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BOARD OF EDITORS
J. FRANKLIN JAMESON
ANDREW C. MCLAUGHLIN
H. MORSE STEPHENS
OCTOBER 1905 TO JULY 1906
LONDON : MACMILLAN AND CO., LTD.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME XI
DOCUMENTS — Letters of John incy Adams to Alexander H. Everett, 1811-
American Historical Review
EARLY RECORDS OF THE KING'S COUNCIL 1
'HE early history of the privy council is a subject that has been
in seemed to be no records of its acts and proceedings before the reign of Richard II. While much concerning the council of the fourteenth century may be gathered from various collateral sources, it has seemed to some that in the lack of more direct evidence our knowledge of the subject cannot be clear and definite. It has been thought too that the council can not be considered a distinct and mature body before the beginning of its records. Says Dicey, “The conjecture is therefore natural that the council's acts were first accurately recorded when its existence as a separate institution was for the first time recognized." This time was understood to be the reign of Richard II., which has been taken as marking a special change in the council's development. Much therefore hinges upon the question when such records were actually first made.
The famous collection of Sir Harris Nicolas, entitled Proceedings and Ordinances of the Privy Council, contains for its first entry a record of the tenth year of Richard II. That the same eminent author and editor subsequently discovered two isolated instances of council minutes of earlier date, belonging to the years 1337 and 1341 respectively, which he presented in his History of the Royal
* The term king's council rather than privy council was generally used in the fourteenth and most of the fifteenth century.
2 " Its history can only be traced in its proceedings and until those proceedings are collected and printed, he [the author] is persuaded that anything which could be written would be unworthy of attention, because it must be formed of speculations founded upon most imperfect premises.” Nicolas, Proceedings of the Privy Council, Vol. I., p. vi.
3 Dicey, Privy Council, p. 25.
*“ The privy council, from the reign of Richard II. onwards, although it inherited and amplified the functions of the permanent council of Edward I., differed widely in its organization.” Stubbs, Constitutional History, II. 274.
AM. HIST. REV, VOL. XI.-I.