Archive for August, 2013

A Suffolk Treasure in California

August 23, 2013



In 2009, we posted a Clog article about an elaborately made manuscript version of a wedding sermon  in our collection.  Last year, history columnist John Blatchly wrote in detail about our manuscript in his weekly column for the East Anglian Daily Times.  This week he sent us a scan of the article and we thought we would share it with you.   (Click on the image to see it at a more readable size; the full text of the article is below)

Courtesy of John Blatchly and the East Anglian Daily Times:

At the University of California, Los Angeles, there is a rare and delightful Suffolk manuscript [MS.1951.018]. The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library paid less than $14 for it in 1951, a trivial sum even then. It is a unique handwritten copy of a marriage sermon preached on 28 August 1649 in Chilton Church near Sudbury. It was specially commissioned by the preacher and bound in vellum for presentation to the father of the bridegroom, Sir William Armyne, 1st Baronet, of Osgodby Hall in Lincolnshire. Its beauty lies in the way the scribe, John Raymond, wrote it in imitation of printing.

When printing began some two hundred years earlier, the style of manuscripts of the day was imitated. Here the hand mimics print and there is the luxury of two titlepages. There were Raymonds in St Lawrence parish, Ipswich, and it could be that John had gone to London to work as a writing-master and calligrapher. He was not a printer in either place.

The 18 year-old bride was Anne Crane, third of four daughters of Sir Robert Crane of Chilton who had died in 1642 aged 55. Robert was knighted by James I at Newmarket, and created a baronet by Charles I in 1627. As he left no son, his estate was divided equally between his daughters. Anne’s mother was Robert’s second wife, Susan, daughter of Sir Giles Allington of Horseheath and Halesworth, and she later married Isaac Appleton of Holbrook Hall in Waldingfield.

Sir William Armyne chose his protegé Matthew Lawrence to preach the sermon partly because he was local. From 1643 until his death in 1652, Lawrence was Town Preacher of Ipswich, presiding over the Classis of ministers which ran the Town Library and provided Godly ministers for the twelve parishes of the town. But Armyne and Lawrence were also both Lincolnshire men, for Matthew was christened the son of William Lawrence at Saxby All Saints on February 1596. Although Saxby is a parish or two south of the estuary it was then known as Saxby on Humber.

The sermon was some 30 pages long, as one would expect from such a painful Puritan as Lawrence. (His posthumous Use and Practice of Faith runs to 624 pages.) Couples would not put up with it today. In those days, longevity was far rarer than today, and William and Anne were together for only nine years, for the husband died aged 36, having having enjoyed his father’s title for only seven years before his remains were interred in the Armyne family vault at Lenton, Lincs.

Anne, who had borne her husband two healthy daughters, was still only 27, and in 1659 she married another Lincolnshire man, John, 1st Baron Belasyse or Bellasis of Worlaby in that county, where he built, in Pevsner’s words ‘a bizarre brick house in the familiar Fen Artisan Mannerism’. Unfortunately it is no longer there. Clearly Lord Belasyse was wealthy, for he commissioned Anne’s portrait from Sir Peter Lely. She died in 1662, aged 30.

A Hybrid Book: Print to Manuscript

August 14, 2013

The Clark Library has a number of printed books that are very heavily annotated. They are so heavily annotated, in fact, that the weight of the hand-drawn ink seeps into your eyes as you contemplate the very nature of the object as a printed book or manuscript.

Clark DA30 H61 1680* p.6-7

Here is a two-page spread toward the beginning of one of these hybrid books held by the Clark. Its printed layer is a text by Peter Heylyn, called A Help to English History (London: Thomas Bassett, 1680). This book was meant to aid the reader in learning about kings and queens of England, and the peerage generally, with a focus on heraldry. Books of heraldry were popular in the early modern period and the College of Arms, the body granting heraldic achievements, saw a revival of its own in the late 18th century.

One reader of this particular book took up this text as a tool with singular focus, annotating so copiously, offering his own notes on heraldic description and royal origins, that his writing covers the margins as well as the blank spaces between the printed lines (that is, most of the space not already occupied by printers’ ink). This is an emphatic manuscript layer.

Does this object have to be either a manuscript or a printed book? Do we have to choose? Past Clark librarians decided to classify it as a printed book. (The Clark holds three versions of this 1680 edition of Heylyn’s text — this copy is copy 2; copy 1 is devoid of any owner or reader interaction with the text and copy 3 is a two-volume set interleaved with blank pages for notes — something the former owner of copy 2 really could have used, but copy 3’s interleaved pages are mostly blank.) Clearly, copy 2, its pages heavy with annotation, is different from its printed siblings, and is something more than a printed book. While the catalog record for copy 2  notes that it “contains copious ms. notes in more than one early hand, and many small, precise drawings of coats of arms, armour, mythical animals, and various objects connected with heraldry,” does it provide sufficient information to find the transformative manuscript layer sitting atop the printed?

Within the manuscript layer, our annotator has included not only extensive textual notes but, also, a fair number of drawings, most of which are animals and other objects that could serve as heraldic charges. As the pages proceed, we see less textual annotation and more drawings. Is there any significance to this? Did the annotator lose his intense focus or get a little bored at the end of his engagement with Heylyn’s text? Was there less of interest in the final sections, which focus upon baronets created by King Charles I and King Charles II? Perhaps for one of these reasons, there are a slew of delightful drawings around these sections.

Clark DA30 H61 1680* p.602-603

For example, here are schools of fish (and even a lobster claw), with a particularly notable dolphin naiant imbowed. So, a robust watery ecosystem flows across the margins of these pages, though these aquatic creatures seem to have no association to the printed list of baronets, whose paper they share. Interestingly, the style of these drawings harkens back to what one might find in the margins of a medieval codex.

Clark DA30 H61 1680* p606-607

A virtual zoological garden occupies a two-page spread just a few leaves later, where we find a mole, a spider and its web, a mountain lion, an adder, an ermine, a holy lamb, two rams, a toad, a emmet (or, ant), and two tigers — one much more convincing than the other (who slides into obscurity within the gutter in this quick snapshot). Once again, these creatures seem to have no relation to the printed text. How did the annotator determine to draw these particular animals? Why did they end up on these pages? And why in this combination? Some of the drawings are grouped by type: aquatic animals and land animals. But what do you make of this set of three?

Clark DA30 H61 1680* p.628

This page features a sword, a cardinal’s hat, and a three-headed chimera. Not only is it not clear how these three relate to the text, but how do they relate to each other? What inspired their drawings and placement? For now, the answers to these questions remain mysteries.

Heraldic blazons are, in essence, a string of words creating an ordered description of the objects and colors on a coat of arms. Our annotator, very much interested in heraldry, took substantial time to create visual aids to assist in his understanding of this textual information, engaging with both the official heraldic description in the blazon and its translation into pictorial representation.

This object is thus a play of dualities, a manuscript and a printed book, a text and a catalog of visual imagery, and featuring an early modern annotator with a penchant for medieval imagery. This book, with its idiosyncrasies, is packed with historical evidence, waiting for the right scholar(s) to take up the task of reading the evidence it contains.