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MILTON, John (1608-1674). Document with secretarial signature ('John Milton'), n.p., 5 May 1660, a deed of conveyance transferring to his friend Cyriack Skinner a treasury bond for £400, half page, folio, Milton's spreadeagle signet seal in red wax, at the foot of a document bearing two previous assignments of the same bond, the first by Alexander Scott to George Foxcroft, 29 June 1649, the second by Foxcroft to Milton himself, 13 May 1651, also bearing records of the twice-yearly interest payments of £16 due on the bond, and endorsements by the Excise Office on whom the bond was due, 3 pages, folio, bifolium, remnants of guards (losses at centre of outer margins on both leaves archivally repaired, some staining and spotting). Provenance: Samuel Weller Singer -- his sale at Sotheby's, 3 August 1858 (lot 75) -- Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton (1809-1885); and by descent.
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MILTON, John (1608-1674). Document with secretarial signature ('John Milton'), n.p., 5 May 1660, a deed of conveyance transferring to his friend Cyriack Skinner a treasury bond for £400, half page, folio, Milton's spreadeagle signet seal in red wax, at the foot of a document bearing two previous assignments of the same bond, the first by Alexander Scott to George Foxcroft, 29 June 1649, the second by Foxcroft to Milton himself, 13 May 1651, also bearing records of the twice-yearly interest payments of £16 due on the bond, and endorsements by the Excise Office on whom the bond was due, 3 pages, folio, bifolium, remnants of guards (losses at centre of outer margins on both leaves archivally repaired, some staining and spotting). Provenance: Samuel Weller Singer -- his sale at Sotheby's, 3 August 1858 (lot 75) -- Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton (1809-1885); and by descent.

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MILTON, John (1608-1674). Document with secretarial signature ('John Milton'), n.p., 5 May 1660, a deed of conveyance transferring to his friend Cyriack Skinner a treasury bond for £400, half page, folio, Milton's spreadeagle signet seal in red wax, at the foot of a document bearing two previous assignments of the same bond, the first by Alexander Scott to George Foxcroft, 29 June 1649, the second by Foxcroft to Milton himself, 13 May 1651, also bearing records of the twice-yearly interest payments of £16 due on the bond, and endorsements by the Excise Office on whom the bond was due, 3 pages, folio, bifolium, remnants of guards (losses at centre of outer margins on both leaves archivally repaired, some staining and spotting). Provenance: Samuel Weller Singer -- his sale at Sotheby's, 3 August 1858 (lot 75) -- Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton (1809-1885); and by descent.

THE BLIND MILTON FEARS FOR HIS LIFE. The biographical context of the document is extraordinarily dramatic: with the collapse of the Protectorate and on the eve of the Restoration (the Houses of Parliament had declared a return to monarchical government on 1 May), the deeply-compromised Milton, as a close supporter of Cromwell who had written in defence of the trial of Charles I, was urged by friends to go into hiding -- a course of action for which the £400 raised through the assignment of this bond to his close friend and former pupil Cyriack Skinner was to provide the means. Milton remained in hiding with an unidentified friend in West Smithfield for the whole of the summer -- a critical period when his books were ordered to be burnt by the public executioner, and possibly that evoked by the narrator of Paradise Lost in the lines 'In darkness, and with dangers compassed round, And solitude'; he only emerged after it was clear that his name was not to be amongst those excluded from Charles II's Act of Free and General Pardon on 29 August. Milton had been blind since early in 1651, and the present neat and delicate signature is almost certainly that of an amanuensis.
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