Armes & Memoires of ffamilies in Lincolnshire

Item author: Maurice Johnson
Item date: 1720-1747
Grant Value: £5,000
Item cost: £7,440
Item date acquired: 2014
Item institution: Spalding Gentlemen's Society
Town/City: Spalding
County: Lincolnshire

The full title for these manuscripts is , Armes & Memoires of ffamilies in Lincolnshire. Collected from Authentick Records, Rolls, MSS, & other Monuments of Antiquity & Creditt, & Authors cited.

These manuscripts came from the same owner, who possessed them by descent from Maurice Johnson, founder of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, they had never previously come on the market.  With generous financial assistance from the Friends of the National Libraries, we were able to acquire the two lots of greatest interest.  One, The Poll for the Election of Burgesses for the Burrough of Stamford, 1734, was fully funded by FNL and this was largely funded.

Maurice Johnson’s 'Armes & Memoires of ffamilies in Lincolnshire’ is an exceptional example of early eighteenth-century antiquarian practice.  The manuscript volume bears a bookplate dated 1735, but was probably begun by Johnson c. 1720 and continued by him at least until 1747.  It contains genealogical and historical materials relating to the families in his wide circle of antiquarian, professional and social acquaintance.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson's own lineage occupies more leaves than any other and contains pedigrees of the various branches of the Johnson family tree. With his own impressive library resources, Johnson's presentation of the findings of his researches into his own family's past sheds light on the way in which he carried out his studies. The volume also contains eleven loose items, including a letter written by one of Johnson's ancestors, a genealogical note by one of his descendants and Victorian and Edwardian additions in a variety of hands.

'Armes and Memoires’ can be said to be a kind of latter-day Myntling Register, as it illustrates the social and cultural history of Spalding and the surrounding area after the dissolution. It complements the Society's collection of almost 600 letters, many written by Society members named in the volume, and sheds new light on the Society's original minute books and 17th- and 18th-century collections and provides critical context for the thousands of manuscripts related to Lincolnshire's history and people added to the Society's collections in the three centuries since its foundation. This rich and idiosyncratic volume is part presentation manuscript, part commonplace book, part repository and part starting point for generations of antiquarian research.

Images courtesy of Spalding Gentlemen's Society