
Traitor's Gate. This hath been lately repaired and beautified by Queen Anne,
Charges whereof is reported to amount to 2000l. The Entrance into it is now
graceful and clean, through a small Yard paved with Free Stone, and against the
Walls are planted Philereys. The Stairs and Stair-Case mended and whited, and
much more commodious and lightsome. The Windows, which before were but small
and darksome, are now Sashed, and do let in much more Light, so requisite for
Inspection of those obsolete and sometimes obscure Writings. The Rooms, which
Three in Number, one above another, besides the large round Room where the Rolls
lye, are all beautifully wainscotted and pannelled with right Wainscot. This
Work is framed into Presses round each Room; within which are Shelves and
Repositories for the Reception of Records, as they shall be sent hither from
Place where they are kept Wakefield Tower.
In this Office, especially in the round Room, partly in Presses in the middle of
partly against the Walls, are disposed in good Order great Numbers of Rolls.
was lately depicted upon the Outsides of every Press what Rolls they contained,
under each King's Reign: But now since the admirable Reparation of this Place,
Year of every King's Reign is inscribed within the Presses; according to which
placing of the Rolls, whereby easier Application is made to any Roll that is
Vast Quantities of other Records lye in the Chapel of the White Tower,
Heaps. But by special Command from above, several Hands have been employ'd for
divers Years in turning them over, searching, viewing, and digesting them, and
them in proper Place and Order for Use. For which Purpose, Presses, Boxes,
and Receptacles are made in the said Chapel for them. They consist chiefly of
Answers, and Depositions in Chancery. But there are also many Original Letters
Kings of this Realm, and Privy Seals found and brought into the Office, and laid
carefully there in their proper Places.
Records in the White Tower.
Here Mr. Prinn, sometime Keeper of the Records, had gathered out of huge Heaps,
covered with Dust and Cobwebs, Popes Bulls, Parliament Writs and Returns, and
Letters, which he Printed; but took less Care to sort and digest them, and leave
Order for the Use of others.
Mr. Prinn's Pains.
Popes Bulls he reduced to Order, being in all 165, beginning at the Year 1256,
Year 1406. Where are Bulls of Alexander the Fourth, Alexander the Fifth,
Bulls of Gregory the Twelfth.
But how the aforesaid most worthy and useful Design first took place, and what
Progress by this time is made therein, doth justly here require some Account to
given. Charles Lord Halifax was the first that moved this good Work. Whose
retrieving our ancient Histories, and transacting this present Affair, the Right
the Bishop of Carlisle (now of Londonderry) hath taken Notice of in his Epistle
Dedicatory to the same Lord, before his English Historical Library; viz.
after Her Majesty Queen Anne's Accession to the Throne, he observing the
Condition of our Publick Records, and how they wanted a speedy Care and looking
many whereof (through the supine and continued Negligence of some of the former
respective Keepers thereof) were in confused and useless State, and many others
exposed to the last Injuries of Weather; moved the Matter to the House of Lords.
forthwith appointed a Committee (wherein his Lordship presided) to inspect these
Grievances, and to report their Opinions, in what manner they might be most
redressed. That to this Committee, frequently revived, and for several Years
Direction of the same President, we owe the Safety, and now regular Disposition
these venerable Remains, justly reckoned to excel in Age and Beauty whatever the
choicest Archives abroad can produce of the like sort."
The Records there retrieved from Ruin, and
Bishop of Carlisle's Account thereof.
But the Orders for the digesting and preserving the said Records, the said Right
Reverend Author hath preserved the more particular Knowledge thereof to
relating, That in the Year 1703, their Lordships appointed a Committee to
Methods in keeping Records in Offices, and how they were kept; and to consider
Ways to remedy what should be found amiss. For which purpose, the Lords
Committees were empowered to send for such Officers (and hear such Persons
thereupon) as they should think fit; being afterwards to report their Opinions
House. This Committee was Yearly renewed in several following Sessions of
Parliament; as Decemb. 15. 1705. Jan. 7. 1706. &c. And the Lord Halifax
in the Chair) duly reported the Progress made in the Execution of this Trust.
of these Reports set forth, That a great Number of Rolls in the Tower had no
or Abstracts made of them, viz. Rotuli Normanniæ, Franciæ,
Vasconiæ, Walliæ, Romæ, Scotiæ, Alemanniæ &
Hiberniæ. That the making of these Calendars would require a careful
all the Entries upon these Rolls, by the Clerks that are employed therein. That
Committee were humbly of Opinion, that it would be a publick Service to have
done. That in Cæsar's Cha-
The Order taken for digesting and preserving