House of Lords Record Office - Journals, Minutes and Committee Books of the House of Lords - continued

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Although the Lord' Journals preserved in the Victoria Tower only start in 1510, it has long been known that earlier Journals were made and kept. In 1690 a Lord' Committee reported that it had "examined the Journals of the House, which reach from the 12th of Hen. VII." [5] By 1717 (when the present first bound MS Volume was assembled) pre-1510 material had been lost. In recent years, however, earlier Journals have come to light, notably the "Fane Fragment" of eight day' proceedings in 1461[6] and a copy of a debate of 1449[7]. Further discoveries may yet be made, but it is clear that the earliest Journal at Westminster is the product of a long tradition of recording the names of those Peers present at daily sessions, and the business transacted by them, a tradition separate from, though related to, the making of the Statute and Parliament Rolls.

The first volume preserved at Westminster, moreover, retains interest for historians, as it reveals a format which is still developing, and also includes a certain amount of casual and stray material which was ignored by the editors of the printed Journal. In the following note some account is given of the structure of the volume and of the degree of reliability of the printed version.

The first volume of the MS Journal does not provide a complete record of the work of the House. Between 1510 and 1547 there are almost as many Sessions without a record as with one. Six out of seven Sessions of the Reformation Parliament are missing, as well as the first Session of Mary's reign[8], which is the last Session for which there is no record. The first volume is in a disorderly state and contains much seemingly irrelevant matter (described below). Professor Pollard suggested that this disorder is due to there being" no official Journals in the sixteenth century in the sense we apply the term today, because men had not yet been sufficiently impressed with the importance of Parliament and with the importance of form in its records" .[9] Journals were borrowed[10] or temporarily lost[11]. The Journals from 7 Edward VI to 1 Elizabeth each have written or pasted onto the first leaf the name of the Speaker of the Commons for that Session, which suggests that they may have been transcripts supplied to the Speaker[12]. This also suggests that the Journals were later collected from any available source.

Whatever their cause, the present gaps in the Journals seem to have existed from an early date. Robert Bowyer, Clerk of the Parliaments 1609-21, transcribed the Journals from 1510 onwards, but his transcripts[13] fill none of the gaps, except for the text of six leaves now missing from the Journal of 1559. On 6th April 1638 John Browne made a" Catalogue of wt. Journal Bookes I rec. From Mr. Knevitts Executors" , but this does not record the then existence of any Journals that are now missing[14].

The early Journals were first entered on loose quires of four or eight leaves[15]. These were later bound into small books, e.g. John Browne mentions five" Journal bookes for Henry VIII's parliament." In 1717 a Lord' Committee reported that they had" viewed the Journals of this House; and observe to your Lordships that many of them are indifferently bound; and, by reason of the frequent use made of them, divers sheets or leaves therein are becoming loose, and although the same session, transposed in different books, and abundance of blank paper remaining in several of them, whereby it seems necessary that such of the said Journals should be new bound ... and that the omission of marginal notes, which is some of the former books is very great, may be supplied." [16] The Journals between 1510 and 1547 were bound up into one volume, many of the pages were framed to make them up to a uniform size (102" x 16") and marginal notes were added. Miscellaneous matter, e.g. the" chronicle of the Kings of England" , was retained and bound in with the body of the text. The Journal for 35 Henry VIII was bound in immediately after that for 25 Henry VIII. It is difficult to say how much of the original order, or disorder, was preserved in the 18th century binding.

Printed Journal Vol. 1

In 1767, (as had been noted above in Section 2), the House ordered" that the Rolls of Parliament now extant and the Journals of this House be printed" [17]. In 1771 it was stated that the Journals from 1 Henry VIII to the end of Charles I" were now printed in 13 volumes" , and it was ordered that" to supply this defect [the missing Journals of Henry VIII and Mary] the Parliament Rolls of those years should be printed" [18]. The first volume of the printed Journals thus comprises the Parliament Rolls for the missing Sessions of Henry VIII and Mary (pp. I-CCLI) and the Journals for 1 Henry VIII to 19 Elizabeth (pp. 1-756). Many of the defects of this edition have been pointed out by Professor Pollard, who considered the editing of the Journals, together with that of the Rolls of Parliament and of the Statutes of the Realm, as being" little short of a scandal" [19]. The editors omitted any original matter which they considered irrelevant (v." List of contents of MS Journal" below), frequently without recording the fact. The title" Journals of the House of Lords" is printed at the head of the Journal for 1510 and at the head of each page, although there is no authority for this title in the original. Further examples of " emendations" made to the original text by the editors are numerous. For instance, in the numbering of each sitting by its parliamentary day from the sixth day of the Parliament to 6 Henry VIII to the end of the Session, the numbers are written out in full although in the original they are in Arabic numerals and in a later hand than the body of the text[20]. The sittings which were numbered as the 13th-31st days of Parliament in the original[21] have been amended by the editors, without explanation, to the 13-22 days of Parliament[22]. The editors seem suddenly to have taken exception to the Clerk's practice (which persisted until 33 Henry VIII) of counting in each day, including Sundays, from the beginning of the Session. Elsewhere they have accepted and reproduced the days in accordance with this practice, and without comment[23].

The printed Journals incorporate marginal notes of the 18th century without distinguishing them from the 16th century text. The printed marginal notes do not exactly reproduce the notes written into the Journal in 1717[24], but usually summarize them. Words from the 16th century text are frequently incorporated in the marginal notes, e.g. the words Aexpedit" and" assent" [25].

All matter which has been deleted in the original has been omitted from the printed volumes[26]. Although there are two distinct Journals for 1541[27], only one is printed" being the most full" [28]. No attempt was made to collate the two 1541 Journals, or the Journals as a whole with other transcripts[29]. There are many minor mistranscriptions, e.g." Carlioff" [30] transcribed" Carlio1" [31].

Although most of the errors are in small points of detail, their cumulative effect is to distort somewhat the reader's conception of the original.

Analysis of MS Journal Vol. I.


    2 MS. sheets (112" x 73") comprising (1) original letter[32] of John Browne to John Walker, Eydon, 21st May 1683; (2) note by John Walker on the Journals.

    The remaining pages have been framed to the size 102" x 16"; the original size of pages is given below.

    7 fos. (not numbered in the 18th century) (9" x 132"). Containing copy of the" Modus Tenendi Parliamentum" made by John Taylor, Clerk of the Parliaments 1509-23. (Not printed).

    The remaining pages were numbered in the 18th century.

    pp. 1-126    9" x 132".

    pp. 1-18    Proceedings of Parliament 1 Henry VIII.

    pp. 19-42    Proceedings of Parliament 3 Henry VIII.

    pp. 43-95    Proceedings of Parliament 6 Henry VIII 1st Session.

    p. 96      blank.

    pp. 97-126  Proceedings of Parliament 7 Henry VIII (6 Henry VIII 2nd Session).

    pp. 127-142  9" x 15".

    pp. 127-177  Proceedings of Parliament 25 Henry VIII.

    pp. 178-9    blank.

    pp. 180-238  Proceedings, 35 Henry VIII.

    pp. 239-40  Lists of Acts passed 26 Henry VIII.

    p. 241      blank.

    p. 242      List of proxies, 35 Henry VIII.

    pp. 243-304  102" x 16".

    p. 243      blank except for note" delivered by way of loane to me Ro. Bowyer Clerke of the Parliament the 4th of November 1620 by the R.Ho: the Lo: Russell" .

    pp. 244-78  Proceedings of Parliament, 28 Henry VIII.

    pp. 279-81  blank.

    pp. 282-6    Copy of Grant of Liberties to Westminster Abbey (not printed) ascribed to 1066.

    pp. 287-93  blank.

    pp. 294-304  Chronicle of the Kings of England from Egbert to Henry VI (not printed).

    p. 304      Undated proxy for Abbot of Shrewsbury, pasted in.

    pp. 305-426  132" x 9".

    pp. 305-355  Proceedings of Parliament, 31 Henry VIII, 1st Session.

    p. 356      blank.

    p. 357      Proceedings of Parliament, 31 Henry VIII, 2nd Session.

    p. 358      blank.

    p. 359-79    Proceedings of Parliament, 31 Henry VIII, 3rd Session.

    pp. 380-426  Proceedings of Parliament, 32 Henry VIII.

    pp. 427-642  82" x 15".

    pp. 427-494  Proceedings of Parliament, 33 Henry VIII (not printed).

    p. 495      A 1717 copy of " an ancient Paper ... found Pin=d to this Leaf" "The reason that this yeare were 2 journall bookes seemeth to be for that Wm. Pagett Clerke of the Parliamt. was then Ambassadour in Fraunce and his place of the said Clerkeship executed by John Mason Secretary for the French Tongue and Tho: Knight Clerke of the Signett".

    p. 496      blank.

    pp. 497-567  Proceedings of Parliament, 33 Henry VIII (printed)[33].

    p. 568      blank.

    p. 569-640  Proceedings of Parliament, 34 Henry VIII.

    p. 641      Rough notes re proxies (not printed).

    p. 642      blank.

    pp. 643-698  82" x 13".

    pp. 643-71  Proceedings of Parliament, 37 Henry VIII, 1st Session.

    p. 672      blank.

    pp. 673-93  Proceedings of Parliament, 38 Henry VIII (37 Henry VIII, 2nd Session).

    p. 675      List of Acts, 37 Henry VIII, 1st Session.

    p. 694      blank.

    p. 695      2 proxies entered, year uncertain.

    pp. 696-7    Proxies, 37 Henry VIII.

    p. 698      Memorandum concerning the Bishop of Norwich's proxy. Undated. (Not printed).

5   L.J. XIV, 537. It is interesting to notice that if the report of a 1690 Committee of the House can be accepted, the official series of Journals preserved at Westminster once started in the same year as the series of original Acts still preserved there - in 1497. Back

6   W. H. Dunham, The Fane Fragment of the 1461 Lord' Journal (1935). Back

7   A. R. Myers," A Parliamentary Debate of the Mid-Fifteenth century" in Bulletin of the John Ryland Library, Vol. 22, pp. 389-397. Back

8   Parliament was first summoned to Oxford and then adjourned to Westminster (L.J. I, p. 448). Back

9   Pollard Transcriptions of the Royal Historical Society, 3d. Ser. Vol. VIII, p.35. Back

10   v. note on 1st leaf of Journal 28 Henry VIII" delivered by way of loane to me Ro. Bowyer Clerke of the Parliament the 4th of November 1620 by the R.Ho: the Lo. Russell."  Back

11   The Journal for 35 Henry VIII is described as" wanting" in John Browne's list of Journal Books in 1638 (Braye MSS. Lot 110, no. 59). It is now bound in the first MS Journal. Back

12   Pollard op. cit. pp. 23-4. Pollard is wrong in saying this applies only to Mary's reign. Back

13   Petyt MSS (Inner Temple Library) 537. There are also some leaves of the missing Session of 27 Henry VIII in B.M.Harl. MSS. 158, fos. 143-4. Back

14   Braye MSS op. cit. It is noticeable that the Journal of 12 Henry VII which was alleged to be at hand in 1690 is not listed by Browne in 1638. Back

15   Pollard op. cit. p. 31. Back

16   L. J. XX, 530. Back

17   L.J. XXXI, p. 509. Back

18   L.J. XXXIII, 214. Back

19   Pollard op. cit. pp. 36-8. Back

20   L.J. I, pp. 21-42. Back

21   MS Journal, pp. 60-71. Back

22   L.J. I, pp. 24-28. Back

23   v. the jump from 24 to 33 day of Parliament, L.J. I, pp. 29-30. Back

24   L.J. XX, 530. Back

25   L.J. I, pp. 404, 456. Back

26   e.g. the whole of MS. Journal, p. 513. Back

27   A 1717 copy of" an ancient Paper ... found Pin=d to this Leaf" states that" The reason that this yeare were 2 journall bookes seemeth to be for that Wm. Pagett Clerke of the Parliamt. was the Ambassadour in Fraunce and his place of the said Clerkeship executed by John Mason Secretary for the French Tongue and Tho: Knight Clerke of the Signett" (MS Journal I, p. 495). Back

28   L.J. I, p. 163. Back

29   e.g. Petyt MSS (Inner Temple Library) 537. Back

30   MS Journal, p. 60. Back

31   L.J. I, p.24. Back

32   Printed in Report of the Commissioners respecting Public Records (1827), p. 77. Back

33   AIn the original there are two entries of the following Parliament, but the first is omitted, the other being the most full" (L.J. I, p. 163). Back

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