Ouvry-Rosebery Collection of English Civil War Broadsides

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In August 2010, the Folger acquired a large collection of political broadsides, the bulk published between the beginning of the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I (1642-1649).


Accompanying the printed broadsides was a manuscript handlist (Folger call number Y.d.711) of the contents of the four volumes, prepared by Thomas W. Newton for their owner, the lawyer and antiquary Frederic Ouvry. The catalogue for the sale of Ouvry's library by Sotheby's (lot 275; March 30, 1882) included a "Collection of 184 Political Broadsides of the Reign of Charles I, mounted in 4 vols, morocco," which fetched 38 pounds. From this we understand that Frederic Ouvry, rather than the Earl of Rosebery, assembled the collection.

Original press release

Posted to H-Albion, 31 August 2010

The Folger Shakespeare Library has acquired an important collection of 184 rare broadsides and tracts dating from the time of the English Civil War (bulk: 1642-1649). This collection was assembled by the bibliophile and statesman, Archibald, 5th earl of Rosebery and Midlothian (1847-1929). [UPDATE: the collection was, in fact, assembled by Frederic Ouvry.] Like the ephemeral literature of politics today, many of these works would have been read and discarded. Some are so rare that they are unrecorded or are known only through single copies.

The collection provides a snapshot of all levels of society, from the copy of a letter sent by Queen Henrietta Maria in exile to her husband in York, to petitions from "poor labouring men," sea-men, and Catholics; from orders by Parliament for the defense of the kingdom, to "Catalogues of Prisoners." Also included are elegies on the earl of Strafford and Charles I, both of whom were executed during this tumultuous period.

Collections as comprehensive as this one rarely come on the market. This latest acquisition complements the thousands of items from seventeenth-century England already held by the Folger and constitutes a major new archive of Civil War material.