Early Modern Archbishops’ Papers Project 5

Dr Richard Palmer has re-catalogued the papers of Charles Manners-Sutton, Archbishop of Canterbury 1805-28. Despite the length of his archiepiscopate, the papers comprise only four volumes. The first is miscellaneous in character but includes interesting papers on the enforcement of clerical residence, the Royal Bounty for the Vaudois, and the role of Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta, and his chaplain Thomas Robinson in securing relations between the Church of England and the Churches of the East.

Manners Sutton 2 comprises a volume of papers on King’s College, Nova Scotia, continuing the series from Moore 1. The papers show the decisive role of the Archbishop in determining the statutes and affairs of the College and his efforts to preserve it as an Anglican institution. His opposition to the proposed amalgamation of King’s College with the non-sectarian Dalhousie College is reflected in copies of letters from the Earl of Dalhousie, Governor-in-Chief of British North America, to Sir James Kempt, Governor of Nova Scotia; blame for the failure of the amalgamation was placed on “the abominable obstinacy or rather the bigotry of the Archbishop of Canterbury”.

Manners Sutton 3 and 4 comprise two versions of a long memorandum by John Lewis Chirol, minister of one of the French Protestant churches in London. Previously catalogued as concerning the Vaudois in Piedmont and Germany, these were found to relate to the Royal Bounty for Huguenot clergy in England.

This concludes the project to re-catalogue the early modern Archbishops’ Papers, kindly supported by the Library Trustees. In summary, these comprise correspondence and papers of eight Archbishops of Canterbury from Gilbert Sheldon to Charles Manners-Sutton (1664-1828, 36 vols). Here are to be found papers of Gilbert Sheldon on the plague and fire of London; of Thomas Tenison and Thomas Secker on the Church in the American colonies; of Thomas Secker on the Methodists, Moravians and the relief from persecution of foreign Protestants; of John Moore on the Church in Australia, Canada and India; and of Charles Manners-Sutton on the affairs of King’s College, Nova Scotia. Alongside these are Canterbury diocesan and metropolitical papers, and records of the Archbishops as Visitor of colleges, hospitals and schools.

The Project to produce new online catalogue descriptions of the papers was carried out between August 2014 and April 2015.  Brief catalogue descriptions of entire volumes were replaced by far more detailed accounts of the papers, usually on an item by item basis. As a result researchers are now able to find a wealth of new documentation, much of it unexpected. Amongst myriad examples are a letter from John Bowes, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, giving a vivid first-hand account of the anti-union riots in Dublin in December 1759; the original order for the appointment of Gowin Knight as the first  Principal Librarian of the British Museum, together with his cantankerous objections to rules for the Museum; letters on the development of Bognor as a resort by Sir Richard Hotham; letters from Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia, on his life and ministry, the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War and the dilemmas faced by loyalist clergy; papers on the fabric of St. Paul’s with Archbishop Secker’s mordant comments on the ‘obstinate perverseness’ of its  surveyor Henry Flitcroft and on the ‘fraudulent and insolent behaviour’ of  Flitcroft’s successor Robert Mylne;  letters from James Cornwallis, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, on the fabric of Lichfield Cathedral, where the spire was in danger of collapse; and papers on the clandestine marriages of the brothers of George III, including brotherly communications between the King and the Duke of Gloucester exchanged through the Archbishop as intermediary. Significant correspondents are recorded in the catalogue descriptions for the first time, amongst them John Wesley, George Whitefield and Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon, who all appear in the papers relating to Methodism and the Moravians.

Report by Robert Mylne in the fabric of St Paul's Cathedral (1781)
Report by Robert Mylne on the fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral (1781)

The Early Modern Archbishops’ Papers appear to have lurked unobserved in the Library for centuries until they were finally brought together as a series between 1982 and 1984. They comprise papers of various provenances and often relate closely to other papers in the Library from which they had become separated in the course of time. The new catalogue descriptions highlight these connexions and facilitate the reintegration of the original series.

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