The National Archives Paleography
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Glossary - Document 5

Letter regarding storage of royal archives, 1686

(Catalogue reference: E 36/253 page 169)

Copper

A large tub used for cooking or laundry, originally made of copper, but often made of iron.

Dr Sill

Probably William Sill (d. 1687) – a canon at Westminster Abbey, 1681-1687.

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'his late Majesty'/Charles II

King Charles II was born at St James' Palace in London on 29 May 1630. He was the son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. After his father's execution on 30 January 1649, Charles II was proclaimed king in Scotland. Having fled to France, Charles returned to Scotland in June 1650 and was crowned there in January 1651. However, after his defeat at Cromwell's hands at the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, Charles was once against forced into exile, living mainly in the Netherlands. He was invited to return to England in 1660, arriving in London on 29 May 1660. He was finally crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1661, but it was publicly proclaimed that he had been king since 30 January 1649, and his regnal years are counted starting on 30 January 1649. The years of the reign of Charles II included the Great Plague of 1665 and the Fire of London in 1666.

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'his now Majesty'/James II

King James II was born at St James' Palace, London on 14 October 1633. He was the younger brother and heir of Charles II. He ascended to the throne on 6 February 1685 and was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1685. An admitted Catholic, he put down a Protestant challenge for the crown by James Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, at the Battle of Sedgemoor in July 1685. With his first wife Anne Hyde, daughter of Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon, he had eight children, including the future Mary II and Queen Anne. With his second wife Mary of Modena he had seven children, including James Edward 'The Old Pretender'. Already wary of James' Catholicism, Parliament reacted to the birth of James Edward, a Catholic male heir, by inviting William of Orange, the husband of James II's Protestant daughter Mary, and James' nephew by his elder sister Mary, to take the Crown. James was deposed and left the country. In 1690 his attempt to regain the throne by taking a French army to Ireland failed at the Battle of the Boyne, and he spent the rest of his life in exile in France, where he died in 1701.

Leads

The sheets or strips of lead used to cover a roof.

League

An agreement or covenant, and the document in which the terms of the agreement are set down.

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Light

A window, or one of the panes of glass within a window.

New Palace Yard

Now the garden in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament) on the corner of St Margaret Street and Bridge Street, London. It has been known as New Palace Yard since the time of William Rufus (William II, 1087 - 1100), who built a hall on the site 1097-1099. He called it 'New Hall' to distinguish it from the great hall of King Edward the Confessor's palace, which lay slightly to the south.

Piked stave

A pole with a sharp point at the end.

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Prebendary

A beneficiary of a prebend, a stipend or wage drawn from the endowment or revenues of cathedral or collegiate church, and granted to a canon or member of a cathedral chapter.

Rochester, Lawrence Earl of, Lord High Treasurer

Lawrence Hyde 1641-1711, second son of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon and Chancellor of Charles II, by his second wife Frances. Upon the Hyde family's return to England at the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Lawrence became the Member of Parliament for Newport in Cornwall. From May 1662-1675 he was Master of the Robes and in November 1679 he was made First Lord of the Treasury and a Privy Councillor. He was raised to the peerage in 1681, becoming first Viscount Hyde of Kenilworth and then Earl of Rochester. On 16 February 1685, 10 days after the death of Charles II, he was made Lord Treasurer by the new king, James II. His sister Anne Hyde married James Duke of York, the future James II, but died before James succeeded to the throne. Rochester was therefore the brother-in-law of James II and the uncle of Mary II and Queen Anne. His daughter Henrietta married Sir James Scott, grandson of Charles II through his illegitimate son James Duke of Monmouth.

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Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, or to give it its formal name, The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster, is situated on the northern side of the River Thames in London adjacent to the Palace of Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), which was a royal residence until the reign of Henry VIII. It was named Westminster by the Anglo-Saxons since it was the minster west of St Paul's or the city of London. The date of its original foundation is unknown, but a church and community of Benedictine monks were already in existence when King Edward the Confessor began his abbey building in 1055. This building was finished and consecrated in 1065, a few days before Edward's death. He was buried behind the high altar and his tomb became a shrine visited by pilgrims. Additions and further building work continued under many monarchs, in particular Henry III. In 1502 Henry VII began his new Lady Chapel. Under Henry VIII however, the abbey was suppressed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The monks were replaced with a dean, 12 prebendaries, minor canons and lay staff. The abbey is a royal peculiar: its officials are appointed by the crown and it is not subject to the rule of the bishop of London, in whose diocese it stands. It has been the place of coronation of nearly all English monarchs, and the burial place of many of them.

Wort

An infusion of malt (or other grain) which after fermentation becomes beer.

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