LONDON The Order of My Lord Mayor, The Aldermen and the Sheriffes, for their meetings

London, R. Young, Printer to the Hon: City, 1629


Sm. 8vo. pp. (iv) 32 (ii) without first blank. Mostly large black letter, small woodcut arms of the City of London at head of t.p., couple of decorative headpieces. Light age browning or yellowing, upper margin cut a bit short, generally a good copy in modern vellum.

An extremely rare publication of the orders and regulations governing meetings of the high officers of the City of the London on special, public and ceremonial occasions. Most of these were annual events fixed by the liturgical calendar though some, such as a coronation, occurred only very occasionally. The orders do not regulate the conduction of business, or the administration of the meetings, so much as to provide who shall be where and when, fulfilling what role and especially wearing what. It is a sort of secular ‘ceremonialum’ for what was rapidly becoming the grandest and richest corporate government in the world and which often provided a splendid show for the local populace. This was not a mere matter of ‘panem et circenses’ however but had a serious underlying social and political purpose. It is easy to forget today just how significant the symbolism of clothes and gestures was in the C17th (viz Malvolio) and how vitally important were the rules of precedence and procedure. This little work seems to have been designed principally for participants in these ceremonies, by the study of which deeply embarrassing (and perhaps worse) solecisms could be avoided. It opens with a paginated table of the principal ceremonies and closes with a list of the City corporations. Copies would have been discarded when the office holder retired or the regulations changed, and were doubtless few to begin with, almost none now survive. The earliest recorded edition of this sort was printed in 1568 and is known by a single copy at the Huntington; the Guildhall Library has the only recorded copy of an edition of 1604 and the Bodleian the unique 1610 as well as the only surviving quire of “c.1625?”. Then follows this title of which two copies are now known (apart from the present), at the BL. and Guildhall respectively; a different issue, partly reset, survives uniquely at Harvard.

STC 16730

In stock