Scope and Contents
Series I, Danby Correspondence , 1673-1685, contains letters to and from Danby, as well as third-party correspondence of contemporary political figures. Of particular interest are three petitions Danby wrote while imprisoned in the Tower in 1681, begging the king for his release on bail and a speedy trial. As the correspondence demonstrates, Danby's political associates and friends also pressed for his release. Henry Cavendish (1631-1712), Duke of Newcastle, in a letter to Danby, promised his "reddyness to be your [i.e Danby's] Baile, and this day I was reddy in ye House to be soe." Many of the letters concern administrative and diplomatic matters, but there is some political gossip and intrigue as well. Roger Boyle (1621-1679), Earl of Orrery, wrote such a letter to Danby with the names in cipher. Fortunately, Danby decoded the cipher and wrote a key, which is with the letter. Another letter of interest, also partially in cipher, was sent to Danby by Arthur Capel (1631-1683), Earl of Essex.
Series II, Danby Papers , c. 1660-1710, consists of memoranda, drafts, and other documents from various aspects of Danby's political career. Of particular note are the papers relating to the Popish Plot, including extracts of letters of Edward Coleman, and papers concerning Danby's subsequent impeachment. Also of interest is the list of supporters and opponents in the House of Lords drawn up by Danby while he was in the Tower. He divided the Lords temporal into three columns: those Lords "for my Baile; " those "against;" and those "neuter." Not willing to leave the possible question of bail to chance, Danby also sent a memorandum of private instructions with the list and advised the bearer to "show this List of the Lords to any of the Lords abovenamed, but to no others, & I would have you keep this list to yourselfe." Together, the list and instructions provide an indication of Danby's supporters and enemies as he perceived them during his imprisonment. The series includes documents from Danby's tenure as Secretary of the Navy, mainly memoranda of expenditures; papers from Treasury, particularly for the expenses of the royal household in 1673 1675, copies of the civil list for 1696 and 1708; and an estimate for the remodeling of St. Paul's Cathedral, 1708. The series also includes memoranda and correspondence relating to the activities of the West Riding Militia, primarily 1670-80; miscellaneous documents related to affairs of state, 1670 -1700; and other papers including a piece of Tory propaganda entitled "Narrative of the growth of Whigg" from the 1690s.
Series III, Later Osborne and Godolphin Papers , 1684-1748, contains correspondence and papers concerning family matters as well as affairs of state. These include letters to Danby's son, Viscount Latimer (1674-89) and to Thomas 4th Duke of Leeds (1713-89); correspondence and wills of Sir William Godolphin (1634?-1696) and his sister Penelope; and letters to Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl Godolphin (1645-1712).
- 1661 - 1748
- Majority of material found within 1661 - 1684
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
THOMAS OSBORNE, EARL OF DANBY (1631/32-1712)
As chief minister to Charles II, Danby became one of the most powerful men in English politics during the 1670s. Proud and ambitious, the Earl had few friends. Instead, he concentrated his efforts on organizing a Court party which served the Cavalier and Church interests. He was active in foreign affairs and attempted to secure the permanent adoption of a Protestant and anti-French policy. However, he failed to gain the support of Charles II, who directed the Lord Treasurer to accept subsidies from France as the price for English neutrality in the wars fought by Louis XIV.
In 1678, Danby pressed for an investigation into an alleged conspiracy against the king, the government and the Protestant religion, an episode which became known as the Popish Plot. He was responsible for securing a warrant to obtain copies of the papers of Edward Coleman, a suspected intriguer, an action which had consequences for his own political security.
The Popish Plot gave Danby's enemies a chance to strike. In December 1678, the Privy Council ordered the seizure of political and diplomatic papers belonging to Ralph Montagu, the former ambassador in Paris. The papers contained highly damaging letters written by the Lord Treasurer which revealed the French subsidy to an outraged House of Commons. Danby was accused of high treason and charged with endeavoring to introduce arbitrary government. He was described as "popishly affected" and was said to have concealed the Plot. Danby was committed to the Tower of London and refused bail by the House of Commons. He resigned from his office as Lord Treasurer in March 1679.
Danby remained in the Tower for five years, during which time he made unremitting efforts to secure his freedom, appealing to both the king and Parliament. He finally was released on bail in 1684. The order of impeachment against him was annulled a year later.
In subsequent years, Danby took an active part in opposition to the government. He was one of the seven noblemen to sign an invitation to Prince William of Orange in 1688. After the Revolution, he served as the Lord President of the Council (1688-99). He was disliked by many of his fellow courtiers, one of whom described the earl as "a thin, ill-natured ghost that haunts the king" (DNB, p. 1195).
In 1689 he was created Marquis of Carmarthen and in 1694 he became Duke of Leeds. He served as the Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding (1674-79, 1689-99), the East Riding (1691-99), and of the North Riding (1692-99). He married, in 1653, Bridget, 2nd daughter of Montagu Bertie, 2nd Earl of Lindsey, and had five daughters and three sons, among them Edward, Viscount Latimer (1655-89), and Peregrine, 2nd Duke of Leeds (1659-1734). He died on July 26, 1712 at the age of 81 and was buried at Harthill, in Yorkshire.
- Boyle, Roger, Earl of Orrery, 1621-1679
- Buckingham, George Villiers, Duke of, 1628-1687
- Coleman, Edward, -1678
- England and Wales. Sovereign (1660-1685 : Charles II)
- Essex, Arthur Capel, Earl of, 1631-1683
- Fairfax, Henry
- Fitzharris, Edward, 1648?-1681
- Godolphin, William, Sir, 1634?-1696
- Great Britain -- Court and courtiers
- Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- 1660-1688
- Great Britain -- Foreign relations -- France
- Great Britain -- History -- Charles II, 1660-1685
- Great Britain -- Politics and government -- 1660-1688
- Great Britain. Parliament. House of Lords
- Leeds, Thomas Osborne, Duke of, 1631-1712
- Lloyd, William, 1627-1717
- Loudon, Hugh Campbell, Earl of, d. 1731
- Nottingham, Daniel Finch, Earl of, 1647-1730
- Popish Plot, 1678
- Shrewsbury, Charles Talbot, Duke of, 1660-1718
- Sunderland, Robert Spencer, Earl of, 1640-1702
- Treaties of Nijmegen (1678-1679)
- Guide to the The Danby Papers
- Under Revision
- by Beinecke Staff
- March 1995
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
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