The protestation return for the City and the County of the City of Coventry is preserved at the Parliamentary Archives at Westminster, England. 1,451 names of men aged eighteen and older are listed on three sheets, approximately eight times the number found on lay subsidy rolls for Coventry from the 1620s.
Except for five signatures at the end, the names appear to have been written at the same time by the same hand. The first two sheets consist of eight columns of from sixty-two to eighty names apiece. The third sheet begins with four and one-third columns of a like number of names, but names from the suburban hamlets and the parishes and towns outside the city are in two wider columns.
The names are grouped by ward, which are in the same sequence used in the lay subsidy rolls of 1625 to 1628: Gosford street, Jordenwell, Muchparke street, Earle street, Baylie lane, Broadgate, Smythford street, Spon street, Crosscheaping, and Bishop street; after which follow the names of the ministers in the city; the names of the inhabitants of two suburbs: Keresley in the parish of St. Michael and Radford in the parish of Holy Trinity; and the names of the ministers, constables, churchwardens and overseers of five towns and parishes outside the city but within the County of the City of Coventry: Stoke, Exhall, Wiken, Follshill, and Ansty. At the end are the names of those who have not taken the oath, including two men identified as Papists. The return concludes with the signatures of the then current mayor Christopher Davenport (1641–42), Thomas Fasset, and former mayors Henry Million (1628–29), Godfrey Legg (1637–38) and Thomas Basnet (1636–37).
One signer, Sir Richard Skeffington, was a knight; eighty-seven (six percent) were called “Mr,” and two were called “gen[t]”. In the list of those who did not take the oath, one was called “Dr”, but the name was blotted out (if the title does not refer to the next name, this would be the 1,452nd); one, “esq”; and two, “gen[t]”. The transcription follows the original in offsetting titles to the left of given names.
Abbreviations in the return are not completely uniform. This online version expands most of the abbreviated given names, which appear in the original as follows:
“Junior” and “senior” are normally abbreviated as “senr” and “junr” and have been consistently transcribed as “junr” and “senr” .
Transcribed names have been capitalized throughout — almost all are in the original. Spellings reflect the original, including the almost universal use of double “l” (as in Samuell or Daniell) and the outdated order of “i” and “e” (as in Feild or Preist). A number of surnames usually include a mark indicating an omitted letter or letters. Instances with such a mark have been expanded and are identified in the text with a dagger (†) following the surname.
Clons although without an abbreviation mark, might also be short for “Clemmons.”
Gravener Graver, Gravner
A small number of abbreviations have been silently expanded: one instance each of “protestation” from “ptestation” and “Muchpark” from “Muchpk,” as well as “overseer” from “ovseer,” “parish” from “pish,” “persons” from “psons,” and “several” from “sevall.”
In the ward headings, a space has been added between the names of the wards and the words “street” or “lane”; text in brackets does not appear in the original.
The correct reading of most names is easy to determine. However, the transcriber admits to difficulty with more than a few — uncertain readings are indicated with an asterisk (*) and the troublesome characters are underlined. That does not imply, unfortunately, that the remaining readings are correct — it means simply that the writing looked clear enough for the transcriber to imagine his interpretation was correct.
Readers are encouraged to consult the original at the Parliamentary Archives or obtain a photocopy for further study.
The original return is held at the Parliamentary Archives under reference number HL/PO/JO/10/1/107.
The Parliamentary Archives (www.parliament.uk/archives) holds all surviving protestation returns.
Coventry Protestation Oath Return 1642
Eben W Graves
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