TOWER of London. Office of Records. 113

TOWER of London. Office of Records.

the Priory of St. Bartholomews. For so in a Record 39. Henry VI. Mention is made of divers great Chests containing Records of Pleas of the Common Bench, which were in the Priory of St. Bartholomew in Westsmithfield; to be removed to the Tower by a Command from the King. For the chief and last Repository for these Records was the foresaid House in the Tower; whither they were often remanded by special Orders from the Kings successively.

Records kept in St. Bartholomew's.

Now to retrieve some of the ancient Keepers of these Records. Sometimes the King's Treasurers were Keepers of the Records. Thus Walter Reginald, the King's Treasurer, seems to have had the Records in his Custody. Who, as appears by a Record, was by King Edward II. enjoyned to deliver to one Bensted all the Writings and Instruments touching the Negociation of Peace between King Edward his Father, and the King of France, which were in his Custody in the Tower.

Keepers of the Records in former Times.

Walter Reginald.

2. Edward II.

In the 1st of Edward III. Robert Hoton seems to have been Keeper of the Records. For in that Year a Writ was directed to him, that he should bring to the Exchequer all the Writings, Muniments, &c. which belonged to Thomas Earl of Lancaster, deceased, which remained in his Custody. "Whereupon the Charters, Writings, and Muniments underwritten, which I saw and arrayed, (as the Record runs) I divided in two Chests, &c." in alba Camera contigua albæ Aulæ infra magnum Turrim London, &c.

Robert Hoton, 1 Edward III.

In the 14th of Edward III. William de Kildesby, Keeper of the Privy Seal, seems to be also Keeper of the Records of the Tower: For there is a Tower Record that runs thus; "All the Rolls, Bundles and Memoranda of Chancery, which were in the House of John St. Paul [i.e. Powel] then Keeper of the Rolls of the said Chancery, were sent by the King's Command to the Tower; and there were delivered to Will. de Kildesby, Keeper of the Privy Seal of the said King, by William de Emeldon, Clerk of the said John."

William de Kildesby, 14 Edward III.

In the10th of Richard II. one John Burton seems to have been Keeper of the Tower Records. For there is a Record extant in the said Tower, beginning Mandatum est Johanni de Waltham, &c. that is, "It was commanded John de Waltham, Keeper of the Privy Seal of the King, that he deliver all Petitions, Warrants, Indentures, and other memorable Things, from the Time of Lord King Edward, late King, his Grandfather, howsoever pertaining to the Office of the Privy Seal, to his beloved Clerk John Burton, to keep in the Place appointed for the Rolls of Chancery within the Tower of London."

John Burton, 10. Richard II.

In the 11th of Henry VI. Thomas Smith, Clerk, was Keeper of the Records, as appears by a large Exemplification of a Process in the Star Chamber, and a Judgment thereupon given; "At the Suit of Robert Davers against Tho. Smith, Clerk, who hath the Custody of the Records of the Chancery of the King remaining in the Tower of London, &c. for the razing of a Record in the Time of Edward III. Which Smith seemed upon this to be discharged of his Place." For Soon after, viz. 14th of the same King, John Malpas, who was Keeper of the Armoury, had also this Place of Keeper of the Records. For a Record in that Office runs; "John Malpas, hath the Office of Keeper of the Armoury within the Tower of London, together with one little House then vacant within the said Tower; within which are contained the Rolls of the King's Chancery."

Thomas Smith, 11 Henry VI.

John Malpas, 14. Henry VI.

About the 20th of Henry VIII. Ralph Pexal was Keeper of these Records. For in a Bill signed about that Year, the King commanded Ralph Pexal, termed Keeper of the Records within the Tower of London, that he raze, or cause to be razed certain Words negligently written long before in the Rolls of Chancery of 22. Edward IV. then being in the Tower, viz. In a Levy granted to Edmund Church.

Ralph Pexal, 20 Hen. VIII.

Edward Hales was Keeper of the Records in King Edward VIth's Time. In the Time of his Custody of them a great many Records lay in an old House in the Tower unknown, undiscovered, till Hoby that belonged to the Ordnance, looking for a convenient Place to lay Gunpowder in, found them there, and gave the said Hales Notice of it, and to fetch some of them away. Many whereof had lain there so long by the Walls, that they were eaten and perished by the Lime.

Hales 3. E.VI.

In the beginning of Queen Elizabeth, one William Bowyer, a Gentleman bred up in the Study of the Law, by the Persuasion of Sir Tho. Parry, a great Man at Court, took on him this Trust.

Will. Bowyer, 9. Regin. Eliz.

When he came into the Place, he found these Records in no Order. So that they could be but little serviceable to any that should consult them; not knowing where to find what they looked for. He therefore drew up at first a Compendium of the Records from King John to the last Year of Edward IV. And at the Instigation of Secretary Cecil, and for his Service, at length writ out with his own Hand many Repertoria, necessary either for the Queen or her Subjects, viz. Of all the Rolls of Parliament; all the Patents and Rolls of Wales, of Gascoine, Scotland, Rome, France, Normandy, and Almain, from the first of King John to the last of Edward IV. And digested them all into Six great Volumes. Which spent him Eight Years, and above 1000l. of his own Estate, beside all his Labour. This I take from his own Writing. But all these Repertories are now gone; and the present Deputy is now busy in that needful Work.

Digests and sorts the Records.

G. Holmes.

A Motion was made in Queen Elizabeth's Reign by the aforesaid Bowyer, to have the ancient Records in the Chancery removed to the Tower; as being a Place anciently used for the safe keeping and laying up the richest and oldest Jewels of the Realm and Crown: And so had it been likewise used as the surest and most convenient Place, wherein to bestow and keep the ancient Records of the King, and of the Judicial Courts at Westminster; and most especially those of the Chancery. The Rolls and Records of which Court, as many as remained since the Conquest until the End of the Reign of King Edward IV. being there at that Time the said Motion was made; (and I suppose to this Day) as they had ever from time to time been brought from the Place of their first Birth and Original, (now called the The Rolls) unto the Tower; namely, when by Length of Time the Number of them increased; and that the same, by reason of their Age, were come to be of less Use or Service to that Court. Which Things thorowly considered, gave Occasion at that Time to require, that some Parts of the oldest of the said Records remaining then in the Rolls, being above the Age of an Hundred Years, might, according to their ancient Order, be brought to the Tower; from which Place so many and so old Records of Chancery, as then remained in the Rolls, had not been so long with-held in any former Time since the Conquest. For Proof whereof it could be made manifest by Record, that about the Twentieth of King Henry VIII. there was remaining at the Rolls no Records of more ancient Time, than those of the Time of Henry VII. except the few Years of King Richard III. All together were less than the Number of Fifty Years. And therefore that it was not unreasonable, that the like should be required at this Day. But notwithstanding this Motion, nothing was done.

A Motion for the ancient Records to be brought into the Tower, by Bowyer.

The Keepers of the Records succeeding Mr. Bowyer, were Thomas Heneage and William Heneage.

Prinn's Animadvers. p. 51. Marg.