[Edward Randolph]
Late 17th and early 18th century New England manuscript extracts contained within the binding of a Grand Tour manuscript collection. The extracts… Read more
Published in 1680-1780 by Unpublished thus.

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Late 17th and early 18th century New England manuscript extracts contained within the binding of a Grand Tour manuscript collection. The extracts include a contemporary - and textually distinct - copy of Edward Randolph’s 1676 report on Harvard University, business records from Salem in the 1710s, and a rare printed affidavit for shipping colonial goods under the 1764 Sugar Act.

Home-made manuscript (11x17cm) comprising six gatherings of various sizes and differing paper stocks; one detached. The manuscript’s maker - British or perhaps American - has stitched the gatherings into coarse brown paper wrappers which have been reinforced by pasting on perhaps six layers of manuscript waste onto each cover. These layers are now beginning to separate to reveal their very promising contents. Most interesting is the passage from Edward Randolph’s report on New England (not published until 1781) that folds out from the upper cover - this manuscript leaf is divided between the fold-out leaf and a section still adhering to the cover - as well as several more leaves partially visible within the pasted layers. The handwriting suggests that this text was written close to the time of Randolph’s visit to Massachuestts in 1676; even more interestingly it is textually distinct in one key passage. Our manuscript deals with Randolph’s account of civil authority in colonial Boston, payment for the town’s ministers and the ‘three colledges built in Cambridge, one with tymber at the charge of mr Harvard and bears his name’ continuing with the ‘Indian colledge’, the ‘many english books of the [late] nonconformists writers especially of mr Baxter and D:r owen’. The deviation from the (much later) printed version of this report, expands Randolph’s description of the Harvard commencement - additional words given here in brackets - ‘Their commencement is kept yearly the 2d of August in ye meeting house [at Cambridge] where the governor and magistrates [of ye Coloney] are attended with throngs of illiterate elders and church members... most of ye students are come from England.’ A partial separation of some of the other leaves of the manuscript waste contained in the binding makes it clear that more leaves of Randolph’s report are also present in the binding. Both the outermost and additional internal material relates to the mercantile and trading family of Hilliard who lived in Salem, Massachusetts around 1718-1723, notably the sales of rope made by ‘Joseph Hilliard ‘, (Salem ropemaker and son of a ship’s master). This pattern of New England mercantile activity present in the manuscript waste continues with the reuse in the main text of a printed affidavit (blank verso, pp107-108) which was a document made mandatory for masters of vessels carrying colonial sugar, rum and molasses under the 1764 Sugar Act, a catalyst for the American Revolution. The affidavit ir printed thus: ‘That [blank] containing [blank] marked and numbered as per Margin, are now shipped by [blank] on board the [blank] bound for [blank] and that Oath has been made agreeable to the Act of the 4th of George III. cap 26... of the Growth and Produced [blank] in the Colony of [blank] (see image) with ‘GR’ watermark. Tantalising further glimpses of the multiple layers contained within the binding are accessible - a future owner will have to decide whether the best course of action would be to employ a paper restorer to separate the multiple layers - ours has advised that this would be very possible.

The manuscript proper contains a sequence of copied extracts from some of the most popular Grand Tour narratives published between 1754 and 1783: Boyle’s Letters, Wraxall’s Tour, Cox’s Travels, John Moore’s Society and Manners, Bourrit’s Journey to the Glaciers and Brydon’s Letters to Beckford. Given their dates and the inclusion of the 1764 affidavit, the manuscript seems likely to have been written during the 1760s-1790s with the much earlier material incorporated into the binding from available manuscript waste by an unidentified compiler - most likely English but possibly north American. The first leaf has the title ‘Earl of Corke & Orrery’, followed by 29 pages of text from John Boyle, Earl of Cork’s Letters from Italy, 1754-5 covering the journey from Lyons and beginning with a denunciation of Dr Swift’s history... a pernicious piece’, continuing via Bologna to Florence. 3 blanks followed by 3 pages on China; Wraxall’s Tour thro ye Northern parts of Europe (pp50-105) Stockholm, Dantzig, Pomerania etc; Cox’s Travels into Russia pp107-108 - written on the affidavit and followed by notes from John Moore’s 1783 publication, A View of Society and Manners in France... (pp105-121; 126-128; 133-160 & pp179-185); Marc Theodore Bourrit, A Relation of a Journey to the Glaciers (1775) pp161-175 including a table of ‘Heights above ye Level of ye Ocean’; Patrick Brydone, Tour through Sicily in Letters to Beckford, May 1770 (pp1-58), appropriately ending in Naples. The name Hamilton in pencil to verso of final leaf. There is no clue as to the identity or gender of the compiler or indeed their location. British or American, male or female, this manuscript has many more secrets to disgorge.

Edward Randolph, the ‘hated colonialist’ (1632-1703) inspected New England in the summer of 1676, submitting his report on repeated violations of the Navigation Acts, church government, and Harvard University business to the British Board of Trade. As a consequence he convinced King Charles II to revoke the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1684, and establish the Dominion of New England. It is a passage from this document that is found nestling within the binding of our manuscript. The American Antiquarian Society holds another near contemporary copy of Randolph’s Report on New England, pp28. The document was first printed in Collection of Original Papers, 1781, Thomas Hutchinson, ed. Many questions remain unanswered about this manuscript, including its place of origin - most likely Great Britain but tantalisingly possible also is the American colonies at the very moment that they declared their independence.

Full details

Added under Manuscript
Publisher Unpublished thus
Date published 1680-1780
Subject 1 Manuscript
Product code 8386

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