HENRY VIII, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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HENRY VIII (1491-1547). King of England and Ireland.
Handsome large Document Signed (with a large version of his mature signature), 405 x 555 mm. (ca 16 x 22 inches) on vellum, about 1541.
A warrant or bill on vellum for making out a Letters Patent and passing it under the Great Seal, granting to John Adams of Caynham in Shropshire the lordship of the Manor of Caynham, formerly owned by the Abbey of Wigmore in Herefordshire, together with all its messuages, granges, houses, barns, cottages, stables dovecotes, mills, lands, woods, pastures, fisheries and the like in Caynham, Snytton, Bytterley and Hope for which Adams has paid £674 18s. 4d. to the Crown; and also granting to Adams the office of bailiff for a fee of 40s.; and Sir Edward Croft and [blank left for supply of first name] Germyn the offices of stewards for similar fees, in brown ink, in Latin, names of scribe and inspector in the lower right-hand corner, contemporary endorsement ('Johes Adams ffor landes of Wigmore Abbey...mclxxiv li xviij s. iiij d.' and later (probably eighteenth-century) note 'signed by K: Henry 8', slight natural fault in the vellum in top left-hand quarter of the document, ink slightly faded on the right-hand margin but text fully legible, one short tear in the left-hand margin.

This is the most strikingly handsome and largest document signed by Henry VIII to have appeared for sale in recent years. The abbey of Wigmore was clearly a victim of the dissolution of the monateries, and this manuscript records part of the process that hastened the emergence of the middle class in sixteenth-century England.

The document is addressed to the King in three lines in English at the head of the document on the same level as the signature -- 'To the kyng our Souvereigne Lorde / Pleasit your highnes[s] of your moost habundante grace to graunte yo[ur] moost gracious l[ett]res patentes / under yo[ur] greate Seale of Englonde in due fourme to be made according to the tenour ensuying'.

After the King signed (in formal parlance applied the Sign Manual) a warrant or bill such as the present one requesting that it be passed under the Great Seal (have the Great Seal attached to it), the document would have gone to the Chancery where the text would have been formally copied and the final document would have passed under the Great Seal. The final document given to the petitioner - in this case John Adams - would not normally have borne the King's signature - the King's signed permission for the use of the Great Seal was kept in the Crown Office as proof that the King had allowed the document to be issued. Only rarely have such documents left the Crown Office -- others are known to have been released as redundant in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The document does not have either place of issue or date: these would only have been supplied when the final document was drawn up. The final version of this document, currently in the possession of the Curtis family, who purchased the Caynham Court Estate in the nineteenth century, is dated June 1541. The estate passed from John Adams's heir to Charles Foxe in 1584.

Documents signed by Henry VIII have become increasingly rare in terms of being available for purchase by collectors.
[No: 23045]

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