Spotlight on Bacon manuscript

MS285, the Grosvenor Miscellany from 1637, has been in Senate House Library since 1931 as part of the Durning-Lawrence Library. It came into its own for research today, used by Dr Angus Vine. Dr Vine, Lecturer in English Studies at the University of Stirling, is one of the editors on the Francis Bacon Project hosted by the Institute of English Studies. The manuscript is important for having one of the complete witnesses to the text of Bacon’s Jurisdiction of the Council of the Marches (1608). This text was part of the long-running controversy over the jurisdiction of the four English counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Worcestershire: what early modern historians call the four shires controversy. The issue at stake was the extent of the royal prerogative. Bacon in his text spoke on behalf of the Crown and defended the royal prerogative and the Council of the Marches. Bacon’s text circulated widely in the seventeenth century, although it was not printed until the middle of the eighteenth. There are manuscripts in the British Library, the Bodleian, the Beinecke, and Philadelphia. But this one is of interest because it is one of the few that transmit all Bacon’s arguments and the entirety of his text.

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