Petition against Bishop Wren

BL: Egerton MS 1048

sheet [1] dorse (Bishop's offenses)


1. A certaine Booke of Visitatorie articles to the number of one hundred fortie & seaven which weare enfor<..>d vpon <...> in the year <...> Bishopp of Elie, wherevpon the Churchwardens & other Officers weare required by <...>th to make <...>tni & <...> advancement of Romish Superstition, & to the hindrance of the power & progresse of Religion, <.....> to the encouraging <...> pressing the reading of the booke of sportes & recreacions strengthened by the Bishoppes owne p<........> example in bowling & <...> in the afternoone, & chatechiseing if it be (as the Article phraseth it sermonwise, Add to this the strict pressing of the last <...> of our now dread Soueraigne touching Wakes & such like ffeastes (as they are called with us) & in that addition stiled the <...> whereby the Common prophanation of the Lordes daie with beastlie drunckennes, lacivious Dauncinges, quarrellinges & fightinges & manie <...>r gr<...> of all religious hartes amongest vs) hath been exceedinglie encouraged, whereas we cannot conseiue yat ever the C<...> with such insolencies as these, which more suit with dedicacion of Temples to Bacchus and Venus than to the service of Al<...> Consciences, to the impoverishing your peticioneres & the enriching of Ecclesiasticall Officeres.


  • Footnotes
    • <...>: remainder of line, as many as 25 characters, illegible
    • <...>: approximately 9 characters illegible
    • <...>: remainder of line, approximately 22 characters, illegible
    • <...>: remainder of line, approximately 21 characters, illegible
    • <...>: remainder of line, approximately 21 characters, illegible
    • (as … it: closing parenthesis missing
    • <...>: remainder of line, approximately 22 characters, illegible
    • <...>: remainder of line, approximately 20 characters, illegible
    • gr<...>: remainder of line, approximately 22 characters, illegible
    • vs: opening parenthesis presumably now illegible
    • C<...>: remainder of line, approximately 22 characters, illegible
    • Al<...>: remainder of line, approximately 22 characters, illegible.
  • Document Description

    Record title: Petition against Bishop Wren
    Repository: BL
    Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1048
    Repository location: London

    Matthew Wren (1585–1667) was appointed president of Pembroke College in 1616, in which role he undertook a fundraising campaign to add to the library collection and produced the first extant inventory of books in the library, compiled in a register of benefactors (Kari Anne Rand, Manuscripts in the Library of Pembroke College, Cambridge and the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge, 2006)). During this time Wren also compiled a list of estate papers for the college, under the supervision of Lancelot Andrewes, bishop of Ely. Before 1621 Wren was one of the chaplains-in-ordinary to James VI and I; he accompanied the king to Madrid in 1623 in James's unsuccessful effort to marry his son, Prince Charles, to Philip III's daughter, Maria Anna. Wren would later accompany Charles for his coronation in Edinburgh in 1633. In 1625 Wren again turned to historical record-keeping as master of Peterhouse, producing 'an inventory for the treasury of the medieval college ... and a chronologically arranged list of all the library collection' (Nicholas W.S. Cranfield, 'Wren, Matthew (1585–1667),' ODNB, accessed 23 September 2004). Wren's archival work continued as dean of Windsor in 1628, bishop of Hereford in 1634, and bishop of Norwich in 1635, and finally bishop of Ely in 1638. As bishop of Norwich and Ely, Wren also undertook a series of visitations to ensure conformity.

    In December 1640, in the first weeks of the Long Parliament, Wren was censured alongside Archbishop Laud and in July 1641 a committee of the House of Commons considered depositions lodged against him by nine counties, including Cambridgeshire, and drafted articles of impeachment against him. On 30 December 1641 Wren was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he remained almost continuously until 15 March 1660 (Nicholas W.S. Cranfield, 'Wren, Matthew (1585–1667),' ODNB, accessed 18 September 2021).

    This is the original petition against Bishop Wren, presented to parliament. W.M. Palmer includes a transcription of the petition in Episcopal Visitation Returns; although Palmer offers a date of 1638 for the petition, Margaret Spufford notes that, '[t]he petition must date from 1640–1 when the Long Parliament was sitting' (Margaret Spufford, Contrasting Communities, p 232).

    1640; English; paper; single sheet; 385mm x 350mm. Now foliated 24a with further 5 collections of signatures attached; badly damaged; originally a roll and later bound with other documents in volume Egerton MS 1048, titled 'Collection of Historical and Parliamentary Papers 1620–1660,' sheets re-attached serially, but stored flattened in an folder, separately from the volume.

Back To Top