An Ordinance…For the Preservation and Keeping together for publique Use such Books, Evidences, Records and Writings sequestered or taken by Distresse or otherwirse, as are fit to be PreservedLondon, Edward Husbands, 1643
FIRST EDITION. Small 4to. Pp. (iii) 2-6. Black letter, some Roman. Typographic woodcut border to tp, ornamental woodcut headpiece, floriated initial. A nice, well margined copy. Disbound.
This attractive ordinance from Parliament was published during the time of political unrest arising from the beginning of the English Civil War. It calls for the preservation and organisation of books, papers, manuscripts, court proceedings and other records taken or expropriated from wider London and Westminster. It is an attempt to save important documents from being ruined, destroyed or sold off which is stated as being “disadvantageous…to the publique.” The ordinance came at a time where the Parliamentary army had gained notoriety for despoiling and stealing books and documents from the aristocratic and public libraries. A list of nominees are put forth as candidates to ensure the preservation and safe keeping of this literary material. These include Algernon Percy, 10th Earl of Northumberland (1602-1668), who joined the parliamentary committee of safety in July 1642, and was praised by Whitelocke for his “sober and stout carriage to the king.” At the time of the publication of this book he was lobbying against the rife mob violence and proposing methods to parliament to ensure peace. William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele (1582-1662), is also listed, who marched with Charles I in the first Bishops’ War of 1639, along with John Selden (1584-1654), the prominent jurist and scholar who participated in the discussions of the Westminster Assembly in 1643, and the barrister Gilbert Millington (1598-1666) who went on to sign King Charles I’s death warrant. Special emphasis is placed upon the legal records within the Inner and Middle Temples, Gray’s and Lincoln’s Inns being properly inventoried and catalogued. This ordinance may have prompted a number of important documents to be gathered and recorded, preserving them for the ‘publique’ in the 17th century and perhaps today.
Edward Husbands was printer to the House of Commons throughout this era. Although little is known about his life, he was commissioned to print a prolific number of important decrees and ordinances. These included a 1643 publication of Waller’s Plot, described as a “late treacherous and horrid desighne”, a 1642 account of the war between the Swedes and the French, and almost two hundred others.ESTC R17603; Wing E1780.