Letter of 1566 bearing Queen Mary I’s signature – £19,000 at Forum.

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Forum’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) May 26 sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper included a letter from ‘Marye the Quene’ to her Keeper of the Privy Seal, Lord Paget.

Sent from St James’s Palace on June 7, 1556, the queen commands Paget to send messages to a number of exiled courtiers commanding them to return “with all celeritie to repaire into this our Realme of England… And then to answer to all such matters as shall at yor coming… nat failing hereof uppon the faith and allegiance ye owe and beare unto us”.

The list of recipients includes well known Protestants such as Sir William Wroth (who had proclaimed Lady Jane Grey as queen), Sir William Stafford (second husband of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn), Sir Henry Neville (groom of the bedchamber under Henry VIII) and Jane Wilkinson (friend of Thomas Cranmer.

These orders were delivered personally by messengers on behalf of the queen, and would have posed a grave threat to the recipients.

By 1556 Mary I had executed, usually by burning at the stake, 123 people who had refused to recant their Protestant opinions. It is therefore not surprising that none of the people listed were prepared to return.

As a document that goes to the heart of the Marian doctrine of chasing down and eliminating opponents, it was guided at £8000-10,000 but sold at £19,000.

Canadiana highlight

Under the headline ‘A landmark of Canadiana rediscovered in an attic’, one other exceptional lot in the auction was the subject of a News report in ATG No 2546.

Bid to £130,000, it comprised two suites of six hand-coloured aquatint and etched views, one group focused on Niagara Falls and the other on Quebec. Published by Ackermanns in 1833, the views were the work of Major General James Pattison (1779-1847), a military artist and topographical draughtsman.

Four other lots from the very many attractions presented in the Forum sale are noted here in the picture caption stories.