|TOWER of London. Office of Records. ||113
the Priory of St. Bartholomews. For so in a Record 39. Henry VI. Mention is
divers great Chests containing Records of Pleas of the Common Bench, which were
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
foresaid House in the Tower; whither they were often remanded by special Orders
the Kings successively.
Records kept in St. Bartholomew's.
Now to retrieve some of the ancient Keepers of these Records. Sometimes the
Treasurers were Keepers of the Records. Thus Walter Reginald, the King's
seems to have had the Records in his Custody. Who, as appears by a Record, was
King Edward II. enjoyned to deliver to one Bensted all the Writings and
touching the Negociation of Peace between King Edward his Father, and the King
France, which were in his Custody in the Tower.
Keepers of the Records in former Times.
2. Edward II.
In the 1st of Edward III. Robert Hoton seems to have been Keeper of the Records.
in that Year a Writ was directed to him, that he should bring to the Exchequer
Writings, Muniments, &c. which belonged to Thomas Earl of Lancaster,
which remained in his Custody.
"Whereupon the Charters, Writings, and
Muniments underwritten, which I saw and arrayed, (as the Record runs) I divided
two Chests, &c."
in alba Camera contigua albæ Aulæ infra
Turrim London, &c.
Robert Hoton, 1 Edward III.
In the 14th of Edward III. William de Kildesby, Keeper of the Privy Seal, seems
also Keeper of the Records of the Tower: For there is a Tower Record that runs
"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
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
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
the Privy Seal of the King, that he deliver all Petitions, Warrants, Indentures,
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
to keep in the Place appointed for the Rolls of Chancery within the Tower of
John Burton, 10. Richard II.
In the 11th of Henry VI. Thomas Smith, Clerk, was Keeper of the Records, as
by a large Exemplification of a Process in the Star Chamber, and a Judgment
"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
seemed upon this to be discharged of his Place."
For Soon after, viz. 14th
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
Office of Keeper of the Armoury within the Tower of London, together with one
House then vacant within the said Tower; within which are contained the Rolls of
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
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
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
his Custody of them a great many Records lay in an old House in the Tower
undiscovered, till Hoby that belonged to the Ordnance, looking for a convenient
to lay Gunpowder in, found them there, and gave the said Hales Notice of it, and
fetch some of them away. Many whereof had lain there so long by the Walls, that
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
Study of the Law, by the Persuasion of Sir Tho. Parry, a great Man at Court,
him this Trust.
Will. Bowyer, 9. Regin. Eliz.
When he came into the Place, he found these Records in no Order. So that they
be but little serviceable to any that should consult them; not knowing where to
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
for his Service, at length writ out with his own Hand many Repertoria, necessary
for the Queen or her Subjects, viz. Of all the Rolls of Parliament; all the
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
Volumes. Which spent him Eight Years, and above 1000l. of his own Estate,
his Labour. This I take from his own Writing. But all these Repertories are
and the present Deputy is now busy in that needful Work.
Digests and sorts the Records.
A Motion was made in Queen Elizabeth's Reign by the aforesaid Bowyer, to have
ancient Records in the Chancery removed to the Tower; as being a Place anciently
for the safe keeping and laying up the richest and oldest Jewels of the Realm
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
at Westminster; and most especially those of the Chancery. The Rolls and
which Court, as many as remained since the Conquest until the End of the Reign
King Edward IV. being there at that Time the said Motion was made; (and I
this Day) as they had ever from time to time been brought from the Place of
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
Age, were come to be of less Use or Service to that Court. Which Things
considered, gave Occasion at that Time to require, that some Parts of the oldest
said Records remaining then in the Rolls, being above the Age of an Hundred
might, according to their ancient Order, be brought to the Tower; from which
many and so old Records of Chancery, as then remained in the Rolls, had not been
long with-held in any former Time since the Conquest. For Proof whereof it
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
Henry VII. except the few Years of King Richard III. All together were less
Number of Fifty Years. And therefore that it was not unreasonable, that the
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
Prinn's Animadvers. p. 51. Marg.