“Against seditious books” – MS Hunter 3, folio 61.

MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library

MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library


Catalogue details

Archive reference: MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library. See here for more information.

Date: July 1570

Document details: Signed by Queen Elizabeth. Proclamation against the secret transport of seditious books and writings within the realm.

Transcription policy: https://huntingrebels.wordpress.com/transcripts/

PDF edition of Modernised Transcript of fol. 61



MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library. Zoom view of heading.

MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library. Zoom view of heading.



1.                                             A proclamation made against seditious and

2.                                            traitorous books, bills and writings

3.   Elizabeth R                                                                               By the Queen.

4.   The Queen’s Majesty being of late certainly informed of the traitorous boldness of certain wicked and seditious persons that envying and malicing the good universal quiet of this her realm

5.   and subjects do, by secret manner, contrive and scatter certain infamous scrolls and bills in some parts of her realm. And into some other parts bring in traitorous books and bills as it

6.   were from Rome, thereby with untruths and falsehoods, yea with diverse monstrous absurdities to the slander of the nobility and Council of the realm. And not sparing also in the same

7.   to utter high treasons against the state and royal dignity of Her Majesty to engender in the heads of the simple ignorant multitude a misliking or murmuring against the quiet

8.   government of the realm and namely in malicious depraving of such actions as are and have been by good counsel providently devised and necessarily attempted and well achieved

9.   by Her Majesty’s order for defence not only of Her Majesty but of the very whole body and people of the realm from the open fury of rebels and intended invasions by outward enemies:

10. hath hereupon thought good and necessary to warn all her good faithful subjects that if any such traitorous or lewd and slanderous bills or books in writing or in print

11.  shall any wise come to the hands of any person that can or may by reading of any part of the same find the same to be of such lewd qualities against Her Majesty or the nobility of the

12. realm or any of her Council, or tending to the slander of any other public estate and officer; that immediately without showing or report thereof to any person, he

13. shall bring and deliver it to the hands of the Lieutenant of the same shire or to his deputy. Or if in case the same Lieutenant or his deputy shall be so far of as the finder

14. for poverty or other necessary impediment cannot speedily resort to them therewith then the said finder shall, without making any other privy thereto, bring it to the next Justice

15. of near or head officer that can read. Who, being informed thereof, shall examine the finder of the manner and other circumstances to his discretion necessary, how the same was

16. found. And thereupon shall seal it up close, with the examination of the finder if any person be thereby chargeable and shall send it immediately to the Lieutenant of

17. the shire or to his deputy, to be by them also sent and imparted to Her Majesty and her Council, without giving knowledge of the contents thereof to any other manner person.

18. And shall also upon the examination of the finder do his uttermost by his own authority or by advertising to any other having authority in the same shire or liberty or

19. otherwise, to cause to be apprehended all the persons charged or suspected as authors, or any wise participants of the said slanderous and seditious bills, books or scrolls

20. to the intent the same persons so charged or suspected may be further tried and ordered with such severity as their deserts shall require. And furthermore if any manner of

21. writing or scrolls shall happen in any suspicious manner to come to the hands of any person, the same being not able by reading to discern what the same is, nor knowing

22. who the person is by whom he shall attain to it, the said person so being ignorant of reading shall forthwith show the same to some honest discrete officer nearest

23. to the place that can read it. Who, finding it to be any wise seditious or slanderous, shall forthwith carry it and the bringer also and deliver them both in like manner to

24. the Lieutenant of the shire or other officer in like manner as if he had been the first finder thereof himself. And if any person can by any means discover who are the

25. authors or writers, counsellors or conveyors of any such traitorous or slanderous bills, books or writings that already hath been or shall be hereafter dispersed, the same so

26. doing in such sort as it may come to the knowledge of Her Majesty or her Council, shall be so largely rewarded as during his or their lives they shall have just cause to think

27. themselves well used. And if he have been any wise a partner in the same fault and yet will discover the principal authors or offenders therein he shall not only be

28. favourably pardoned for his concealment but shall be so well rewarded as he shall never have cause to repent of his discovery. And if cause shall so require

29. both such discoverers shall be preserved from the note of blame of accusing as far forth as may be any ways devised. And contrarywise if any person after the publication

30. hereof shall be proved to have found or been made privy to any such slanderous books or writings and not to have used them as afore is prescribed, or that any person other

31. than such officers as are in manner afore expressed and appointed to receive such scrolls of the finders shall be made privy thereto by the finders, or by any other person and

32. shall not disclose their knowledge in manner above expressed, as if they had been the first finders, Her Majesty willith it to be understood that all such persons so

33. concealing the same shall upon proof thereof be attached and committed closely to the nest gaol as concealers and maintainers of sedition and tumults. And shall

34. not be bailed nor delivered without express commandment or knowledge of the Lieutenant of the shire, or the Queen’s Majesty or her Privy Council. And for

35. the suppressing of these kinds of seeds of treason and sedition Her Majesty chargith all her lieutentants and officers, to whom the execution hereof may any wise

36. appertain, to be ready, careful and diligent to the apprehending of these kind of wicked sowers of sedition and to the straight examination of all persons that

37. may be any wise suspected by their disordered lives or speeches, or by any other probable means to be partners hereto, or otherwise sowers of seditious tales with such

38. surety as the same requireth, For so is it seen very necessary at this time wherein appearith a malicious, hidden and cankered purpose of some wicked number

39. of lewd people that have an inward and greedy desire to stir up tumults and uproars and violently to burst asunder the bands of the public peace which the

40. realm enjoyeth, whereby they and their like confederates might make spoil and havoc of all the good subjects of the realm and as traitors make their gain by

41. conspiring and confederating with foreign enemies to the hazard, or at the least to the great charges of the realm to be necessarily sustained for defence of

42. the same against such attempts either at home or from abroad. Given at Her Majesty’s manor of Oatland the first day of July 1570. In the

43. twelfth year of Her Majesty’s reign.

44.                                                                                               God save the Queen.




MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library. Zoom view of crossed out text.

MS Hunter 3, fol. 61. Special Collections, Glasgow University Library. Zoom view of crossed out text.


cankered: literally meaning a festering or gangrenous wound but used figuratively to mean infected with evil, depraved or corrupted [see Oxford English Dictionary (OED): http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.gla.ac.uk/view/Entry/27068?redirectedFrom=cankered#eid, last accessed 25/08/2014]

contrarywise: on the other hand, on the contrary

Council: referring to the Privy Council. The Privy Council was a body of nobles, magnates and clergy which had administrative duties. The Privy Council developed significantly during the reign of Elizabeth I and had various committees within it with differing duties and roles. Essentially the Privy Council was made up of the monarch’s chief political advisors. The Privy Council still exists today as Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council but all decisions are made by a sub-committee of the council – the Cabinet. For more information on the Privy Council during Elizabeth I’s reign see The Elizabethan Privy Council in the 1570s by Michael Barraclough Pulman (London: University of California, 1971)

deserts: the consequences or results of one’s actions

discover: meaning to reveal or uncover

disordered lives or speeches: meaning those who do not conform to expected behaviours, for example those who not attend the established church or those who publicly reveal their Catholic beliefs

forthwith: at once without delay

gaol: jail, often a local jail rather than the larger named prisons of London. Generally very unpleasant places to end up.

intended invasions: the Elizabethan authorities were constantly on alert for signs of invasion by the great enemy – Catholic Spain.

Justice: a Justice of the Peace. These were agents of the law and the position was often much sought after thanks to the influence it provided.

lewd: not meant in the modern sense of the word “vulgar” or “crude” but rather meaning unprincipled or wicked [see OED:http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.gla.ac.uk/view/Entry/107735?redirectedFrom=lewd#eid, last accessed 25/08/2014]

liberty: not referring strictly to freedom but meaning here a domain or specifically “a district subject to a particular jurisdiction” [OED: http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.gla.ac.uk/view/Entry/107898?rskey=yTFyxJ&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid, last accessed 25/08/2014]

malicing:  meaning “to malice” or in other words “to malign”. Here it most likely means “to act against” the peace of the realm.

misliking: disapproval or dislike of something, or more specifically to be unhappy with someone or something

tumults: commotion or public disturbance

willith, chargith, requireth etc: archaic – read simply without the “ith” or “eth” ending. For example willith reads as “wills it”, chargith reads as “charges” etc.






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