ELIZABETH I (1533-1603), Queen of England and Ireland. Autograph letter signed ('Your maistres Elizabeth R') to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton ('frogmorton'), 23 July n.y. , half page, folio, integral address leaf ('To o[u]r trustie and welbeloved S[i]r Nycholas Throckm[or]ton Knight o[u]r [am]bassador to o[u]r good [bro]ther the French King w[ith] hast'), (seal slits, seal tear, remnants of label to lower margin, a few punctures, some wear to right margin, general light speckling, address leaf worn at folds). Provenance: docketed by the recipient's son, Sir Arthur Throckmorton; presumably to Sir Henry Wooton, and by mid-18th Century to the library of Nicholas Hardinge or Alexander Strahan (see below); collection of Charles T. Jeffery of Merrion, Pennsylvania; and by descent.
URGENT NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE THE FALL OF LE HAVRE. In the elliptical style characteristic of her autograph letters, Elizabeth urges Throckmorton to bring his negotiations concerning 'New have[n]' [i.e. Le Havre] to a speedy conclusion, emphasising the importance of the matter:
'As your charge frogmorton given you in instruct[ion] was to attende the resolut answer fro[m] New have[n] So new advertisment makes new determination in suche sort as We thinke it more than time, that the matter wer take[n] up with all possible spede lest had I wist come to far behind as fitteth most of our natio[n]. Prosecute therfore your former negotiatio[n] with all possible spide. Considar how muche it toucheth our honor our mens lives and my particular co[m]fort: Scribled with my owne racked hand this 23 day of Julye Your maistres Elizabeth R'.
Thockmorton had been ambassador in France since 1559, and although his earliest brief involved ending French influence in Scotland and regaining English control of Calais, he became increasingly involved in the Huguenot cause, and in 1562 had negotiated the offer of Le Havre to England in return for military aid to the Huguenots: the port (founded only in 1517 by Francois I and hence still referred to as 'New Haven') was occupied by an English force from October 1562, but by the summer of 1563 this was much diminished by French attacks and an outbreak of the plague, and it was to fall to the French on 27 July 1563, only a few days after this letter. The new information to which the Queen refers is likely to be news of the critical situation of the garrison (on which the commander, Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, had written on 15 July), and this may explain not only the urgency of her tone, but also the highly unusual fact, to which she draws attention in her last sentence, that the letter is written in autograph (something usually reserved for letters to fellow monarchs): the matter under negotiation was very probably the terms of surrender of the garrison.
Throckmorton's extensive diplomatic papers were entrusted by his son, Sir Arthur Throckmorton, to Sir Henry Wootton, who bequeathed them to Charles I, but by some means they came into private hands and were when consulted by Dr Patrick Forbes (A Full View of the Public Transactions in the Reign of Qu. Elizabeth (1741)) in the possession of Nicholas Hardinge, Clerk of the House of Commons, and of Alexander Strahan, of Hampstead, whose libraries were sold in 1759 and 1767 respectively (see BL Manuscripts catalogue, Addn Mss 35,830). The papers for the early part of Throckmorton's French embassy (up to January 1563) eventually found their way to the British Library as part of the Hardwicke papers (Addn mss 35,830-35,831). The present manuscript and lot 83 formed part of the celebrated collection of Charles T. Jeffery, the majority of which was dispersed in four sales by Freeman's in Philadelphia, 1936.