Luttrell, Narcissus (DNB00)

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LUTTRELL, NARCISSUS (1657–1732), annalist and bibliographer, son of Francis Luttrell, esq., of London, a descendant of the Luttrells of Dunster Castle, Somerset, was born in 1657, and educated in the school of Sheen, Surrey, under Mr. Aldrich. He was admitted a fellow-commoner of St. John's College, Cambridge, 17 Feb. 1673–4, and was created M.A. by royal mandate in 1675 (Graduati Cantabr. 1823, p. 303). Most of the members of his family were Jacobites, but he warmly espoused the cause of King William (Rawdon Papers, pp. 359, 419). For many years he lived in complete seclusion at Chelsea, studied much, chronicled the stirring events of his time, and collected an extensive library, including some valuable manuscripts. Hearne says that he had formed ‘a very extraordinary collection. In it are many manuscripts which, however, he had not the spirit to communicate to the world, and 'twas a mortification to him to see the world gratified without his assistance.’ He died at Little Chelsea, after a lingering illness, on 27 June 1732, and was buried at Chelsea on 6 July (Historical Register, 1732, ‘Chronological Diary,’ p. 28). Narcissus Luttrell, his son, was buried at Chelsea in 1727, and Francis Luttrell, probably another son, was buried there on 3 Sept. 1740. Luttrell formed a valuable collection of fugitive poetical tracts, with broadsides and slips, relative to his own time. The collection became the property of Edward Wynne, author of ‘Eunomus, or Dialogues concerning the Law and Constitution of England,’ and a near relation of the Luttrells. Wynne's library was dispersed by Leigh & Sotheby in 1786. After passing through the hands successively of James Bindley [q. v.] and the Duke of Buckingham, a large number of the sheets, consisting of 188 eulogies and elegies, 255 humorous, political, historical, and miscellaneous ballads, and 143 proclamations and broadsides, were purchased by the British Museum for 63l. on 9 Aug. 1849. Other portions of the collection were, on the dispersal of the Heber Library, incorporated with the Britwell Collection (information kindly furnished by Mr. R. E. Graves; Dibdin, Library Companion, 1824, ii. 325).

Luttrell compiled in manuscript, day by day, a chronicle of contemporary events under the title of ‘A Brief Historicall Relation of State Affairs from September 1678 to April 1714.’ The manuscript is now in the library of All Souls' College, Oxford. Although a quotation from it was printed in Howell's ‘State Trials,’ the work remained neglected until Lord Macaulay drew public attention to it by quoting it frequently as an authority in his ‘History of England.’ It was soon afterwards printed hurriedly by the delegates of the University Press, and issued in 6 vols. Oxford, 1857, 8vo, without a preface or notes, and with an indifferent index. Although valuable, many of Luttrell's notes are excerpts from contemporary newspapers, and the many confusions in dates by which the work is characterised are due either to errors in the newspapers, or to their dates of issue being accepted by Luttrell as the dates of the events recorded in them.

Luttrell's ‘Diary of Private Transactions at various times between 1 Nov. 1722 and 11 Jan. 1725,’ written in Greek characters, but in the English language, is preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 10447). It contains little beyond a record of his hours of rising and method of spending his days.

[Athenæum, No. 1542, p. 621; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. manuscript; Faulkner's Chelsea, ii. 135, 136; Beaver's Memorials of Old Chelsea, p. 330; Hearne's Collections (Doble), iii. 169, 171; Howell's State Trials, ix. 1005; London Gazette, 16–19 Oct. 1693, No. 2915; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 408, 2nd ser. i. passim, iii. 133, v. 149, xii. 44, 78.]

T. C.