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Queen Elizabeth died on 24 March, and William III on 8 March, those dates were at the time reckoned as being in the old years 1602 and 1701 respectively; and it has been argued that we should still use those dates instead of ante-dating the 1752 reform of the calendar, and saying that Elizabeth died in 1603 and William III in 1702. In order to prevent confusion, it is now customary to give both years for dates between 31 December and 25 March, and to say that Elizabeth died on 24 March, 1602-3, and William III on 8 March, 1701-2, the earlier year being the old style and the later the new. To be strictly accurate, we should also alter the day of the month, and say that Elizabeth died on 24 March, 1602-3 April, 1603, and William III on 8-18 March, 1701-2. This plan has been generally adopted in this volume, and on page 39, for instance, the Treaty of Westminster is dated “9-19 Feb., 1673-4." The earlier date, both of the day and year, is the old style, and the later the new; thus, our first extract, the Declaration of Breda, was actually dated 4 April, but according to the new or reformed style it is dated 14 April.
NOTES ON THE SOURCES.
The most important collection of official documents is that of the State Papers Domestic, which comprise 450 volumes for the reign of Charles II and 5 volumes for the reign of James II. These manuscripts are preserved at the Public Record Office, and are enumerated in “Lists and Indexes," No. 43; the manuscripts for Charles II's reign are calendared in 23 volumes. For the history of the entire period these documents afford the most comprehensive material, as they deal with religious, political, constitutional, social, and commercial affairs, and include letters to and from the king, the secretary of state, and other ministers. This miscellaneous collection of documents may be said to form the background for the records of individual departments of the government. The chief of these is the Privy Council register, volumes 54-72 (1660-88), which is preserved at the Public Record Office; its contents are indicated in a typewritten list to be found in the Literary Search Room. The council with its subordinate committees formed the centre of the administrative system, and, as its records show, it was employed by the king for the execution of law, the control of both trade and ecclesiastical affairs, and for the publication of his declarations and orders. The constitutional struggle of the period can be traced by means of these registers, if used in connexion with the "Statutes of the Realm." For example, the Privy Council register contains the Declaration of Indulgence of 1672, and the Statutes include the Test Act of the ensuing year, which reasserted the control of Parliament over ecclesiastical policy.
The “Statutes of the Realm," volumes 5 and 6, reveal the legislative work of the period. The acts quoted in this volume afford illustration of the predominant power of the king in 1660, of the increase in Parliamentary power (for example, by the
appropriation of supplies for the Dutch war) and of the consistently intolerant attitude of Parliament towards all Roman Catholics and Nonconformists. The journals of the House of Lords (volumes 11-14) and the journals of the House of Commons (volumes 8 and 9) include the preliminaries to the passing of bills, the articles of impeachment of such statesmen as Clarendon and Danby, the petitions of members and trading bodies, and, most important of all, the speeches of the king and the addresses of Parliament to his majesty. While these documents are official in the sense that the journals were compiled by the clerk of the parliaments acting under the supervision of a committee appointed by the house, the contemporary" Debates of the House of Commons, 1667-94," collected by Anchitel Grey, M.P. (published 1769), are only a private venture. They contain, however, an exceedingly valuable account of the discussions in the House of Commons, and were used as the basis of the “Parliamentary History," volume 4, edited by Cobbett (1809). The speeches of such members as Lord Russell, Sir William Coventry, William Sacheverell, and Colonel Birch prove that the Whigs were constructing a political programme in the years 1674-80, which they were ready to put into execution when the fear of civil war should pass.
Grey's “Debates" display the private member's interest in politics, which interest was shared by the leading men of the day. Vivid illustrations of political events are contained both in the writings of the great personages and in those of the less important party-pamphleteers and journalists. The Duke of York's ideal of monarchical absolutism and his reasoned hatred of Lord Shaftesbury are disclosed in his letters to the Prince of Orange, 1674-88. The letters covering the years 1674-78, 1684-88, may be found in State Papers Domestic, King William's Chest, Bundles III and IV Manuscripts at the Public Record Office), those for 1678 and 1679 are calendared in Historical Manuscripts Commission Report XV, Appendix 5, Savile-Foljambe Manuscripts, and those for 1680-82 form part of M. Groen van Prinsterer's " Archives ou Correspondance inédite de la Maison d'Orange Nassau."