Transcription of The Guide of Honour

Scope and Content

The Guide of Honour discusses various aspects of gentlemanly behaviour, learning and religious devotion, hospitality, and care of your private estate, and argues that in each case the true gentleman is distinguished by his lack of ostentation. It also refers in passing to another projected work by Stafford, which he also proposed to dedicate to Lord Berkeley: I shall shortly write you a peculiar Tract of Historie, and dedicate that to your Lordships Name, as I have already my selfe to your service; however, this work does not appear to have survived.

Transcribed with prefatory letters, by C. Garretz [unidentified], transcriber to the reverend and pious donor Dr Thornebury, prebendery of Sarum in 1692. Folios 40-46 contain Occasional Meditations taken out of Bishop Joseph Hall's Works together with some marginal notes thereon.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Stafford (b. 1586/7, d. in or after 1645), author, was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and at the Inner Temple. However, he never completed his studies at either place, probably because of the disgrace which overtook his family in June 1607 when his eldest brother, Humphrey, was executed. In 1609 Stafford was admitted to study in the Bodleian Library, and over the next few years he published a series of moral treatises drawing on his extensive reading, including Staffords Niobe (1611), Meditations and Resolutions, Morall, Divine, Politicall (1612), The Golden Meane (1613), and Staffords Heavenly Dogge (1615). The recurring theme of these works is the definition of true gentility.

Stafford's patron was George, Lord Berkeley (1601-1658), with whom he had been travelling on the continent, and to whom he dedicated his book, The Guide of Honour (written c.1621 but not published until 1634), the last and most detailed of his treatises on the nature of gentility. Stafford was in attendance on Lord Berkeley in July 1623, when they both received the MA degree at Oxford. Most of Stafford's later works are on religious themes.

Source: Arnold Hunt, 'Stafford, Anthony (b. 1586/7, d. in or after 1645)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Joseph Hall (1574-1656), bishop of Norwich, was a religious writer and satirist. He came to public notice in 1597 with the publication of Virgidemiarum, the first collection of formal verse satires on the Latin model to be published in England. Hall's reputation as a literary innovator, particularly in the satiric vein, was confirmed by the publication in 1608 of his Characters of Vertues and Vices which introduced the Theophrastan character to English literature. In 1605 Hall visited the Netherlands and availed himself of the opportunity to enter into theological discussion with members of the Jesuit order. In the same year appeared his first collection of Meditations and Vowes, Divine and Morall which, together with the highly influential Arte of Divine Meditation (1606), served to introduce continental contemplative methods to an English protestant readership and strongly influenced the development of English religious verse. Hall published a large number of religious and poetical works, frequently engaging in religious controversy, and remained prolific in his retirement, producing a series of highly popular contemplative and devotional tracts.

Source: Richard A. McCabe, 'Hall, Joseph (1574-1656)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -'

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the bookseller J.E. Cornish in March 1927.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Humpleby, project archivists, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography articles on Anthony Stafford and Joseph Hall.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 417).

Custodial History

Former owner: Edward Dalton, L.L.D., F.S.A, of Dunkirk House.