It gives me great pleasure to announce that early modernists at Oxford now have access to The Cecil Papers. The purchase was made possible thanks to the generosity of many donors and contributors across the University: English Faculty Library, History Faculty, Merton College, All Souls College, St John’s College Library, Lincoln College, Oriel College Library, Balliol College Library, Keble College Library, New College, Pembroke College Library, and St Hugh’s College Library. I am very grateful to all donors without whom the purchase of this important historical source database, which has long been on the history eresources desiderata, would not have been possible.
The Cecil Papers provides online access to a collection of Tudor and early Stuart documents, principally from the reigns of Elizabethan I and James I/VI, privately held by the Gascoyne-Cecil family at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.
The resource contains nearly 30,000 documents gathered by William Cecil (1521-98), Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil (1563-1612), First Earl of Salisbury. These important statesmen were Lord High Treasurer and Secretary of State serving under Elizabeth I and then James I. It complements extremely well the State Papers Online.
The collection includes many 16th and 17th century state papers, grants from the Crown, legal documents, treaties, correspondence, political memoranda, reports but also family and estate papers.
Key events covered in this collection include:
- The clandestine plans for James’ accession to the English throne
- Mary Queen of Scots’ imprisonment and execution
- Tudor re-conquest of Ireland
- The Spanish Armada
- Military events in the Low Countries
- Gunpowder Plot
- The Main Plot and imprisonment of Sir Walter Raleigh
- Early English settlement of America
The manuscripts are full-text searchable on the ProQuest platform. You can see both the scanned original manuscript as well as the transcribed version which will help those struggling with their palaeographical skills. Full-text searching is possible and hits are usefully highlighted.
Researchers will find a number of additional support material, available in the About section. They include:
- An essay about the archival history of the collection.
- Notes on the numbering of the Cecil Papers and the scope of the digital collection.
- brief introduction to some key points of palaeography.
- Some quick reference material, relating to differences in dating, numerical and monetary systems, likely to be found in documents such as those contained within The Cecil Papers.
While you are here…
- State Papers Online I – IV: The Tudors, Stuarts & Commonwealth 1509-1714 (Foreign & Domestic)
- Early English Books Online
- Early European Books 1-4
- Manuscripts Online: Written Culture 1000 to 1500
- English Handwriting 1500-1700: an online course
- Palaeography: reading old handwriting 1500 – 1800: A practical online tutorial (TNA)