Renaissance English Text Society (RETS), Vol. XXIX
The Commonplace Book of Sir John Strangways
Sir John Strangways (1585–1666), a Royalist MP for Dorset, Weymouth, and Melcombe Regis, took up arms against the Parliamentarian troops of Sir Thomas Fairfax at the siege of Sherborne Castle on 15 August 1645. He was soon after brought before the House of Commons on charges of high treason and was imprisoned in the Tower of London until his release on 15 May 1648. During and after his incarceration, Strangways kept a commonplace book in which he gathered together the conventional wisdom of his age, assembled arguments for his political and moral views, versified biblical and devotional writings, and recorded his original poems. The manuscript is of particular interest because of the range of materials Strangways assembled in these pages: expressions of moral philosophy are organized alongside detailed, careful defenses of the Stuart monarchy, the established church, and the rule of law.
This critical edition of Strangways's manuscript, an important literary and historical document of nearly 300 leaves, contains a transcription of the entire commonplace book, an account of all textual properties, and a detailed critical commentary. The edition’s substantial introduction is by far the most extensive biographical and critical assessment of Strangways to date, though in the last two decades several important studies of seventeenth-century English political life have made selective uses of the manuscript. This edition will prove valuable for historians and literary critics generally, and particularly for specialists in the history of parliament, English law, and the seventeenth-century church, as well scholars of the Civil War and Interregnum periods.