Copies of political documents

Scope and Content

This small series includes scribal copies of political documents probably copied for use by the Earl and Hobbes and circulated to other upper servants of the Cavendish household. They may have passed these documents amongst themselves, prompted by events or discussions.

Skinner makes the link between HS/G/2 and HS/G/3 to HS/D/5 showing that the 4th Earl was involving Hobbes in his political business of 1679 and providing copies of these documents in relation to seeking Hobbes's advice on political matters.

The documents are similar in nature to some of the material found in the separate Hardwick Drawers collection (GB 2495 H) and Hardwick Manuscripts collection (GB 2495 HMS) at Chatsworth.The presence of them here rather than in either of those collections may only be a result of the circumstance of Hobbes's death. Perhaps, had he not died in 1679 these papers would have been passed on, no longer among Hobbes's affairs, and others may have been in their place.


The current arrangement is based on that in 1977 RCHM report. The series is recorded in the 1977 RCHM report as: "MSS found among Hobbes's papers, but having no recognisable connection with him", and was likely arranged in its current form by 1936. HS/G/4 was recatalogued in 2021 as HS/ADD/6 so as it unite it with the other lists of books added to the collection in the HS/ADD series.

Separated Material

GB 2495 H/145/18 is a copy of a legal brief evidently composed by Hobbes, in the hand of his amanuensis (James Whildon), untitled and beginning "Concerning the punishment of such persons as by word or writing uttered any thing contrary to the definition or determination of Holy Church& ". See CELM HbT 59 (Formerly cited in IELM, II.i (1987) as HbT 74).

Custodial History

These papers were probably extant at Hardwick from the 1670s.The RCHM 1977 report, likely based on Shillinglaw's 1936 catalogue, listed these items as ' having no recognisable connection with him [Hobbes]'. It is only in recent scholarship that the link between these and HS/D/5 has been made, providing the link to Hobbes and the 4th Earl of Devonshire.


A discussion of these documents can be found in:

Skinner, Q, "From Humanism to Hobbes", (Cambridge University Press) 2018, pp. 321-324 and Skinner, Q., "Visions of Politics Volume III: Hobbes and Civil Science", (Cambridge University Press) 2002, pp. 33-34.