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ANNOTATED IN 1720s - The Life of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Common-Wealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland

Isaac Kimber
Lavishly annotated in the 1720s by a scholarly reader, offering notes and cross-references to other historical accounts of Cromwell’s life. Full… Read more
Published in 1724 by J Brotherton.
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ANNOTATED IN 1720s - The Life of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Common-Wealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland by Isaac Kimber

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Lavishly annotated in the 1720s by a scholarly reader, offering notes and cross-references to other historical accounts of Cromwell’s life.

Full panelled calf; lower board attached by a single cord only to the text block. c1900 bookseller’s ticket of Kerr and Richardson, Glasgow to the front pastedown suggesting a phase of Scottish ownership - there is a particular intensity around some of the annotations to sections dealing with Scottish events though this is not uniformly so. The book collates complete, with the Cromwell portrait frontispiece present, [8] xvi, pp374 [2] adverts. A 2 page manuscript index precedes the printed text. There is no suggestion of the identity of the writer of the annotations but a pencilled date calculation - a minus sum - ‘1728-1644=84’ suggests a date in the 1720s for his work which crowds around the printed text.

The 600-800 annotations were written by a highly educated man (almost certainly) who had access to a range of contemporary printed histories. The annotations almost certainly began in the 1720s, perhaps being made over several years. There are between 1 and 5 annotations on every page. Most function as brief summaries of the text, so the 2nd Civil War of 1648 as experienced in northern England ‘Prepar’d in the north most terrible. The Scots being ready to counter with a great army’ is fairly typical.

Particularly interesting are the annotator’s cross-references to alternative contemporary accounts of Cromwell’s life and rival histories of the period. These include Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion in a passage in which Kimber discusses the controversial 1647 charge of treason levelled against a group of MPs: ‘Withdrawn fro[m] yt House Clarend: R.10.p.44’ (p.44); Edmund Ludlow’s Memoirs are referenced in marginalia to a passage about the defeat by Cromwell of the Scottish army: ‘Thus was ye whole Scotch and Eng. Army defeated by a m[u]ch smaller army Crom-l Ludlows Mem. pt.1. p.261.’ Bishop Burnet’s Remarks are cited repeatedly (p107), ‘see Whitlocks Mem. p.491’; in relation to the death of Ireton (p.149) and later at 221 and at p287 ‘see it Whitl. Mem: p.592 at length’ re Cromwell’s troubled dealings with Parliament in 1654. Cromwell’s Jewish policy (p.299) prompts a note to the effect that ‘B. Burnet contra’ - Burnet disagreed with Isaac Kimber’s reading of Cromwell and occasionally even Whitlock is found to nod: ‘not in Whitlock List see p.665.’

Writing from the perspective of a dissenting minister Kimber’s printed text offers a well-rounded life that was broadly favourable to Cromwell, seen as having restored some sense of ordinary humanity to the prevailing view of Cromwell as an ambitious hypocrite. This offers a whole new dimension to that.


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Added under Book
Publisher J Brotherton
Date published 1724
Subject 1 Book
First edition Yes
Product code 8150


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