Sir Thomas Overbury manuscript
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of one bound handwritten manuscript written in 1616. The author is unknown. There is a dedication "from a poor country man" to Sir Thomas Bromley, possibly the English judge (1530-1587) who presided over the trial (1586) of Mary, Queen of Scots. The manuscript was written during the reign of James I who was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Printed on the spine is the title, "Great Oyer of Poysoning & Overbury MS 1616." The name of Henry Strode and the year, 1679, is written on page iv.
Two related events, parts of a seventeenth-century mystery, are described in the manuscript. The first narration is an account of the divorce proceedings (1613) between Lady Frances Howard and her first husband, Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. The second narration is an account of the trials (November 1615 to May 1616) of the persons implicated in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. Called to trial were Richard Weston, Ann Turner, Sir Gervase Helwys, James Franklin, Sir Thomas Monson, and the Earl and Countess of Somerset.
The third section of the manuscript is titled, "Sir Thomas Overbury his Observations of the Low Countries and Kingdome of France." It is known that Sir Overbury traveled to the Low Countries in 1609 during a period when he was expected to accept the offer of a diplomatic position from King James I. In the biographical sketch of Overbury in the Dictionary of National Biography, there is a reference to Overbury's "Observations," the suggestion being that the existence of such a document was never authenticated. The quote is: He (Overbury) paid a visit to the Low Countries in 1609, and he is said to have written some valuable 'Observations upon the State of the Seventeen Provinces.'
The last part of the manuscript is a prose account of the life of John the Baptist. The work is in a handwriting different from the previous pages related to Thomas Overbury.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.
This collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.
Thomas Overbury, poet and member of the court of James I (1566- 1625), was born in Gloucestershire in 1581. He graduated from Queen's College, Oxford in 1598 and later traveled to Edinburgh where he became friends with Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, later the Earl of Somerset. Overbury was knighted in 1608 and quickly rose to an eminent position at court because of his friendship with Carr, a particular favorite of King James. Overbury became a victim of court intrigue when he opposed the marriage of his friend Carr to Frances Howard, the divorced wife of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Several members of the court, including Frances Howard, conspired to have Overbury imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was removed to the tower, April 26, 1613 and died there of poisoning, September 15, 1613. The Earl of Somerset, Robert Carr, married Frances Howard December 26, 1613. In 1616, murder charges were brought against the Earl and the Countess of Somerset and several accomplices. Four persons were executed for the murder of Sir Overbury, but the Somersets were pardoned by King James and released from the Tower in 1621.
0.167 Cubic Feet (1 volume)
Language of Materials
The collection consists of one bound handwritten manuscript written in 1616. The author is unknown. There is a dedication "from a poor country man" to Sir Thomas Bromley, possibly the English judge (1530-1587) who presided over the trial (1586) of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was part of the Tudor and Stuart Club Collection and was transferred to Manuscripts, June 1992.
Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in June 1992.
- Benelux countries
- Court and courtiers
- Essex, Robert Devereux, Earl of, 1565-1601
- Great Britain
- James I, King of England, 1566-1625
- John, the Baptist, Saint
- Overbury, Thomas, Sir, 1581-1613
- Somerset, Frances Howard Carr, Countess of, 1593-1632
- Somerset, Robert Carr, Earl of, -1645
- Tudor and Stuart Club (Johns Hopkins University)
- Guide to the Sir Thomas Overbury manuscript
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
Part of the Special Collections Repository
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