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Vincent Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0377 VINCENT COLLECTION
Held at: College of Arms
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Full title: Vincent Collection
Date(s): c1350-1684
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 202 volumes
Name of creator(s): Vincent | Augustine | c 1581/4-1626 | herald


Administrative/Biographical history:

Augustine Vincent, born c 1581-4, was the third son of a Northamptonshire gentleman, William Vincent of Wellingborough. He was a scholar and antiquary, and as a clerk of the Records in the Tower of London acquired a thorough knowledge of public as well as private records. He was appointed Rose Rouge Pursuivant Extraordinary in 1616, then Rouge Croix Pursuivant in 1621, and Windsor Herald in 1624. He conducted heraldic visitations as deputy to William Camden, Clarenceux King of Arms, and produced one publication, A discoverie of errours in the first edition of the catalogue of nobility, in which he attacked a work of Ralph Brooke, York Herald (A catalogue and succession of the kings, princes, dukes... of England), who had previously attacked a work of Camden's. He died in 1626 when he was no more than 45 years old and was buried at St Benet's, Paul's Wharf, traditionally the heralds' church. His son, John, inherited and added to the collection.


Scope and content/abstract:

Manuscripts collected by Augustine Vincent, some also created by him. The focus is strongly genealogical, but other types of content are included. Other identifiable authors, besides Augustine Vincent's son John, include Richard Scarlett (d 1607), Robert Glover (d 1588), Robert Cooke (d 1593), Richard Lee (d 1597), and the antiquarian Richard Gascoigne of Bramham Biggin, Yorkshire (d c 1661). Louise Campbell, editor of the published catalogue (see 'Finding Aids') categorises the volumes as laid out below:

44 volumes of pedigrees and 26 volumes of 'pedigrees and evidences', i.e. pedigrees supported by evidence such as charters. Eight of these 70 volumes are in the hand of Augustine Vincent, a further 4 have a substantial contribution in his hand, and many of the others have additions in the hands of both him and his son.

6 volumes containing pedigrees of one family (or in the case of MS Vincent 207, two families).

44 volumes of extracts from records, and 1 volume by John Vincent of copies or extracts from medieval muster rolls (MS Vincent 29). 17 of the 44 were written either by Augustine Vincent or a clerk working to his instructions; a further 3 include a contribution in Vincent's hand.

29 volumes of heraldic visitations: the original manuscript of the 1615 Visitation of Northumberland, and 28 copies of visitations. 13 of these are in Augustine Vincent's hand, of which 10 are not simple copies but amplified versions. These include expanded versions of visitations he conducted: Northamptonshire, 1618-19 (MS Vincent 113); Warwickshire, 1619 (MS Vincent 126); Leicestershire, 1619 (MS Vincent 127); Rutland, 1618-19 (MS Vincent 132); Shropshire, 1623 (MS Vincent 134). The expanded copy of the visitation of Surrey made by Vincent in 1623 is not in his own hand, but does include some material in his hand bound with it, and some church notes which are not in the record manuscript of the visitation.

2 volumes of visitation papers, mostly in the hand of Richard Lee, who visited 4 counties (Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Shropshire, and Lincolnshire) between 1574 and 1592 as deputy to Clarenceux King of Arms: MS Vincent 181, a rough-book supposed to have been used by him on these visitations, and MS Vincent 195, containing notes of arms from churches and other material relating to Shropshire, probably gathered during his visitation of Shropshire in 1584.

2 volumes of miscellaneous collections of arms from churches and monumental inscriptions: MS Vincent 177, in the hand of Augustine Vincent (various counties), and MS Vincent 197, relating to Leicestershire and five other counties.

11 volumes of baronages or peers' pedigrees. Including MS Vincent 20, 'Vincent's Baronage', containing 396 pages of pedigrees of English peers, mostly in the hand of Augustine Vincent, and with painted arms. Also including baronages in narrative form by Robert Glover (MS Vincent 33), Robert Cooke (MS Vincent 93), and by a scribe working for Vincent (MS Vincent 45) with some marginal glosses in Vincent's hand, and in the form of peers' pedigrees by Richard Scarlett (MS Vincent 22).

Genealogical case papers: MS Vincent 75, miscellaneous papers on the Cornwall family of Burford, Oxfordshire; letters and papers bound into MS Vincent 94 on the Bellingham family, showing Richard Scarlett (d 1607) conducting genealogical research for William Wyrley (later Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms), whose clients the Bellinghams apparently were.

Genealogical miscellanies or commonplace books: 6 manuscripts which besides pedigrees and evidences include more heterogeneous material. Includes MSS Vincent 218 and 220, mostly in the hand of Augustine Vincent. A further 5 manuscripts with miscellaneous contents include a quantity of genealogical material, including MS Vincent 94, containing pedigrees by Robert Glover as well as Richard Scarlett's genealogical case papers

Lists of names, compiled for genealogical purposes: 10 volumes, and parts of another 12 volumes, containing lists including tenants in chief of the king, and holders of offices such as sheriffs and justices. MS Vincent 97 includes list of summonses to Parliament in the hand of Robert Glover, and MS Vincent 417, mostly in the hand of Richard Scarlett, includes lists of Knights of the Garter, with narrative material on the Order and some arms

Armorials: 34 volumes of armorials, 5 of which are armorial only in part. Includes painted armorials MS Vincent 152 (known as 'Prince Arthur's Book') and MS Vincent 153, both made by Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Garter King of Arms (d 1534). 'Prince Arthur's Book' so called due to the arms on page 1 originally of Henry VIII impaling those of Catherine of Aragon but altered to make them refer to Prince Arthur instead of Henry. This also contains royal arms and badges and a small pen drawing of a young King Henry VIII (p 90). 4 of the 34 manuscripts are written and either tricked or blazoned by Augustine Vincent, including MS Vincent 178, 'Vincent's Ordinary', a manuscript in 2 volumes containing about 15'000 shields of arms. 6 of the 34 armorials contain a series of copies of medieval rolls of arms. 15 of the 34 armorials are wholly, or in the case of 2 manuscripts, partly written and tricked by Richard Scarlett, including 3 of the 6 with copies of medieval rolls of arms.

Precedents, ceremonials, heraldic treatises and historical miscellanies: 14 manuscripts and part of the contents of a further 10 manuscripts. 5 of the collections of precedents are written by Augustine Vincent, assisted by a scribe. These include MS Vincent 151, 'Vincent's Presidents [Precedents]', a collection of precedents relating to Officers of Arms, their creation, organisation as a corporation and government, to orders of precedence, and to the marshalling of ceremonies for the various degrees of nobility, with fine illustrations. Also includes MS Vincent 444, a copy of Nicholas Upton's treatise De studio militari written by Robert Glover and illustrated with drawings, and two manuscripts dating to c. 1500-1550, MS Vincent 25, a ceremonial, and MS Vincent 50, an heraldic treatise.

Titles of honour, precedents concerning inheritance of title: 6 manuscripts, including MS Vincent 57, a copy of Robert Glover's Nobilitas politica vel civilis in the hand of his nephew Thomas Milles, possibly the one from which Milles had the treatise printed in 1608, and MS Vincent 58, written for Vincent and begun in his hand, apparently a version of the treatise printed by William Bird in 1642 under the title The magazine of honour

Grant books: 5 volumes of memoranda of grants of arms, MSS Vincent 157, 161, 162, 163 and 169, originally part of Vincent's collection, have been given the status of Records and are now part of the Record class known as Old Grants. Apart from these 5, 4 manuscripts in the collection (MSS Vincent 61, 86, 88 and 92) include small collections of mostly medieval grants of arms. The first 3 of these are in Vincent's handwriting.

Other manuscripts: the remaining categories of manuscripts comprise:
College of Arms' Waiting Book for the years 1567-1572
2 volumes of funerals (MS Vincent 90, funeral certificates for the years 1568-1611, and MS Vincent 188, painters' accounts for work supplied for funerals, 1594-1605, in the hand of Richard Scarlett)
2 volumes labelled Vincent upon Brooke (MSS Vincent 32 and 215), the manuscript and annotated copy of Vincent's Discoverie of errours
2 copies of the barons' letter to Pope Boniface VIII concerning the English claim to sovereignty over Scotland (MSS Vincent 103[v] and 425) and 1 copy of orders of the Lords Wardens of the Scottish Marches, 1563 (MS Vincent 77)
3 volumes of medieval chronicles and compilations (MSS Vincent 418, 421 and 434) and a 14th century legal formulary (MS Vincent 419), these 4 manuscripts shown by their bindings to have been part of Ralph Sheldon's own personal collection
2 secular cartularies (MSS Vincent 64, the late 14th century 'Pyel Cartulary' and 85, 1608 copy of the Boarstall Cartulary) and extracts in Vincent's hand from a third one (MS Vincent 109)
Treatise on the Inns of Court (MS Vincent 190)
Volume of engravings from Speed's History of Great Britaine (MS Vincent 219)
3 indexes (MSS Vincent 39, 60bis and 228bis)
Gregory King's catalogue of the Vincent Manuscripts bequeathed to the College of Arms by Ralph Sheldon of Beoley in 1684 (MS Vincent 504).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, French, Latin

System of arrangement:

Manuscripts are numbered 1 - 504. The numbering system is that in place when the volumes were donated to the College of Arms in 1684. It contains some clear groups, for example manuscripts 110 - 150 are visitations and collections of pedigrees by county. Several numbers have not been used, such as numbers 231-398, for which there are no entries in the catalogue which accompanied the manuscripts when they were donated to the College in 1684. Several manuscripts are bound together.

Conditions governing access:

By appointment with the archivist. A letter of introduction and an item of photographic ID are required and a daily research fee of 10 is payable.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Permission of the Chapter of College of Arms is required. A reproduction fee may be payable.

Finding aids:

L Campbell and F Steer, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in the College of Arms: Collections, Volume 1 (London, 1988)
C.G.Y. 595 - 19th century copy of the inventory made by Ralph Sheldon in 1675 of the manuscripts he had received from John Vincent
MS Vincent 504 - on 6 folios, several drafts of a brief inventory, in the handwriting of Gregory King (d 1712 as Lancaster Herald), given to the College at the time of the donation of the manuscripts in 1684; volumes missing at the date of composition are marked with a cross.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Augustine Vincent's son, John (died 1671), bequeathed the collection to his friend Ralph Sheldon, of Beoley in Worcestershire and Weston in Warwickshire. Sheldon in turn bequeathed the collection to the College of Arms in 1684. They were delivered to the College by his friend Anthony a Wood, although it has been suggested that he did not deliver all of them. 4 manuscripts which now form part of the collection (numbers 418, 419, 421 and 434) are stamped with the arms of Ralph Sheldon and appear not to be part of the Vincent Collection, but to have been delivered by Wood without him realising the error.
The collection of rolled pedigrees and loose manuscripts which formed part of the 1684 bequest have for a long time been separated from the bound manuscripts. In the collection of unbound manuscripts called the 'Numerical Schedules' they form Schedule 3.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Ralph Sheldon of Beoley, Worcestershire, and Weston, Warwickshire.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Detailed printed catalogue by L Campbell and F Steer, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in the College of Arms: Collections, Volume 1 (London, 1988)

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
The present listing on AIM25 is an abridged version by Lynsey Darby, archivist, of the more detailed published volume by L Campbell and F Steer, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in the College of Arms: Collections, Volume 1 (London, 1988).

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:

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