Clarendon Manuscripts

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 161 MSS. Clarendon 1-130, 132-49, 151-2
  • Dates of Creation
      16th-19th century
  • Language of Material
      English, Latin, French, Dutch, and Italian.
  • Physical Description
      151 shelfmarks

Scope and Content

The Clarendon State Papers cover the whole period of the Civil War, the Commonwealth and the Restoration until Clarendon's impeachment in 1667. They are supplemented by many volumes in the hand of the 1st Earl, and by papers of the Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Clarendon (1638-1709), Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon (1661-1723) and Henry Hyde, 2nd Earl of Rochester and 4th Earl of Clarendon (1672-1753) and of Henry Hyde, Viscount Cornbury (1710-1753). The series is of great value for the historian of the 17th century. The collection includes:

  • The chronological series of Clarendon State Papers, dealing chiefly with English history from 1608 to 1689, with a few earlier and later
  • Correspondence and papers connected with Sir George Downing's diplomatic position at The Hague from 1661 to 1665
  • The manuscript of Clarendon's History of the Rebellion (in seven volumes) from which the first edition was printed in 1702-4 at Oxford

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, son of Henry Hyde of Dinton in Wiltshire, was born on 18 February 1609, and became a barrister of the Middle Temple. His first marriage (with Anne Ayliffe in 1629) connected him with the powerful Villiers family, and his second in 1634, with Frances Aylesbury, substantially improved his position. He represented Wootton Bassett and Saltash in the Parliaments which preceded the Civil War, and during the Long Parliament attracted the king's attention as a champion of the royal prerogative. Throughout the War he was prominent among the king's advisers, and took the leading part in the negotiations which preceded the Restoration. In June 1660 he was rewarded with the office of Lord High Chancellor, and in the next year was created Earl of Clarendon. In 1667 his enemies procured his impeachment, and Clarendon fled to the Continent, where he set himself to literary labour, revising and competing his History of the Rebellion (which he had begun in 1646), writing his autobiography, and composing essays and meditations on political and religious subjects, until his death at Rouen on 9 December 1674. His daughter Anne married James Duke of York and was the mother of Queen Mary and Queen Anne. From October 1660 to December 1667 Clarendon was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, where he had previously resided from 1642 to 1645. Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

The collection was acquired by the Library, 1759-1888.


Collection level description created by Emily Tarrant, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

The chronological series of State Papers with a few additions (MSS. Clarendon 1-85, 87-93, 102-, 104-8) is calendared in Calendar of the Clarendon State papers preserved in the Bodleian library, eds. O. Ogle, W.H. Bliss and others, 5 vols. (Oxford, 1869-1970).

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. III, nos. 16088-16232.