First Edition of Queen Elizabeth’s Visitation Articles

ELIZABETH I, Queen of England (1533-1603)

Articles to be enquyred in the visitation, in the fyrst yeare of the raygne of our moost drad soueraygne Lady, Elizabeth by the grace of God, of Englande Fraunce, and Irelande, Quene, defender of the fayth. &c. Anno 1559

London: Imprinted… in Povles Churcheyarde by Richard Iugge and Iohn Cavvood, Printers to the Quenes Maiestie, 1559

$22,000.00

Quarto: 18 x 13 cm. [14] pp. Collation: A-B4 (lacking blank leaf B4)

FIRST EDITION of the first visitation articles of Elizabeth’s reign.

Bound in 19th c. marbled boards. A fine, wide-margined copy. The title is set within an architectural woodcut border (McKerrow & Ferguson 83) with Cawood’s monogram in the shield. A large woodcut initial (of Arcas and Callisto?) appears on leaf A2.

With the signature of the 16th c. book collector Humphrey Dyson (1582-1633) at the foot of the title page. The bookplate of Albert Ehrman, with his motto “Pro Viribus Summis Contendo” is affixed to the front pastedown. This was lot 270 in the 1978 sale of Ehrman’s library. Very rare. ESTC locates 4 copies in the U.S.: Folger, Huntington, Harvard, Yale.

First edition of the first visitation articles established for the reformed church after Elizabeth’s accession. The visitation articles are a series of 56 questions that were to be asked by church commissioners as they visited each parish within the kingdom. They include inquiries into the number of people imprisoned, starved or burned at the stake during Mary’s reign; the number of known drunkards, adulterers, brawlers, sorcerers, book burners, possessors of unlawful books, and minstrels or others who “do use to synge or saye anye songes or dytties that be vyle or uncleane, and especially in derision of anye godly ordre, nowe sette forth and established” in a given parish.

“On 19 July 1559 Elizabeth issued a royal proclamation publishing her fifty-three ‘Injunctions,’ which set forth to the clergy the form and substance of the Elizabethan Church established by the 1559 Act of Uniformity. Besides calling ‘all ecclesiastical persons’ to observe all the laws that restored to the Crown the ancient jurisdiction over the ‘state ecclesiastical,’ the Injunctions specified that educated and licensed preachers should preach the Word of God (or lacking such preachers, that homilies should be read); that accessories for Catholic worship should be removed from churches and that Bibles should replace them… They called upon the Queen’s subjects to live in charity and to avoid religious epithets like ‘papist’ or ‘schismatic’ as words of reproach. Among the Injunctions, one called for press licensing to deter printed books against the religious settlement… Besides those statutes that established Elizabeth’s succession and Church settlement, among the earliest acts of Elizabeth I’s first Parliament were those that extended the Marian treason statutes. The first of these included, in the definition of high treason, writing or printing anything saying that the Queen was not entitled to rule or that someone else was. The second act extended the Marian statute that criminalized false, slanderous, and seditious news about the Queen.” (Clegg, Censorship and the Press, (1580-1720) pp. 9-10)

That the re-implementation of Protestant reforms was of paramount importance for Elizabeth is reflected in the second and third articles:

The second article inquires “Whether in theyr Churches and chapels, al ymages, shrynes, al tables, Candelstickes, Trindelles, or rolles of Mare, Pictures, Payntynges, and al other monuments of fayned and false myracles, Pylgrymages, ydolatrye, and superstition be removed, abolished and destroyed.” While the third asks whether the vicars… “openly, playnley, and distinctlye, recite to theyr paryshners in the Pulpit, the Lordes prayer, the Belief, and the tenne commaundements in Englyshe.”

Further, each parishioner is to be “admonished… that they ought not to presume to receive the sacrament of the body & bloud of Christ before they can perfectly [recite] the Lordes prayer, the articles of the faith, and the x. commaundementes in Englyshe.”(Article 12)

And of course, the old rite is to be suppressed. In article 9, the Commissioners are asked to discover whether any of the vicars, curates, or ministers declare “anyte thynge to the extollynge or settynge forth of vayne and superstitious religion, pylgrimages, reliques, or ymages, or lyghtyngge of candelles, kyssinge, knelynge, eckynge of the same ymages.”

The question regarding sorcery seems to encompass the work of midwives: “Whether you knowe any that doe use charmes, sorcerye, enchauntmentes, invocations, circles, witchcrafts, southsayinge, or any lyke craftes or ymagniationes invented by the Devyll, and specyallye in the tyme of womens travayle.”

As regards books, the 46th article asks “What bokes of goddess scripture you have delivered to be burnte or otherwise distroied, ad to whom ye have delivered the same.” And the 52nd concerns “makers, bringers, biers, sellers, kepers, or conveyers of anye unlawfull books, whiche might styre, or provoke sedition”.

Provenance:

Humphrey Dyson (1582-1633), a scrivener and notary, was a noteworthy English book collector, with possible ties to Shakespeare's circle.

“Humfrey Dyson, (d. 1633), book collector, was probably the son of Christopher Dyson (d. 1609), wax chandler of the parish of St Alban, Wood Street, London, and his wife, Mary. He was practising as a notary public by 1609, when he witnessed Christopher's will, and continued to do so until shortly before his death, drawing up wills and other documents. He was a citizen of London, as a member of the Wax Chandlers' Company, from 1603, and married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Speght (d. 1621), the editor of Geoffrey Chaucer and John Lydgate.

“Dyson is notable chiefly for the enormous library he amassed. No catalogue of the library is known, apart from six notebooks (All Souls College, Oxford, MS 117) listing in order of date of publication those books ‘touching as well the State Ecclesiasticall as Temporall of the Realme of England’: in 1631 these alone totalled nearly 1100. He also owned a large number of works of Elizabethan and Jacobean literature; in some instances his is now the unique surviving copy. Nearly all the extant printed proclamations of Queen Elizabeth I's reign belong to the seven sets, each of which he collected together, bound, and provided with its own specially printed title-page (1618). Dyson printed nothing else, but he collaborated in the 1633 revision of John Stow's Survey of London—an edition that included many copies of acts of parliament and of the common council of London.

“Dyson died between 7 January 1633, when he made his will, as a parishioner of St Olave Jewry, London, and 28 February 1633, when it was proved. In it he made monetary bequests to his four daughters and two sons, allowed the use of his professional papers to his apprentices, and gave a two-volume book of statutes to ‘my noble friend Sir William Paddy … to be by him put and given to the library of St John's College in Oxford’. He directed simply that his other books be sold by William Jumper; a great many of them were acquired by Richard Smith (d. 1675) and were dispersed when his library was sold in 1682. Thomas Baker wrote: ‘There are Books (chiefly in old English) almost in every Library that have belong'd to H. Dyson, with his Name upon them’ (Hearne, 7.369).”(Nigel Ramsay, ODNB)

STC 10118