CAP. VI. The Statutes and Annals of the Order.
ORDER and Regularity is not only the Beauty and Symmetry of Government and Societies, but also greatly contributes to their Establishment and Perpetuity. Statutes and Rules are as well the Bounds to determine, as Bonds to unite Fellowship and Societies together; and if either fall into difuse, or be unadvisedly broken, they open a Field to Disso∣lution and Ruin.
SUCH like Considerations mov'd and excited the vi∣ctorious King Edward III. (after he had determin'd the Erection of this most renown'd Order of the Garter) to devise and institute several laudable Statutes and Ordinances, to be duly observ'd and kept within the said Order; which being collected into one Body, are call'd The Statutes of Institution.
THE Original of these was ordain'd to be kept with∣in the Treasury of the College of Windsor, but hath long since wholly perish'd; yet a Transcript of them is recorded in the Reign of King Henry V. in an old Book call'd Registrum Ordinis Chartaceum. Two more ancient Exemplars of this Body of Statutes are also in being; the one in the Library of the Lord Hatton, and the other in the Black Book of the Order; and comparing them together, I shall here give from the Latin the Heads they consist of.
1. THE King of England, his Heirs and Successors, are to be Sovereigns or Superiors of this Order.
2. NONE are to be admitted, unless he be a Gen∣tleman of Blood, and that he be a Knight and without Reproach.
3. THE Knights-Companions were to be Twenty Six, •ach to have at Windsor a Mantle and Garter for the better Splendor of the Order; to wear the said Page 134 Habit whensoever they go to the Chapel of St. George or Chapter-House, to hold a Chapter, or do any thing relating to their Order. In like manner they are to wear the Habit upon the Vigils of St. George, in their Procession from the King's Lodgings to the Chapel or Chapter-House, and returning back, and during Sup∣per, continue so habited till it be over, and likewise on the Morrow of St. George's Day, at Chapel, Dinner-time, Supper-time, and afterwards all the said Day, until the Sovereign or his Deputy shall deposite the Ensigns of the Order, and decree their Departure.
4. THERE were to be Thirteen Canons Secular, who at the Time of their Institution, or within a Year, were to be Priests, and as many Vicars already Priests, or to be made so at the next Ordination, answerable to the number of the Knights-Companions; these religious Persons to be presented by the several Founders each one, and upon the Death or Vacancy of such presented, the Sovereign of the Order ever afterwards to have the Nomination of them, who were bound to pray for the good Estate of the Sovereign and his Kingdom, and particularly for this Order.
5. THE Canons were to wear a Purple Mantle, with the Arms of St. George in a Roundle upon their right Shoulder.
6. THERE were to be Twenty Six poor veterane Knights, •ach to have a competent Subsistence, their Election to be after the manner of the Canons afore∣said.
7. THESE Knights were to have a Red Mantle, with the Arms of St. George; but without any Circle of the Garter about it.
8. IF the Sovereign could not be present at the solemn Festival of St. George, his Deputy was to supply his Place at the Charge of the Sovereign; but such Depu∣ty was not to make any new Ordinances, tho' he has License to correct or amend the old Ones.
9. EVERY Year, upon the Vigils of St. George, the Knights-Companions within the Realm, or elsewhere, if conveniently, are to assemble, at Windsor Castle, and be present there at the Celebration of Divine Service, in the Habit of the Order, where placed regularly in Page 135 their Stalls or Seats, directly over their Heads their Helmets and Swords, &c. are to be hung up, and re∣main as long as such Knights live, in Honour of them, and to signify the Defence of the Church, to which they are obliged as a Military Order; but in case the Feast of St. George happens to fall within the Quin∣dene or Fifteen Days after the Feast of Easter, then it was to be prorogued to the Sunday next following, ac∣counting Fifteen Days from Easter Day, that every Knight-Companion might have reasonable time to come, nor be forced to ride upon any of the Three Easter Holy-days.
10. THAT they meet in St. George's Chapel yearly, on the Eve of St. George, at the Hour of Three in the Af∣ternoon; and if they come not at the Time assigned, without a just Excuse, which the Sovereign or his De∣puty allows, their Penalty is to be according to the Ordinance of the Chapter; which is, That they shall not enter into the Chapter Door for that time, but s•ay without, and shall have no Voice in any thing that is done in the said Chapter; and if they come not before the Beginning of Vespers, they shall not enter into their Stalls, but shall tarry below before the said Stalls in the Choiristers Places during Vespers. The like Penalty is ordain'd for not coming to the Mass or Morn∣ing-Service betime, and at Vespers, on St. George's Day; and whosoever shall absent himself wholly from this Solemnity, without sufficient Excuse and Leave from the Sovereign or Deputy, he is not to enter within his Stall the next Feast after, but shall stay below, and be∣fore his Stall, as it is said at Vespers, and in the Mor∣rows Procession must walk before the Three processional Crosses, [now the Cho•risters,] and at Mass [Service] shall sit below until the Offering, and he to offer last. After which he is to come before the Sove∣reign, or his Deputy's Stall, and ask Pardon, which re-instates him in his Stall. Absenting the next second Time upon the Feast, without Leave, he has no Stall allowed him until he hath given and offered a Jewel upon St. George's Altar, to the Value of Twenty Marks, which is to be double every Year until a Reconci∣liation.
Page 136 11. WHERESOEVER they be, they must wear their Blue Robes from the Beginning of the first Vespers, on the Eve of St. George's Day, to the second Vespers on the Morrow inclusive, &c.
12. IF any Knight-Companion appears publickly without his dignifying Garter, upon challenging the same, is to pay half a Mark to the Custos and College.
13. AT the Times of Offering, each associated with the other who holds the opposite Stall, are to march in Procession together to make their Offerings; but a∣lone, when his Consort is absent, and so that in all Pro∣cessions the Sovereign goes last.
14. IN the Morrow after the Solemnity of St. George's Feast is over, before their separating, a Mass de Requie or Office de Defunctis was to be used, at which the Knights-Companions were all entirely to be present, without necessary Impediment shown to the Sovereign or Deputy for Liberty to depart.
15. THEY were to leave their Robes at Windsor al∣ways, to be ready for them there upon any sudden Oc∣casions that might evene.
16. JOURNYING near Windsor, in Honour of the Place, unless lawful Cause obstructs, they must take it in their Way, and assuming the Habit of the Order the Canons wore, devoutly to meet and conduct them into the Chapel; where, if it happens to be time of Divine Service, they are to hear the same; if not, they are to be detained no longer than while the Canons shall say the Psalm de profundis for the Defunct, and during their own Offering: But if any had riden thro' the Town, without visiting the Chapel and offering there, for every Neglect he must go one Mile on Foot from the said Chapel, to shew his Obedience, and offer an Half-Penny in Honour of St. George.
17. UPON first Notice of the Death of any of the Or∣der, the Sovereign shall ordain a Thousand Masses, every Foreign Prince shall cause Eight Hundred, a Prince of Wales Seven Hundred, a Duk• Six Hun∣dred, an Earl Three Hundred, every Baron Two Hundred, and every Knight Batchellor One Hundred Masses to be celebrated for the Good of the Soul departed; Page 137 which neglected for a Quarter of a Year after notice of such Death, the Masses are to be doubled; upon half a Year's Neglect, again doubled; and so from Time to Time in like Form till the End of the Year, and then the Year's to be doubled.
18. UPON sure Notice of the Death of a Knight-Companion, the Sovereign, or his Deputy, is to con∣verse by Letters, the Remainder [not Strangers] that are within the Kingdom, to meet him within Six Weeks in some convenient Place, and elect another; which as∣sembled, at least Six, with the Sovereign or Deputy, e∣very of them present is to name Nine of the worthiest and sufficientest Knights without Reproof that he knows, whether native Subjects or Foreigners, sobeit they hold no contrary Party, or be against the Sove∣reign, viz. Three Earls, or of sublimer Title; Three Barons, and Three Knights Batchellors, which Names the Bishop of Windsor, for the Time being, was to write, or, in his Absence, the Dean or Register, and, in their Absence, the oldest Residencer in the College, and after shew them to the Sovereign, who is to chuse out of them him that has the most Voices, and whom he esteems the most beneficial to the Crown and King∣dom. Every Knight failing to appear at an Election, without an approved Cause, was to pay to the Custos and College the Penalty of a Mark, and at his next coming to the Chapter shall kneel upon the Ground, in the midst of the Chapter, before the Sovereign or De∣puty, until Reconciliation.
19. SOON after Election, the Knight-Companion elect is to have a Garter, in token of his Election, and that he is a Fellow of the Order; and as soon as decreed to take Possession of his Stall, but not before, is to have a Mantle, which, if he dies before he receiv'd, he was not to be accounted as one of the Order, because he wanted Possession; nevertheless he was to have one half of the Masses abovesaid, because he had the Gar∣ter deliver'd to him and nothing beside. If he was not installed within a Year after his receiving the Garter, and especially if within the Realm, and without rea∣sonable Excuse to be allowed of by the Sovereign or Deputy, his Election became void, and they might proceed Page 138 to a new one: Moreover, neither the Sword nor Helmet was to be put upon his Stall within the Castle, before his coming; to the End, that if the Knight elect came not, his Atchievements might not be unhandsomly taken down and abused, but honourably removed in∣to the Choir for the publick Use and Profit of the said College.
20. EVERY Foreigner elected was to have Certifica∣tion of such his Election from the Sovereign, at the Sovereign's Charge, who was to send him the Garter and the Mantle, and a Copy of the Statutes of the Or∣der, under the Common Seal of the said Order, with∣in Four Months after the Election, the better for him to advise on; which being accepted, of whatsoever Con∣dition he be, he was obliged within Eight Months after to send a sufficient Proxy, according to his State and Dignity, a Knight irreprehensible to be installed in his Room, and who was to bring with him a Silk Mantle of the Blue Colour of the Order, also a Sword and Helmet to remain at Windsor, which Mantle was be put upon the right Shoulder of the Proxy, by the Sove∣reign or Deputy at the time of Installment, when he is introduced to take the Stall in the Name of his Lord and Master; neither was he to deposite the same till the End of Divine Service; after which he was not to wear it, nor be admitted in the Chapter-House, or have any Suffrage, by virtue of any Powers vested in him; but this Favour Foreigners elected by Proxy were to have, that could not personally come themselves, they were to be Partakers of the whole Masses and Orisons of the Order; whereas, if they died before the Installation, they were to have but a Moity of them.
21. UPON the Death of any Earl, [or of Superior Dignity] Baron, or Knight Batchellor, his Successor, whether Earl, [or of Superior Dignity] Baron, or Knight, was to have a vacant Stall of his Pred•c•ssor, without any changing of Places, except the Prince of Wales alone, who was to have always the next Stall, and opposite to the Sovereign; so that it may happen for a Knight to have an Earl's Place, or an Earl a Knight's Place; and this because the first Founders might be •nown.
Page 139 22. EVERY Knight-Companion at his first Entrance, was to give a certain Alms, according to their Eminence and Degree, for the perpetual Maintenance of the Ca∣nons and Poor Knights, viz. the Sovereign Forty Marks, a Foreign King Twenty Pounds, a Prince of Wales Twenty Marks, a Duke Ten Pounds, an Earl Ten Marks, a Baron a Hundred Shillings, and a Knight Batchellor Five Marks, that by these pious Don•tions they might justly entitle themselves to the Name and Privileges of the Order; wherefore, before these Pay∣ments were rightly performed, their Sword and Helmet [Atchievements] were not to be hung up, and for Fo∣reigners the Sovereign was obliged to pay himself.
23. UPON the Death of any of the Founders his Arms, in a Plate of Metal, was to be fixed upon the Back of his Stall, and their Successors were to have the like, but to be placed underneath their Predecessors, and not to be so great as those of the first Founders.
24. AT Admission every Knight-Companion must promise and swear personally, or by Proxy, faithfully to observe the Statutes of the Order, and none are to be installed by Proxy but Foreigners only, which can∣not conveniently come in Person.
25. IF the Sovereign be out of England at the Instal∣lation of any Knight-Companion, or could not attend himself to do what appertains to him in that Point, he might impower and authorize any of the Fellows to of∣ficiate for him.
26. THAT there be a Common Seal or Signet Keeper, whom the Sovereign was to assign.
27. EVERY Knight-Companion was to have a Copy of the Statutes under the Seal of the Order, the Ori∣ginal sealed likewise with the said Seal, to remain for evermore within the Treasury of the College, and upon the Death of any Knight-Companion, his Executors were to send back such Copy to be deliver'd to the Cu∣stos or Warden.
28. NO Knight-Companion was to go out of the Realm and Dominion of England, without the Know∣l•dge and Licence of the Sovereign, who of Grace and Favour is bound to grant it upon a Military Expedition, or other notable Act appertaining to the Honour of Page 140 Knighthood, in Preference and Advancement of this Order of St. George.
29. THEY were not to arm themselves against each other, but in the Wars of their Sovereign Lord, in his right and just Quarrel; and if it happen'd that any of the Order should be retain'd in the Cause and Quarrel of any Lord, and the adverse Party desir'd another Knight-Companion on his Side, that latter Knight isby no means to agree but to excuse himself in all Things, because his Fellow was armed on the other Side, and was retain'd before him. And every Knight was bound to except and agree, at his being retain'd, that he may have his Discharge from the Wars, upon any of the Order's being engaged in Arms before him for the con∣trary Party; and if the second retained knows not of it, upon notice that any of his Fellows were retained be∣fore him, and armed on the contrary Side, the second retained Knight was to excuse himself to his Master, and relinquish the Quarrel.
30. ALL Licences given to the Knight-Companions to travel in quest of Honour by Military Exploits; also all Certificates, mandatous Letters, Certificates, and o∣ther Writings whatsoever relating to the Order, were to be issued out by the Sovereign, under the Seal of the Order, to remain in the keeping of one of the Order, during the Sovereign's Pleasure. And if the Keeper of the Seal absent himself upon reasonable Cause, he was to leave the Seal with another of the Fellowship that the Sovereign should appoint, to the Intent that the Seal at no time be out of the Presence of the Sove∣reign, he being within his Dominion. And in like manner concerning the Seal in the Absence of the Sove∣reign or the Deputy.
31. IF any Knight-Companion for Devotion sake should desire to dwell at Windsor, he was to maintain himself at his own, and not at the College Charge.
32. ANY other Knight, not of the Order, upon the Account of Devotion, that would reside there, was to be provided for at the Appointment of the Sovereign, and the Fellowship also. Any Knight or other Person giving 10 l. yearly Rents or Lands, or more, to the College, to participat• of their Prayers and Suffrages, Page 141 he was to be registred in the Calendar of Benefactors, and continually be pray'd for by the Canons and Poor Knights.
33. UPON the Death of any Canon, the Custos or Warden is to certify the same by Letters to the Sove∣reign, if beyond Sea, to know whom he pleases to pre∣sent to the Canonship.
34. THERE was to be a Register appointed by the Sovereign and Fellowship, the most intelligent Person of the College, who was to be present at the Chapters, to record their Elections and the Electors, their Punish∣ments, and Causes of them, with their Reconciliations, all Acts whatsoever administred in their Council, from Chapter to Chapter yearly; for the faithful Execution of which Office he was to be sworn at his Admission therein; and whatsoever had been register'd was in the Beginning of the following Chapter, on the Vigils of St. George, to be publickly recited before the Sovereign and the whole Fellowship, that what was amiss and incorrect might be mended and reduced to due Form.
§ 2. BESIDES these Statutes there are Two other Bodies, or Exemplars establish'd since, the one by King Henry V. the other by King Hen. VIII. King Henry V. finding the Glory of the Order declining, removed the Grand Festival and other Solemnities, and commanded a strict Observation of all the Founder's Statutes, and brought many more to like Perfection, which he sub∣joined to such of them, where they might be prop•rly and are as follow:
- 3. That the Knights should mark their Obeisance in the Choir first to the Altar, and next to the Sovereign, or in his Ab∣sence to his Stall.
- 8. THAT the Deputy should •lect, if the Sovereign (when abroad) had not Six Knights with him.
- 9. THAT the Feast of St. George should not be kept upon St. Mark's Day, nor the Days of St. Philip and Jacob, nor of the Page 142 Holy Cross, neither upon any Days whic• should happen in the Festivals of th Ascension or Pentecost, or other solem• Feasts ordained by the Church to the in¦terrupting their Divine Service.
- 12. THAT when a Knight should rid• out he might wear a Blue Silk Ribbon in¦stead of his Garter.
- 14. THAT the Order and Manner o• Offering up the Atchievements should b• as is there prescribed, viz. before the• offer their Money, their Swords should b• first offered by Two Companions, which the Sovereign or his Deputy should ap∣point, and afterwards their Helmets with their Crests, by Two others of the Order.
- 20. THAT Knights absent in the Sove∣reign's Service might be install'd by De∣puty.
- 31. THAT the Sovereign should take a Signet of the Order abroad with him, to be fixed to all the Acts he does in Foreign Parts relating to this Order, in Distinction to those done at home.
- 34. THAT no Charge should be admitted upon the College by the Custos or Canons, without the Sovereign's Consent likewise.
THE Statutes with these Additions (as the Statutes of Institution) this King caused to be translated into French, and transcribed into a Roll, which was ordered to be presented to every Knight-Companion under the com∣mon Seal of the Order. In after Times it was tran∣scribed into Books; and by a Decree, Anno〈◊〉Hen. VII. an Original Book of these Statutes and Institution•, fair written, was to be reposed in the College of St. G•org•, and the Scribe or Register to have Transcripts of them in Readiness, to present the elected Knights withal.
THE last and largest Body was first began, and re∣ceived the finishing S•roke by King Hen. VIII. chiefly in regard some of the former Statutes wanted Explication Page 143 and others Contraction. And for the compleating of which Purpose, on St. George's Day, Anno 9 Regni sui he summoned all the Knights-Companions to convene next Year at the Time of the Solemnity, about the Ab∣rogation of what tended to darken the Honour of this Order (if any such were) and for the Advancement of what might promote the Grandeur and Lustre of it. But these Resolves came to no Perfection till May 28. Anno 11 Regni sui, when he entred upon this Reforma∣tion with all magnificent Ceremony imaginable, for be∣ing accompanied with Nineteen Knights-Companions of the Order proceeding in Cavalcade to the Chapter-House, and taking into Consideration their former Statutes of Knights-Companions, with all due Reve∣rence implor'd the Sovereign to reform and explain them as he should think convenient, which he brought to a successful Period, by the Advice and Consent of the Society assembled: That done, all present entreated the Sovereign, kneeling, that where any of them had been peccant against the Order, he would please to re∣mit, and issue out a general Pardon, which he granted and ratify'd in Chapter next Day. This was a Task of Three Years compleat before it rose to Perfection, viz. April 23. Anno 14 Hen. VIII. for then the Sovereign, out of right singular Love, well-temper'd Zeal, and entire Affection to this most noble Order, to the Estate of Chivalry, and the Continuance and Encrease thereof; as also at the humble Request and instant Importunity of the then Knights-Companions, and by their Ad∣vice, Counsel and Consent, did interpret and eluci∣date all the Obscurities, Doubts and Ambiguities of the former Statutes and Ordinances. Divers Affairs contain'd in Fifty of them being explain'd and amended; he made likewise necessary Additions, the Original whereof being sign'd and seal'd, were commanded to be carefully laid up in the Treasury of Windsor Col∣lege, to remain as a Standard to succeeding Times; yet they have not been seen there these many Years past.
THE Articles and Clauses added to the former Sta∣•utes, in this last Body, are these:
Page 144To Article
- 1. THAT the Interpretation of the Statutes, &c. belongeth to the Sove∣reign.
- 2. THE Three Points of Reproach de∣clar'd, and what is meant by a Gentle∣man of Blood.
- 4. OF the Prerogative of the Feast.
- 5. HOW the Feast is to be observed by absent Knights.
- 6. ATTENDANCE on the Sovereign, if he be not at the Feast.
- 7. THAT the Sovereign's Deputy may correct Things in Chapter.
- 12. THE offering up of Atchievements, and a Taper arm'd with an Escutcheon.
- 13. CANONS to sit in the lower Stalls, when any Knights are present.
- 14. THAT Six Knights make a Chap∣ter.
- 20. THE Manner of Installation set down.
- 21. CLAUSE for a Foreign Knight's Deputy to be conducted from the Chap∣ter-House to the Stall; and for making an Election void, if the Knight send not his Proxy within Seven Months.
- 23. FOR advancing and translating of Stalls.
- 25. PLATES not to be larger than the first Founders, except Strangers.
- 27. THE Time Three Months prefix'd for the Executor of a deceas'd Knight-Companion to send back the Copy of the Orders deliver'd to him at his Admission, which might be also sent to one of the principal Officers of the Order.
- 38. CONCERNING the Collar of the Order.
THIS Body of Statutes was compil'd in Latin, and is recorded in the Black Book of the Order. It was tran∣slated into French and English by Sir Thomas Wriothesl•y,Page 145 Kt. then Garter King of Arms. The English Version annex'd here to this Treatise, is what hath since been deliver'd (instead of the former Statutes) to all suc∣ceeding Knights-Companions, according to the Injun∣ction; but of late Times appointed to be sent to Fo∣reign Princes and other elect Knights abroad, sealed with the Great Seal of the Order, affix'd to a Label of Blue Silk and Gold.
§ 3. THERE have been several Endeavours since the Reign of King Henry VIII. for reforming the Statutes. As first, King Edward VI. who as Sovereign, by the Orders themselves, had an undoubted Prerogative set him to alter and reform many Things which seem'd inconsistent with the Religion he establish'd. To which Purpose, at a Chapter at Greenwich, held April 23. in the Third Year of his Reign, the Lord St. John, the Earl of Arundel, and Sir William Paget, were to peruse and make them agreeable to the King's other Proceed∣ings, by the Assistance and Advice of the Protector, the Duke of Somerset, and other Companions. This was follow'd by a subsequent Order pass'd in the Cha•ter at Greenwich the Year after, that the Statutes should be reform'd and corrected as they thought expedient: And for the better Accomplishment of their Design, at the next Feast, April 24. 5 Edw. VI. another Order commenc'd, impowering the Duke of Somerset, the Mar∣quess of Northampton, the Earls of Warwick, Arundel, Bedford and Wi•ts, to peruse and amend the Statures and other Books of the Order, which were brought to some tolerable Degree of Perfection; for thereupon a new Body was collected (in general very much alter∣ing the Laws of the Order) and publish'd March 17. Anno 7 Edw. VI. But this King within Four Months after expiring, Queen Mary, his Sister and Successor, the very first Thing she transacted was to abrogate and make them void; wherefore we need not mention them, as never in use and unrevived. For the Execu∣tion of which Purpose, she conven'd a Chapter at St. James's, the 27th of September following; and it was then decreed, that the said Laws and Ordinances, as inconvenient, impertinent, and tending to Novelty, Page 146 should be disannulled, and no Account to be made of them for the future; and for the quicker Execution, Sir William Petre (that Day admitted Chancellor) had Or∣ders to see them speedily expung'd out of the Book of Statutes, and forthwith defac'd, lest any Memory of them should remain to Posterity; and only those of her Father, Hen. VIII. and his Royal Predecessors, should be retain'd.
IN this Affair King Philip, her Husband, appear'd no less zealous; for on the 5th of August, 1 and 2 Philip and Mary, (which was the 3d Day after he had been invested with the Habit) himself being present at a Chapter at Windsor, it was ordain'd, That all Acts and Decrees in the Great Book, [i.e. the Black Book afore∣said] which were repugnant and disagreeable, either with the ancient and receiv'd Statutes of the Order, or else with the Laws of the Realm, should clearly be abolish'd and erased, by the Marquis of Winchester, the Earls of Arund•l, Pembroke, and the Lord Paget.
No sooner was Queen Elizabeth fix'd on the Throne, but soon after, viz. on St. George's Day, in the second Year of her Reign, a View of the Statutes was com∣mitted, by Commission, to Four of the Knights-Com∣panions, viz. the Marquis of Northampton, the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke, and the Lord Howard of Effing∣ham, who were thereby impower'd to peruse and con∣sider those Statutes with the utmost Care and regard, if any of them were repugnant to the Religion, Laws and Statutes of the Realm; and if any such were re∣corded, to represent them faithfully to the Sover•ign, that she, in Conjunction with the Knights-Companions, might establish such Decrees concerning them as she should think sit; but that any thing was done in pur∣suance hereunto, doth not appear; for the Transcripts of her Father's Body of the Statutes, throughout the Time of her Reign, were presented to the Kn•ghts-Companions at their Instailations; and the Practice of her Time was pursuant to the Direction therein, except in some few Things now and then added or alter'd at future Chapters, when there arose fresh Matters for such Expedients.
Page 147 KING James I. her Successor, revolv'd something to∣wards a new Regulation; and in order to put it in Execution, the 14th of May, in the 9th Year of his Reign, decreed, That Commissionary Letters should be granted to the Earls of Nottingham, Worcester, Pem∣broke and Northampton, to empower them to examine the Registers and other Monuments which pertained to that Order; and where any Passage should be found obsolete or obscure, to make it conspicuous and clear; where Contrariety appear'd, fitly to reconcile it; yet with no Design of innovating any Thing, but an Inten∣tion of renewing all, as near as might be, to the first Standard and most ancient Institution of the Order; saving always Power to himself, as Sovereign of the Order, to add or diminish any Matter (according to the Occasion) as it should seem agreeable to his Pru∣dence for the Honour of this Most Noble Order. What Progress they made in this Commission, the Memoirs of that Time are •silent in; but some few Years after, this Affair was reviv'd, and another was issu'd forth, to the Earls of Nottingham, Worc•ster, South∣ampton, Arundel and Montgomery, and the Viscount Lisle, all Knights-Companions, dated April 26. in the 16th Year of his Reign; which Six, or any Four of them, were thereby constituted to take an exact Survey of all the ancient Statutes and Articles of the said Order; and authoriz'd to call before them all such Persons, whe∣ther Officers of the said Order, or others, as could give any Light or Information concerning that Affair; and after a serious Deliberation, to pen down what in them they conceiv'd meet to be explain'd, and what to be added, whereby to render the Order more illustri∣ous, that the same being presented to the Sovereign and the Society, at a Chapter holden, might be resolv'd on in part, or in all, to be put in Ex•cution, if it seem'd so good to that King.
THIS Affair mov'd very slowly; but towards the latter End of his Reign, the Earls of Worcester, Mont∣gomery, Arundel, Surry and Le•cester, Five of the Six Commissioners above-nam'd, having held divers Con∣ferences, and debated several Matters represented to them, and at a Chapter convened at Whitehall the 19th Page 148 of May, Anno 20 Jac. I. did present to the Sovereign certain Articles, subscribed with their Hands, which, for the Honour of the Order, they thought requisite to be duly observ'd.
BY the first of which they made Provision for a fur∣ther Progression and Advancement of the illustrious In∣stitution, in proposing, that every Year a Commission from the Sovereign should be granted, or continu'd to such Knights of the Order as the Chapter should pitch on, to deliberate and weigh all Affairs that fell under the Order, and that the Year after, an Estimate, by the Knights in Chapter, should be exhibited, of their Re∣solutions and Proceedings by Virtue of the said Com∣mission. This, with Eight other Articles, were con∣firm'd by the Sovereign and Twelve of the Knights-Companions, the 22d of May following, in a Chapter held at Whitehall; and so prosperously their Endeavours succeeded, that on the Feast-day of St. George, at Windsor in the ensuing Year, the Earl of Worcester, (being then the Sovereign-Deputy) with Ten Knights-Companions more, gave their assent to Eight other Articles (most of them concerning the Alms-Knights) which the Morning after had the Approbation of the Sovereign; and before the Celebration of Divine Service, by his Deputy and Companions assembled in the Chapter-House, the Observation thereof was duly decreed.
KING Charles I. design'd and endeavour'd the most compleat and absolute Reformation of any of his Pre∣decessors; and at the Solemnity of St. George, held at Windsor the 6th of October, in the 6th Year of his Reign, He commission'd Nine Knights-Companions, viz. the Earls of Mulgrave, Pembroke, Montgomery, Arund•l, Surry, Salisbury, Carlisle, Dorset, Holland, Berkshire and Suffolk, with command to assemble Four Times in a Year, to take into their Consideration the Affairs of the Order; all which, but the Earls of Mulgrave and Dorset, met at Whitehall the 2d of January following, where some few Matters fell under their Consultation. This Commis∣sion was seconded by one of a larger extent about Three Months after, and directed to the said Knights-Companions, or to any Eight, Seven, Six, Five or Four of them, empowering them to meet and devise, Page 149 and exactly preponderate all the Statutes and Ordinan∣ces of the Order, as well such as were established at the Foundation, as those that had been since made, by Explanation or Addition, and to weigh advisedly whe∣ther any Thing had been enacted, that had caused Doubt or Ambiguity, or stood in need of any Change or Amendment; and if upon mature Deliberation by them thus conven'd, there should appear any Contrariety or Defect, for want of plain Expression, or other Omissi∣on, fit to be supplied, tending to the Honour of the Order, That then the Sovereign might, upon Return of their Proceedings, resolve upon some general Decla∣ration in Chapter, to reform and reduce into one Body all the Statutes and Ordinances thereof, that the same being compil'd and settled in one perfect Model, might be so consign'd to Posterity, free from all future Questi∣ons and Doubts.
NEVER THELESS not any thing was done upon this Commission, tho' it stood in force even from the 6th to the 13th Year of this King's Reign; but where the Neglect lay History does not fully inform us, tho' it may be conjectur'd by what follows.
AT the Feast of St. G•orge, celebrated by Prorogation at White-hall, for the Year 1636. upon the 17th, 18th, and 19th Days of April, 1637. divers Petitions for Re∣formation, and reducing of Matters to their pristine Constitution, were presented to the Sovereign by the Chancellor, and read; some of which, more especial∣ly, tending to set off and encrease the Honour of the Order, were received and decreed by the Sovereign, and the rest referr'd to the said Knights-Commissioners. The first of those Decrees which at that time had its Sanction, was to revive and renew the Powers given in the former Commission; and thereupon a new one, dated the 7th of May following, was issued under the Great Seal of the Order, and directed to the Earls of Mulgrave, Darby, Pembroke, and Montgomery, Arundel, and Surry, Kelly, Salisbury, Dorset, Holland, Barkshire, Suffolk, Lyndsey, Exeter, Marquiss Hamilton, Duke of Lenox, the Earls of Darby, Moreton, and Northumberland, or to Three or more of them, to meet and consult of any Matters contain'd in the Statutes, or for Honour of Page 150 the Order. These Knights-Commissioners were en∣dow'd with all the plenary Powers given in the foresaid Commission, dated 6 Car. I. unto which was granted a further Addition, for the better effecting the Sovereign's Care: That Three or more of them should meet at the Sovereign's Court, and begin to put the said Com∣mission in execution in Whitson Week next ensuing, at∣tended and assisted by the Chancellor of the Order, and all, or any other Officers, or such of them as they should fix on, or find serviceable. And being assem∣bled, to have free Liberty to hear, propound, and de∣bate of whatsoever shall fall under their Cognisance, or that they should conceive conducible to the Honour and perfect Establishment of so Illustrious and Noble a Body. And to prepare all Matters of such their Re∣solutions and Debates to be laid before the Sovereign at the next Feast of St. George, and so successively at e∣very Chapter so appointed by him, to receive his full Determination, Approbation, and Royal Assent, with further Power to adjourn from time to time, after the first Opening and Reading of the said Commission; their Meetings to be in such Places, and on such Days as should seem most convenient to them.
NOW who wou'd suppose, that after so Noble an In∣tention of the Sovereign, and his earnest Solicitude to issue forth a second Commission, his hearty recom∣mending and exciting their Deligence for a speedy Dis∣patch, and lastly, his expecting an Account of their Transactions the next Feast, these honourable Persons, Companions of the Order, should need a Spur to ac∣complish so laudable a Design; but it was so.
FOR altho' the Commission was opened at White-hall the 30th of May following, in the Presence of the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, Salishury, Holland, Marquiss of Hamilton, and Duke of Lenox, Commissi∣oners; yet Sir Thomas Row Chancellor, in his Letter to Dr. Christopher Wren, dated the 4th of June, 1637. sad∣ly complained, That it was much as he could do to draw together Five of the Knights-Companions, to o∣pen and read the Commission, and this quasi in •ransi••, was in Confusion and Hurry, and all that was transacted was to appoint another Convention at Court in M••summerPage 151 Week then next ensuing, and charge the Chan∣cellor to prepare Matter (for Propositions and Observa∣tions upon the Statutes) fit for their Consultations a∣gainst that Appointment, according to the Tenor of the Commission. And in another Place writes, That he found such Difficulty to procure Meetings, and as cer∣tain non Chalance in every one, as if it were but a cere∣monious Affair, and so few hearty in it, that he feared he and the Officers should wait to little Purpose: And so indeed it fell out; for albeit he att•nded in Midsummer Week, according to their Direction, yet there was no∣thing dispatch'd, save only the adjourning of their Meeting to London.
SOME little Progress was afterwards made in this Af∣fair at White-hall the 8th of February following, where Three of them were present, viz. the Earls of B•rk∣shire, Lindsey, and Northumberland, who order'd the Chancellor, Register, and Garter, to prepare an Abbre∣viation of the Statutes, and reduce every thing of one Head into an Act, to keep up to Method, and avoid Confusion.
THE 1st of February after, another Assembly of Seven of the Knights-Commissioners was held at White-hall, in whose Presence a few Points were debated; but little or nothing concluded.
§ 4. As concerning the Annals of the Order, or the Books wherein the several Resolutions and Decrees oc∣casionally made in Chapters, and wherein other histo∣rical and ceremonial Matters relating to it are recorded, •t will not be amiss to give some Account of them in this Place.
THE first, in Order of time, is an old Paper Book written in French, call'd Registrum Chartaceum, hitherto fortunately preserv'd in the Paper Office at White-hall, which probably was b•gun by John Coningham; for we find him, 1414. (a little before the Annals commenced) made Canon of Windsor, and Register of the Or∣der, and in regard the same Hand-Writing is carry'd on from the Beginning of the Book down to 16 Hen. VI. inclusive, where follows an Hi•tus till Anno 23 Hen. VI. that the Annals began to be set down with another Page 152 Hand; and that he shortly after died in 1445. Hence∣forward these Annals are entred with promiscuous Hands, which may be presumed the proper Hand-Writings of the Registers of this Noble Order, as they succeeded each other in the Office.
AFTER we find Richard Sidnor mention'd in the Register Anno 16 Hen. VIII. (who subscribed his Name at the foot of every Leaf) the Annals were pen'd in one Hand until Anno 26 Hen. VIII. that Robert A•drydge, D. D. and one of the Canons of Windsor succeeded him; and then 'tis evident the Writing also was changed to an old set Roman Hand, which ran on to the End of 29 Hen. VIII. in which Year he was advanced to the Bishoprick of Carlisle; and this Book breaks off in the 31st of his Reign.
BESIDES this there is another Book that goes by the Name of the Black Book, wherein the Annals of the Order are transcribed in Latin, concerning which there pass'd a Decree, Anno 3 Hen. VII. that it should be fairly copy'd out, and afterwards that the Sovereign should be put in Remembrance of it; but neither of these De∣crees was put in execution, nor was this confirm'd till towards the End of the Reign of King Henry VIII. This Book differs very little from the Registrum Chartaceum, for therein is nothing enrolled relating to the Order (except one of the Exemplars of the Founders Statutes, and a Catalogue of the first Twenty-five Knights-Companions) before the 4th Year of King Henry V. the Annals of the Order, until that time, be∣ing entirely lost. It hath the same Hiatus or Intervals from 16 to 23 Hen. VI. from 7 to 10 of Edw. 4. from 4 to 7 Hen. VII. and from 10 to 14 Hen. 7. It also runs parallel therewith for the most part, and that it was compil'd by Dr. Aldrydge, whilst he continu'd Register, is collected from some Passages in the Preface of all the Sovereigns, ending with King Henry VIII. The Tran∣scription of this Book was finish'd Anno 13 Hen. VIII. for so far is written, as also the Appendix, with one and the same Hand; (in a middle-siz'd Text) but Anno•2 Hen. VIII. another Hand appears, which, with some Variation, is continu'd to the End of 5 Edw. VI. where this Book breaks off.
Page 153 THE Register of the Order was oblig'd to provide Two Books, and therein to enter the Ordinances, Statutes, and Acts of this Noble Corporation, one to be lodg'd at the Chapter House at Windsor, and call'd, Index Windesoriensis, and the other being a Duplicate of the former, to remain in his own Custody, ready to expose to the View of the Sovereign, whensoever he should demand it; this latter was called Aulae Registrum.
AS to the general Directions for Compiling these Books, and the Particulars they are to consist of, we are inform'd from the said Statutes and Constitutions; for besides the Entry of all the Scrutinies taken in Chapter and Elections made thereupon, it is his Office to record the Penalties inflicted on Knights-Compa∣nions, and the Reconciliation of all Delinquents with other Acts, and their Causes appertaining to the Order, all which are decreed to be recited before the Sove∣reign and Knights-Companions at the Beginning of the Chapter yearly, if Occasion be, to correct and reduce into Method. Moreover he is to record all the Policies in War, Exploits, Transactions, and memorable Atchievements, both of the Sovereign and Knights-Companions, according as he can best attain the Know∣ledge of them, by his own diligent Search, or the As∣sistance of Mr. Garter, which having consign'd to Wri∣ting from Year to Year, is to be perused at the next Chapter by the Knights-Companions, for their Appro∣bation and Correction; and being reiterated the second time in the Chapter, he is to see that they be fairly en∣grossed in the said Book, for a perpetual Remem∣brance.
AND because the time perfix'd for Rehearsal of these Particulars in Chapter, had in succeeding Years been imploy'd in other Affairs. In one of those Articles which the Knights-Companions exhibited to King Jac. I. the 19th of May, Anno Jac. R. 20. and rati∣fied the 22d of May following, it was decreed that no∣thing of this Nature, or any other Act in Chapter, should be registred before it had been perus'd and pass'd the Consideration of the then Knights-Companions, or at least Four of them, who when they should set Times apart to consult of the Affairs of this Order (for which Page 154 they were chiefly commission'd) might then also make Use of such Opportunities as should give this Business Dispatch with more Conveniency. Upon mature Consi∣deration had of those Injunctions, the then Register at a Chapter held 19 Nov. 22 Car. II. presented the Conti∣nuation of the Annals of this Order, which he had ranged in order to register in the Liber Carolinus, and submitted them to the Approbation of the Knights-Companions, whom the Sovereign had commission'd to inspect the Affairs of the Order; which Tender, when they declin'd, he propos'd that it might pass the Exa∣mination of the Prelate; but they not giving the ir As∣sent to it, in regard the Register himself was under the Obligation of an Oath, to deal with the utmost Fi∣delity in his Reports, it was decreed, That the said Annals should be fairly recorded in the Book, without any further Inspection.
BESIDES the abovemention'd Particulars, there were Materials of another Nature, decreed to be collected by the Chancellor of the Order and Garter King of Arms, to be digested first, and after entred by the Re∣gister; for whereas one part of the Chancellor's Duty was to make a Narration every Year in Chapter, at the Feast of St. George, of the illustrious Exploits of the Knights-Companions, as well as the Actions that tend to eclipse their Glory; so the Register was to note these, and record them from a perpetual Aera or Memorial of their Honour or Disgrace.
AND it is part of Garter's Duty diligently to enquire after the Valiant, Fortunate, and Renown'd Acts, both of the Sovereign and the rest of the Knights-Compani∣ons, and relate them with all Exactness to the Register, for his Engrossing: But how sparingly these are put in execution, the Annals themselves bear witness. How∣ever, Sir Edward Walker Garter-King has drawn up an Account of the shining Actions and Characters of the Knights-Companions, beginning with Thomas Earl of Strafford, and continuing it down to his Son, which he deliver'd Dr. Ryves the Register, for the Use afore∣directed.
AMONG the Articles establish'd at the Feast of St. George, 21 Jac. I. the last is, That the then Register Page 155 should compose a Book, wherein should be orderly tran∣scribed the Form and Manner of all the Solemn•ties, Ce∣remonies, and Processions, at the Celebration of the Or∣der; as also of taking down and offering the defunct Knight's A•chievements, that the Knights-Companions might have free Recourse to it; but such Book never was extant.
For the Safety and Preservation of the Annals, the Knights-Commissioners determined the 22d of May, An. Jac. I. 20. That a secure and convenient Place within the Castle of Windsor should be appointed, in which all Acts concerning the Order should be reposed, and to which every Knight-Companion at all times might have access. And upon the Remove or Decease of the Register of the Order, the Book, containing the Account of all such Transactions, should be committed to one of the Knights of the Order.
The second of these Books is called the Blue Book, so call'd, being bound in Blue Velvet; it begins with the first Year of Queen Mary, and ends at the 18th of King Jac. I.
The third being bound in Red Velvet, is denominated the Red Book; it commences where the Blue Book leaves off, and treats of the like Acts and Entries, and is carry'd down to 14 Car. I. having first given a full Account of the Installation of the Prince, afterwards King Charles II. And as to great part of this Work, it was perform'd by the elegant and judicious Dr. Matthew Wren, Bishop of Ely, and Register of the Order, whose excellent Pattern his Brother and Successor Dr. Christopher W•en hath co∣py'd in its following Tract. This Bishop compiled a MS. A. D. 1631. wherein, by way of Comment upon King Henry VIII's Statutes, he hath com•endiously shewn what Alteration there hath passed in the Law of the Garter, a Work performed with great Judgment, and exce•dingly useful to the Curious.
The fourth and last Book is, Liber Carolinus, and com∣mences 1640. wherein the Annals are brought down to the beginning of 1670. by Ryves, then Register. And in a Chapter conven'd at Windsor the 16th of April, Anno 1•Car. II. it was decreed, That there should be Two of these Books compiled, the one printed in Latin, in the Custos of the Register at Windsor; and the other in Page 156English, to be reserv'd at Whitehall, and call'd, Registrum Aulicum.