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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/422

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344 NOTES AND QUERIES. c 12 s.x. HAYB.UH. sessions resembling " cock-pits rather than courts " (Scott, op. cit., ii., p. 283). The result was that the King ordered, on May 20, 1623, that the Somers Islands Company should henceforth hold separate meetings. This Company was suffered to remain as it was after the dissolution of the Virginia Company because of the wholesome relations between the shareholders in London and the tenants on the plantations (ibid., ii., p. 290). D. FOSTER. Mount Holyoake College, South Hadley, Mass., U.S.A. { To be conc i u ded.) THE ' RED BOOK ' OF LYNN. THE late Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson, who wrote for the Historical Manuscripts Commission the Report on the MSS. of the Borough of King's Lynn, prefaces it with these words : " Few of our provincial boroughs possess muniments of greater value to the con- stitutional historian than the manuscripts to which public attention is here invited." This is so admittedly true that it is un- necessary to labour the point ; but un- fortunately the ' Red Book,' the crowning antiquarian glory of Lynn, is conspicuous by its absence. It was thought to have been discovered a few weeks back by one of our local antiquaries in the vaults of the British Museum, but a closer examination of the book has dispelled our hopes in this direction. The main object of this note is to draw attention to the fact that it is still missing from the municipal archives, in the hope that by great good fortune it may perchance have found its way into one of our private libraries, and with the friendly cooperation of your readers may be restored to its rightful ownership. That such fortune does sometimes fall our way is within the experience of this borough. The first of its big Hall Books was for long missing, but when found reposing in a neighbouring library was promptly returned. Another valuable book on vellum was many years ago " spotted " in a bookseller's catalogue by a friend, who purchased it and presented it to the town. Much as we rejoice in these re- storations, our jubilation would be infinitely greater, and our gratitude altogether un- bounded, if the ' Red Book ' were restored to its ancient fold. This book has been generally confused with the ' Red Register,' which is claimed by some to be the oldest paper book in the kingdom, and which happily is still in the archives of the cor- poration. This latter was called the ' Great Town Book ' up to the time when Francis Blomefield inspected the Lynn manuscripts. This was in 1738. It then had a strong black binding with a thin red cover over it, and Blomefield gave it its present title. Though Harrod, our local antiquary, on ep. 104 and 105 of his ' Report on the eeds and Records of the Borough of King's Lynn,' draws attention to the fact that the ' Red Book ' there referred to is not the ' Red Register,' it has only recently become generally known that the one is distinct from the other. The former contained the Charters and Memoranda of the corporation commencing early in the reign of Edward III., and continuing at least into the reign of Richard II. More than this one cannot say, but even this is sufficient to assure us of its importance, for it covered a very interesting period in the municipal history of the borough, and its discovery would be of immense value, not only locally, but as bearing generally on the social history of that period. I have found several references to it from 1340 to 1550. On one occasion it is ordered to be carried to counsel at Thetford to assist the town in one of the many suits in which it was engaged. In another it is referred to as " an old book in a red closyer, containing the Acts of the Corporation in the reign of Edward III.," and I am acquainted with the tenor of five of the ordinances which are stated to be therein recorded. As to the manner of its loss I can aay nothing, though it may reasonably be sus- pected that it was allowed to be carried off by Francis Blomefield in order to assist him in his County History, and that with many other treasures thus accumulated it passed at his death into the hands of " honest Tom Martin." Many of our Nor- folk towns suffered in this way. The recent transfer to the United States of the volume known as the ' Wakefielcl Mysteries ' should stir those of us who value our municipal treasures to take such steps as may be open to us to render them secure. A short Act of Parliament would be the best preservative, but, failing that, individual effort still remains, and one may even appeal to the patriotism that is latent in all of us when an irreplaceable treasure stands in danger of being lost to the country. HOLCOMBE INGLEBY, Mayor of King's Lynn.