Wynkyn de Worde’s “Remorse of Conscience”: a unique survivor

Wynkyn de Worde (died c. 1534) was a printer and publisher in London and is best known for his work with William Caxton. Although Caxton was the first printer to set up shop in England, it was arguably de Worde who proved instrumental in ensuring the success of the printing trade in this country. Through technical innovations and an insistence on high quality materials, he greatly improved the fledgling art of printing and has since been described as ‘England’s first typographer’ (Haley, 1992).

Device of William Caxton which subsequently passed to Wynkyn de Worde in 1492. From ‘Pilgrymage of perfecyon’, printed in 1531 by de Worde

Few details are known about de Worde’s early life. He was thought to have been born in Woerden in Holland (but possibly Woerth in Alsace). It is often assumed he accompanied William Caxton to England as a journeyman printer, working for him as apprentice or foreman until Caxton’s death in 1492, however there is little evidence to support this. We do know that de Worde took over Caxton’s printing house in Westminster around the time of Caxton’s death in 1492, and began by reprinting some of Caxton’s earlier titles. In 1496, following the settlement of a long dispute with Caxton’s family over the will, he was able legally to take control of the enterprise.

In 1500 de Worde transferred the business from Westminster to London and was the first printer to set up a press in Fleet Street, a location that would become synonymous with the printing trade. He published more than 400 books in 800 editions (Mueller, 2002), some of which are now known to exist in just a single copy. One of these unique survivors, The remorse of conscience (1515), is to be found here at Lambeth Palace Library, held within the Sion College Library Collection.

Title page: 'The remors of conscyence: Here begynneth certayne demonstracyons by our lorde to all synfull persones with the remors of mannes conscynce to the regarde of the bounte of our lorde'
‘The remors of conscyence. Here begynneth certayne demonstracyons by our lorde to all synfull persones with the remors of mannes conscynce to the regarde of the bounte of our lorde’

Wynkyn de Worde printed at least three editions of The remorse of conscience,  in 1510, in 1515 and again in 1534 (see Rhodes, 1958). The Sion copy is the only recorded example of the second edition. A fragment only, it was discovered within Sion College’s copy of Albertus Magnus, De officiis (Cologne, 1503) where it had been bound among the flyleaves. The fragment consists of folios 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, and 11 only (the first and second sheets of quire A and the second of quire B). The title (The remors of conscyence) is printed within a wooden scroll, and both the title page and its verso are illustrated with the same fine woodcut of a penitent kneeling before Christ.

De Worde often illustrated his books with woodcuts, not only re-using woodblocks from Caxton’s period but also commissioning new products from skilled craftsmen. These new blocks would be used again and again in different publications, eventually showing evidence of wear, as shown by our copy of the The remorse… The woodcut has a neat crack down the middle, also visible in the previous edition. By the time of the third recorded edition, thought to have been printed in 1534, the same woodblock has been badly broken.

Woodcut of the penitent kneeling before Christ
Woodcut of the penitent kneeling before Christ. Damage to the block is clearly visible.

The remorse of conscience takes the form of a dialogue between God and Man and is also known in earlier manuscript editions as The complaynt of God (Lambeth Palace Library holds two 15th century copies at MS306 and MS853). The author was the poet William Lichfield, whose gravestone at Christ’s College, Cambridge, reads: “William Lichfield, Doctor of Diuinitie, who deceased the yeare 1448, hee was a great student, and compiled many bookes both moral and diuine”.

Haley, Allan. Typographic milestones, London: John Wiley & Sons, 1992.
Meuller, Janel. Cambridge history of early modern English literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Rhodes, D. E. “The remorse of conscience”, The Library, pp. 199-200, 1958.


Library Records project 1785-1953

A project to produce new catalogue descriptions of the Library’s records from 1785 to 1953, together with a web guide to the evidence which they contain, has begun with the generous support of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library.

The first phase of the project has focused on the years from 1785 to 1828 when the Library was under the direction of John Moore (Archbishop 1783-1805) and Charles Manners-Sutton (Archbishop 1805-28). Archbishop Manners-Sutton emerged from the research as a far more significant patron of the Library than has hitherto been appreciated. His interest in biblical studies led not only to the acquisition of the Carlyle Greek manuscripts but to a substantial collection of early printed Bibles, including a splendid copy on vellum of the Greek/Latin New Testament edited by Erasmus (Basel, 1519), as well as Wycliffite Gospels and other manuscripts. He also gave two printed works owned by Archbishop Cranmer, and significant manuscripts, including the 13/14th century cartulary of the See of Canterbury and a 13/14th century miscellany from St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, with texts relating to Magna Carta. It now seems likely that he also acquired the 9th century Macdurnan Gospels which were first recorded in the Library in the 1830s. Manners-Sutton also supported the publication of the catalogue of the Library’s manuscripts, edited by H.J. Todd, in 1812.

Henry J Todd

The project has also brought to light unexpected new information on the Lambeth Librarians. After the librarianship (1786-90) of the antiquary Michael Lort, the work of the Library was divided between the antiquary John Topham as ‘Manuscripts Librarian’ 1790-1803, and a previously unidentified printed books Librarian, the Old Testament scholar Henry Dimock, who served until his death in 1810. Henry John Todd served as ‘Keeper of the Archiepiscopal Manuscripts and Records’ until 1818. Thereafter the work of the Library fell to two others whose roles were previously unknown. George D’Oyly, Archbishop’s chaplain, Rector of Lambeth and biographer of Archbishop Sancroft, was serving as ‘Keeper of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Records’ by 1824 and  evidently became responsible for the management of the printed books. Also closely involved was Thomas Archdeacon Lewis, Assistant Secretary at Lambeth Palace, who succeeded D’Oyly as Keeper of the Records during the 1830s.

The Archbishop and the Suffragettes

In the collection of Archbishop Randall Davidson’s papers held at Lambeth Palace Library are two large volumes containing a number of letters regarding women’s suffrage (Davidson 515 and Davidson 516). From them, we can tease out some of the stories of these women and of the Archbishop’s views on the events surrounding the suffragette movement. Most of these letters refer specifically to the suffragettes and not to the suffragists who protested by non-militant methods for women’s votes.

Davidson took a consistent stance on the issue of women’s suffrage, according to his replies. Whilst he supported the idea of women’s suffrage in general, he disagreed with the militant methods undertaken by the Women’s Social and Political Union, which were often violent and involved the activists acting illegally. Therefore, Davidson chose not to openly show his support for women’s suffrage in case he was misinterpreted as supporting the suffragettes and their tactics. He was, one could say, a passive suffragist.

For many of the suffragettes, this was not what they had hoped for from the head of the Church of England, as most mistook his actions as being anti-women’s suffrage, and others believed that he should show his support for their cause more openly.

It is easy to feel the suffragettes’ frustration when reading these letters. In particular, Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), who was well-known for composing The March of the Women and conducting singing through her prison bars with a toothbrush, writes page after page to the Archbishop, venting her frustration and claiming that women are, in her opinion, being ignored and will continue to be ignored unless their point is made through militant acts. Smyth was not afraid to speak her mind about the politicians of the time:

“…if ever I come across Mr Asquith’s path… I shall say, as loudly and distinctly as I can, that I think it disgraceful that millions of women shall be trodden underfoot because of the “convictions” of an old man who notoriously can’t be left alone in a room with a young woman after dinner.” (Letter to Davidson from Ethel Smyth, 11 February 1914, from Davidson 516)

Signature of Dame Ethel Smyth as found on one of her letters to Archbishop Davidson

When reading Davidson’s replies to these letters, one is struck by how careful the Archbishop is not to be associated with the actions of the suffragettes, although his frustration at being misrepresented is also clear:

“Would it not be fairly said “they have even converted a stolid Archbishop?” whereas in the first place he was fairly converted before…” (Letter from Davidson to Miss Agnes Gardiner, 5 March 1907, from Davidson 515)

He is also keen to inform the suffragettes of the damage he believes they are doing to the cause and to the efforts of the suffragists in general by partaking in violent actions such as window smashing, throwing missiles at MPs and other illegal activities.

“I fear [the suffragettes] are daily strengthening the hands of those who say, untruly as I think, that the enthusiasm of good women is apt to lack the kind of balanced judgement which is specially called for in dealing with large political questions.” (Letter from Davidson to Lady Blomfield, 25 October 1909, from Davidson 515)

For many of the WSPU, Davidson’s actions weren’t enough. The Union’s most prolific and founding member, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928), was in and out of prison. She underwent hunger strikes and submitted to force feeding, which caused her to be a victim of the infamous ‘Cat and Mouse Act’. Whilst in prison, she wrote to Davidson, asking for an audience. Unfortunately, Davidson felt unable to visit her, due to her associations with the suffragettes. The meeting never took place, although Mrs Pankhurst makes her views on the situation clear:

“… I shall call upon women to refuse to obey and men to vote against, a Government which while professing the principles of representative Government, refuses to apply them to women…” (Letter to Davidson from Emmeline Pankhurst, 31 March 1914, for Davidson 516)

Emmeline Pankhurst encourages Archbishop Davidson to meet with her.

Norah Dacre Fox (1878-1961), another prominent member of WSPU, goes further, saying that the Archbishop, in fact, is to blame for their militancy, stating that in the half century since the fight for women’s votes began, the Archbishop of Canterbury has had plenty of opportunities to show his support, and that the support of such a spiritual leader could have resolved the issue before militancy was needed.

“Our view is that the Church is very responsible for Militancy, because it has failed to realise the spiritual meaning of the Women’s movement and has not helped women to get the vote.” (Letter to Davidson from Norah Dacre Fox, 27 February 1914, from Davidson 516)

The two volumes show the vast array of letters sent to the Archbishop by many well-known suffragettes, including Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929), Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence (1867-1954), and Louise Creighton (1850-1936). For some members of the WSPU, however, simply writing letters was not enough to cause a reaction from the head of the Church of England. In Davidson 315 we find newspaper accounts regarding Miss Annie Kenney (1879-1953) who, in May 1914, gained access to Lambeth Palace and refused to leave. Archbishop Davidson, his wife and several members of staff attempted to make her leave, but eventually she had to be arrested and removed from the site. Due to the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’ (1913) she succeeded in making several visits to Lambeth Palace to seek sanctuary, and Davidson was warned that he could be accused of harbouring someone wanted by the police, so he could do nothing to hinder the arrests. The WSPU thought he could have prevented Miss Kenney’s further arrests. Yet another blow to Davidson’s reputation as a supporter of women’s suffrage. In one of many letters he sent to suffragette supporters he argued his corner, stating that he had treated Miss Kenney with ‘utmost consideration and kindness’, but, as Davidson well knew, the versions of the story being published in the suffragette newspapers painted him in a less than bright light (Letter from Davidson to Mrs Wilcock, 19 June 1914, from Davidson 516).

Archbishop Davidson’s account of Miss Kenney’s visit.


Possibly the most shocking inclusions in these volumes are descriptions sent to the Archbishop of the treatment of imprisoned suffragettes. Pressure on the Archbishop increased in 1914 in response to the methods used to feed the suffragettes. Many accounts go into horrific detail about the acts of forced feeding which were inflicted upon these women and the injuries and damage they suffered as a result. In some cases, the practice was seen as so violating that even the prison doctors refused to take part, and many of the women suffered permanent injuries. We have no evidence of how Davidson reacted to the practice, as no letters of response have been retained in this collection.

In 1918 Davidson had his chance to show his support for women’s suffrage when the motion was voted on in the House of Lords. Women over the age of thirty had the vote, which was the first step to women having equal voting rights to men in the UK.

Elizabeth Whately 1795-1860

This week we have a guest post by a great friend of the Library, Mr Cliff Webb.

The strength to scholars of a specialised reference library such as Lambeth Palace Library lies not so much in the high spots, the medieval books of hours and other illuminated manuscripts, important as they are. It is in the depth of coverage – the accumulation over many years of so many germane items in one place where lies its greatest value. However, such a collection can never be complete. Books (and editions of books) unknown to the great series of short title catalogues, printed and online, of books printed before 1800 continue to turn up. For the nineteenth century, our bibliographical knowledge is still more incomplete and it is never surprising to find new items or ones known only by one or two copies.

One of my pursuits is finding such items for Lambeth which fit the Library’s parameters. A recent example is Conversations on the Life of Jesus Christ. For the use of children. By a mother. London: John Harris, 1828, 12mo., vii, 136p. (see below).

Elizabeth Whatley’s Conversations on the Life of Jesus Christ



Our title went through three editions, of which the captioned is the first, of which the only other copy known is in the Osborne collection at Toronto Public Library. A second edition of 1833 is held by Trinity College, Dublin and a third of 1838 is in the British Library. No other copies seem to be known.

The book is in interlocutory form, between the mother and a daughter named Jane. Though anonymous, the author can be identified as Elizabeth Whately. Though her husband and two of her daughters are in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Elizabeth is not, possibly because she hid her authorship under a cloak of anonymity.

She was born as Elizabeth Pope, daughter of William Pope by his wife Mary Heaton (née Willis), on 7th October 1795 and was baptised on 22nd December of that year at Hillingdon, Middlesex where her father was the incumbent. She was married by her brother William Law Pope at Cheltenham, 3rd July 1821, to Richard Whately of St Mary Oxford.

Richard Whately (born 1 February 1787, died 8 Oct 1863) was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and ordained in 1814. On marriage he had to resign his fellowship and was made rector of Halesworth, Suffolk. In 1825 he returned to Oxford on his appointment as the principal of St Alban Hall. Briefly Drummond Professor of Political Economy, he was appointed (it would seem to universal surprise) archbishop of Dublin in 1831, a preferment he retained until his death. He has a fine monument in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Whately wrote on logic and political economy, as well as extensively on various religious matters and was very interested in education. He was a leading member of what is now known as the Noetic group, centred at Oriel College, who combined freethinking and rationalism with a firm belief in scriptural authority. He was an eccentric character, fond of punning and causing offence by his bluntness of speech and views in advance of his time, advocating free speech even for atheists, combined education for Anglicans and Catholics, and state support for the Catholic clergy of Ireland. He championed homeopathy and investigated hypnotism.

Elizabeth Whately is a far more shadowy character. She had six children (not five as in DNB) (Elizabeth) Jane (1822-93), Edward William (1823-92), Mary Louisa (1824-89), Henry (c1825-), Henrietta (1827-1908) and Blanche (1829-60). The family naturally lived in the archiepiscopal palace at Redesdale House, Kilmacud, just outside Dublin, but in 1841 they were visiting Brighton, presumably on holiday and were recorded in the census of that year. Elizabeth Jane, always known as Jane, is in DNB, edited her father’s commonplace book and wrote extensively. She is doubtless the Jane of her mother’s book. Mary Louisa was a missionary in Egypt for over 30 years. Elizabeth Whately became ill, went to Hastings in a vain attempt to recover her health but died there on 25th April 1860.

Most of her writings were anonymous. The Library hitherto contained over 100 works by the archbishop, and his daughter’s edition of her father’s commonplace book, but nothing by his wife. The following is a provisional bibliography, excluding Conversations on the Life of Christ:

  1. Reverses, or Memoirs of the Fairfax Family. By the author of Conversations on the Life of Christ, etc., London: B. Fellowes, 1833. This is another children’s book: “The little Tale now offered to young people was written for the Author’s own children, and with a view (beyond mere amusement) to the improvement and correction of their moral tendencies”.
  1. The second part of the History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. In : Fox (Lady M.) Friendly Contributions, etc.
  1. English Life, social and domestic, in the middle of the nineteenth century, considered in reference to our position as a community of professing Christians. London: Longman Rees Orme Brown Green and Longman, 1847. Reprinted in: The Edinburgh Review or Critical Journal, Vol.LXXXVIII, Jul-Oct 1848, Edinburgh: Adam Black, 1848.
  1. Quicksands on Foreign Shores. Edited by the Author of English Life, social and domestic. In: Truths. Great Truths popularly illustrated no.1, London: Blackader, 1854.
  1. The Roving Bee: or, a Peep into many hives. By the author of Quicksands on Foreign Shores. London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1855.

The compilation of the above bibliography has enabled copies of Reverses, English Life (which was written in response to the Irish potato famine, which Richard Whately spent much of his own money to trying to relieve) and Quicksands also to be secured for the Library.

A link with the 21st century is that Kevin Whately of Morse and Lewis fame, is a descendant of Richard and Elizabeth through their son Edward.

Inscription from Mrs Gunson to E.F. Spedding


One mystery remains. The inside front cover of the book contains an inscription to E.F. Spedding from a Mrs Gunson (see above). I have been unable to identify either of these. Possibly a reader can supply further information.


Cliff Webb.

Aldus Manutius & Frances Richardson Currer

The Sion College Library collection includes a beautiful set of early 16th century books printed by the renowned Venetian printer, Aldus Manutius (1449-1515). The set is composed of four volumes and constitutes a series called Poetae Christiani veteres, published between 1501 and 1504.


K21 C46 (1)
The four volumes of Poetae Christiani veteres from the Sion College Library collection [K21/C46]
This series contains editions of works by ancient Christian poets. The aim of these volumes is primarily pedagogical: youths could learn Christian morality and the Greek letters (the works contained parallel texts in Greek and Latin). In the third edition of his Annales de l’imprimerie des Alde, Antoine Augustin Renouard describes the series as a “collection infiniment rare et précieuse”.

Title-pages of the volumes

K21 C46 v.2 (2)

This work is also particularly interesting as it marks the first appearance of Manutius’s famous and most recognizable printer’s device – the dolphin and the anchor. This emblem was used to represent the Latin proverb “festina lente”, or “make haste slowly”.

K21 C46 v.2 (4)
First appearance of the dolphin and the anchor device in volume 2

The four volumes are bound in 19th century gilt-tooled blue morocco and bear the armorial bookplate of Frances Mary Richardson Currer.

K21 C46 (2)
Armorial bookplate of Miss Richardson Currer

Miss Richardson Currer (1785-1861) was a British heiress and a book collector, “head of all female book collectors in Europe” as Thomas Frognall Dibdin, the English biographer, wrote. She inherited the library of her great-grandfather in Eshton Hall. In 1820 Robert Triphook compiled A catalogue of the library of Miss Currer at Eshton Hall, in the deanery of Craven and county of York.

Frances Currer was praised for her good heart, “big as St Paul’s Dome and as warm as Volcanic lava” according to T. F. Dibdin in 1837. Her charitable donations included money to fund the new school at Cowan Bridge, attended by the Brontë sisters and she is likely to have helped Patrick Brontë with his debts. Charlotte Brontë’s pseudonym, Currer Bell, was inspired by Frances.

Other marks of provenance can be found on the title-page of volume 1. Unfortunately, the inscriptions have been washed out and are now illegible. If you want to help us decipher them, please visit the Sion College Library Provenance Project and leave us a comment!

“We have found faith in the city”: The records of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the Urban Priority Areas (ACUPA)

“We have three problems: poverty, poverty and poverty.” So said a Councillor from the North-East to ACUPA. Archbishop Robert Runcie set up the Commission in 1983, and tasked it with examining the needs of the Church’s life and mission in inner city areas. ACUPA published its recommendations two years later, generating considerable political controversy, and setting in motion numerous initiatives whose impact continues to this day.

The commission was established in July 1983, following the widespread rioting that had overtaken Brixton and parts of Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool in 1981. Chaired by Sir Richard O’Brien, ACUPA’s 18-strong committee was predominantly lay and professional, with just 7 clergy representatives. ACUPA spent two years conducting extensive research, visiting 32 cities and 9 London boroughs, commissioning a Gallup poll of 400 clergy and receiving 283 written submissions of evidence from a range of charities and statutory bodies with the following terms of reference:

“To examine the strengths, insights, problems and needs of the Church’s life and mission in Urban Priority Areas [an Electoral Ward or Parish with high levels of deprivation] and, as a result, to reflect on the challenge which God may be making to Church and Nation: and to make recommendations to appropriate bodies”

According to other commission members, O’Brien insisted that every claim in the report should be backed by evidence so that it would be impossible to criticise it on a factual level.

Faith in the city cover

The 350-page report, Faith in the City: A Call for Action by Church and Nation, was published in December 1985.The introduction conveyed the profound shock that many committee members had experienced on delving into the issues surrounding Urban Priority Areas (UPAs):

“We have to report that we have been deeply disturbed by what we have seen and heard. We have been confronted with the human consequences of unemployment […], decayed housing, sub-standard educational and medical provision, and social disintegration”

Equally critical of both Church and State, the report claimed that with respect to UPAs “no adequate response is being made by Government, nation or Church. There is barely even widespread public discussion”. Of the report’s 61 recommendations, 38 were directed specifically at the Church, with the remaining 23 at the Government and nation. Of the latter, the general emphasis lay in using taxpayers’ money to alleviate inequality by increasing various benefits, spending more on job creation, regeneration and expanding the provision of council housing. As for the Church, it was recognised that attention needed to be directed at clergy staffing levels, training for ordained and lay leaders and acquiring flexibility in liturgical needs, styles of work with children and young people and use of buildings. The flagship recommendation, however, was the establishment of the Church Urban Fund, an ambitious plan to raise £18 million to be spent on inner city projects over a period of 20 years.

Its publication caused an immediate media storm, as various members of Margaret Thatcher’s government rushed to condemn its contents as “pure Marxist theology” and proof that the Church was governed by a “load of Communist clerics”. The Daily Mail labelled it “a flawed gospel […] intellectually beneath contempt” whilst Thatcher complained that it contained nothing “about self-help or doing anything for yourself”. Others, though, were more admiring. Home Secretary Douglas Hurd was struck by the conclusions on crime whilst Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine told Archbishop Runcie: “Your bishops have it wrong. Conditions in the inner cities are much worse than they say”.

The publicity generated huge interest and within a few months over 17,000 copies of Faith in the City had been sold, along with 66,000 copies of an abridged version. The impact of the report and the resultant discussion was profound and far-reaching. Speaking in 2005, the Dean of Norwich Graham Smith remarked:

“Faith in the City began a movement which was partly political (with a small p), partly theological and partly spiritual. In all three senses, it was a beacon of hope to a lot of people […]. [It] began a discussion across the nation and a movement within the Church. It showed that our common concerns could be harnessed in the common good”

Though Archbishop Runcie had no direct involvement in its writing, Faith in the City remains one of the greatest achievements of his primacy. The Church Urban Fund, launched in 1987, with an appeal to donate read from every pulpit in the land, is still going strong almost 30 years later, and to date has distributed over £70 million in funding.

The records of ACUPA are now available to researchers as of the beginning of 2016. They are held at the Church of England Record Centre and will be accessible via the online catalogue, searchable by entering ACUPA* into the OrderNo box. These records are complemented by records relating to ACUPA within the Main Series of Robert Runcie’s papers for 1985, held at Lambeth Palace Library, which are now also available to researchers as of the beginning of 2016.

Library Records Project 4

Dr Richard Palmer reports the final phase of cataloguing in the project to produce new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library. This section of work has tracked the career at Lambeth of Andrew Coltee Ducarel, Librarian from 1757 to 1785.

As well as recording the vast array of indexes through which Ducarel opened up the archival collections at Lambeth (including his indexes, in 67 volumes, to the Archbishop’ registers) the project highlighted his major cataloguing achievements. These included a catalogue of the Secker bequest of printed books (for which Ducarel installed new shelving and new shelf marks), a continuation of the Library’s catalogue of manuscripts, and catalogues of the multitude of printed pamphlets which had ‘lain undigested in the MS library ever since the Restoration’.

Ducarel’s index to the Archbishops’ registers (LR/F/62/2 pp. 676-7)

Through Ducarel’s reports to successive Archbishops, and from a shelf list, a detailed account emerged of the extent of the Library (18,607 printed books in 1769) and of their precise distribution on the ‘outer or folio shelves’ and on the ‘inner shelves’ around the sides of the cloister.