Seizure of relics

Letter from the Mayor and Bishop of Chester to the Earl of Salisbury about the seizure of Popish books and relics, 7 April 1609 (catalogue ref: SP 14/44 f. 133)

This source reveals Salisbury’s network of spies and the trade in ‘Popish’ books that was feared.


May it please your honour to be advertised that on Monday last or thereabouts one Thomas Tomlynson of this city received at the same city from London (amongst other things) two trunks and one leather mail [mail in leather post bag] and there with a letter of direction from Mr Cuttes, ironmonger, who thereby required him to deliver the same trunks and mail unto Michael Hamlyn of Dublin merchant if he should call for them here or otherwise to send them over unto him to Dublin which Hamlyn had lately been at London employed there as agent for the inhabitants of Dublin in soliciting to obtain for them that they might be freed of some Customs (as we are informed) and was departed to sea onwards his journey for Ireland before the said trunks and mail came hither, and Tomlinson intending to enshipe [send by boat] the said goods and to send them after Mr Hamlyn (as by his direction he was willed) Christopher Leyland his Majesty’s searcher of this port in execution of his office (wherein we have observed him always to be diligent and faithful) found out that in the said mail, and one of the trunks were contained diverse papal books and other books of philosophy whereof some printed and other manuscript both Latin and English, many printed pictures, superstitious relics, ten dozen or thereabouts of Catechisms, [books of instruction on the religious doctrine], letters of orders and diverse letters. All which he brought before us and we examined the premises, and found them to be such as before herein we have showed to your Lord. And therefore have we made store thereof and do retain all the said books and other things in safety, save the letters, some letters of orders and Catechism which here with we have sent to your Honour until we have advertised your Honour thereof which hereby we humbly do and so praying your Honour’s direction further to appoint us herein do humbly take our leave and rest…

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