From Charles I's underground operations to Elizabeth I's outrage at the Duke of Norfolk's scheming, there is scandal aplenty in this upcoming auction

A letter signed by Charles I detailing political operations and an Elizabethan Privy Council letter regarding a plot against Elizabeth I's security on the throne are to go on sale with Bonhams on the 13th November at Knightsbridge.

Charles I's letter dated 24th May 1644 authorizes Stephen Goffe, the King's overseas confidant and agent, to pass on covert operations to the recipient of this letter. Believed to have been written by the son of Georg Weckherlin, who previously served as the King's secretary, it bears Charles' signature as proof of his knowledge of the plan. Simultaneous to these events, Charles was under threat from the parliamentary army at his base in Oxford and he eventually fled from the government usurpers.

Seventy-five years earlier in 1569 a plot was afoot for the Duke of Norfolk to marry Mary Queen of Scots to reinstall her in Scotland. Word of this scheme eventually reached Elizabeth I and Norfolk fled the court. This letter informed the Elizabethan Privy Council of Norfolk's departure and warned them to stay aware of any rumors against the Queen. Norfolk's involvement in the revival of this plan a couple of years later as well as his participation in the Ridolfi Plot to assassinate the Queen resulted in his execution in 1572.

Secretive and devious these letters document exciting snippets of British history and are on sale alongside other notable lots like a first edition of The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin (estimate £15,000-20,000).


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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