A Unique Copy of St. John's Speech in Favor of Strafford's Attainder [Manuscript]. St. John, Oliver [c.1598-1673]. [Strafford, Thomas Wentworth (1593-1641), 1st Earl of]. Mr. Snt. John the Kings Solliciter His Speech, And Argumente Before the Lords, And Commons Assembled Togither in the High Court of Parliamente, Against Thomas Earle of Strafford Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the 29th. Of April. 1641. [London, 1641].  pp. [ONLY]. 12-1/4" x 7-3/4" unsewn bifolia, text in single neat scribal hand with catchwords. Moderate toning, light edgewear not affecting text, faint horizontal and vertical fold lines, light creasing at upper left corner, recent page numbers added in pencil. $950. * This manuscript records portions of St. John's passionate address in favor of the Parliamentary attainder of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford. Wentworth was a leading supporter of King Charles I and a major figure in the period preceding the English Civil War. Scapegoated by Parliament for his "treasonous" role in the Second Bishops' War, one of the preliminary stages of the Civil War, he was condemned to death on shaky legal grounds via a bill of attainder in 1641. Feeling it necessary to yield to Parliament, whose case was led by his own solicitor general, Charles signed the death warrant. A judge and skilled politician, St. John served in both the Short and Long Parliaments. His moderate leanings did not prevent him from delivering a thorough and vicious statement of the case against Wentworth. Our manuscript copy of his speech appears to be incomplete, concluding approximately one-third through the speech and in the middle of a sentence. Nevertheless, it is of great interest for its numerous and significant differences from licensed printed versions. Though it is similar to print copies in organization and themes, much of the phrasing is unique to this manuscript. A fair copy with a few minor corrections, it likely predates the printed editions which appeared the same year. Parliamentary proceedings were secret during this period, and our manuscript may have been made as a clerical copy or disseminated more widely in manuscript form to avoid licensing issues in print. We located a similar (36 pp.) manuscript at the British Library (Add MS 25275).
Book number 74139