Xmera / Dugdale Correspondence

William Dugdale's Correspondence

Dugdale portrait
William Dugdale in 1656
I created a catalogue of the correspondence of William Dugdale, while writing William Dugdale: A Life of the Warwickshire Historian and Herald and subsequently made it available online. I am now in the process of adding transcriptions, notes and other materials collected during my research. Although the main foci of Dugdale's correspondence are antiquarian research, heraldry, genealogy and book publication, there is also material of wider interest to students of Stuart England. Dugdale's small estate was at Shustoke, near Coventry, but as a herald he was required to spend much of his time in London and also travelled widely, particularly during the 1660s when he was conducting visitations. He was involved in various state occasions and also a witness of the plague of 1665, the aftermath of the Great Fire of 1666, and of the politics surrounding the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis.

The correspondence covers the period from 1635, when Dugdale was beginning his antiquarian research among the papers of the local gentry, through the development of his career as a scholar and a herald to his death in 1686. The Date Index includes a graphical representation of the distribution of the correspondence across this period. Only the period of the civil war is unrepresented in the archive. There are 253 correspondents identified in the Index of Correspondents, including many antiquaries, other scholars, bishops and archbishops, heralds, arms painters, lawyers, members of Dugdale's extended family and gentlemen from across the Midlands and North of England.

This calendar provides links to those letters included in The Life, Diary and Correspondence of William Dugdale (1827), edited by William Hamper. (The Life and Diary do cover the Civil War, much of which Dugdale spent in Oxford.) This calendar contains four times as many letters as were included by Hamper, whose edition concentrates on Dugdale as a scholar. Some of these additional letters were known to Hamper, but omitted. Others, most notably those held by the College of Arms and the personal letters to his wife's family, appear to have been unknown to him. Hamper also occasionally silently omitted paragraphs or postscripts from the original letters - where I have noted this, it is recorded in the calendar. The shortage of paper in the seventeenth century meant that Dugdale was in the habit of reusing the letters he received for his own notes and as markers. As a result many fragments of letters have survived, some of which were painstakingly pieced together by Hamper. The decision as to which fragments to include in this calendar is necessarily somewhat arbitrary.

Jan Broadway
July 2021

Name IndexDate Index


My research on Dugdale was undertaken over a long period and in varying conditions. Some transcriptions were made from digital images at my leisure, while others were made in a hurry during a short archival visit. Looking back, I was not consistent in my transcription practices. I present the material here in the hope that it will be of use to other scholars, but with the proviso that it was collected for my own use and not originally intended for publication.