COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND. Two documents on vellum, illuminated letters patent signed by Francis Rous as 'Speaker of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of England' addressed to 'The High and Mighty Emperour Sultan Mahomet Han [Mehmed IV (1641-1692)] Chiefe Lord & Commander of the Mussulman Kingdom, Sole & Supream Monarch of the Eastern Empire' and 'To the High Excellent Lord, the Vizier Bassa to the Grand Seign[eur]' [the Grand Vizier, Koca Dervish Mehmed Pasha], Westminster, 31 August 1653, letters of credential of Richard Lawrence as 'caya' (agent) at the Sublime Porte, the ambassador, Sir Thomas Bendish, 2nd Bart, being recalled and his replacement not yet ready to depart from London; Lawrence will 'signifie unto you that They [the Parliament] being by the Providence of GOD devolved into, and setled in the forme of a Common-Wealth, are desirous to Mantayne and conserve the Amitie, and good Correspondency, with mutuall Trade and Commerce which hath been so long time continued between [us]', and concluding with a request to the Sultan to dismiss Bendish so that he may make his account to Parliament in London, in English, decorated borders in liquid gold and colours, with heraldic symbols of England, Scotland, Ireland and Ulster as well as landscape and seascape vignettes (six on the first document, two on the second) in an elaborate foliate setting (incorporating two human figures in the second document), approx 725 x 885mm and 620 x 690mm (some damp damage, more marked to the Mehmed IV document, with limited flaking, cracking and losses to vellum), decorated address panels, framed and glazed.
The documents were issued during the short-lived 'Barebone's Parliament', which sat from 4 July to 12 December 1653. In the end, neither Lawrence nor the intended replacement ambassador, Richard Salway, ever took up their appointments: Bendish, who had only taken up his own appointment in 1647 after having his predecessor forcibly removed by boat and had no wish to relinquish his post, addressed a masterly letter to Cromwell's secretary, John Thurloe, warning that the replacement of an ambassador by a mere 'caya' would harm the Levant Company's prestige, and that Parliament's fulsome expression of thanks for 'courtesies and respects' would only encourage the Ottomans to treat the English even worse than they already did. Lawrence's audience with the Sultan was delayed indefinitely, and in the end Bendish remained ambassador until recalled by Charles II in 1660 (Daniel Goffman. Britons in the Ottoman Empire, 1642-1660, 1998). The signatory, Speaker Francis Rous, was Provost of Eton College from 1644 until his death in 1659. (2)