JOHN RUSHWORTH (c. 1612 - 1690)
'Historical John' as Carlyle called him, was born at Acklington Park, Warkworth. His great claim to fame lies in the 8 volumes of Historical Collections (1659-70), compiled from shorthand notes taken down at actual meetings of the Star Chamber, Exchequer Chamber and Parliament, covering the period down to 1648. Rushworth had been appointed assistant clerk to the Long Parliament in 1640, and was there when King Charles came to arrest the five members; he made notes of the king's speech, which Charles ordered to be published. Rushworth similarly recorded the trial of Strafford.
Rushworth was often employed as messenger between king and parliament and was appointed secretary to Sir Thomas Fairfax (1645-48). He wrote an eye-witness account of the Battle of Naseby, and was later secretary to Cromwell for a short time. He sat several times as parliamentary representative for Berwick and was also a freeman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The Historical Collections are regarded as the most valuable source available for the study of the Civil War, but Rushworth's influence was also present during the constitutional arguments that raged between the American colonists and the British government in the period leading up to the American War of Independence. 'What we did,' said Thomas Jefferson, 'was with the help of Rushworth, whom we rummaged over for revolutionary precedents of those days.'
According to the Harleian MS. 7524 (says Isaac D'Israeli in his Curiosities of Literature), when Rushworth presented the king with several of the Privy Council's books, which he had preserved from ruin, he received for his only reward the thanks of his majesty.
John Aubrey records seeing Rushworth in 1689: 'He hath quite lost his memory with drinking Brandy... His landlady wiped his nose like a child. He was about 83, onwards to 84. He had forgot his children before he died.
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Presently Collecting a set of Rushworth's Historical Collections. The Following is a description of Books in my Collection plus some notes from the Internet. Looking for the Fourth and Last Part in two vols., 1701.
The first great collection of English state papers is that of John Rushworth, who was appointed clerk-assistant to the House of Commons in April, 1640, and secretary to the council of war in 1645. Whatever may have been their political bias, his labours, if only because of their priority to all others in the same field in England, would deserve the lasting gratitude of all students of English history. But his Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, and Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments, of which the first volume, extending from 1618 to 1629, was published in the year before the restoration, were no mere tentative beginning. The author's design was both comprehensive and deeply thought out. Being desirous of furnishing a faithful account of the contention between the advocates of prerogative and those of liberty which "gave the Alarm to a Civil War," and for which he was in possession of an unusual abundance of materials, he resolved to devote his attention mainly, though not exclusively, to the domestic struggle, and, since, with regard to this, he found forgery and fiction rampant in the unbridled pamphlet literature of the age, to make the documents on which his narrative was based the substantial part of his work. Thus, in this and the following seven volumes of this edition (Part One, 1 Vol; 1659, reprint 1682, Part Two in 2 Vols 1680, Part Three in 2 Vols 1692, Part Four in 2 Vols 1701, Tryall of Strafford 1680), he set the first example of pragmatic history to be found in our literature, and reviewed, under the searchlight of first-hand evidence, a period whose records ran the risk of being permanently distorted by a partisanship that cleft the very depths of the national life.
His "Historical Collections" were highly extolled by Coke, Rapin, Oldmixon, and other favourers of Puritanism: while Tory writers have condemned them as extremely partial; and John Nalson, LL. D. by the command of king Charles II. published a history to bring them into discredit. The writers of the "Parliamentary History" have also framed a long list of his mistakes, which, however, they attribute rather to the negligence and ignorance of transcribers, than to wilful misrepresentations. No doubt, Rushworth's partialities and personal attachments sometimes entered into his work. Besides, the first part underwent various alterations under the revisal of Whitelock at the request of Oliver Cromwell.
RUSHWORTH, John Historical Collections,Of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments, Beginning The Sixteenth Year of King James, Anno 1618, And ending the Fifth Year of King Charls, Anno 1629, Digested in Order of Time, And now Published by John Rushworth of Lincolns-Inn, Esq. London, Printed by J.A. for Robert Boulter at the Turks-head in Cornhill, 1682. 3 plates; A Frontispiece of King James I, A portrait of King Charles I and a folding engraved map of England, that features 16 historical event panels and a large birds eye view of the battle of Naseby. Preface, Index, 691pp., Appendix, 57pp. Complete. Originally published in 1659, this is the unstated Second Edition, and the last book published during Rushworth's lifetime. It contains a newly engraved fold out map. Index with some worming. In original full calf, cracked, dried, holding by the cords.
RUSHWORTH, John Historical Collections. The Second Part. Containing the Principal Matters Which Happened from the Dissolution of the Parliament, 10th March 4. Car. I. 1628/9 Until the Summoning of another Parliament which met at Westminster April 13. 1640. With an Account of the Proceedings of That Parliament; and the Transactions and Affairs from that Time, until the meeting of Another Parliament, November the 3d following. With some Remarkable Passages therin during the first six months. Impartially related and disposed in Annals. Setting forth only Matters of fact in Order of Time, Without Observation or Reflection. By John Rushworth of Lincolns-Inn, Esq. London: Printed by J.D. for John Wright at the Crown at Ludgate-hill, and Richard Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1680. First Edition. Two Volumes. With four engraved portrait plates. Vol 1, with three engraved portrait plates including the frontis portrait of Charles I by R. White, portrait of William Laud by R. White and portrait of James Duke of Hamilton, viii, 884pp., Vol 2, with one engraved portrait of Sr Thomas Wentworth Kt. Earle of Strafforde by R. White, pages 885 - 1388, appendix 315pp, followed by an alphabetical table of principal matters, 16pp. Vol 2 was issued without a separate title page but does feature a illustrated Initial at the start of p885.
Complete. In original full calf, boards dried and cracked, holding by the cords.
RUSHWORTH, John Historical Collections. The Third Part; in Two Volumes. Containing the Principal Matters Which Happened from the Meeting of the Parliament, November the 3d. 1640. To the End of the Year 1644. Wherein is a particular Account of the Rise and progress of the Civil War to that period: Impartially related. Setting forth only Matters of fact in Order of Time, Without Observation or Reflection. With Alphabetical Tables. By John Rushworth late of Lincolns-Inn, Esq;. Fitted for the Press in his Life-time. Licensed, Novemb. 11, 1691. London: Printed for Richard Chiswell and Thomas Cockerill, at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, and at the Three Legs over-against the Stocks-Market. MDCXCII (1692) Vol I, Title page, To the Reader , 788p, The Table , Vol II: Title page, 988p., The Table  Last page of table has list of published books that carries over to reverse. Vol I in fine clean crisp condition. Vol II moderate water soiling especially severe towards end of book. Next to last page of table missing piece out of centre of page. Last page of table and book list has loss of text with crude paper repairs.
RUSHWORTH, John The Tryal of Thomas Earl of Strafford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Upon Impeachment of High Treason by the Commons then Assembled in Parliament, in the Name of Themselves and All the Commons in England: Begun in Westminster hall the 22th of March 1640 And continued before Judgment was Given until the 10th of May 1641. Shewing the form of Parliamentary proceedings for an impeachment of Treason. To which is added a Short account of Some Other Matters of Fact Transacted in Both Houses of Parliament, Precedent, Concomitant and Subsequent to the said Tryal. With some Special Arguments in Law relating to a Bill of Attainder. Faithfully Collected and Impartially Published , Without Observation or Reflection, by John Rushworth of Lincolnes-Inn, Esq Printed for John Wright at the Crown on Ludgate-Hill, and Richard Chiswell at the Rose and Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1680. First Edition. Frontis portrait of Sr Thomas Wentworth Kt. Earle of Strafforde by R. White. [vii], 786pp including The Table p779 - p786. Small Folio. 30 x 20.5cm. Recent quarter leather with marbled boards. Raised bands, blind ruled, blind stamped decorations to panels, original 17th century label. Contents clean.
Thomas Wentworth (1593-1641), a long time opponent of Parliament, was called back to England from Ireland where he was Charles I's lord deputy and was made the Earl of Strafford. Known in Ireland as 'Black Tom Tyrant,' he successfully and ruthlessly suppressed the Irish. The English and Scots feared the same. It was Wentworth who convinced the King to call Parliament in 1640 (the Short Parliament) in order to acquire money to subdue the Scots. But Parliament rejected the request and so was ended after only three weeks in session. Strafford along with Laud was arrested in November by the Long Parliament. He was accused of high treason. No proof was forthcoming and Strafford defended himself magnificently. So Parliament passed an act of attainder, which did not require proof of guilt, but simply condemned the accused to death. Charles, out of fear for his life, signed the bill. On the day of execution 200,000 watched as Strafford was beheaded on Tower Hill.
John Rushworth was bred to the law, but neglected that profession, and applied himself with great assiduity to state affairs. He was not only an eye and ear-witness, but a considerable agent in some of the most important transactions during the civil war. His "Historical Collections" are a work of great labour: but he did not only employ his industry to collect facts, but also to conceal and disguise them. His books are very useful to the readers, as well as writers of our history; but they must be read with extreme caution. It is an unhappy circumstance for an historian to write under the influence of such as cannot bear the truth. Rushworth's compilation was carried on under the eye, and submitted to the correction, of Cromwell. Hence it is, that he has omitted whatever could give offence, and inserted whatever he thought would be agreeable to his patron. Ob. 12 May, 1690.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.