COTTON, Sir Robert Bruce (1571-1631), of Blackfriars, London; New Exchange, The Strand; Cotton House, Westminster and Conington Hall, Hunts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



12 Mar. 1624

Family and Education

b. 22 Jan. 1571,1 1st s. of Thomas Cotton of Conington and his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Francis Shirley of Staunton Harold, Leics.2 educ. Westminster sch. (William Camden); Jesus, Camb. 1581, BA 1585; M.Temple 1588.3 m. c.1593, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Brocas of Theddingworth, Leics., 1s.4 suc. fa. 1592.5 kntd. 11 May 1603;6 cr. bt. 29 June 1611.7 d. 6 May 1631.8

Offices Held

Member Soc. Antiq. c.1586.9

J.p. Hunts. 1601-14, Mdx. 1621-d.;10 commr. sewers, Fenland 1604-at least 1626, Hunts. 1605-26, R. Gleane, Lincs. 1607,11 subsidy, Hunts. 1608,12 aid 1609,13 piracy, London 1609,14 drainage, Fenland 1621, 1624,15 new buildings, London 1623, 1626.16

Commr. enclosure 1607,17 Navy inquiry 1608-9, 1626-7,18 wool trade, 1622, 1625,19 sub-commr. exacted fees 1623, commr. 1627, 1630.20

Member, Virg. Co. 1620-d.21


Best known for his collection of manuscripts, one of the foundation deposits of the British Library, Cotton was a significant early modern antiquary, whose library and antiquarian pursuits have attracted considerable scholarly attention.22 He was also a political figure of moderate importance, although this aspect of his life is more difficult to document, as his personal papers and most of his outward correspondence are now lost.

The Cottons were descended from the Scottish royal line of Robert Bruce through the marriage in 1477 of William Cotton to Mary de Wesenham, the great-grandaughter and heir of Sir John Bruce.23 This match brought the family Conington in Huntingdonshire and Exton in Rutland. On the accession of James VI as king of England, Cotton, who was born at Denton, near Conington, added ‘Bruceus’ to his name, hoping thereby to draw attention to his own Scottish royal lineage.24 Cotton’s interest in history and collecting were established in his youth. At Westminster school he studied under William Camden, who became a close friend. From the age of 17 he kept a notebook containing material on his family background, and began collecting rare manuscripts.25 He was involved in the foundation of the Society of Antiquaries, whose members also included Camden.26 In 1600 Cotton spent six months touring the north with Camden, during which time he copied Roman inscriptions from around Hadrian’s Wall, collected coins and historical artefacts and made notes on topography.27 He also undertook etymological studies of Saxon and early English in order to establish the origins of offices such as the constable and earl marshal.28 His intellectual reputation extended overseas. In 1606 Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc visited him,29 and in 1610-11 Isaac Causabon consulted his library.30 Initially located at Blackfriars, the library moved in 1614 to the New Exchange on the Strand. From 1622 it was housed within the Palace of Westminster, as Cotton purchased a house in its precincts from the heirs of the late clerk of the Parliaments, Robert Bowyer*.31 Situated on the second floor, the library was easily accessible to Members of the Commons, since the path from St. Stephen’s Chapel to the Lords passed through Cotton’s courtyard.32 The collections relating to Parliament can be divided into six main categories: parliament rolls, statutes, writs of summons, powers and procedures, records of proceedings, and the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum, of which there were eight copies. Surviving loan lists indicate that these records were heavily used, particularly during parliaments.33

Cotton succeeded to his father’s estates in 1592, and thereupon set about completely rebuilding Conington Hall.34 In 1601 he became a magistrate and entered Parliament for the first time, as Member for Newtown, Isle of Wight, a borough controlled by the Isle’s governor and Cotton’s earliest patron, the 2nd Lord Hunsdon (Sir George Carey†). In 1603 he prepared two consultation papers for his new patron, Henry Howard, soon to be created earl of Northampton. These advocated the continuation of the Elizabethan war with Spain, and copies appear to have been widely circulated.35 Early in the new reign Cotton won the king’s favour for interceding with a French colleague and friend, Jacques Auguste de Thou, whose first edition of his Historiae Sui Temporis, published in 1604, contained an unflattering portrait of Mary Queen of Scots. James ordered Cotton to send de Thou abstracts from his papers concerning Mary, and as a result later editions of the Historiae were amended.36

By 1604 Cotton’s standing in Huntingdonshire had grown sufficiently for him to be returned for the shire. Shortly before the first Jacobean assembly met, he penned a ‘Discourse on the antiquity of Parliament’, in which he represented the views of an ‘ancient’ parliament-man. He claimed that ‘the life and strength of the law consist not in heaping of infinite and confused numbers of laws, but in the right interpretation and due execution of good and wholesome laws’.37 During the Parliament Cotton may have provided a useful conduit between the Commons and the Privy Council, which was poorly represented in the House; certainly he kept his patron, Northampton, informed of developments in the Lower House.38 One way he did this, perhaps, was by keeping an account of Commons’ proceedings. A diary of this Parliament formed part of Cotton’s library, and though not definitely by Cotton it is in the hand of Ralph Starkey, who often copied texts for Cotton.39 It includes additional items on the Union and impositions,40 and seems to have been consulted extensively, as it is presumably the ‘Red Book of Parliaments’ which was borrowed by Robert Bowyer*, Sir Edward Coke*, Northampton, and lord treasurer Mandeville (Sir Henry Montagu*).41

During the 1604 session Cotton made no speeches. His committee appointments included grievances (23 Mar.), the continuance of expiring statutes (24 Mar.) and the Buckinghamshire election dispute (27 March).42 He was named to joint conferences with the Lords on wardship (26 Mar.) and the Buckinghamshire election (5 Apr.),43 and was among those chosen on 20 Apr. to attend the king’s speech at Whitehall on the Union.44 His remaining bill committees dealt with assart lands (3 May), William Howard’s restitution (15 May), husbandry and tillage (25 May) and deceits in painting (15 June).45 Cotton’s known activities in the 1605-6 session were also not extensive. He was named for the first time to the privileges committee, which was appointed on the opening day of the session (5 Nov. 1605),46 and was also included on bill committees on the Muscovy trade (20 Mar.), the attainder of the Gunpowder plotters (30 Apr.) and the restitution of John Holland (27 Feb. 1606), a cousin of his close childhood friend, Hugh Holland.47 On 10 Apr. Cotton was ordered to help search for precedents to support the Commons’ claim to be able to amend a Lords’ bill, which he produced from 8 Henry IV rot.11, a volume that he may already have owned.48 At a committee to consider the restitution of deprived ministers on 12 Mar., Cotton argued, from precedent, that the king’s prerogative entitled him to order Parliament not to discuss any particular matter.49 He also denied Sir Edwin Sandys’s claim that Parliament could legislate for the Church.50 It is probable that this speech was ‘delivered to His Majesty after it was spoken in Parliament’.51

Appointed to the joint conference on the Union on 24 Nov. 1606, Cotton’s most significant contribution to the proceedings of the third session was to pen various papers and tracts, including one on escuage.52 In February 1607 Cotton and his fellow antiquary, Francis Tate, were instructed by the Lower House to draft a paper on naturalization law.53 He also collected material on the admission of witnesses upon oath during the discussion of the hostile laws bill.54 At the same time, Cotton wrote a pamphlet for his patron Northampton, on the merits of equal trade between England and Scotland.55 He had previously prepared a paper for Northampton on James’s legitimate claim to the English throne and the title ‘Emperor of Great Britain’.56 From the tone of these works it is clear that Cotton supported the Union, although there is no conclusive evidence, as some have suggested, that he was employed by the Privy Council in this undertaking.57

Cotton was frequently consulted on procedure and precedent. On 12 Mar. 1607 he was asked to help advise the House on the correct procedure for joint conferences.58 On 23 Mar. he and several other Members were ordered to investigate how the Commons could proceed in the absence of the Speaker, Sir Edward Phelips, who had fallen ill, but in the event Phelips resumed the chair the following day.59 On 16 June the king rebuffed the Commons’ demands that the recusancy laws be strictly enforced on the grounds that this was a matter for his judgment alone, whereupon an unnamed Member moved that Cotton, ‘a known antiquary’, and Robert Bowyer, keeper of the records in the Tower, be asked to search for precedents concerning messages from the king and the reading of petitions.60 However, the Commons preferred to appoint the privileges committee, of which Cotton was a member, together with some other Members, instead.61 On 19 June Cotton and his fellow members of the privileges committee were ordered to review matters of privilege recorded in the Commons Journal since the Parliament began.62

The end of the third session coincided with the outbreak of the Midlands Rising. Following the suppression of the revolt, Cotton was appointed to a commission to investigate enclosures in the Midlands, which had sparked off the rising there. He had little sympathy with those who had torn down hedges, and produced a tract for Northampton entitled ‘In defence of enclosure and converting arable in the inland shires to pasture’.63 In the spring of 1608, Northampton persuaded the king to establish a commission to investigate widespread corruption in the Navy. Although he headed this body, much of the commission’s work fell to its other members, most notably Cotton, who between May 1608 and June 1609 interviewed 162 witnesses and entertained captains at his house in Blackfriars.64 He also compiled the commission’s final, damning report, which highlighted the extent of corruption and recommended that appointments should be based on merit rather than patronage.65 Among the other papers prepared for Northampton by Cotton was a treatise on duelling, written in 1608.66

When Parliament reassembled in February 1610 Cotton’s name headed the list of a much reduced committee for privileges.67 On 7 Mar. he was appointed to prepare a joint conference to consider Cowell’s Interpreter.68 He was also asked to search for records in the Tower on the legality of impositions (1 May) and on the correct procedure for drafting and presenting grievances to the king (10 July).69 On 26 Feb. he was named to consider the purveyance bill (26 February).70 He was also a member of committees for two private land bills, one of which concerned the sale of the estate of William Essex of Lambourne, Berkshire (16 Feb.), in which Cotton himself had an interest as a purchaser. It may have been Cotton who actually introduced the bill.71 After ‘small amendments’ were made by the Lords it was recommitted on 3 May and subsequently passed.72

Cotton made two speeches in the fourth session, both of which suggest that he was concerned to further the interests of the king and his patron Northampton. On 28 Feb. he supported granting subsidies to pay off the king’s debts, claiming that ‘kings of best note had subsidies at all times’, thereby contradicting the widely held view that subsidies should only be given in time of war.73 On 14 June, during a debate on impositions, he produced a precedent from the parliament roll of 5 Henry IV which showed that subsidies should be given before the king answered Parliament’s grievances, hence refuting the claim that redress before supply was customary.74 In the poorly recorded fifth session, Cotton made at least one speech, on the length of time Members were to be allowed privilege after the end of Parliament.75

Following the dissolution the king looked to various new projects to raise money. One of the most important was the sale of a new title, that of baronet. Cotton was granted one of the earliest baronetcies, and later claimed credit for the scheme, which brought in over £90,000 within three years.76 However, Cotton distanced himself from the dispute over precedence and privileges between the baronets and the younger sons of peers in April 1612. The baronets asserted that their title was based on the ancient order of bannarets, which would have given them precedence over peers’ sons. Despite pleas for Cotton’s assistance, none was forthcoming, and the order of baronetcy remained a new creation.77

When Parliament was summoned in 1614, Cotton sought re-election for Huntingdonshire, but despite the backing of Sir James Wingfield and his tenants for the second seat he proved unsuccessful.78 He subsequently tried to undermine the legitimacy of Matthew Clarke’s election at King’s Lynn, for as mayor Clarke had returned himself,79 by arranging with a Mr. Byng (of whom there were then three in the Commons) to question Clarke’s eligibility. His hopes of replacing Clarke were dashed, however, as Sir Roger Owen* told him that ‘Mr. Byng moved faulty for you’. Clarke also impressed the House with ‘an eloquent oration’, in which he declared that the motion to unseat him proceeded from a ‘private plot for the getting in of another’.80 Cotton’s bid to unseat Clarke was singularly ill-judged, as King’s Lynn had a long history of returning its own aldermen and had already rejected Sir Robert Hitcham* and Sir Henry Spelman* on the grounds of non-residence.81 Although he failed to find a seat, Cotton was asked by the Commons on 12 May to provide his notes on impositions.82 Cotton agreed to do so, but as he then fell ill a deputation led by his brother Henry was sent to find these notes instead.83

Less than a month into the Parliament, Cotton completed writing A Short View of the Life of Henry the Third, a copy of which was presented to the king later that year. This latest treatise, while ostensibly an historical account, clearly reflected the current political concerns of his patron, Northampton. One of its central themes was the decline of the King’s Council and the rise of the royal favourite, Simon de Montfort. Cotton’s criticisms of de Montfort left little doubt that his real target was James’s favourite, Robert Carr, earl of Somerset. Another important theme of the treatise was the parliamentary reaction to the misuse of royal power. Instead of helping the king, the Commons was accused of trying to exploit his financial difficulties for their own ends. Here Northampton, through Cotton, was clearly drawing parallels with the events of 1610, when the negotiations for the Great Contract had ended in failure. At one point Cotton slipped into the present tense, saying that ‘parliaments that before were ever a medicine to heal up any rupture in the prince’s fortune are now grown worse than the malady, sithence malignant humours begain more to rule in them than well composed humours’.84 How far Cotton actually concurred with these opinions is difficult to say, but following Northampton’s death in June 1614 he transferred his loyalties to Somerset, one of the chief targets of his earlier criticisms.

Cotton’s association with Somerset quickly drew him into secret negotiations with Spain. In November 1614 Somerset, alarmed that James had recently reopened negotiations for a French marriage for Prince Charles, discussed with Sarmiento, Spain’s ambassador, the possibility of arranging an alternative match with a Spanish Infanta. Sarmiento, however, was uncertain whether Somerset was genuinely interested in a Spanish Match, and in January 1615 visited Cotton to find out. Over the following six months Cotton not only acted as an intermediary between Sarmiento and Somerset, but also received private instructions from James, who wished to discover on what terms Spain was prepared to proceed.85 By August James, privately despairing of the French negotiations and now satisfied that Spain was serious, secretly ordered Cotton to draft a marriage treaty.86 However, these semi-official negotiations were brought to an abrupt halt in mid-October with the spectacular fall of Somerset, who was accused of murdering Sir Thomas Overbury. Three days after Somerset was confined to his Whitehall apartments, James ordered the seizure of Cotton’s papers on the grounds that Cotton had been passing state secrets to the Spanish ambassador.87 There was no evidence to substantiate this charge, and indeed Sarmiento denied the claim in a letter sent to the duke of Lerma. However, Cotton’s secret negotiations with Sarmiento had now been uncovered.88 Fearful that his own role in this surreptitious diplomacy would be revealed, exposing him to French accusations of having negotiated with them in bad faith, James had little option but to accuse Cotton of acting without his authority, although he was determined to treat Cotton as leniently as possible. Cotton was imprisoned in the house of a London alderman for less than six months, and although interrogated by lord chief justice Sir Edward Coke*, he was pardoned after Coke discovered on whose authority he had been acting.89 Cotton also escaped punishment for his loyal, if misguided attempts, to protect Somerset from the charge of having arranged Overbury’s murder. It emerged that he had not only advised Somerset to procure a pardon so that he could not be charged, but had also forged dates on Somerset’s correspondence and altered other documents to show that the favourite had not been involved.90

Following his release, Cotton sought a return to Howard patronage, and thereafter allied his fortunes to those of the earl of Arundel. He was back in favour by autumn 1620, when he assisted the king in researching ways of ‘raising men, munitions and money’, for the relief of the Palatinate.91 There is no evidence that Cotton stood for election to the 1621 Parliament, although the Commons continued to seek his assistance. When a question arose over the validity of the election of Henry Pelham, Member for Grimsby, Edward Alford recommended that Cotton and Hakewill search for precedents.92 Moreover, when the Commons, anxious to punish the Catholic lawyer Edward Floyd, tried to prove that it had the right to try and sentence a non-Member, it turned to Cotton, who provided various books and notes. However, Sir Edward Montagu told the House that he thought these ‘fitter to conceal, than look further into’.93 Lord keeper Williams, too, asked Cotton to furnish him with precedents concerning the opening of Parliament.94 After the prorogation in December, Cotton was instructed to search the papers of the now disgraced Sir Edward Coke for seditious material.95

In 1624 Cotton at last gained a place in the Commons for the Wiltshire borough of Old Sarum. He probably owed his seat to the 2nd earl of Salisbury (William Cecil*),96 whose client, Sir Arthur Ingram, he replaced. Salisbury was closely linked with the duke of Buckingham, who may have wanted Cotton in the Commons in order to explain the background to the Spanish marriage negotiations, which he wished to end. Cotton spoke at length at the joint conference on 3 Mar. which Buckingham requested, revealing the extent of his involvement in 1615.97 At the king’s command, Cotton also penned two tracts on various aspects of Anglo-Spanish relations.98 His ‘Remonstrance of the treaties of amity and marriage’ was primarily a history of Spanish duplicity towards England, and was designed to form the basis of the Parliament’s ‘advices’ to the king to break the treaties.99 The second tract, ‘A relation of the proceedings against ambassadors’, was prompted by Buckingham.100 Despite these activities Cotton was not a staunch advocate of war, and did not speak further on the subject in the House.101

In 1624 Cotton resumed his accustomed role as a finder of precedents. On 20 Mar. he and Selden were asked to seek out precedents to help the House respond to James’s request for six subsidies and twelve fifteenths.102 Two days later he was appointed to the committee of the trial-by-battle bill, a measure to abolish the medieval form of justice known as ‘trial by combat’.103 On 1 Apr. he joined the committee to consider how the king could raise money to victual the fleet.104 In almost a repetition of Floyd’s case on 3 Apr., he was ordered, with Selden and William Noye, to determine the degree of punishment the House was entitled to inflict on an outsider, in this case in relation to the abuses perpetrated by the patentees for gold and silver thread.105 On 20 May he was appointed to consider impeachment cases in which the complainant was the Lower House.106 On 8 Mar. Sir John Pakington informed the Commons of suspicious nocturnal activities around the Palace of Westminster, including a sighting of a ‘gentleman-like man come out with two spades under his cloak’ and ‘a noise of people coming from under the Painted Chamber’.107 Cotton immediately cleared himself and offered to have his house searched, as did his neighbour and cousin, Sir John Borough*. He was supported by one of Buckingham’s clients, Sir George Goring*. What further action was taken, if any, is unknown but the House evidently accepted their protestations of innocence.108

Cotton was returned to the first Caroline Parliament for the Norfolk borough of Thetford on Arundel’s interest, but he made no impression on its records except to be appointed to the privileges committee on 21 June.109 He evidently attended the Oxford sitting as he wrote to his friend Thomas Anyan to reserve rooms at Corpus Christi for the duration of the Parliament for himself and his son Thomas*.110 He may have been the co-author of a speech prepared for the Oxford sitting which severely criticized Buckingham.111 The precedents which it cited for the duke’s impeachment, and material relating to the activities of Sarmiento (now Count Gondomar) were probably supplied by Cotton, but Parliament was dissolved before his collaborator, Sir Robert Phelips*, could deliver the speech.112

At the coronation of Charles I in February 1626 Cotton waited on the river steps of his Westminster residence to present the king with the coronation book of Athelstan, but the royal barge failed to stop, apparently as a result of Buckingham’s machinations to upstage the earl of Arundel.113 Despite this snub Charles soon requested Cotton’s assistance, commanding him to prove that ‘the kings of England have used to be present in the time of the debates and examples of causes and questions in Parliament as well as at other time’.114 Cotton was not elected to the 1626 Parliament, perhaps because his patron, Arundel, was in the Tower, but he seems to have supplied the Commons with precedents for the impeachment of Buckingham, who advised Charles to close Cotton’s library.115 Cotton, however, continued to enjoy the king’s favour,116 and later that year he reviewed John Gilbert’s scheme to increase the Crown’s revenue by debasing the coinage. The project, probably sponsored by Buckingham, was a disaster and Cotton spoke against it at the Council table, his report being introduced by the king himself.117

Over the course of the following year Charles’s confidence in Cotton was reflected in the fact that he was appointed to several important commissions, including one which had the potential to embarrass Buckingham as its remit was the Navy. However, in 1627 he was examined by the Council after A Short View of the Life of Henry III was published.118 To the Council this appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on Buckingham, but Cotton, who claimed that he had nothing to do with its publication, could demonstrate that it had been written in 1614, prior to Buckingham’s ascendancy, and so escaped punishment.119 At the request of the Council he subsequently wrote an advice entitled ‘The Danger wherein the Kingdom now standeth and the Remedy’, proposing that a Parliament should be called to discuss the general state of the kingdom.120 This manuscript, which went on sale for 2s., may have influenced the calling of Parliament in 1628, though Cotton’s prediction that Charles would easily ‘mould’ Parliament to fit his designs by ‘a gracious yielding to their just desires and petitions’ proved hopelessly over-optimistic.121

Cotton sought election to the 1628 Parliament for the borough of Westminster. The dean of Westminster, Bishop John Williams, promised his assistance, as he was theoretically entitled to nominate one of the burgesses. However, his patronage was limited by the influence of the borough’s high steward, Buckingham. Williams suggested that Cotton might win the vestrymen’s support if he offered to donate his collection of printed history books to the library of the former Abbey of Westminster,122 but Cotton ultimately proved unsuccessful, as did Buckingham’s candidate Sir Robert Pye*. Instead, Cotton found a seat at Castle Rising, which was controlled by Arundel, who had now been released.

Cotton was more active in 1628 than he had been in previous parliaments. On 20 Mar. he was reappointed to the privileges committee. That same day he also joined an experienced group of lawyers appointed to consider the election of Cornwall’s knights of the shire.123 The matter concerned an attempt by Cornwall’s deputy-lieutenants to block the election of Sir John Eliot* and Sir William Coryton*, two of Buckingham’s staunchest opponents. Cotton reported the committee’s findings on 12 May, namely that a petition submitted by the deputy-lieutenants was in contempt of the House.124 Cotton’s role in this decision may have owed something to his growing friendship with Eliot, who often consulted Cotton. Several of Cotton’s notes also survive among Eliot’s papers.125 On 15 Apr. Cotton was appointed to the committee to consider a bill for discharging a trust on the lands of the late William Morgan of Penrose, Monmouth.126 Six days later he was named to consider a bill settling the debts of the 2nd earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish I*).127 On 23 Apr. he was appointed to the bill committee concerned with judicial corruption, and on 12 May he was nominated to examine the navigation of the Medway between Maidstone and Penshurst in Kent.128 It is likely that Cotton’s library was consulted to supply precedents for the Petition of Right, among them the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum, used by Eliot. Cotton himself was certainly consulted on how the Petition could be presented to the king.129 Appointed to the ordnance export bill committee on 4 June, Cotton was instructed to help draft the preamble to the subsidy bill three days later.130 This is the last reference to Cotton in Parliament and thus it is unclear whether he served in 1629.

After the failure of the 1629 session Cotton was imprisoned and his library closed. He was officially accused of having circulated a pamphlet which advocated tyranny by an absolute monarch, but he may also have been suspected of having assisted troublesome Members of the Commons with precedents and other records.131 The pamphlet was found among Cotton’s papers, and while there is no evidence that he was responsible for its circulation, his defence was compromised when he stated that he must have drafted it as it was in his library.132 Others who read the tract, including Sir Oliver St. John* and the earls of Bedford, Clare and Somerset, were also imprisoned. Cotton was among those released in the general pardon for prisoners issued on 29 May 1630 to celebrate Prince Charles’s birthday. Cotton, like his patron Arundel, seems to have returned to royal favour even before the case against him was dismissed, with his appointment to a commission to investigate exacted fees on 17 Apr. 1630.133 The Privy Council was nevertheless determined to search his library and remove any official papers, and William Boswell*, clerk of the Privy Council, was ordered to draw up a catalogue of its contents.134

Cotton remained active as a collector into his old age, acquiring two copies of Magna Carta in 1629-30.135 Until his death he was continuously involved in the management of his Huntingdonshire estates, and often made marginal entries in the accounts.136 Subjected to an attempted blackmail plot in August 1630, he threatened to sue the plotters in Star Chamber.137 After a short illness in May 1631 Cotton died at his house in Westminster, where he was attended, on behalf of the king, by the 1st earl of Manchester (Sir Henry Montagu). In his will he left £50 to the poor of Conington, Glatton, Sawtry, Huntingdonshire and Westminster.138 His library descended to his only son, Thomas, and thereafter to Thomas’s son, John†.139 Cotton was buried at Conington, where there is a monumental inscription.140 Three portraits of him by unknown artists survive, held by the British Museum, British Library and National Portrait Gallery, one of which was published in the Society of Antiquaries’ Vetusta Monumenta.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Chris Kyle / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. MI in Connington Church.
  • 2. Cambs. RO, 588/F.38.
  • 3. Recs. Old Westminsters comp. G.F. Russell Barker and A.H. Stenning, i. 218; Al. Cant.
  • 4. Cambs. RO, 588/F.38.
  • 5. C142/232/70.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 106.
  • 7. C66/1942; 47th DKR, app. 126.
  • 8. PROB 11/159, f. 520.
  • 9. K. Sharpe, Sir Robert Cotton, 17.
  • 10. SP14/33, f. 32; SP16/14/45; C66/1786; C231/4, f. 122.
  • 11. C181/1, ff. 74, 228; 181/2, ff. 46v, 279, 317v, 322v; 181/3, ff. 35v, 214v.
  • 12. SP14/31/1.
  • 13. SP14/43/107.
  • 14. C181/2, f. 101v.
  • 15. C181/3, ff. 49v, 126v.
  • 16. SP14/139/113; APC, 1626, p. 355.
  • 17. Cott. Faustina C.II, f. 165.
  • 18. HMC Laing, i. 110; SP16/42/17.
  • 19. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 11; viii. pt. 1, p. 59.
  • 20. Bodl. Tanner 101, no. 67; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 232; 1629-31, pp. 179, 236-7.
  • 21. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 320.
  • 22. Sir Robert Cotton As Collector ed. C.J. Wright; C. Tite, Ms Lib. Cotton; C. Tite, ‘Cotton Lib. and Eng. Parl.’, PH, xiv. 121-38; F. Smith Fussner, Hist. Rev.: Eng. Hist. Writing and Thought 1580-1640, pp. 117-49; L. Van Norden, ‘Spelman and the College of Antiquities’, HLQ, xiii. 131-60; A. Watson, ‘Cotton and D’Ewes’, British Mus. Quarterly, xxv. 19-23.
  • 23. VCH Hunts. iii. 146-8.
  • 24. Add. 4712; Eg. 2893; Harl. 807, f. 95.
  • 25. Tite, Ms Lib. Cotton, 5.
  • 26. Sharpe, 17; Cott. Faustina E.V, f. 108v; Harl. 5177, f. 48; Stowe 1045, ff. 1v-2.
  • 27. Cott. Julius F.VI.
  • 28. Sharpe, 21.
  • 29. P. Gassendus, Life of Peiresk, (1657), pp. 99-100.
  • 30. M. Pattison, Casaubon, 337.
  • 31. Works of Ussher ed. C.R. Elrington and J.M. Todd, xv. 173.
  • 32. Tite, ‘Cotton Lib. and Eng. Parl.’, 121-38.
  • 33. Harl. 6018, ff. 148v, 149, 154v, 155v, 156, 158, 160, 161v, 178, 179.
  • 34. Hunts. RO, CON2/4/1/5, CON2/4/1/6-21, C4/2/1/1, 2, unfol.; VCH Hunts. iii. 145.
  • 35. A. Thrush, ‘Parl. Opposition to Peace with Spain in 1604: A Speech of Sir Edward Hoby’, PH, xxiii. n. 11.
  • 36. N. Ramsey, ‘Sir Robert Cotton’s Services to the Crown: a paper written in self-defence’, Sir Robert Cotton as Collector ed. C.J. Wright, 68-80; Cott. Caligula B.VIII-X and C.I-IX; Bodl. Smith 28, unfol.
  • 37. Eg. 2975, f. 29.
  • 38. Sharpe, 156-7.
  • 39. Ibid. 251-2; CD 1604-7, pp. 13-147.
  • 40. Cott. Titus F.IV, ff. 63-86.
  • 41. Tite, ‘Cotton Lib. and Eng. Parl.’, 121-38.
  • 42. CJ, i. 151b, 152b, 156b.
  • 43. Ibid. 166b.
  • 44. Ibid 180a.
  • 45. HLRO, main pprs. (parchment collection), Box 1E, 16 June 1604; CJ, i. 197b, 211a, 226a, 239b.
  • 46. CJ, i. 256a.
  • 47. Ibid. 275a, 287b, 303a.
  • 48. Ibid. 296a; Tite, ‘Cotton Lib. and Eng. Parl.’, 121-38; Bowyer Diary, 115.
  • 49. SP14/19/37.
  • 50. Harl. 3142.
  • 51. Sharpe, 156; Harl. 6849, ff. 268-72v; 3142, ff. 64-7.
  • 52. CJ, i. 324b; Cott. Titus F.IV, ff. 60-2, 65-7; SP14/24/14.
  • 53. CJ, i. 339a; Caius Coll., Camb. 291/274, ff.407-10; B. Galloway, Union of Eng. and Scot. 132.
  • 54. SP14/27/44; Cott. Titus F.IV, ff. 35-7.
  • 55. Cott. Titus F.IV, ff. 63-68v.
  • 56. SP14/1/3.
  • 57. Sharpe, 156-7.
  • 58. CJ, i. 352a.
  • 59. Bowyer Diary, 242; CJ, i. 353a, 354a.
  • 60. CJ, i. 384b.
  • 61. Ibid.1002b.
  • 62. Ibid. 386a.
  • 63. Cott. Faustina C.II, f. 165.
  • 64. Sharpe, 117.
  • 65. Eg. 2975; Add. 9334; SP14/41/1,2; Magdalene Coll. Camb. Pepys VIII; Jacobean Commissions of Enquiry ed. A.P. McGowan (Navy Recs. Soc. cxvi), 5-6.
  • 66. Sharpe, 117; Cottoni Posthuma ed. J. Howell (1651), pp. 61-71.
  • 67. CJ, i. 392a.
  • 68. Ibid. 407a.
  • 69. Ibid. 423a, 427b.
  • 70. Ibid. 400a.
  • 71. Ibid. 393b, 394b, 432a; C66/1806/1.
  • 72. CJ, i. 424b; LJ, ii. 568, 570, 577, 582, 583; 7 Jas.I c. 45.
  • 73. CJ, i. 402b.
  • 74. Ibid. 439b.
  • 75. Lansd. 91, f. 200; Cott. Titus F.IV, f. 130-v.
  • 76. Sharpe, 123; Bodl. Smith 28 unfol.; K. Van Eerde, ‘The Creation of the Baronetage in Eng.’, HLQ, xxii, 313-22; L.L. Peck, Northampton, 115.
  • 77. Sharpe, 124-7; Cott. Julius C.III, ff. 6, 177, 373; SP14/68/104; Add. 34218, f. 122v; Stowe 172, f. 28.
  • 78. Harl. 7002.
  • 79. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/9, f. 54.
  • 80. Cott. Julius C.III, f. 287.
  • 81. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/9, f. 52.
  • 82. Procs.1614 (Commons), 215, 232; Cott. Titus F.IV, f. 256.
  • 83. Procs.1614 (Commons), 297, 305; I. Temple Lib. Petyt 537/18, ff. 50-51.
  • 84. S. Clucas, ‘Robert Cotton’s A Short View’, The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parl. ed. S. Clucas and R. Davies, esp. 177, 179-82.
  • 85. A. Somerset, Unnatural Murder: Poison at Ct. of Jas. I, 274-6.
  • 86. ‘Pym 1624’, i. ff.15v-16; Spain and the Jacobean Catholics II: 1613-24 ed. A.J. Loomie (Cath. Rec. Soc. lxviii), 51; Sharpe, 131.
  • 87. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 371-2.
  • 88. Add. 31111, f. 115.
  • 89. ‘Pym 1624’, i. ff. 17v-18; Carew Letters ed. J. Maclean (Cam. Soc. lxxvi), 21, 35; HMC Downshire, v. 404; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 373; Somerset, 322, 363, 374.
  • 90. Sharpe, 137; State Trials, ii. cols. 911-1022; B. White, Thomas Overbury; C231/4, f. 24; Somerset, 285, 308, 412.
  • 91. Bodl. Smith 28 unfol.
  • 92. CJ, i. 522b, 533b; CD 1621, ii. 54.
  • 93. CJ, i. 619a; Lansd. 209, ff. 165-75; Harl. 980, ff. 35-8; Cottoni Posthuma, 341-51.
  • 94. Cott. Julius C.III, f. 401.
  • 95. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 418.
  • 96. J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 125-6.
  • 97. CJ, i. 727a; ‘Spring 1624’, p.78; ‘Jervoise 1624’, f. 35; Rich 1624, pp. 36-8; ‘Pym 1624’, i. ff. 15v-16; ‘Earle 1624’, f. 48v; HMC Buccleuch iii. 231; HLRO, ms mins. ii. f. 22.
  • 98. Bodl. Smith 28, unfol.
  • 99. Cottoni Posthuma, 93-107.
  • 100. Ibid. 1-9; Lansd. 811, ff. 133-7; SP14/164/12.
  • 101. Sharpe, 175.
  • 102. CJ, i. 744b.
  • 103. Ibid. 746a; Kyle thesis, 234-7.
  • 104. CJ, i. 752a.
  • 105. Ibid. 753b.
  • 106. Ibid. 789a.
  • 107. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 57.
  • 108. ‘Pym 1624’, i. f. 21v; ‘D’Ewes 1624’, f. 79.
  • 109. CJ, i. 799b.
  • 110. Harl. 7000, f. 181.
  • 111. J.N. Ball, ‘Eliot at Oxford Parl.’, BIHR, xxviii. 113-27; Sharpe, 177-80.
  • 112. Sharpe, 177; Cottoni Posthuma, 273-81; J. Eliot, Negotium Posterorum ed. A.B. Grosart, ii. 85-91; Som. RO, DD/PH/216/19; Cornw. RO, Port Eliot ms II, f. 19; CUL, Mm.iv.38, ff. 95-7v.
  • 113. Sharpe, 140.
  • 114. Cottoni Posthuma, 41-57; CUL, Ee.ii.32, ff. 285-302; Bodl. Smith 28 unfol.
  • 115. Sharpe, 180.
  • 116. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 98, 101.
  • 117. Select Tracts on Eng. Monetary Hist. ed. W.A. Shaw, 23-9; Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 145-6; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 36; CUL, Gg.iv.13; Soc. Antiq. ms 116.
  • 118. CUL, Dd.xiv.28/2; Gg.ii.28.
  • 119. SP16/54/4.
  • 120. Cottoni Posthuma, 309-20; Lansd. 254, ff. 258-69; CUL, Mm.iv.7; Mm.iv.24, ff. 206-14; Mm.v.1, ff. 94-9; Glos. RO, D340a/Z1.
  • 121. Cust, 82-4; CD 1629, xxxiii.
  • 122. Cott. Julius C.III, f. 402.
  • 123. CD 1628, ii. 29.
  • 124. Ibid. iii. 367-8, 369-71, 375-7; Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, i. 373-4.
  • 125. Cornw. RO, Port Eliot I (Cotton Tracts), IX, f. 169.
  • 126. CD 1628, ii. 460.
  • 127. Ibid. iii. 4.
  • 128. Ibid. 44, 367.
  • 129. Stowe 366, f. 47v; CD 1628, iii. 623.
  • 130. CD 1628, iv. 82-3, 178.
  • 131. HMC Buccleuch iii. 344; Stowe 184, ff. 4-5v; SP16/151/80; 16/167/44; Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 38-44; C115/105/8119.
  • 132. Bodl. Rawl. C889, pt. 1.
  • 133. APC, 1629-30, pp. 179, 236-7.
  • 134. Ibid. 177; SP16/167/65; 16/173/95.
  • 135. Tite, ‘Cotton Lib. and Eng. Parl.’, 121-38; Cott. Augustus II, art. 106 and ch. XIII, no. 31a.
  • 136. Hunts. RO, Connington pprs. C4/2/1/2, unfol.
  • 137. Tite, Ms Lib. Cotton, 2; Add. 14049, ff. 21-43v; Cott. ch. I. 3 (1)-(4), 15, XXIV. 37.
  • 138. PROB 11/159, f. 520.
  • 139. C142/474/88.
  • 140. VCH Hunts. iii. 148-9.