TOWER of London. Office of the Records. 109

TOWER of London. Office of the Records.

Of the Offices of keeping the RECORDS in the Tower; 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 Perusal of ancient Records and Instruments; and withal Persons of great Faithfulness, such an important Treasure as these Writs and Muniments being committed to their Trust. He that hath the Custody of these Records, is nominated and appointed thereto by the Sovereign King or Queen; who granteth a Warrant to the Master of the Rolls to admit and swear him; and he is confirmed by Royal Letters Patents. His Salary is 500l. a Year. He hath a Deputy, who always attends at the Office, besides several Clerks, as 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 afterward, and at present, the Benefit ariseth not to much.

The Keeper of the Records.

J. S.

His Deputy.

The Records are reposited in Two Places chiefly; viz. in the Office, and in the Chapel, 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, near Traitor's Gate. This hath been lately repaired and beautified by Queen Anne, the Charges whereof is reported to amount to 2000l. The Entrance into it is now very graceful and clean, through a small Yard paved with Free Stone, and against the Stone Walls are planted Philereys. The Stairs and Stair-Case mended and whited, and made 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 the Inspection of those obsolete and sometimes obscure Writings. The Rooms, which are 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 Wainscot 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 time to time.

Place where they are kept Wakefield Tower.

In this Office, especially in the round Room, partly in Presses in the middle of it, and partly against the Walls, are disposed in good Order great Numbers of Rolls. There was lately depicted upon the Outsides of every Press what Rolls they contained, ranked under each King's Reign: But now since the admirable Reparation of this Place, each Year of every King's Reign is inscribed within the Presses; according to which is the placing of the Rolls, whereby easier Application is made to any Roll that is sought for.

Vast Quantities of other Records lye in the Chapel of the White Tower, confusedly in 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 putting them in proper Place and Order for Use. For which Purpose, Presses, Boxes, Shelves, and Receptacles are made in the said Chapel for them. They consist chiefly of Bills and Answers, and Depositions in Chancery. But there are also many Original Letters of the Kings of this Realm, and Privy Seals found and brought into the Office, and laid up 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 them in 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, to the Year 1406. Where are Bulls of Alexander the Fourth, Alexander the Fifth, &c. unto the Bulls of Gregory the Twelfth.

Popes Bulls.

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 be given. Charles Lord Halifax was the first that moved this good Work. Whose Care for retrieving our ancient Histories, and transacting this present Affair, the Right Reverend 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. "That soon after Her Majesty Queen Anne's Accession to the Throne, he observing the deplorable Condition of our Publick Records, and how they wanted a speedy Care and looking to, 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. Who forthwith appointed a Committee (wherein his Lordship presided) to inspect these Grievances, and to report their Opinions, in what manner they might be most effectually redressed. That to this Committee, frequently revived, and for several Years under the Direction of the same President, we owe the Safety, and now regular Disposition of 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 Methodized.

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 Posterity; relating, That in the Year 1703, their Lordships appointed a Committee to inspect the Methods in keeping Records in Offices, and how they were kept; and to consider of 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 to the House. This Committee was Yearly renewed in several following Sessions of Parliament; as Decemb. 15. 1705. Jan. 7. 1706. &c. And the Lord Halifax (then Lord in the Chair) duly reported the Progress made in the Execution of this Trust. The first of these Reports set forth, That a great Number of Rolls in the Tower had no Calendars 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 Perusal of all the Entries upon these Rolls, by the Clerks that are employed therein. That the Committee were humbly of Opinion, that it would be a publick Service to have this done. That in Cæsar's Cha-

The Order taken for digesting and preserving them.