About State Papers Online

  1. What is State Papers Online?
  2. What are the British State Papers?
  3. The Secretaries of State
  4. What are the Calendars
  5. Using State Papers Online
  6. Contents of State Papers Online
  7. Advisory Board and Acknowledgements

What is State Papers Online?

State Papers Online, 1509-1714 ('SPO') offers a completely new working environment to researchers, teachers and students of Early Modern Britain. Whether used for original research, for teaching, or for student project work, State Papers Online offers original historical materials across the widest range of government concern, from high level international politics and diplomacy to the charges against a steward for poisoning a dozen or more people. The correspondence, reports, memoranda, and parliamentary drafts from ambassadors, civil servants and provincial administrators present a full picture of Tudor and Stuart Britain.

This major resource overcomes the fragmented experience of much historical research by re-uniting the Domestic, Foreign, Borders, Scotland, and Ireland State Papers of Britain with the Registers of the Privy Council and other State Papers now housed in the Cotton, Harley and Lansdowne collections in the British Library.

The Calendars are fully searchable, and each Calendar entry has been linked directly to its related State Paper. With these links, the difficulty of locating individual manuscripts has been substantially overcome. Among the Calendars included here are the HMC Calendars and the Haynes/Murdin transcriptions of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House.

What are the British State Papers?

The British State Papers in this online edition are predominately papers of the Secretaries of State from the reign of Henry VIII to the end of the reign of Queen Anne. These papers and those of other ministers were intended to be delivered on death or resignation to the Keeper of State Papers, but they were frequently retained. A mass of papers appears to have been kept by the secretaries of Lord Burghley, now preserved in the library of Hatfield House and in the Lansdowne Collection at the British Library.

Other extensive collections of scattered papers were made by Sir Robert Cotton and by Robert Harley in the seventeenth century, which are now also in the British Library, and some of which are included in State Papers Online. There are other stray state papers to be found in university libraries, private collections and in the Lambeth Palace Library, which, while not within the scope of this online publication, may be considered for inclusion at a later date.

The Secretaries of State

The King's Secretary (who was at first styled the King's Clerk, then Secretary, afterwards Principal Secretary, and who was probably first called Secretary of State in the time of Elizabeth I) was increasingly employed to execute much of the business formerly pertaining to the Chancellor. In the reign of Henry VIII the King's Principal Secretary had become a person of such great importance that his rank and precedence were determined by statute, and the business and correspondence of his office increased so much as to require in the same reign a Second Principal Secretary.

Both domestic and foreign affairs were the joint responsibility of the principal secretaries. (The essays (under Research Tools) by Drs Bevan, Alford and Knighton provide further details on the State Papers and the Calendars.)

What are the Calendars?

The Calendars are chronological catalogues prepared during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries which, until recent times, have only been available in print editions. They provide abstracts or summaries of the documents and, despite huge variations in detail and consistency, are an invaluable basis for research on the documents.

In State Papers Online, all the Calendars are fully searchable, the page or Calendar entry referenced in the indexes are hyperlinked to the Calendar entries, and each Calendar entry is hyperlinked to its related manuscript document. The user is now able to identify a reference in a Calendar index, from a search or browse, and link directly to the Calendar Entry and from there to the manuscript document. The scholarship in the Calendar indexes is made accessible and given a central role in State Papers Online.

Using State Papers Online

Accessing State Papers Online users may:

State Papers Online includes links to related online sites to provide a complete research environment:

Contents of State Papers Online

State Papers Online is published in four Parts which form one seamless research resource covering two hundred years of British and European history.


Part I: The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers Domestic
The National Archives of the UK: SP 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15
British Library: Lansdowne Collection's Burghley Papers
HMC Calendars and Haynes/Murdin transcriptions of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House
(164,863 manuscript images (single or double folio) and 114,246 calendar or transcript entries)

Part II: The Tudors, 1509-1603: State Papers Foreign, Scotland, Borders, Ireland and Registers of the Privy Council
The National Archives of the UK: SP 46, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 66, 68, 69, 70, 71, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 88, 89, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 108, PC 2
British Library: Selected Cotton, Harley and Yelverton Papers
(347,102 manuscript images (single or double folio) and 212,405 calendar or transcript entries)

Part III: The Stuarts and Commonwealth, James I - Anne I, 1603-1714: State Papers Domestic
The National Archives of the UK: SP 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 44
(714,092 manuscript images (single or double folio) and 270,596 calendar entries)

Part IV: The Stuarts and Commonwealth, James I - Anne I, 1603-1714: State Papers Foreign, Ireland and Registers of the Privy Council
The National Archives of the UK: SP 45, 46, 47, 54, 57, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 109, 110, PC 1, PC 2, PC 4, PC 6.
(468,066 manuscript images (single or double folio) and 113,695 calendar entries)

Advisory Board and Acknowledgements

Dr Paul Ayris, University College London
Dr Amanda Bevan, The National Archives of the UK succeeded by Dr Adrian Ailes, then Dr
Katy Mair
Dr John Cooper, University of York
Professor Tom Cogswell, University of California, Riverside
Professor Richard Cust, University of Birmingham
Professor Norman Jones, Utah State University
Professor John Miller, Queen Mary University of London
Professor John Morrill, University of Cambridge
Dr Neil Younger, University of Birmingham

General Editors

Parts I & II: Dr Stephen Alford, University of Cambridge
Parts III & IV: Professor John Miller, Queen Mary, University of London

Gale Cengage Learning acknowledges the assistance given by the following in the creation of this publication:
The members of the Advisory Board, Dr Simon Adams, Hugh Alexander, Dr Stephen Alford, Dr Steven Gunn, Helen Good, Miss Melanie L. Harrington, Professor Richard Hoyle, Mrs Caroline Kimbell, Dr C. S. Knighton, Mr Aidan Lawes, Mr Ben White, Dr Andrew Zurcher, the Irish Manuscript Commission and the History of Parliament Trust.

Copyright

Images of documents from the holdings of The National Archives of the UK contained within this collection are © The National Archives. The National Archives have granted permission for their reproduction in this digital edition. No unauthorised reproduction is allowed. Images of manuscript documents from the British Library are © British Library Board. All rights reserved. Licence no. PL07293.
State Papers Online 1509-1714 is the copyright of Gale Cengage Learning. The terms of use are set out in the User Agreement.