The Gloves of Charles I?

Last Sunday (30th January 2022) was the feast of Charles King and Martyr in the Calendar of Commemoration of the Church of England. Lambeth Palace Library has a number of items associated with Charles I, including a copy of his works expurgated by the Portuguese Inquisition, his personal copy of William Prynne’s A breviate of the life of William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury (London,1644), in which he wrote ‘Dum spiro spero’ (while I breathe I hope) while imprisoned, and reports by William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the province of Canterbury with notes in the King’s hand in the margins. Yet, it is not the contemporary documents associated with Charles that seem to capture the imagination of visitors to the Library, but rather the pair of gloves that were reputedly worn by him on the scaffold and which were handed by him to William Juxon, Bishop of London (later Archbishop of Canterbury), who attended him at his execution.

The gloves of Charles I

The gloves were purchased for Lambeth Palace Library in 1963 by the then Librarian Dr Geoffrey Bill, from the Royal United Service Institution (RUSI) after they dispersed their museum. The collection had up to that point been on display in the Banqueting Hall, Whitehall, outside of which was placed the scaffold on which Charles I was beheaded on 30 January 1649, and which is the last extant part of the Palace of Whitehall that burned down in 1698. Dr Bill researched the provenance of the gloves carefully and concluded that ‘the tradition that the gloves belonged to the King does … seem well founded’.[1] Yet, several other pairs of gloves lay claim to be those that Charles I wore at his execution, and Dr Bill determined that it could not be proven with certainty that the gloves in the possession of RUSI had been given by the King to Juxon leading to RUSI dropping their asking price.

Notes showing how thee gloves descended through the Landor family

While we cannot be certain that Charles I wore the gloves, we can be reasonably certain that the gloves were owned by Juxon. He gave them to his friend Jeremy Taylor, through whom they eventually came into the Landor family. Papers housed with the gloves trace the path the gloves took through the Landor family.[2] In 1928 Miss Caroline Landor gave the gloves to RUSI.

The gloves were displayed in the Great Hall at Lambeth Palace for many years, and have been loaned to several major exhibitions, the most recent being Samuel Pepys: plague, fire, revolution at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich in 2016. When the gloves went on loan to the British Museum for the Treasures of Heaven exhibition in 2011, the Museum undertook conservation work on them as part of the loan agreement, ensuring that future generations can look upon them and wonder if the stories told about them are true.

Further reading

Martina Bagnoli (ed.), Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe (London, 2011)

Margarette Lincoln (ed.), Samuel Pepys: plague, fire, revolution (London, 2015).


[1] LR/L/19/17 Correspondence regarding the acquisition King Charles I’s gloves, 1928-1963.

[2] ARTEFACT/5 Gloves of Charles I and notes on provenance from Landor family.

Court of Arches Project 4

With the generous support of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, a project to enhance access to two key series in the archive of the Court of Arches has been successfully completed. The two series are Ee (personal answers by plaintiffs and defendants to allegations), and Eee (testimony from witnesses), spanning the years 1661-1798. They reflect the variety of the Court’s jurisdiction in areas such as marriage, divorce, wills and probate, defamation, clergy morals and conduct, tithes and church buildings. They are a treasure trove for myriad aspects of history, reporting word for word the lives and experience of thousands of English men and women.

The project has provided enhanced descriptions of the contents of fifty volumes of Court records (10,582 ff.), including new identifications of persons and places. Significant individuals have come to light, often adding new and surprising information missing from their biographies in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Amongst the private lives laid bare are those of John Lacy and Henry Harris, two of the leading actors of the Restoration stage, Sarah Fyge Egerton, poet and champion of women’s rights, Alexander Johnston, son of the executed Lord Wariston, Holcroft Blood, chief of artillery under Marlborough, and a galaxy of politicians, clergyman, peers, and landowners. Amongst the latter is Joshua Edisbury, who built Erddig Hall, near Wrexham. The domestic staff at Erddig is a focus of interest to its visitors and the Edisbury case adds the testimony of the Hall’s very first steward and butler. In another suit we meet Benjamin Overton (c.1647-1711), political pamphleteer, enticing a young heiress (deaf, mute and aged only seventeen) into marriage. We discover the reason why Morgan Godwin (1640-1685), advocate of the evangelisation of black slaves in America, first went to Virginia: to escape a disastrous marriage to the adulterous daughter of a Buckinghamshire innkeeper. Another case features Richard Atkyns (1615-1677), who muddied the waters of English bibliography by announcing that printing was introduced into England long before Caxton, his evidence being a book allegedly found at Lambeth. Robert “Beau” Fielding, rake and M.P., appears in two cases, first through his bigamous marriage to Barbara, Lady Castlemaine, once the mistress of Charles II, and second through his simultaneous affair with her granddaughter.

The project has also drawn attention to the importance for architectural history of suits concerning dilapidations. The palaces of bishops and archbishops, and the work required to restore them, are extensively documented, especially following their devastation in the era of the Commonwealth. Included is a case brought against the executor of the will of John Hacket, Bishop of Lichfield, whose heroic achievement in restoring his cathedral led only to accusations from his successor that he had neglected his palace. Such suits often provide significant documentation on bishops’ income and expenditure, and, in a suit brought against the executor of the will of Archbishop Juxon, there is a detail concerning his private library: that his books were worth no more than fifty pounds.

Book with the ownership inscription of Archbishop Juxon (ref: SA442.C7)


Parsonage houses are another prime subject of dilapidation suits, while cases arising from churchwardens’ accounts often document the fabric of churches, as in the case of Ware, Hertfordshire, which needed extensive repair after the Great Storm of November 1703.

The depositions of witnesses before the Court of Arches provide vivid glimpses of the lives of rich and poor alike.  4,268 depositions have been recorded in the Library’s online catalogue for the first time, with the names, ages, occupations and residences of witnesses and usually their place of birth. One of the rewarding aspects of  the project has been to identify signed witness statements not only by bishops and leading churchmen but also laymen as various as John Evelyn, Sir Roger L’Estrange, Walter Charleton, physician to Charles II,  Streynsham Master, pioneer of the East India Company, John Pordage, priest, astrologer and alchemist, Claude Sourceau, tailor to Charles II, Cave Underhill, comic actor, Sir Samuel Garth, physician and poet, and the anatomist William Cowper. No less vivid are the testimonies of more ordinary folk, literate and illiterate. Their occupations are now recorded in the online catalogue, opening windows into innumerable trades and professions. In the case of Hubbard versus Hubbard, for instance, we are taken into the world of a London peruque maker, while in the case brought by Lady Ashe against Sir James Ashe we find the testimony of physicians, surgeons and apothecaries concerning the transmission of two diseases which frequently break out in Arches cases, the clap and the French pox.

In addition the project has catalogued 164 documents which were missing from the published index (and hence from the online catalogue), completing the documentation in almost as many cases before the Court.


With the support of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library, a project to identify documents within the archive of the Court of Arches which were missing from the catalogue has been completed. The project focused on series E: libels, articles, allegations and interrogatories. In total 287 missing documents were identified and catalogued, comprising 95 parchments and 483 paper leaves. They range in date from 1662 to 1786 and reflect the variety of the Court’s jurisdiction in areas such as marriage, divorce, wills and probate, defamation, clergy morals and conduct, tithes and church buildings. The newly catalogued items enhance the documentation on hundreds of cases before the Court, providing vivid glimpses into forgotten lives. Interesting cases to which the project has added new documentation concerned the wills of Archbishops Juxon and Sheldon, the dilapidation of the bishops’ palaces at Lichfield and Peterborough after the destruction of the Commonwealth era, the clandestine marriage of Frances Hyde, daughter of the Earl of Clarendon, and the divorces of political figures such as Thomas Grey, 2nd Earl of Stamford, John Vaughan, 2nd Viscount Lisburne, and Trevor Hill, 1st Viscount Hillsborough. A further divorce case concerned Sir John Reade who had the unusual distinction of being made a baronet by both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. The project also brought to light an unexpected item amongst the libels, an original rate book for the parish of St. Paul, Deptford, 1768.

A guide to the archive of the Court of Arches, with information on its jurisdiction and procedure and extensive bibliography, has also been added to the Library’s online catalogue of archives and manuscripts.

Example of a case in the Court of Arches (MQ808.G7S8TP)