PARLIAMENT AND THE CIVIL WAR
Lot 255
PARLIAMENT and THE CIVIL WAR
Sold for £4,800 (US$ 7,836) inc. premium

Lot Details
PARLIAMENT and THE CIVIL WAR
Official letter issued by the Committee of Safety of Both Houses, signed by John Pym ("Jo: Pym"), Sir Harry Vane the Younger ("H: Vane"), Harry Marten ("Henry Marten"), Sir Thomas Barrington ("Tho Barrington") and the Earl of Northumberland ("APNorthumberland"), to Ferdinando third Lord Fairfax of Cameron and the Gentlemen of Yorkshire ("My Lord and Gent[lemen]"), stating that, having been informed that at a meeting at Leeds "divers worthy Gentlemen and other well affected Inhabitants of yorkshire have declared themselves desirous to preserve the peace of that County & to secure his Majestys subjects from those violent oppressions", that Parliament "have thought upon a noble person of your County the Lord Fairfax to Comaund in cheife over the forces of that shire" in order to further "that great worke which the Parliament hath undertaken to secure Religion and the liberty and peace of the Kingdome which are so much indangered by the ill counsel about his Majesty and the warre now raised against the parliament"; and also expressing their approval of the actions of John Hotham, in leading his men out of Hull into the West Riding, 2 pages, folio, integral blank with contemporary docket ("Fer lo: Fairfax, Commission"), slight dust-staining and one or two very minor blemishes, but overall in fine, fresh condition, Westminster, 27 September 1642 "att 8 of the Clock att night"

Footnotes

  • A DOCUMENT MARKING THE OUTBREAK OF THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR: PARLIAMENT APPOINTS LORD FAIRFAX TO THE COMMAND OF THEIR FORCES IN THE NORTH, a month after the King's raising of his standard at Nottingham. Soon afterwards, Lord Fairfax's son, Sir Thomas Fairfax, was to be appointed his second-in-command.

    The signatories of this letter were members of Pym's Committee of Safety. This had been formed on 4 July and comprised ten members of the Commons and five of the Lords, and has been described as "a rudimentary government acting in the interests of parliament" (S.R. Gardner, DNB). When, on 22 August, the King erected his standard at Nottingham, it was this committee that had to stand forward as an organiser of military action.

    The Journal of the House of Commons for 27 September 1642 records the reading of the letter by the parliamentarians of Yorkshire ('A Letter was read, concerning the proceedings of Sir Edward Rhodes, and Mr. Hotham, in Yorkeshire; and of the Nominating by One Part of the County, of the Lord Fairefax to be their Lord General; was read'), followed by their resolution that 'That this House doth approve and allow of the County Election of Yorkshire, concerning the Lord Fairefax' and the further resolution concerning the 'Peace of Yorkeshire' that 'it be referred to the Committee of Safety for the Kingdom, to consider what Encouragement is fit to be sent to those Gentlemen of Yorkeshire, for the Preservation of the Peace of that County: and that they do dispatch a Messenger away this Afternoon' (see the Journal House of Commons: Volume 2: 1640-1643 (1802), 27 September 1642, pp. 783-786). Shortly before, John Hotham, acting governor of Hull in the stead of his father, had led a force of about 500 men into the West Riding, storming Cawood Castle on 4 October and so breaching a treaty of neutrality that Lord Fairfax had brokered with the Yorkshire royalists. In October, Hotham and Fairfax joined forces but Hotham remained resentful of Fairfax's command, while Fairfax complained of his refusal to obey orders. By the end of the year, the Hothams were conducting secret negotiations with the royalists.

    Documents by the great parliamentarian John Pym, who was to die the following year, are very rare: the only one recorded as having been sold at auction in American Book Prices Current, namely a legal draft sold in 1981.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that Ferdinando, the recipient of the letter, was second Lord Fairfax, not third Lord as stated in the catalogue.
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