Dialogue between a Councillor of State and a Justice of the Peace

Scope and Content

The document is a manuscript fair copy of the work first published in 1628 as The Prerogative of Parliaments in England: Proved in a Dialogue (pro & contra) betweene a Councellour of State and a Justice of Peace. Written by the worthy (much lacked and lamented) Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, deceased. It carries the title 'A Dialogue betweene and Councellor of State & a Justice of Peace', and has the first line 'Nowe Sr what thinke yow of Mr St Johns tryall in the Starrechamber' referring to the trial of St John in April 1615. In addition there is a manuscript copy of the dedicatory letter to the king signed 'WR'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Walter Raleigh was born at Hayes Barton in Devon, the son of a local gentleman. After expeditions to the Azores and Ireland he found favour with Queen Elizabeth, and soon was granted many favours and monopolies. In 1585 he attempted to found England's first overseas colony at Roanoke, which proved eventually abortive with the loss of all the settlers. In the 1590s he continued to flatter the queen and convert her favour to financial advantage but fell foul of her when his relationship with Elizabeth Throgmorton was exposed. He was imprisoned and only released after allowing the queen to divest him of the major share of the spoils due to him from the capture of the Spanish carack Madre de Dios. He married Elizabeth Throgmorton and settled at Sherborne Castle. In 1593 he became MP for Michael, Cornwall, and took an active part in the proceedings of the House. He was a member fo the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries. Atheism attracted him, and so did the elgend of Eldorado, which he pursued in 1595. The following year he took part in the seizure of Cadiz, and in 1597 was one of the commanders under the Earl of Essex of the expedition against the Spanish. He fell out with Essex, and was the victim of scandal-mongering by the earl which resulted in his being shot at by Sir Christopher Blount. Raleigh was chosen MP for Dorset in 1597 and Cornwall in 1601. In 1600 he was made Governor of Jersey, but fell from favour and lost this office along with his monopolies on tin and sweet wine and his position as Captain of the Guard when James came to the throne. He was committed to the Tower, brought to trial, and sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted to one of imprisonment in the Tower. In confinement he wrote many of his works, including his famous History of the World. In March 1616 he was released to lead an adventure to the Orinocco, on which he had staked all the fortune he and his wife had left. His son died on the expedition, the men proved ineffective, and the Spanish ambassador in England succeeded in the none-too difficult task of persuading James to have Raleigh executed. He returned to England, and was beheaded on 18 October 1618.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply

Acquisition Information

The document was one of several items temporarily deposited in 1991 by Professor Joyce Youings in the University Library on behalf of Miss Agnes Latham, the then owner. Later all but two of the documents in this collection were withdrawn; the remaining two (this one and MS 97) were separately re-accessioned as donations from Miss Latham.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL arrangements apply


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