Explore Your Archive: A petition to Oliver Cromwell from Barnsley Archives

By Rosemary Collins, 17 November 2017 - 10:56am

Rosemary Collins talks to Paul Stebbing of Barnsley Archives about a document from the aftermath of the Civil War

Cromwell's signature is visible at the bottom of the document. Credit: Barnsley Archives and Local Studies

Explore Your Archive is a campaign coordinated jointly by The National Archives (UK) and the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), with and on behalf of the archives and records sector, across the UK and Ireland which aims to raise awareness of archives, their value to society and the impact they have, every day, on individual lives.

The campaign runs from Saturday 18 November to Sunday 26 November with archives all around the country putting on exhibitions, having open days, hosting seminars and talks and allowing communities to "explore" the amazing things they hold.

As part of the campaign, Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine has teamed up with The National Archives to bring you a week of interviews with some of the archivists taking part around the country to discover just a few of the fascinating historic gems they hold.

Today, Paul Stebbing, archives and local studies manager at Barnsley Archives and Local Studies, tells us about a petition submitted to Oliver Cromwell in 1654.

What gem have you chosen?

I’ve chosen a petition from Yorkshire landowner John Savile, asking for payment for his role as one of the Tellers of the Receipt of the Exchequer.

The role involved receiving money, which had to be paid into the Exchequer. The amounts were noted in a book, and then copies of the entries, called a Teller’s Bill, were sent to the Tally Court so that a record could be made of it. At the end of each day, the money they had received, as determined by the bills, was removed from their chests to be deposited in the Treasury.

This particularly petition is addressed to Oliver Cromwell, the then Lord Protector. A footnote at the bottom of the document is signed boldly ‘Oliver P’. The document dates back to 22 November 1654, right in the middle of the Commonwealth period, and just five years after the execution of King Charles I.

Why did you choose it?

I chose this document because it demonstrates the scope and breadth of borough and country archive collections. We hold documents of local, regional and national importance.

This particular document, signed by a man considered to be one of the greatest ever Britons, is a snapshot in time. It tells us about the administration of the country during those eleven years without a monarchy.

It was amongst the records of the Pye family of Staffordshire. Walter Pye was an auditor of the exchequer in the 17th century, hence the Cromwell document coming into his custody. The Pyes eventually married into the Elmhirst family of Worsbrough, the Elmhirst Muniments being one of our largest single collections.

Barnsley is also a stone’s throw away from Tankersley, where the Royalist army won a victory over Cromwell’s Roundheads in 1643.

Nurses with a guy
Oliver Cromwell. Credit: Barnsley Archives and Local Studies

Tell us more about your archive...

The collections of Barnsley Archives date from the 12th to the 21st century, our earliest document being a medieval land grant from the 1150s. They include records detailing everything from local families, to schools, organisations, local businesses, the police and councils.

Sitting alongside the award-winning Experience Barnsley Museum in Barnsley Town Hall, we are visited by over 20,000 people a year. Many visitors are actively tracing their family history, whilst others are keen to delve into local history or the history of their house. We also assist with academic projects, legal disputes and a whole host of other enquiries which involve original source material.

Complementing the original archives we hold are the local studies library collections. These contain thousands of local books and pamphlets relating to Barnsley and the whole of Yorkshire.

Barnsley Archives has a number of events taking place between the 20 and 24 November to celebrate the Explore Your Archive campaign, one of which is a Conservation Workshop on 22 November, explaining some of the techniques used to ensure the long term survival of documents such as the Oliver Cromwell petition. The workshop will also give visitors the chance to try some of the techniques hands-on.

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