Auction 23148  31 May 2023
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Lot 127

Starting price: 500 GBP
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"Sitting alone upon my thought in melancholy mood, In sight of sea, and at my back an ancient hoary wood, I saw a fair young lady come, her secret fears to wail, Clad all in colour of a nun...." (Anne Vavasour's Echo (c. 1581), by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, , An Important Early Jacobean Mint Document Signed by the First Occupier of 10 Downing Street, 'Discoverer of Guy Fawkes' and Foiler of the Gunpowder Plot, Tutor to Princess Mary, and Patron of Thomas Potts' 1612 Work on the Pendle Hill and Samlesbury Witch Trials, , Sir Thomas Knyvet, Warden of the Royal Mint under King James I, Tower of London, , 24 April (Jas. II), , , The right honourable the Lord High Treasurer of England and Barons of the Exchequer, and to all other officers and mynisters for the receipt of the First payment of the Fourth Subsidye of the Fower whole Subsidies graunted to our Late soverign Lady Queene Elizabeth in ye XLIIJth yeare of her highness Reigne.". The documents continues: "I Sir Thomas Knyvett knight, Warden over of his highness' mint within his Tower of London doe rectify to you and every of you by this note{?]. That, by vertue of his highness' personal seal it is granted to his Warden, workmen, moneyers and cunifers of the Mint, I the said Warden am freed and dyscharged from the said First payment of the Fourth Subsidie ... and every or any pte thereof in the Citty of Westminster or elsewhere wthin the County of Midd[lesex]. In witness whereof I the said Warden have hereunto set my hand and seale of office. Given at the Mint the xxiiiith day of April 1604 and in the Second yeare of the happy Reigne of our most gracyous sovereigne Lord Kinge James". Signed "Tho: Knyvett"., some general foxing and minor paper loss though an unusual document, very rare and of great historic importance as signed by the discoverer of Guy Fawkes and patron of Potts' 1612 classic "The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster".
From the Mayflower Collection
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Sir Thomas Knyvett, 1st Baron Knyvet of Escrick (c.1545 - 27 July 1622) was the son of Sir Henry Knyvet of Charlton, Wiltshire, and Anne Pickering, daughter of Sir Christopher Pickering, through whose niece he was connected with Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Suffolk. He was appointed a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Queen Elizabeth I. Knyvet's London townhouse, leased to him from 1581, was the first known dwelling to occupy the site of what is now 10 Downing Street, then rather appropriately known as Knyvet House. The house was described by the parliamentary commissioners in 1650 as: "...built part wth Bricke and part wth Tymber and Flemish qalle and covered with Tyle, consistinge of a Large and spacious hall, wainscoted round, well Lighted, and Paved wth brick Pavements, two parls whereof one is Wainscoted round from the seelinge to ye floor, one Buttery, one seller, one Large kitchen well paved with stone and well fitted and Joynted and well fitted wth dreser boards...."And above stayres in the first story one large and spacious dyneinge Roome, Wainscoted round from the seelinge to the floore, well flored, Lighted and seeled, and fitted wth a faire Chimney wth a foote pace of Paynted Tyle in the same. Also 6 more Roomes and 3 Closetts in the same flore all well lighted and seeled. And in the second story 4 garretts..." [sic]. Re-leased for the remainder of his life, it passed to his niece Elizabeth Hampden, aunt of Oliver Cromwell, whereupon it became known as Hampden House. In 1682, George Downing redeveloped the site to the familiar premises of the Prime Minister seen today. Knyvet was installed as Master-at-Arms in 1592 and served as Warden of the Royal Mint from 1599 to 1621, and much like his successor a century later - Sir Isaac Newton - would dually serve as a Member of Parliament (for Thetford), from 1601.
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Shortly prior to the penning of this important Mint document, Knyvet was ordered by the new King to appraise the old jewels of Elizabeth I. On Christmas Eve 1603, he brought to Hampton Court some chests of jewels which he had kept at Westminster Palace on the instructions of the late Queen. Four chests had been the responsibility of Katherine Howard, Countess of Nottingham. The other boxes were opened and then examined. After discussion, some jewels were sent to goldsmiths for valuation and others were exchanged for new pieces of jewellery such as one with a large table ruby and two great lozenge diamonds. He was knighted at the Tower on 14 March 1603/4, a month before this offering was written.
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As keeper of the Palace at Westminster and Magistrate of Middlesex, Knyvett, acted upon the correspondence shared with the King by Lord Monteagle warning of a blast at the State Opening of Parliament on 5 November 1605. Knyvet duly led the search of Parliament's cellars and was the first to apprehend Guy Fawkes on the 4 November 1605. The scene was subsequently romanticised by Henry Perronet-Briggs in his 1823 work entitled 'The Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot and the Taking of Guy Fawkes' held by Laing Art Gallery [TWCMS : B8115].
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After foiling the plot, Knyvet was given charge of the education of the short-lived Princess Mary, third daughter and sixth child of King James and Anne of Denmark. By Royal grant of a peerage, he entered the House of Lords as Baron Knyvet of Escrick, Yorkshire in 1607. He was appointed a Privy Councillor and member of the council to Queen Anne for his faithful service.
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Throughout his life, Knyvet maintained a long-running feud with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Knyvet's niece, Anne Vavasour, was the Earl's mistress, and on 21 March 1581 bore his illegitimate son, Edward Vere. Oxford swore to kill Knyvet 'for spekeinge evell of him to his nece'. On numerous occasions, servants on either side were killed, and on one occasion, Knyvett allegedly wounded Oxford in the thigh. The affair is recalled in a Poem entitled 'Anne Vavasour's Echo' (c. 1581), attributed to the 17th Earl and Anne herself.
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Both he and the King were present for the Trial of the Pyx in 1611, and was a guest of honour at the funeral of Prince Henry of Wales the following year. When Lord Knyvet died in July 1622, his will provided for the foundation of a free-school in Stanwell - the Lord Knyvet School, founded in 1624. A traditional Jacobean alabaster effigy of him and his wife features in the chancel of St Mary's parish church, Stanwell.
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For further reading, see: "Monstrous Adversary: The Life of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford", A H Nelson, August 2003, Liverpool Scholarship Online, pp. 281-287
Estimate: £600 - £1000
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