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The Collation

Interrogating a hermit

Three months ago the Folger was lucky enough to acquire a letter from Thomas Cromwell to George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury. I say lucky because while roughly 350 letters from Cromwell survive, almost all of them are at either the British Library or the National Archives in Kew, and only one other letter by him has been sold at auction in over 30 years. The Folger has some interesting promissory notes signed by Cromwell (see Hamnet), but no other letters.

The letter, signed by Cromwell, is about his examination of a hermit who had spoken traitorous words and responded to Cromwell’s questions with equivocating answers. Cromwell issued an indictment and sent the hermit back to the earl of Shrewsbury to be tried before the justices of Assize.


Thit article is very interesting. No doubt your blog is the best describing mss (context, transcription, the right words, etc)



Jorge Zevallos-Quiñones Pita — October 20, 2011

A belated update: I was working with a paleography class on this letter today, and after much discussion and OED consultation, we determined that the last word in line 7 is not “retoryn” but “renvoye,” which is an obsolete word which means “to send back.”

Heather Wolfe — August 15, 2012