John Manningham Notes the Passing of Queen Elizabeth I

John Manningham's diary. Photograph: British Library
John Manningham's diary. Photograph: British Library

by Ray Setterfield

March 24, 1603 — John Manningham was an English lawyer and diarist who wrote this especially moving entry on the passing of Queen Elizabeth I.

"March 24, 1603. This morning about three at clocke hir Majestie departed this lyfe, mildly like a lambe, easily like a ripe apple from the tree. Dr Parry told me that he was present, and sent his prayers before hir soule; and I doubt not but she is amongst the royall saints in Heaven in eternall joyes.

"About ten at clocke the Counsel and diverse noblemen having bin a while in consultacion, proclaymed James the 6, King of Scots, the King of England, Fraunce, and Irland, beginning at Whitehall gates; where Sir Robert Cecile reade the proclamacion and after reade againe in Cheapside.

"The proclamacion was heard with greate expectacion and silent joye, noe greate shouting. I thinke the sorrowe for hir Majesties departure was soe deep in many hearts they could not soe suddenly showe anie greate joy, though it could not be lesse than exceeding greate for the succession of soe worthy a king. And at night they shewed it by bonefires, and ringing. Noe tumult, noe contradicion, noe disorder in the city; every man went about his business, as readylie, as peaceably, as securely, as though there had bin noe change, nor any newes ever heard of competitors. God be thanked, our king hath his right!"

Published: April 24, 2016

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