Your Majesty’s Most Humble Servant: The Earl of Oxford’s Last Letter

Posted By on December 21, 2009

The Earl of Oxford's final surviving letter, to James I, Jan. 30, 1603. Copyright, private collection, UK. Please do not reproduce without permission.

The Earl of Oxford's final surviving letter, to James I, Jan. 30, 1603. Copyright, private collection, UK. Please do not reproduce without permission.

As some readers are aware,  a question lurks over the de Vere Bible: who is responsible for the handwriting — and therefore the underlining and other notations —  it contains?  Contradictory statements by some scholars dedicated to the traditional view of Shakespearean authorship have confused the issue.

In the coming weeks, therefore, I will be reproducing a number of samples of de Vere’s handwriting, both in the form of complete documents such as the present Jan. 30, 1603 letter to King James, and in the form of detailed paleographical analysis, that will allow the reader to form his or her own judgment on the matter.

I am pleased to offer this first sample, kindness the English owner, who preferred to remain anonymous. A transcript appears below. I will defer further comment until a later time.

Seinge yt yt hathe pleased yowre Magestye of yowre moste gratious inclinatione to[ward]
Justice & ryght to restore me to be keper of yowre game as well in yowre forest
Waltham, as also in Haveringe parke I can doo no lesse in dwtye and love t[o]
Yowre Magestye, but imploye my selfe in the executione thereof. And to the end
yow myght the better knowe in what sorte boothe the forreste, & the parke have be[ene]
Abused, and yet continued, as well in distroyinge of the Dere, as in spoylinge of yowre
demesne woode, by suche as have patents, & had lycenses heretore for sellinge of Tymb[er]
in the Quienes tyme latlye deceasede, præsuminge therby that they may doo what they
lyste. I was bowlde to send unto yowre Magestye a man skillfull, lerned, & experiencede in foreste causes, who being a dweller and eyewytnes therof myght informe yowe of the
truthe. And because yowre Mtye vpon a bare informatione, cowlde not be so well
satisfyde of every particular as by laufull testemonye & examinatione of credible
wytnese vpon othe, accordinge to yowre Magestyes appoyntmente by commissione
a course hathe bene taken, In which yowre Magestyes shalbe fully satisfysde of [the]
truthe. This commissione together wth the depositiones of the witnes I doo sende to [illeg.]
yowre Mtye by ys bearer, whoo brieflye can informe yow of the whole contence. So yt
now, hauinge laufullye provede unto yowre Magestye yt Sr John Graye hathe kylled
and destroyedge yowre Dere in Haveringe parke wythoute any warrante for the same
hys patent us voyde in lawe, & therefore I moste humblye beseche yowre Magestye
to make hym an example for all others that shall in leke sort abuse there places &
to restore me to the possession thereofe, in boothe whiche yowre Mtye shall doo but
Justice and ryght to the one & other. This 30 of Januarie 1603.

Yowre Magestyes



Subiect and


E Oxenforde

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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