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PREFACE.

By much the greater portion of the following letters has been printed from a volume in the Cottonian Library in the British Museum, (MS. Cotton. Cleopatra, E. iv.) composed of letters and documents, which appear to me to have been selected at some early period from the Cromwell papers, so long preserved in the Chapter House at Westminster, and now lodged partly in the Record Office at the Rolls House, and partly in the State Paper Office. I have added to these a few documents taken from other collections in our national repository, and more especially from the Scudamore Papers, lately added to the treasures of the British Museum.

I leave these letters to tell their own story. They throw light on the history of a great event, which changed entirely the face of society in our island, an event which I regard as the greatest blessing conferred by Providence upon this country since the first introduction of the Christian religion. I will not at present enter into the history of this revolution, but leave the documents for others to comment upon. I have suppressed nothing, for I believe that they contain nothing which is untrue ;

and the worst crimes laid to the charge of the monks are but too fully verified by the long chain of historical evidence reaching without interruption from the twelfth century to the sixteenth. Those who have studied in the interior history of this long period the demoralizing effects of the popish system of confession and absolution will find no difficulty in conceiving the facility with which the inmates of the monasteries, at the time of their dissolution, confessed to vices from the very name of which our imagination now recoils. These documents are of peculiar importance amid the religious disputes which at present agitate the world; and I think that even the various lists of the confessions of the monks and nuns of the several religious houses, entitled comperta, and preserved in manuscript, ought to be made public. The great cause of the Reformation has been but ill served by concealing the depravities of the system which it overthrew.

I will only add that I have done what I could, under circumstances, to ascertain the dates of these letters, and arrange them in chronological order. It was the custom at this period in dating letters to write the day of the month without the year, which now gives rise to considerable difficulties. In the description in the Cottonian Catalogue the dates of these letters are thrown into almost hopeless confusion.

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

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Letter I. EDMOND ABBOT OF YORK TO CARDINAL Wolsey. York, Sept. 20,

1528. Suppression of the priory of Romburgh

II. RICHARD BISHOP OF Norwich to CARDINAL WOLSEY. Hoxne,

January 12, 1528(-9). Concerning the election of a prior of Butley 4

III. WILLIAM BARLOW TO THE KING. 1533. Recantation of opinions

expressed in his works

6

IV. CommissIONERS AT BRISTOL TO SECRETARY CROMWELL. Bristol,

1534. Preaching of Latimer and Hubberdin at Bristol

7

V. John HYLSEY TO CROMWELL. Bristol, May 2, 1534. Same sub-

ject as the preceding

11

VI. LETTER TO SECRETARY CROMWELL. 1534. About prophecies, &c.

of Elizabeth Barton, the holy Maid of Kent

14

VII. THE PRIOR OF CHRIST'S CHURCH CANTERBURY TO CROMWELL.

1533. His account of Elizabeth Barton

19

VIII. Petition OF THE Monks of CANTERBURY TO THE King, for a

pardon for those who had been concerned in the affair of the Maid

of Kent

22

IX. Roland LEE AND Thomas BedyLL TO Cromwell. Canterbury,

Dec. 10, 1533. Their commission in Kent to examine into the pro-

ceedings of the Maid of Kent

24

X. A LIST OF THE NUN'S GOODS

26

XI. CROMWELL TO Bishop Fisher, concerning the Maid of Kent 27

XII. Vision or John DARLEY. June 27

34

XIII. LETTER OF THomas Dorset. London, March 13. Dr. Crouk-

horne's vision of the Trinity and Virgin Mary. Lambert's exami-

nation at Lambeth for heresy. Jurisdiction of the Bp. of London.

The Bp. of Worcester's Sermon at Paul's Cross. The King's pro-

position for an Act of Parliament against idleness

36

XIV. BedyLL TO CROMWELL. London, Ascension Day, 1534. Con-

ference with the monks of the Charter House, who refused to ac-

knowledge the King's supremacy

40

XV. Roland LEE AND Bedell TO CROMWELL. Milesend, June 15,

1534. Conference with the friars of Richmond on the same subject 41

44

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XIX. RychARD Zouche to CROMWELL. Requests to have the abbey

of Stavordale restored as it was founded by his ancestors
XX. Sir Peter DUTTON TO CROMWELL. Dutton, Aug. 3. Insur-

rection at Norton. The abbot and some others in custody

XXI. THE ABBOT OF WARDON'S REASONS FOR RESIGNING

XXII. MARGARET VERNON TO CROMWELL, desiring to surrender her

monastery

XXIII. DR. Legh to CROMWELL. Laycock, Aug. 20. Requesting

uniformity in the proceedings against the monasteries

XIV. DR. LAYTON TO CROMWELL. Bristol, Bartholomew's Day.

Relics from Maiden Bradley. Dissolute behaviour of the prior of

that house

XXV. John BARTELOT TO CROMWELL. Sta that he and five others

found the prior of the Crutched Friars, in London, in bed with a

prostitute
XXVI. THOMAS I. LEGH TO CROMWELL. Belvoir, Sept. 1. Scanda-

lous life of the Abbot of Rievaulx, who refused to acknowledge the

jurisdiction of the visitors

XXVII. John Fitz-JAMES TO CROMWELL. Redliche, Sept. 2. The

abbot of Glastonbury requests to be freed from four of the injunc-

tions of the last visitation
XXVIII. DR. LEGH TO CROMWELL. Wilton, Sept. 3. Recommend.

ing that the heads of the religious houses should not be allowed to
go forth of their houses. Visitation of the universities of Oxford

and Cambridge
XXIX. Jaspar FYLOLLE TO CROMWELL. London, Sept. 5. Revenue

of the Charter House (London). Behaviour of the monks. In-

structions for the management of that house
XXX. DR. LAYTON TO CROMWELL. Oxford, Sept. 12. Particulars of

the visitation of the university of Oxford

XXXI. THE ABBOT OF REWLEY TO CROMWELL, offering one hundred

pounds to have his abbey preserved or converted into a college

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