British Pamphlets, 17th Century

Court of Honour, or, The Vertuous Protestant's Looking Glass. 1679.
Court of Honour, or, The Vertuous Protestant's Looking Glass. 1679. Case Y 194 .785.

The Newberry has more than 2,200 pamphlets published in Great Britain during the Stuart period (1600-1715). The subjects covered in these pamphlets are varied and include the Civil War, Church of England doctrines, Acts of Parliament, and the Popish Plot. There are collections of pamphlets about the Stuart era monarchs as well as Cromwellian pamphlets. There are pamphlets in the form of letters, sermons, political verse, and drama. Authors include Defoe, Hobbes, Swift, Milton, Pepys. While the collection is rich, finding pamphlets can be a challenge.

Searching the Online Catalog

The online catalog is the best place to start your search for seventeenth century British pamphlets. If you know the title or author of a given pamphlet, try searching under those headings to start. Many pamphlets are bound with pamphlets of similar themes, so it can be difficult to find individual pamphlets by title or author. Often subject searches retrieve the largest number of relevant pamphlets.

A variety of different subject headings are used in the online catalog. They follow the following patterns:

  • Great Britain—History—[range of years]—Pamphlets
    Example: Great Britain History 1660-1688 Pamphlets
  • Great Britain—Politics and Government—[range of years]—Pamphlets
    Example: Great Britain Politics and Government 1603-1714 Pamphlets
  • Great Britain—History—[name of monarch]—Pamphlets
    Example: Great Britain History Charles II Pamphlets

In the cases where pamphlets cannot be found using these searches, try the “Advanced Search” option, and set limits on the language and year(s) of publication. Once these search limits are in effect, do separate keyword searches for “pamphlets” and “tracts.” There may be some overlap between the two searches: many pamphlets are bound with others under such titles as “English Political Tracts,” with no mention of the word “pamphlet” in the catalog record. Carefully constructed boolean searches may also retrieve promising results.

The shelf list, a card catalog of the library’s holdings arranged by call number and located on the third floor, is also a useful tool for finding individual titles. The majority of the Newberry’s seventeenth century British pamphlets fall in the following call number ranges:

Church of England British History
C 6526 Church of England Doctrines F 455 House of Stuart, 1603-1714
C 99 Sermons F 4551 James I, 1603-1625
  F 4552 Charles I, 1625-1649
British Politics F 4553 Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649-1660
J 545 Great Britain - Politics F 4554 Charles II, 1660-1685
J 5453 House of Stuart Politics, 1603-1648 F 4555 James II, 1685-1688
J 5454 Commonwealth and Restoration, 1649-1687 F 4556 William and Mary, 1689-1702

J 5455 Revolution, 1688-1699

F 4557 Anne, 1702-1714

The online catalog can also act as a shelf list of sorts. To search under numbers like the ones above, use the “Call Number Browse (Other)” option in the online catalog, and make sure you leave a space between the initial letter and the ensuing numbers.

Selected Bibliographies

Bloom, J. Harvey. English Tracts, Pamphlets and Printed Sheets: A Bibliography. London: Wallace Gandy, 1923. Call Number: Z 945.1. Two volumes. Volume 1: Early Period 1473-1650, Suffolk. Volume II: Early Period 1473-1650, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. “The Bibliography is arranged alphabetically under authors, noteworthy people or places, the items being arranged in chronological sequence. Wherever the examination of the works has been possible the character of the type has been indicated, and the method of arrangement shown. The title- page of each is given in full, or very nearly so” (from Preface, Vol. 1). Both volumes contain General Index and Index of Titles.

Catalogue of the Tract Collection of Saint David’s University College, Lampeter. London: Mansell, 1975. Call Number: folio Z 921. S152 1975. A chronological list of over 11,000 tracts in the Lampeter Collection. The dates range from 1520-1843, with the bulk between 1641-1720 and the core of the collection being between 1679-1719. Includes title/author index.

Collins, D.C. Handlist of News Pamphlets 1590-1610. London: South-West Essex Technical College, 1943. Call Number: lowercase f 4549.185. 270 British news pamphlets, primarily concerned with foreign news, but some “home” news. Annotated (sometimes extensively) and organized chronologically.

Halliwell, James Orchard. Notices of Fugitive Tracts, and Chap-Books Printed at Aldermary Churchyard, Bow Churchyard, etc. London: Percy Society, 1851. Call Number: Y 108.67 vol. 29. An annotated bibliography of 126 tracts published in London. Some with dates given, but not in chronological order. Some heavily annotated with illustrations, others less so.

A Catalogue of Pamphlets, Tracts, Proclamations, Speeches, Sermons, Trials, Petitions from 1506 to 1700. London: Chiswick Press, 1908. Call Number: lowercase f 45.505. Also known as Lincoln’s Inn Catalogue. Arranged chronologically. Contains full indices of persons, places, and subjects.

Parks, Stephen. The Luttrell File: Narcissus Luttrell’s Dates on Contemporary Pamphlets 1678-1730. New Haven: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 1999. Call Number: Z 584.991 Suppl. 3. Includes Luttrell’s annotations with prices paid and date of publication, including occasional notes. Entries are in alphabetical order by author’s name or the title of the work, and cross references have been added” (Parks). Entries include location– a significant number of pamphlets are given the notation “CN” indicating their presence in the Newberry’s collection.

Reid, John Stuart. Catalogue of Historical Tracts 1561-1800. London: Mrs. Peter Redpath, 1901. Call Number: lowercase f 45.537. Based on “a group of State pamphlets in forty volumes … rich in Civil War and Commonwealth Tracts. It represents vividly the conflict of opinion at the Restoration and at the Revolution of 1688 … The whole collection illustrates the growth of opinion in matters religious, political, literary, and social, from the days of Queen Elizabeth to the dawn of the nineteenth century” (from preface).

Redpath, Peter. A Catalogue of Books Chiefly Relating to English and American History and Antiquities together with a Collection of Historical, Ecclesiastical, and Political Tracts (from 1624). Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1884. Call Number: lowercase f 45.538. Tracts cover range from 1624 to 1860 and are arranged chronologically with short titles. Many entries lack author and specific publication information (ranges given).

Shaw, William. Bibliography of the Collection of Books and Tracts on Commerce, Currency, and Poor Law. London: George Harding, 1937. Call Number: lowercase h 3145.56. Comprised of two sections: “Books, Pamphlets, and Letters Written by Joseph Massie” and “Catalogue of the Massie Collection of Tracts.” Arranged chronologically with alphabetical index.