University Archives


Early Signed Manuscript from Yorkshire, England Dating a Few Years after the Stuart Restoration

1p ADS on vellum signed by four individuals at bottom. Written in England on October 15, 1667. The document features fourteen lines of beautifully inscribed early modern calligraphy in three sizes of script, two geometric motifs in the left margin, and a vaguely zoomorphic illustration incorporated in the first words of text. Signed at bottom (left to right) by William Bradshaw, his wife (signed with a mark), Edward E. Coffin, and Thomas Eamond. The top is trimmed in a scalloped pattern, and two vellum ribbons dangle from the bottom edge. Signed by several officials verso, and docketed in part “15 Oct 1667. Deed to Lend the Uses of a Fine [?] With expected overall wear, else very good to near fine. 17” x 8” overall including ribbons.

In part, with untouched spelling:

“This Indenture made the fiftienth xxx day of october in the [?]ientienth yeare of the raigne Lord Charles the second by the grace of God of England Scottland France & Ireand King defender of the faith etc. Annos Domini: 1667 Between Willm Bradshaw of Eeaton in Bradforddale in the countie of Yorke yeoman & now his wife Edward Coffin of Merton & Thomas Eamond of St’Olemore…”

The historical records do not reveal much information about the people who signed this contract, but we can exactly identify the place names. William Bradshaw, Edward Coffin, and Thomas Eamond all hailed from the northern-central region of Yorkshire, England. “Bradforddale” is likely the equivalent of modern-day Bradford, and “Merton” is almost certainly Murton, a town located approximately 40 miles to its northwest. Both villages are near major regional cities Leeds and York.

It is possible, although not readily apparent, that our Edward E. Coffin was somehow related to Coffin family members who had lived primarily in southeastern England (Devonshire, Somerset, Dorset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Gloucester, and Hampshire) since the Conquest in 1066. This family branch’s most famous member is undoubtedly Tristram Coffin, Sr. (1605-1681), who emigrated from southwestern England to Boston in 1642, and later led a group of investors that purchased Nantucket Island from Thomas Mayhew in 1659 for £30 and two beaver hats. Further research should yield fascinating discoveries about how the American Coffins and our Edward E. Coffin are related!

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, an exhaustive encyclopedia compiled by editors Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, and Peter McClure, identifies the surname Bradshaw (alternatively spelled as Brayshaw, Bratchie or Bradeshaghe) as a locative name, that is, a surname derived from a specific location. The town of Bradshaw is in West Riding, Yorkshire. The editors cite two references from the International Genealogical Index that suggest Bradshaws had lived in Yorkshire from as early as the 1620s; one Robert Bradshaw lived in Cantley, Yorkshire in 1629, and Robert Bradshey lived in Rothwell, Yorkshire, in 1646 (p. 313). These could be relatives of our document signer William Bradshaw.

During the English Civil War, the town of Bradford was controlled by Parliamentarians. It withstood attack by Royalists in 1642, but was later successfully besieged by pro-monarchy forces. Charles II (1630-1685) was restored to the British throne in 1660, and this document dates from the seventh year of his reign. One can only speculate how Charles II viewed the villages, cities, and regions of his dominions that had not supported the Stuart monarchy during the English Civil War.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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