Richard Baxter Treatises

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 123 DWL/RB/1
  • Former Reference
      GB 123 Richard Baxter Treatises
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English French Latin Greek
  • Physical Description
      12 folio, ff 2-13b (ff 2v, 3v, 4v, 5v, 6v, 7v, 8v, 9v, 10v, 11v are blank)

Scope and Content

Richard Baxter (1615-91) was described by A G Matthews in Calamy Revised as “the outstanding figure among ejected ministers”. Although he was one of those ministers appointed chaplains to the King in 1660, and despite his attendance at and contribution to the negotiations held at the Savoy to decide on the shape and details of the restored Church of England, he was harassed and imprisoned in the reigns of both Charles II and James II. The biographical dictionary, accompanying the Entring Book of Roger Morrice (Woodbridge 2007), states that Baxter “retired from the Church of England on the passing of the Act of Uniformity”. The word retire may give a misleading impression of genteel withdrawal from public life, rather than the principled and self-denying choice which he and perhaps some 2000 nonconformist divines felt compelled to make. Yet, in spite of harsh treatment after 1662, Baxter consistently favoured the cause of ecclesiastical comprehension and did not actually leave the Church of England, although he was inhibited in the continuance of his ministry. In fact he sought to and did attend the parish church whenever he could, though that attendance also brought him some criticism.

Neil Keeble has described Richard Baxter as “throughout his life a voluminous correspondent” and the volume of his correspondence is matched by that of his many other writings which demonstrate a consistent engagement with current affairs, with movements in theology and with the vicissitudes of everyday life. Dr Williams’s Library contains the great majority of the extant manuscripts which relate to Baxter, among which are numerous letters, the subject of Keeble and Nuttall’s two volumed Calendar of the Correspondence of Richard Baxter(1991). Certainly Baxter could not refrain from writing. This puritan minister who did not attend university lived as much through his writings as through any other medium. The annotated list of Baxter’s works, compiled by A G Matthews in 1932, contains 135 works written and published in his lifetime and 6 more published posthumously, including his autobiography the Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696). A further 37 contributions to other works were also listed by Matthews, to which Geoffrey Nuttall added another 17, in his own copy of Matthews’ list (now held at Dr Williams’s Library). That is, Baxter wrote or contributed to something like 195 published works.

The manuscripts, contained in the Baxter Treatises at DWL, offer drafts and copies of some of his better known works, including much that makes its way into the later published Reliquiae Baxterianae. As a whole the treatises offer revealing insights into the creation of his published works, as well as his responses to the work of other major figures of the period. They are not easy to consult, however, for they have been arranged haphazardly. They also contain some scoring out and some marginal notes and, at times, a good deal of shorthand.

In addition then to the six volumes of Baxter letters in the DWL holdings (containing some 621 separate items), are several so called volumes of Baxter ‘Treatises’, the first seven of which are the most weighty and most significant. These seven volumes contain about 274 separate items. Furthermore there are fourteen slighter volumes containing some 86 items which take the total of items in the Baxter Treatises to 362. Many of the items are subdivided and some are bulky, making a substantial amount of material overall. This catalogue of these treatises aims to provide readers with an outline of each treatise so that they might readily see the possible benefits from consulting them. These ‘volumes’ of treatises have been in effect loose gatherings of manuscripts jumbled together at some time in the past and subsequently maintained in modern and more appropriate boxes, designed to hold such archives, in contrast to their previous homes. The recent disbinding of the volumes allows greater scope for their examination and has improved their long-term preservation prospects.

The volumes consist of treatises, tracts, disputations, sermons, exercises, drafts, letters and miscellaneous papers. Although as a collection, the Baxter holdings at DWL are widely recognised to be of considerable importance, the treatises themselves have been largely ignored or overlooked by scholars, unaware of their existence or daunted by their diversity, complexity and perhaps by their physical condition.

The treatises were not all written by Baxter, although most relate to him in some way, but again not all. For instance, RB/1/65 contains the remarks of Sir Francis Nethersole (1587-1659) concerning two articles in The Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. Nethersole saw the articles as resembling a creed, although he had no deep conscientious problem with the covenant itself, for he believed that parliament had raised its forces for the houses’ “just defence” against the army of the king.

Nevertheless the treatises are correctly known as the Baxter Treatises because they were found to be in his possession at his death, probably by his executor, Matthew Sylvester (1636/7-1708), also an ejected minister, to whom Baxter in his will left £20 and the care of all his manuscripts, none of which were to be published without the approval of certain named nonconformist ministers, among whom were Roger Morrice (1628/9–1702) and Daniel Williams (c 1643-1716). Unfortunately Sylvester proved unable to impose order upon Baxter’s ‘great quantity of loose Papers’ - hence the confused state of the Reliquiae Baxterianae which reflects the similar disorder of the treatises.

The treatises reveal not only Baxter’s contacts with the highly placed like Archbishop Ussher of Armagh, Gilbert Sheldon, Bishop of London and later Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Edward Hyde, Lord Chancellor, later Lord Clarendon, Lord Orrery, Lord Conway ( Baxter’s step-mother was Conway’s aunt and he addressed Baxter’ father as ‘cousin’) but also his dealings with humble apprentices, troubled wives, Baptists and Quakers. Moreover they touch on the bizarre, eccentric and the mundane. The treatises show a concern for both the saving of souls and the saving of bodies.

The wide ranging nature of Baxter’s concerns are evident in other of his writings here. Some time after 1662, Baxter wrote a political, ecclesiastical and historical tract on the true state of the divisions in England RB/1/13 in order to inform better any foreigners who might “marvel at the madness and misery of distracted and divided England”. Yet, he wondered, “Is any great part of this world in any better case?”

Inevitably the treatises touch on Baxter’s brushes with the law. One document from June 1669, is directed to the Keeper of His Majesty’s Gaol, known as the New Prison, in Clerkenwell. It states that Baxter had preached “in an unlawful assembly, conventicle or meeting” and as a result he was to be detained and imprisoned in the New Prison. Also in 1669 RB/1/53 is the warrant for Baxter’s arrest, issued to the constables of Acton where Baxter was then living. The constables were informed that they must straightway apprehend Baxter and bring him before the justices at the Red Lion in Brentford on the following Friday.

In 1683 Baxter wrote in defence of nonconformist ministers to an unnamed Scottish lord (RB/1/22) who did not understand, in Baxter’s words, “our case”. “My Lord, you tell me that you were among some great men, when one said, He went to here Mr Baxter and that he preacht & prayed so well that his judgment was, He ought to beaten with many stripes”.

However in October 1686 we have, but not in Baxter’s own handwriting, his petition to the king, then James II (RB/1/33). In this Baxter asked the monarch to allow his discharge from the bond and penalties imposed upon him unjustly, in his view, two years previously. By then he had been in prison for over a year and he was not to be released for another 6 months or so.

Almost at the end of his life, Baxter’s concern for common folk surfaced in “The Husbandman’s advice to rich racking landlords”, which was “written in Compassion especially of their soules and of the land” (RB/1/93). He exhorted “the Lords, Knights and Gentlemen of England … not to come to Dives’ place of torment [a reference to the biblical story of the rich man and Lazarus – Luke 16:19-31]: and to believe Christ who assureth them that by what they faithfully give to the poore, they give incomparably more to themselves, as giving it to him that will reward them”. This manuscript, consisting of 7 chapters, was written by Baxter in October 1691, a few weeks before his death.

One obvious fact which emerges from a study of the Baxter Treatises is that Baxter himself, perhaps like many of his contemporaries among English and perhaps other ministers, was to modern eyes extraordinarily well read. That is the Treatises throw up his acquaintance not only with the celebrated writings of Augustine, Origen and Lactantius, with the reformers Calvin, Bucer and Beza, and with contemporary philosophers like Hobbes and Spinoza, all of which might be expected, but also with the Dutchmen, Hugo de Groot (Grotius) and J J Scaliger, the French Reformed theologians, Raymond Gaches, David Blondel and Daniel Chamier, the Germans Schwenckfeld, Polanus and Johnannes Clauberg, the disciple of Boehme, Quirinius Kuhlmann, the Italian, Girolamo Zanchi (Zanchius), the medical scholar, Jan Jesensky of Prague, and the Polish Reformed thinker, Jan Makowski (Maccovius), among many others, revealing a network of intellectual contacts which transcended national boundaries and prejudices. This erudition enabled him to provide the thoughtful responses to immediate issues, which marked his writings and rendered his work so difficult to dismiss.

Header Notes

Throughout Argent's Calendar to the Treatises he includes, in sequence, 'header notes' to the volumes. These notes are descriptive of the often uneven gatherings and of their authorship and composition. As this catalogue is descriptive of the treatises after their disbinding we decided to move these notes to the Scope and Content section of the catalogue:

  • Volume IVBlack: Treatises vol. iv, containing numbers 75-131 of the first series of papers.
  • Volume VIContaining the first part of a third series, described in the old list as ‘A bundle of imperfect Papers’.
  • For Volume VIII (items 285-292) see Volume XXII
  • Volume IXBlack: All (except art 5) written by the same hand as the signature on the corner of the first leaf (folio 1), ‘Tho. Hall of Kingsnorton Worcestorshire’; for the most part on alternate pages and some parts of the volume are left blank. It is evidently from the numerous corrections and additions throughout not a copy but the author’s orginal MS, notwithstanding what might appear to the contrary by the title page: ‘Pestis eram vivens, moriens tua mors ero Papa’. This MS, though evidently intended for posthumous publication, does not appear to have been known to the author’s biographers.
  • Volume XBlack: In rough calf, without title, heading, or date; irregularly paged, and foliated by the author; the latter half is blank and blank pages are left here and there. Richard Baxter’s Adversaria Theologica, volume I. Thomas: Three volumes (vols 10-12) partly used in collecting notes and extracts from various writing, with considerable portions in shorthand.
  • Volume XIBlack: A thicker and shorter volume, bound in smooth calf, without title. Irregularly paged and fliated by the author, but now foliated throughout in pencil. The tops of f 7, f 11, f 12, f 14, f 17, f 18 have been cut off, evidently by Baxter himself to adapt the first part of the book to his existing purpose. Richard Baxter’s Adversaria Theologica. Volume II.Thomas: Three volumes (vols 10-12) partly used in collecting notes and extracts from various writing, with considerable portions in shorthand.
  • Volume XIIBlack: A neat volume in old brown calf, containing 172 leaves, partly paged, and mostly blank. Thomas: Volumes 10-12 are partly used in collecting notes and extracts from various writing, with considerable portions in shorthand.
  • Volume XIIIBlack: In old brown sheep skin. Written by two different hands; to p. 256, and paged to 261 by the first hand; from p. 257 to the hand by another, and throughout corrected by the author. There are 6 vacant leaves at the beginning, and 54 at the end.
  • Volume XIVBlack: In rough calf, with clasps: stamped RB on both covers. The lining, and fly leaves at both hands, are portion of the printed Apocrypha in octavo; on those at the beginning.
  • Volume XVBlack: A collection of small MSS and fragments, heretofore unarranged and unbound; now put together and intitled – Miscellanea Baxteriana minora.
  • Volume XVIBlack: Three original manuscripts together with Baxter’s editorial matter, prefixed and subjoined. They constituted ‘No. 68’ in the series of Baxter’s Treatises: and some portions were bound up in the third volume of them: but the remaining portion being since found among loose leaves just as they came from Baxter’s printer, the whole is now collected and bound together.The whole of these MSS is printed in Baxter’s very rare publication entitled The Judgment of the late Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale, of the nature of true religion… (London, 1684), quarto; and their history may be seen in the preface; where Baxter says: ‘And lest any accuse me of forgery, I hope to preserve the Manuscripts, and doubt not that Lady Hale or Mr Stevens hath a copy of them’. He says that only the two verses Compositum jus fasque etc. were by Sir Matthew’s own hand; but the transcript appear to have been corrected by him. Two leaves follow, which seem to be parts of the original wrapper, with marks of sealing wax; containing:A shorthand note by Baxter or Morrice, with the date 21 Sept. 1682 (f 44v).Baxter’s endorsement ‘Judge Hale’s papers’ (f 45v).These MSS are thus mentioned by Baxter in the Rel. speaking of Hale and of his writings: ‘Two or three small tractates, written for me, I have published, expressing the simple and excellent nature of true religion, and the corruption and great evils that follow men’s additaments, called wrongfully by the name of religion, and contended far above it and against it; and showing how most parties are guilty of this sin.’ (Rel. iii. 181)The Latin Compositum jus fasque is the beginning of a quotation from the Satires of Persius. See also Treatises ix, 299. For Edward Stephens (d 1706), the son-in-law of Sir Matthew Hale, see ODNB and Corr 994, 1041, 1127 and 1179.See also Treatises iii, 68 and xvi, 341.
  • Volume XVIIIBlack: Baxter’s manuscripts quarto unbound and found among loose papers, partly consisting of sheets sown together, and partly loose; and now completed by the incorporation of 27 leaves, formerly bound in the first volume of ‘Treatises’ as no. 18.f 2r: ‘A Treatise against the Dominicane doctrine of Divine Predetermination, feigned by them to be necessary to all actions naturall & free, even those that God forbiddeth, as they are determined to their forbidden objects, in all their modes & circumstances; & this by the naturall necessity of the dependance of the second Cause on the first, moving it by Physicall efficient immediate identifike predetermining Premotion In two PartsI An old Disputation written twenty yeares agoe & now published as a necessary Antidote against the Poyson of Mr Hobbes & some late Contenders writings that furiously call the Church to Armes against Truth & Peace for their dangerous undigested notions. II Animadversions on a booke called The Court of the Gentiles: Part 4: Predetermination. By Richard Baxter, A resolved defender of necessary Truth, Love & Peace to his power’
  • Volume XIXBlack: A small volume, consisting of severall sheets folded in octavo; very closely written, and irregularly paged by Baxter. They were formerly bound among the Treatises, partly as ‘number 76’ and partly as ‘number 83’ in volume 4.
  • Volume XXBlack: A small volume, consisting of four sheets folded in ocatovo and very closely written by Baxter; formerly bound as number 75 among the Treatises, vol. iv.
  • Volume XXIBlack: Several mss formerly bound up (in part) with the folio papers, and (in part) found loose; now placed together, and forming a small volume. They are neatly and uniformely written by the same hand as Lord Lauderdale’s Letters to Baxter; and one here numbered as marked in the series of Treatises.
  • Volume XXIIBlack: Several quires of very large paper, intermingled with sheets or leaves of different series, now collected out of the unbound fragments. Reliquiae Baxterianae: or fragments of the Autobiography of Richard Baxter, as originally written by him, and including passages omitted in Sylvester’s publication under that title.


In the second half of the 17th century, although a nonconformist, Baxter remained concerned with national affairs, and especially but by no means only religious affairs. The Baxter holdings at DWL are of great significance. Although now removed from their 19th century bindings and expertly conserved their contents demand careful and sensitive handling from both library staff and readers. This catalogue is an attempt to render the Baxter Treatises more accessible to readers.


In the preparation of the detailed Calendar which forms the basis of this catalogue, Dr Argent was assisted by Micol Barengo "who has saved me from innumerable errors. Where she and I have on occasion stumbled over the correct readings of Baxter’s handwriting, or that of others who appear in the treatises, we have been rescued by Dr Elizabeth Danbury. Jane Giscombe has been fully involved in advising us on the handling of the treatises throughout and she retains responsibility for their conservation. David Wykes has entrusted me with this commission and on occasion has contributed a reading of a difficult name. David Powell checked the Latin throughout and also supplied details of the Physiologus tales. Peter Young has assisted with the index. For all these aids and encouragements I am grateful. My main hope is that readers will benefit from our work."


  • AGM – The Works of Richard Baxter. An Annotated List(1932) compiled by A G Matthews (listed without annotations in Corr vol I, xxi-xxiv)
  • Black – W H Black’s ms catalogue of the Baxter Treatises, prepared 1856-63
  • Corr – N H Keeble and G F Nuttall (eds) Calendar of the Correspondence of Richard Baxter (Oxford 1991) 2 vols
  • CR – A G Matthews Calamy Revised (Oxford 1934)
  • DAB- Dictionary of American Biography
  • DWB – Dictionary of Welsh Biography
  • DWL – Dr Williams’s Library, London
  • Entring Book Glossary – The Entring Book of Roger Morrice 1677-1691 Volume VI ed M Goldie (Woodbridge 2007) M Goldie ‘Glossary’
  • JEH – Journal of Ecclesiastical History
  • McElligott – The Entring Book of Roger Morrice 1677-1691 Volume VI ed M Goldie (Woodbridge 2007) J McElligott ‘Biographical Dictionary’
  • ODNB – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • ODCC – Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
  • Rel – R Baxter Reliquiæ Baxterianæ: or, Mr. Richard Baxter’s narrative of the most memorable passages of his life and times (ed M Sylvester) one volume in three parts (1696)
  • Thomas – R Thomas The Baxter Treatises - a catalogue of the Richard Baxter papers (other than the letters) in Dr Williams’s Library - Dr Williams’s Library Occasional Paper no 8 (1959)
  • VCH – Victoria County History


The Treatises range chronologically across Baxter’s life from the 1630s (with his admission to deacon’s status and his licence to preach in the Church of England in 1638) to his death in 1691, although not all the treatises are dated. Where the treatises are undated, some approximate dates were estimated by Roger Thomas, Dr Williams’s librarian 1946-67, in his catalogue largely basing his estimates upon references in the Reliquiae Baxterianae. This catalogue offers, based on internal evidence, and on the relation of individual treatises to outside events and to contemporary publications, to offer an approximate date for some treatises. However these estimates should be treated as such and should not be regarded as authoritative.

The 19th century arrangement of the manuscripts in the volumes was haphazard and accorded to no clear principles of subject matter or chronology. For instance RB/1/1 (formerly the first item in volume 1 i.e. Treatises i.1), is a brief of the charges against Baxter from his trial in 1685, whereas RB/1/322 is a letter from Baxter, dated 16 and 17 March 1654/5, and RB/1/323 (formerly volume 7 item 268) is dated 25 October, 1672, being a letter from Baxter to a person at court, requesting the King’s licence for preaching. Treatises RB/1/161 is a certificate from the Westminster Assembly of Divines in March 1648 approving Baxter’s appointment to the parish church in Kidderminster, in Worcestershire.

The treatises are, therefore, a decidedly mixed assortment but they offer the scholar a feast of informed, perceptive insights into the second half of the seventeenth century, mostly from a tolerant, if opinionated, observer. Perhaps the nonconformists in general might have been best advised in the Restoration period to obey the law and avoid controversy which some did, but Baxter was unable to limit himself to such guarded behaviour. Therefore the treatises, if properly catalogued and listed, with clear descriptive outlines of what lies within the manuscripts, constitute a rich source into the life and times of one awkward and energetic individual in particular (informing and filling out passages in the Reliquiae), but also into late seventeenth English life in general.


This catalogue is based on Dr. Alan Argent's Calendar to the Baxter Treatises (2014) and reproduces his work throughout. Argent's introductory and extensive critical notes vastly expanded and improved on Thomas' 1959 catalogue. While Argent retains the former coding scheme for the Treatises the disbinding of the volumes for conservation encouraged the development of a fresh numbering scheme for this catalogue. The Supplementary Notes to the Baxter Treatises provides a cross-reference list to the former numbering schemes, a Publication List and a Persons Index.

Other Finding Aids

Black and Thomas

The treatises have been catalogued twice with different degrees of success - by W H Black between 1856-63 and Roger Thomas in 1959, the latter published as an occasional paper (number 8) of the library: the catalogue presented here is considered of a piece with Argent's Calendar. Both of these previous catalogues have their merits. Black’s is itself now an aged and valuable manuscript, in one bound volume that shows signs of wear. At places its pages are torn, its spine is missing and its cover is loose. Nevertheless it is full and detailed and usually accurate, though it is hand written and Black’s hand, like Baxter’s, is not always easy and clear, with crossings out, late inclusions, over-written notes, notes in the margin, and after thoughts. He also has his own consistently singular spellings, such as the oft-repeated ‘draught’ (sic) rather than the more conventional draft. Like Baxter, who rarely bothered, when he was in full flow, to cross his 't's, Black at times found such crosses unnecessary or tiresome, thus rendering his handwriting a challenge. Yet Black the cataloguer did a good job of transcribing the difficult treatises, including the not infrequent Latin, and tracing those names mentioned and their works, and his work remains of enduring value.

A century after Black, Thomas’s catalogue did not replace his predecessor’s. Rather he intended to “introduce some sort of order into a very miscellaneous set of papers” and, unlike Black’s, as a printed listing, his catalogue was available for readers. Modestly Thomas saw his work as an aid to scholars and he maintained that “many more links could have been established with more prolonged research”. This catalogue is based on Dr. Alan Argent's Calendar to the Baxter Treatises (2014) and reproduces his work throughout. Argent's introductory and extensive critical notes vastly expanded and improved on Thomas' 1959 catalogue. While Argent retains the former coding scheme for the Treatises the disbinding of the volumes for conservation work encouraged the development of a fresh numbering scheme for this catalogue. The Supplementary Notes to the Baxter Treatises provides a cross-reference list to the former numbering schemes, a Publication List and a Persons Index.

Roger Thomas found three major disadvantages with Black’s catalogue. Firstly he found that Black’s entries were “so full that the essentials are often lost in a multiplicity of detail and in its entirety it is too long for convenient reproduction”. Secondly he criticised Black for adhering to “the order of the papers as they lie in the bound volumes, an order which is little short of chaotic”. Thirdly Black’s catalogue has no index, nor, wrote Thomas, “any sort of key to the chaos” – the chaos being the arrangement of the treatises. To consider these disadvantages, in reverse order, we may concur that an index would be an asset in such a work. We may also feel that some re-arrangement of the material would be desirable. Indeed Thomas’s re-arrangement in his catalogue was to date the treatises, as far as possible, by fitting them into the chronology of Baxter’s life, as set out in Reliquiae Baxterianae. However his re-arrangement does not entirely succeed. Lastly readers may not share Thomas’s view that the length of Black’s entries and comments is a great difficulty. As a librarian, Thomas aimed at conciseness and a paucity of surplus detail, whereas the average reader may desire more information in order to make an informed judgement of the manuscript’s usefulness to his/her researches. More information may be an asset.

Roger Thomas admitted that he had made “little effort to go behind Black’s individual entries”. Indeed, he continued truthfully, his own catalogue is but “a re-arrangement of Black’s entries, abbreviated as much as possible”. That, of course, might be all very well, if Black had made no mistakes. Alas, he did make some, not a huge number, but some errors did creep in and Thomas repeated them. Indeed Thomas usually quoted Black verbatim and a careful check seems to suggest that Thomas may have consulted the original manuscripts only sparingly, if at all, and compiled his 1959 catalogue from Black’s work alone.

As stated, Thomas maintained that the key to imposing order on the chaos of the Baxter Treatises lay in relating the various items contained in the volumes to what was printed in Baxter’s autobiography, the Reliquiae Baxterianae of 1696. Thomas noted that a “considerable number of the items were the original drafts or the original copy” of what was later printed in the Reliquiae. Other items, where dates can be discovered, were included by Thomas under that date, although, he wrote, “the dates assigned are in many cases only convenient pegs (such as a relation to some published work) and must not be otherwise relied upon”. In addition, he linked some undated items to dated items because “of similarity of subject matter”. The result was that Thomas arranged Baxter’s material into 6 sections as they appeared to relate to passages in the Reliqiuae Baxterianae. Yet each of these sections contains a number of additional items from the treatises, which, Thomas believed, were “Other Items” dating roughly from that same period of time. In addition, Thomas had a section of items dated after Baxter’s death.

A first time reader of Thomas may easily be put off by the strange presentation of his material which is almost completely impossible to use without some prior acquaintance with the Reliquiae, with Black’s catalogue, and/or with the original treatises. Thomas’s work is therefore an educated hit and miss, as he more or less admitted himself. If his catalogue depended on his ability to offer accurate or approximate dates, then the four pages of “undated items”, at the end of his catalogue, raise serious questions about his strategy.

One obvious advantage which a modern cataloguer has, over Black and Thomas, is access to the two volumes of Keeble and Nuttall’s Calendar of the Correspondence of Richard Baxter (Oxford 1991) which marked a great advance in Baxter studies. Their Calendar’s usefulness at every stage of the development of Argent's Calendar and this catalogue is clear.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The Volumes

The Baxter Treatises are written on paper of different sizes, all of which were flattened and bound (though the term bound gives a misleading impression of collections of manuscripts grouped together and, in many cases forced together, in untidy, ill fitting sets, with larger manuscripts folded so as to conform to the size of the volume) and they were written by different hands. In addition the reasons why the treatises are numbered and ordered, as they are, are difficult to fathom.

Although the treatises are arranged in seven main volumes of material, twenty-one volumes of varying size and descriptions exist at DWL. The additional volumes are far smaller and include volume 8, the original of which is now housed in the British Library as part of the Egerton manuscript 2570. A photostat of this, supplied in the 1950s, now forms part of DWL’s collection and is volume 22 (RB/1/398) of the Baxter Treatises. Volume 9 is the life of Thomas Hall (1610-65), the minister of King’s Norton, Worcestershire from 1640, and related papers. Volumes 10-12 are commonplace books, mainly in shorthand and consisting of extracts from books and a variety of notes. Volume 17 is the diary of the Puritan cleric Richard Rogers (1551-1618) which was supposedly transcribed, edited and published by the American scholar, M M Knappen, in his Two Elizabethan Puritan Diaries (1933), as Thomas confidently announced. However Knappen admitted that his transcription was partial and in truth it requires some effort to see its resemblance to the original. A comparison of Knappen’s book with the manuscript shows that he started his published “copy” some half way down the first page and failed to indicate in his publication that he had left considerable gaps. It is, therefore, at best misleading. As Thomas stated, this diary should not really be included among the Baxter holdings for it is listed in a catalogue of the manuscripts of Roger Morrice and properly belongs with his material. Thomas had a further reason for writing his catalogue, which was to afford a key to the microfilm which had been made from the volumes of manuscript and this has proved to be its chief benefit to the dedicated reader. That microfilm is still in use. The item numbers had been inserted by Black for all the seven volumes which he consulted and Thomas continued that numbering throughout the subsequent volumes. Those same item numbers were inserted above all items in the microfilm, together with volume numbers and foliation.

Custodial History

The Baxter manuscripts as a whole became part of the Dr Williams's Library collection in the early eighteenth century, though the precise circumstances of their coming to the library are unclear. The nineteenth century cataloguer, William Henry Black (1808-72), wrote of the gift of Matthew Sylvester and of the subsequent arrival of the Baxter manuscripts from such a named person to this library in 1733. Baxter’s executor, Matthew Sylvester, had died in 1707/8 (some eight years before Daniel Williams’s own death) yet his son was also named Matthew so it is probable that they came from him. The treatises are correctly known as the Baxter Treatises because they were found to be in his possession at his death, probably by his executor, Matthew Sylvester (1636/7-1708), also an ejected minister, to whom Baxter in his will left £20 and the care of all his manuscripts, none of which were to be published without the approval of certain named nonconformist ministers, among whom were Roger Morrice (1628/9–1702) and Daniel Williams (c 1643-1716).

Related Material

The original of volume 8 is now housed in the British Library as part of the Egerton manuscript 2570. A photostat of this, supplied in the 1950s, now forms part of DWL’s collection and is volume 22 of the Baxter Treatises.