SYMONDS, Richard (1617-after 1692?). Manuscript commonplace book, written in several 17th-century hands (including some entries in autograph) in English, Latin and Italian, arranged in order of subject, in double columns within verticals and horizontals ruled in red, 558 pages, folio, written on recto and verso, the pages numbered, including occasional small pen and ink drawings in the text, an index, and bibliography, boards, half morocco. Provenance. Evelyn Philip Shirley (bookplate).
The list of 'The names of the Authors, Bookes, wrightings, M.S. records etc which I have read over and out of which I have written into this Common Place booke' includes classical authors (Ciprian, Tertullian, Suetonius, Plutarch, Polydorus, Virgil, Marcus Aurelius etc) and English, Italian and French writers (Burton, Montaigne, Caxton's Chronicle, Daniel's Chronicle, Vasari, Sandys and numerous others). Some entries are attributed to manuscript sources, including 'Leland M.S. in Bodleys Library at Oxford'. Varying in length from one line to as many as 21 (a quotation from Chaucer's 'Knight's Tale', on Venus), the entries encompass a vast range of interests and prejudices.
'Ctisiphon was an ancient Architect and master workman in the great Temple of Diana of the Ephesians in Asia of 425 foot long, of 220 foot large and furnished among other singularities with 127 Columns or Pillars, and over 60 foot high'. 'The Muscovites at there funeralls use to putt a penny in ye mouths of ye Deceased, a payre of Shoos on his feete and a letter in his hand, directed to St Nicholas whome they deeme to be ye porter of heaven. An opinion doubtlesse to ye Popes and St Peters prerogatives'. Under 'Vidua', 'A widow is a subtile cuning Baggage and has more doublings in her than a Cabbage', and other ribald comments.
Richard Symonds, royalist and antiquary of Black Notley, in Essex, compiled three volumes of genealogical collections (now in the College of Heralds) for the county of Essex and his notebooks are in the British Library. Until the present manuscript was discovered it was thought that he had died prior to 1685, when his papers were dispersed, but a reference in the manuscript to an earthquake at Witham in Suffolk is dated 8 September 1692, suggesting that he lived at least into his mid-70s. A reference in a different hand to Queen Anne's coronation in 1707 is among several entries which were probably made after his death.
Evelyn Philip Shirley (1812-1882) of Ettington Hall in Warwickshire, a former owner of the manuscript, shared Symond's interest in archaeology.