Lot 844
  • 844

Wentworth, Peter

8,000 - 12,000 USD
8,125 USD
bidding is closed


  • Wentworth, Peter
  • [A Pithie Exhortation to her Majestie for establishing her successor to the crowne]
  • vellum
Scribal manuscript in a single secretary hand, contemporary foliation, with two notes in later hands on original front free endpapers ("felicem fuisse summa est infelicitas" and "Peter Wentworth his booke of successor yf I be nott deceaved"), 140 pages, 4to (125 x 160 mm), probably 1590s; tears to first few leaves, neat repairs, slight damp damage. Modern vellum.


Hamill & Barker, 1962

Catalogue Note

"...in this House which is termed a place of free speech there is nothing so necessary for the preservation of the prince and state as free speech, and without it it is a scorn and mockery to call it a Parliament house..." (Peter Wentworth, speech in the House of Commons, 8 February 1576).

A contemporary scribal copy of the most inflammatory work by the most forthright defender of free speech of the Elizabethan parliament. Peter Wentworth wrote his Pithie Exhortation shortly after the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587. The tract, which is written in remarkably frank language, advised the Queen to name her chosen successor in Parliament, a flagrant encroachment on the royal prerogative that was certain to infuriate Elizabeth. He attempted to offer it to Parliament in 1589. When that failed he presented copies to the Earl of Essex and Lord Burghley, hoping that they would pass it on to the Queen and justifying his forthright language in a letter to Burghley with the claim that "The wounds of a lover are faithful, and kisses of an enemy are deceitful." In 1593 he attempted to raise the succession in Parliament once more, and was imprisoned in the Tower for his trouble. He refused to retract his arguments, as to do so would be to give his Queen "a most detestable Judas-kiss," and a result he was imprisoned until his death in 1597. The tract was finally printed in Edinburgh a year later (STC 25245), when it was presented as supporting James VI's claim to the succession.