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Newdigate family collection of newsletters

Identifier: N49649
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Scope and Content

This collection contains the call numbers L.c.1-3950.

The Newdigate family collection of newsletters is largely composed of MS newsletters acquired and compiled by three consecutive generations of the Newdigate family during the latter half of the seventeenth century and the early part of the eighteenth century: Sir Richard Newdigate, 1st Baronet (1602-1678), Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Baronet (1644-1710), and Sir Richard Newdigate, 3rd Baronet (1668-1727). The collection is made up of 3,954 such newsletters, the majority of which are addressed to Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Baronet of Arbury Hall, Warwickshire. Under the auspices of Sir Joseph Williamson (1633-1701), Secretary of State and Keeper of the State Papers, and his Chief Clerk Henry Ball, a small group of scribes produced approximately two hundred newsletters per week which were dispatched on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Newsletters issued by the Secretary of State's office were principally delivered to government agents, but were also made available to an exclusive list of subscribers to which the Newdigates seem to have belonged.

The Newdigate family collection is primarily concerned with contemporary news and current events as well as domestic and foreign affairs from 1673/4 through 1715. Topics cover a breadth of contemporaneous accounts ranging from the Stuart and Continental courts, commercial and maritime relations in the English Atlantic and Indian colonies, social and diplomatic affairs, the Popish Plot, and parliamentary news. The newsletters provide rare insight into certain accounts and events of notable historical significance, such as William Penn's involvement with the early Quaker movement (3rd of June 1684, L.c.1544), the indictment of Titus Oats (26th of June 1684, L.c.1554), and early accounts of the Hudson's Bay Company, the Northwest Passage, and Prince Rupert (28th of September 1675, L.c.230).

One hundred and fifty newsletters within the Newdigate family collection, possibly written after 1706, appear to be by John Dyer (1653?-1713). It seems as though Dyer's newsletters are marked in the Collection with the abbreviation "DNI" (Dyer's newsletter). Dyer seems to have begun writing newsletters as early as 1693 and was frequently brought before the House of Commons on charges of libel and sedition (1693, 1695, 1696, 1697, and 1698). Nonetheless, Dyer's newsletters were widely disseminated, greatly subscribed to, and became one of the chief sources for English news on the Continent in the early eighteenth century.


  • 1673/1674-1715



Collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical note

Sir Richard Newdigate, 1st Baronet was born on 17 September, 1602 at his family's estate at Arbury Hall, Warwickshire. He matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford on the 6 November 1618, but left without taking a degree. He was admitted to Gray's Inn on 3 July 1620. Richard's career as a jurist peaked when he was appointed Sergeant at Law in 1654 and later Lord Chief Justice by Parliament on 19 January 1660. His career was interrupted by the Restoration of Charles II and he never achieved the same professional standing in the judiciary. In an act of belated recognition for his service to Royalists during the Interregnum and Protectorate (especially for his merciful oversight of the York Assizes in the wake of the Penruddock Rising) he was given a baronetcy, but without the accompanying payment of the usual fee. He died on 14 October 1678.

Sir Richard Newdigate, 2nd Baronet was born on the 5 May 1644. He was admitted to Gray's Inn when his father was appointed sergeant there. Richard matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford on 21 March, 1661, but left without taking a degree. He was primarily known for his entrepreneurial ventures as well as his extensive land and mining interests. After marrying May (1646-1692), the daughter of Sir Edward Bagot, on 21 December 1665, Richard set about expanding his families estate at Arbury. His vehement anti-Catholicism led to successive efforts by his enemies to sabotage his political career, although he served as a magistrate to James II and William III for a brief time. Later in life Richard's relations with his children seem to have deteriorated. In 1707 his son Richard (III) unsuccessfully petitioned to have him declared legally insane. Richard died on 4 January 1710.

Sir Richard Newdigate, 3rd Baronet was born on 29 April 1688. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford in November of 1685. He married Sarah, daughter of Sir Cecil Bishop, Baronet, in 1694 and shortly thereafter settled into Astley Castle near his familial estate at Arbury. Sarah died on 5 October 1695 during childbirth leaving Richard widowed and childless after only fifteen months of marriage. He remarried Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Twisden, Baronet, and had six children. Richard's father's gradual accrual of debt, excessive spending, and a rapid rift between the two men culminated in an effort by Richard to file several petitions to have him declared incompetent. Richard's attempts failed and in September 1708 his father redrafted a new will which effectively disinherited him and his siblings. After his father's death in 1710 Richard finally gained control of his family's estates, but only after the co-executers of his father's will agreed to renounce its execution. He died on 22 July 1727.


3950 items

Language of Materials



Largely English MS newsletters, dating from 1674 to 1715, received and compiled by the Newdigate family of Arbury Hall in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. The letters cover a diverse range of topics, but are mainly concerned with contemporary domestic and Continental news.


The auction catalogue lists the newsletters as item 227: "MS. News Letter – A series of approximately 3,000 letters addressed to Richard Newdigate (later Sir Richard Newdigate, Bart.) at Arbury, nr. Coventry, from January 13th 1673/4 to September 29th 1715, written approximately three days a week, on 3 pp. (the 4th page as usual bearing the address), bound in 20 vols folio, most of the bindings defective, but the edges uncut."

The collection is arranged chronologically by date. A few misfiled newsletters are now listed under their correct date while retaining the shelfmark assigned by previous Folger staff. The collection also includes two leaves from a much later manuscript, a copy of a declaration and manifesto delivered by Charles Edward Stuart on October 10th, 1745 (L.c.739 and L.c.749).

Acquisition Information

The Collection was acquired from the Hodgson & Co. July 19, 1956 sale of 17th and 18th century books from the private library of the Newdigate family at Arbury Hall, lot 227.

Other Formats

We are in the process of updating links in this finding aid. Until all links have been updated, please go to Newdigate family collection of newsletters, 1673/4-1715 to view digital images of select items.

Also available as digital images at

Available in microfilm (Film Fo. 324).

Related Materials

The Folger Shakespeare Library owns several books formerly owned by Sir Richard Newdigate (1644-1710), as well as 3 autograph letters signed from him to Sir Walter Bagot, Blithfield, 1676 May-October. X.d.435

Additional collections of seventeenth-century newsletters similar to the Newdigate family collection of newsletters are available at several other repositories:

Kew, Richmond, Surrey, U.K. The National Archives: Greenwich Hospital Newsletters, containing newsletters sent to Lord Derwentwater 1673-1696; see the Calendar of State Papers Domestic, Records of the Admiralty ADM 77 & 78.

London, U.K. British Library: Henry Muddiman newsletters from 1678, 1687-1688/1689, Sloane MS 3929.

London, U.K. British Library: Newsletters from John Dyer 1707, 1710, Additional MS 61610.

London, U.K. British Library: Newsletters from John Dyer to Edward Harley 1709-1710, Additional MSS 70420-70421.

London, U.K. British Library: Newsletters from London sent to William Trumbull while he was stationed in Paris and Constantinople, 1683-1711, Additional MSS 72595-72597.

Los Angeles, CA. University of California. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: Pole Family News Collection 1681-1713. MS.1951.021 (includes 266 manuscript newsletters from London sent to members of the Pole family of Radbourne, Derbyshire, 1681-1710)

John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester, Manchester, U.K.: Newsletters to Sir William Temple, William Blathwayte, and others, from Joseph Williamson, Henry Muddiman and others. GB 133 GB 133 Eng MS 114 (204 newsletters, 1667-1679, in four volumes)

New Haven, CT. Yale University. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Newsletters Addressed to Madam Pole, 1691-1695, OSB MSS 60 (Over 300 newsletters from London addressed to "Madam Pole of Radbourn near Derby," possibly Anne Morice Pole, daughter of Sir William Morice))

New Haven, CT. Yale University. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library: Biscoe Newsletters, 1696-1706. OSB MSS 163 (62 manuscript newsletters sent to the Maunsell family by John Biscoe)

Oxford, U.K. All Souls College: Papers of Narcissus Luttrell, 1678-1714.

Oxford, U.K. Bodleian Library: MS Carte 72/ Carte Papers, newsletters addressed to the 1st Duke of Ormond, 1660-1685, giving Proceedings of the English Parliament, and news of the Netherlands, France and Germany, 1660-1685.

San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: HM 66704-66716, newsletters addressed to members of the Parker Family of Browsholme, Yorkshire, 1635-1693;

San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: HM 30314-30315, newsletters addressed to Sir Leoline Jenkins, 1676-1680; see also the entry "Benson, Francis," in the Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, p. 286;

San Marino, CA. Huntington Library: Acquisition Lot 2959, Sotheby's sale of 26 June 1974: 200 newsletters, reports, and other papers sent to Sir Leoline Jenkins and to his secretary Dr. Owen Wynne, 1676-1680.

Washington, D.C. Library of Congress: LCCN mm 80-97733/ London Newsletter Collection, containing 3,000 newsletters addressed primarily to Sir William Scott, 5th Laird Harden, 1665-1685.

Wiltshire, U.K. Longleat House: MSS 68, 77-79, 79A, 80-85, 85A, 86-88/ The Muddiman Newsletters, containing thousands of consecutive newsletters dated on alternate days by Henry Muddiman, 29 April 1667-12 October 1689; see also the Appendix to the Third Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, p.184.

Related Materials

The Folger Shakespeare Library owns several books formerly owned by Sir Richard Newdigate (1644-1710), as well as 3 autograph letters signed from him to Sir Walter Bagot, Blithfield, 1676 May-October. X.d.435

Additional collections of seventeenth-century newsletters similar to the Newdigate family collection of newsletters are available at several other repositories:


  • Barber, Alex W. "'It is not easy what to say of our condition, much less to write it': the continued importance of scribal news in the early 18th century." Parliamentary History, v. 32, pt. 2 (2013), p. 293-316.
  • Fraser, Peter. The Intelligence of the Secretaries of State and their monopoly of licensed news, 1660-1688 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956).
  • Gooder, Eileen. 1990. The Squire of Arbury: Sir Richard Newdigate, Second Baronet (1644-1710) and His Family (Coventry: Coventry Branch of the Historical Association)
  • Larminie,Vivienne. 1995. Wealth, Kinship, and culture: the seventeenth-century Newdigates of Arbury and their world. Royal Historical Society: Studies in History (Woodbridge: Royal Historical Society).
  • Muddiman, J.G. 1923. The King's Journalist, 1659-1689: Studies in the Reign of Charles II (London: John Lane the Bodley Head Ltd.).
  • Newdigate-Newdegate, Lady. 1901. Cavalier and Puritan in the Days of the Stuarts (London: Smith, Elder, & Co.).
  • Raymond, Joad. 1996. The Invention of the Newspaper: English Newsbooks 1641-1649 (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
  • Snyder. Henry L. "Newsletters in England, 1689-1715: with Special Reference to John Dyer – A Byway in the History of England" in Newsletters to Newspapers: Eighteenth – Century Journalism, ed. by Donovan H. Bond and W. Reynolds McLeod (Morgantown: School of Journalism, W. Va., 1977), p. 3-19.
  • Sutherland, James. 1986. The Restoration Newspaper and its Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  • Hines Jr., Philip. "Theatre items from the Newdigate Letters" in Theatre Notebook. 22. 2 (1985), p. 76-83.
  • Knights, Mark. "London's 'Monster' Petition of 1680"' in The Historical Journal. vol. 36. issue 1 (March 1993) pp. 39-67.
  • Wilson, J. H. "More theatre items from the Newdigate Letters" in Theatre Notebook. 15. 3. (1961), pp. 79-94.
  • Key to the dates of the Newdigate collection of newsletters in the MS. collection in the Folger Library / compiled by Giles E. Dawson. Folger Shelfmark Z6621.F61 N3 R.R.


There are fifteen gaps within the collection spanning from one month to nearly four years. The following are chronological gaps within the collection for which there are no newsletters:

  1. 22 May – 23 June 1674.
  2. 11 December 1684 – 18 February 1685/6 (with the exception of one letter dated 9 January 1685/6)
  3. 24 March 1687/8 – 23 October 1688.
  4. 26 September 1689 – 10 November 1691 (with the exceptions of single letters dated 16 and 30 January, 20 March 1689/90, and 7 February 1690/1)
  5. 7 January 1691/2 – 4 June 1692
  6. 23 March 1696/7 – 18 January 1700/1.
  7. 20 March 1700/1 – 30 May 1704 (with the exception of an undated letter and single letter from 5 July 1701, 14 May, 9 July, 20 August, as well as 13 and 20 October 1702)
  8. 27 June – 19 September 1704
  9. 2 February 1705/6 – 30 March 1706
  10. 8 May – 1 July 1707
  11. 6 September 1707 – 10 February 1707/8 (with the exception for several single letters dates 8 October and 6 December 1707 as well as two letters from 1 January 1707/8)
  12. 30 July – 17 September 1709
  13. 22 December 1709 – 2 April 1712 (with the exception of single letters dated 16 March 1709/10, 8 June 1710, and an undated letter that is likely from the same period)
  14. 11 August – 15 October 1713

The collection contains additional smaller gaps throughout its entire forty-two year span. It is possible that some letters were never sent, others lost and there are also indications that further losses did occur after receipt. Philip Hines has estimated that if an average of thirteen letters were received per month, the total collection would have amounted to 6,500 separate newsletters for the entire period as opposed to roughly 3,950 (approximately sixty percent).

A number of the newsletters, especially in the period 1708-1709, are endorsed with abbreviated codes, which Several annotated abbreviations appear throughout the collection, especially in the period 1708-1709, some of which have been thought to correspond to contemporary newsletter writers and periods of time: nNL (New newsletter), oNL (Old newsletter), WNL (Williamson Newsletter), and DNL (possibly Dyer Newsletter?). Occasionally, these identifications L.c.3271 and L.c.3272 are "6 nov 1708 News old" and "Nov 6: 1708 new N'let." News Old is likely equal to oNL and therefore is equal to WNL. Williamson's newsletters were franked, while those ascribed to "DN" seem to have been paid.

Endorsements on letters also provide evidence of the Newdigates' collecting practices, with reference to bundles, missing gazettes, etc.

Offsetting on a number of the newsletters provides evidence that the newsletters were usually sent out with a one page printed advice; a single sheet of the London Gazette (L.c.2360) is the sole example of a within the collection, although a number of annotations refer to "gazetts wanting."

Processing Information

Processed by Folger Shakespeare Library staff. Some front matter adapted from The Newdigate newsletters : numbers 1 through 2100 (13 January 1673/4 through 11 June 1692) / transcribed and edited by Philip Hines, Jr. (1994). Finding aid prepared by Rebecca Calcagno (2011), Alexander Pappas (2013), and Nadia Seiler (2014).

Newdigate family collection of newsletters
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Folger Shakespeare Library Repository

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