Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Twysden, Roger
TWYSDEN, Sir ROGER (1597–1672), historical antiquary, born in 1597, was the grandson of Roger Twysden (1542–1603), sheriff of Kent, and great-grandson of William Twysden, who married Elizabeth Roydon, eventual heiress of Roydon Hall in East Peckham, Kent. The Roydon estates passed by this marriage to the Twysdens, themselves an ancient Kentish family. The antiquary's father was William Twysden (1566–1629), who in 1591 was married by Alexander Nowel [q. v.], dean of St. Paul's, to Anne (d. 1638), eldest daughter of Sir Moyle Finch of Eastwell, Kent, and sister of Sir Heneage Finch [q. v.] In 1597 he bore part in the ‘Island Voyage,’ and in 1603 was selected to accompany James I into London, being knighted by that king at the Charterhouse on 11 May (Metcalfe). He became a gentleman usher of the privy chamber, and in 1619 was one of the canopy-bearers at the funeral of Queen Anne of Denmark (Nichols, Progresses of James I, iii. 609). Upon the creation of the order of baronets Sir William was included in the number on 29 June 1611. He died at his house in Redcross Street, London, on 8 Jan. 1628–9, leaving behind him, as his son records, the memory not only of a soldier and a courtier, but also of a devout upholder of the English church and of a ripe scholar. He was well acquainted with Hebrew, and formed the nucleus of the collection of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts so highly treasured by his son. His correspondence with Lord Wotton, 1605–8, is among the Additional manuscripts at the British Museum (34176 passim). The first baronet's sister, Margaret Twysden, married Henry Vane of Hadlow, and was mother of Sir Henry Vane (1589–1654) [q. v.], who was thus first cousin to the subject of this article. Sir Edward Dering [q. v.] was his second cousin (see pedigree in Proceedings in Kent, Camden Soc. p. 3). To his mother, Lady Anne Twysden, of whom Sir Roger left a wonderfully attractive portrait among his manuscript memoranda, Johan Hiud dedicated his ‘Storie of Stories,’ 1632 (some of her letters to her husband are in Addit. MS. 34173). Of Sir Roger's two sisters, Elizabeth (1600–1655) married in 1622 Sir Hugh Cholmley [q. v.]; while Anne (1603–1670) married Sir Christopher Yelverton, bart. (d. 1654), the grandson of the speaker. Of his brothers, Sir Thomas [q. v.] and John [q. v.] are separately noticed.
Roger was educated at St. Paul's school under Alexander Gill the elder [q. v.], and was entered as a fellow commoner on 8 Nov. 1614 at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he does not appear, however, to have proceeded to a degree. He was entered at Gray's Inn on 2 Feb. 1622–3 (Foster, Regist. p. 169). He succeeded his father as second baronet in 1629, and he was much occupied for some years in building and planting, and otherwise improving the property on his estate. He obtained from Charles I a charter of free warren to make a park at East Peckham. But he seems also during these years to have cultivated the friendship of John Philipot (see the latter's Villare Cantianum, p. 105), and to have laid the foundation of his linguistic attainment. As with a number of the more enlightened country gentlemen of his time, the law of the constitution was a favourite study, and it was the conclusions he drew from it that inspired him to resist any infringement of ancient rights from whatever quarter it might come.
Though no action seems to have been taken against him, he obstinately refused to pay ship-money, and in reference to the events of 1650 he wrote at the commencement of his journal: ‘Never did any man with more earnest expectation long for a parlyament than I did.’
There is a very interesting memorandum in Twysden's own hand concerning the general election preceding the Short parliament. ‘When first the speech of a parlyament so long neglected began about the end of Mychaelmas terme 1639, many men were spoken of as fit to stand to bee knights for Kent. Amongst the rest myselfe was invyted to be one, which I declyned, as beeing a matter of great expence, and indeede not thinking the county would chuse me; so I ever put it off as alltogether unworthy of it, yet professing I would bee most glad to doe the country all service.’ Twysden determined to support Sir Henry Vane, and tried to enlist his kinsman, Sir Edward Dering, in the same interest; Dering at first consented, but eventually decided to stand himself. Twysden rejoined by writing round to his friends and announcing his own candidature, with the result that he was returned on 16 March 1640 in conjunction with (Sir) Norton Knatchbull (Members of Parl. i. 481). Sir Giovanni Francesco Biondi [q. v.] wrote him a letter of congratulation from Switzerland upon his election, which was moreover, as might have been anticipated, the occasion of ‘a great contestation’ between Twysden and Dering. The result of this antagonism was clearly seen when, after the dissolution of the Short parliament and the fresh election of October 1640, Twysden lost his seat and Dering was returned in his stead.
The proceedings of the Long parliament rapidly wrought a change in Twysden's political attitude. Staunch as he had been in his resistance to illegal taxation by the king, his sympathy with the parliamentary opposition was greatly impaired by the proceedings against the bishops and chapters and the committal of Laud. The impeachments of judges and ministers alarmed him, and he looked upon the attainder and execution of Strafford (with its implied extension of the significance of the word ‘treason’) as ‘a fearful precedent against the liberty of the subject.’ He had not enough respect for the king to allow him to go out with Falkland; but, on the other hand, the encroachments of parliament, concluding with the ordinance by which that body assumed the command of the militia, completely alienated him from their cause. The spring assizes at Maidstone in 1642 afforded the opportunity of making a public demonstration of dissatisfaction. A petition had been sent from a portion of Kent approving the conduct of the parliament; but a number of country gentlemen complained that this did not express the real sense of the county, and they determined to present a counter-petition of their own. The ordinary grand jury was accordingly re-inforced by a number of substantial men, justices of the peace, including Dering (who had now been expelled the house), Sir George Strode [q. v.], and others. Sir Roger Twysden did not sign the original draft, but he almost certainly helped to frame it. The chief clauses of this notorious document demanded of the parliament that the laws should be duly executed against the Roman catholics, but that the episcopal government and the solemn liturgy of the church of England should be carefully preserved, and at the same time energetic provision made against the aggressions of schismatics, whereby ‘heresy, profaneness, libertinism, anabaptism, and atheism were promoted.’ The petition may, in fact, be accepted as embodying the spirit which was soon to animate the king's supporters in the civil war; and, when the parliament decided to treat the petitioners as criminals to be punished rather than answered, civil war became inevitable. The draft petition, having been approved by a majority of the jury (25 March 1642), was circulated throughout Kent for signatures and then printed as a separate pamphlet, though, from the fact that as many as could be collected were subsequently burned by the public hangman, copies are now sufficiently scarce. The petition was not actually presented until 30 April [see Lovelace.]
In the meantime, on 1 April 1642, Twysden appeared at the bar of the House, whither he had been summoned as a delinquent along with Dering and Strode. He confessed that he had signed the petition, but without ‘plot or design’ therein, and he humbly desired that he might be bailed. This request was acceded to on 9 April on condition of his not stirring ten miles from London, and Sir Robert Filmer [q. v.] and Francis Finch were his securities. Thomas Jordan [q. v.], the city poet, referred to the situation in a quatrain of his popular poem ‘The Resolution’ (1642):
Ask me not why the House delights
Not in our two wise Kentish knights;
Their counsel never was thought good
Because they were not understood.
On 15 May 1642 a counter-petition, carefully fostered by the parliament, having been presented as from the county of Kent, Twysden was allowed to return to his house, resolved, he says, to live quietly and meddle as little as possible with any business whatsoever. Nevertherless a very short time elapsed before he was involved in the defiant ‘Instructions from the county of Kent to Mr. Augustine Skinner’ for transmission to the House of Commons. This was prepared under Twysden's guidance as an answer to the despatch of a parliamentary committee to Maidstone assizes at the close of July 1642 ‘upon a credible information that ill-affected persons were endeavouring to disperse’ scandalous reports of the parliament. The house was enraged at these ‘Instructions,’ and on 5 Aug. Twysden's bail was disallowed and he was recommitted to the sergeant, who confined him at the Two Tobacco Pipes tavern, near Charing Cross. ‘While I continued there,’ he writes, ‘I grew acquainted with two noble gentlemen, Sr Basil Brook and Sr Kenelme Digby, persons of great worth and honour, who whilst they remayned with mee made the prison a place of delight, such was their conversation and so great their knowledge.’ These two knights, however, were soon released, and early in September 1642, the anxiety of the house having been allayed us to the alleged disaffection in Kent, Sir Roger himself was again enlarged upon bail, at the same time receiving friendly advice from his gaolers to the effect that he had better abstain for a while from visiting Kent. He took this counsel in good part, and procured a passport for a journey on the continent; but the accidental death of his kinsman, Sir John Finch, who was to have accompanied him, disappointed this plan (for the connection between the Twysden and Finch families, see Proceedings in Kent, p. 17). Twysden accordingly retired to his house in Redcross Street. Here, in the neighbourhood of the Tower, during 1642–3 he was able to continue his researches into the national history and to acquire that familiarity with ‘Record evidence’ which is so observable in all his works. In December 1642 he was called upon to bear a part in the huge loan (of the nature of a monthly subsidy) advanced by the city to parliament for the maintenance of the army, he being assessed to pay 400l., or a twentieth, as ‘due under the ordinance and by consent of the city.’
It was in vain that he pleaded that as a casual inhabitant and non-resident of London he was not liable to the tax; on his proving obstinate his valuables were distrained, and the success of the bailiffs in securing a twentieth was so complete, wrote the victim, that ‘they left nothing worth aught behind.’ In the early part of 1643 some overtures were made to him by Sir Christopher Neville and others to induce him to join the king; but, apart from the danger to his estate, he considered that ‘he should bee ashamed to live in Oxford and not bee in the army,’ of which his years and his health would not admit. In May, therefore, he sent his eldest son, William (b. 1635), abroad, under Dr. Hamnet Ward, and had the intention of following them as speedily as possible. He set out in disguise on 9 June 1643 in the company of some French and Portuguese traders. Unhappily he was recognised when he had got no further than Bromley by Sir Anthony Weldon and other members of the Kentish committee. At first he denied his identity, but his old passport was found upon him, whereupon Weldon remarked that he was ‘either Sir Roger Twysden or a rogue who ought to be whipped.’ He was forthwith sent back to London by the committee and committed to the Southwark counter (10 June). One charge brought against him was that he was conveying important intelligence abroad concealed in nutshells, an accusation which derived a certain plausibility, as he himself admits, from the fact that he was taking with him some disinfectants done up in this form. Shortly after his imprisonment his estates were sequestrated, and a quantity of his ancestral timber, on which he greatly prided himself, was felled; the usual allowance was, however, made to Lady Twysden, who remained in residence at Roydon Hall. The royalist successes of this summer (especially in July 1643) enhanced the value of Twysden and other leading cavaliers as hostages, and for a short period a number of them were transferred to the shipping riding in the Thames. On 15 Aug., however, Twysden was released from the Prosperous Sarah, George Hawes, master, and remanded to the Counter. Thence, after several petitions, through the interest of his brother-in-law, Sir Christopher Yelverton, he was in a few months' time transferred to Lambeth. The keeper of the prison (late palace) there was Alexander Leighton [q. v.], the former victim of Laud and the Star-chamber, of whom Sir Roger gives a very interesting account. There he seems to have pursued even more effectively the manuscript studies which he had formerly carried on at the Tower, and to have done much of the collative work and research subsequently embodied in his well-known ‘Decem Scriptores.’ Early in 1645, being weary of his prison, he sent in his submission to the committee for compounding; on 6 March 1645 he was fined 3,000l., his estate being 2,000l. a year, and on 9 Dec. following the house ordered that he should be bailed. He now removed to a lodging in St. Anne's Street, Westminster; but the sequestration remained in force owing to his declared inability to pay his fine. On 31 May 1649 this was reduced to 1,500l., and eventually, in January 1650, he compounded for 1,340l. (Cal. Comm. for Compounding, p. 864). He ultimately returned to Kent on 19 Jan. 1650, and he now spent ten years quietly at home, occupied in literary pursuits, nursing the estate, which had so severely suffered, and cautiously abstaining from any interference with public events. He managed to get his assessment for the twentieth reduced from 600l. to 390l. (see Cal. Comm. for Advance of Money, 1394), but he still remained an object of suspicion to the government. On 26 April 1651 soldiers came and searched his house and carried him prisoner to Leeds Castle, but he was released in about a week's time. Upon the Restoration he was replaced upon the commissions of the peace and of oyer and terminer, became a deputy-lieutenant of his county, and was made a commissioner under the ‘Act for confirming and restoring of ministers.’ Yet he was never reconciled to the court (Arlington Corresp.) One of his last acts was to throw up his commission as a deputy-lieutenant sooner than abet the lord-lieutenant of the county in what he believed to be an illegal imposition—the providing of uniforms as well as arms for the militia. But he was spared any outward sign of the disapproval of the Cabal ministry, for on 27 June 1672, while riding through the Malling woods on his way to petty sessions, he was suddenly attacked with apoplexy, and died the same day. He was buried at East Peckham. He married, on 27 Jan. 1635, Isabella, youngest daughter and coheiress of Sir Nicholas Saunders of Ewell in Surrey; she died, aged 52, on 11 March 1656–7, and was buried in East Peckham church on 17 March (her holograph ‘Diary,’ 1645–51, comprises Addit. MSS. 34169–72). Sir Roger gives an affecting picture of her last hours, and sums up: ‘She was the saver of my estate. Never man had a better wife, never children a better mother.’ They had issue (1) Sir William, third baronet (d. 27 Nov. 1697), grandfather of Philip Twysden, bishop of Raphoe (from 1747 until his death on 2 Nov. 1752), whose daughter Frances married in 1770 the fourth Earl of Jersey, and as ‘Lady Jersey’ is conspicuous in ‘Walpole's Correspondence;’ (2) Roger, who died without issue in 1676; (3) Charles, a traveller in the east, who died in 1690; and three daughters: Anne, who married John Porter of Lamberhurst, Kent; Isabella (d. 1726); and Frances, who married Sir Peter Killigrew of Arnewick, and died in 1711.
Twysden had a knowledge of and affection for the usages and liberties of his country scarcely, if at all, exceeded in an age which comprehended the great names of Coke, Selden, Somner, Spelman, Evelyn, Cotton, and Savile. Like Selden, and like his early friend D'Ewes, amid all the distraction of political life and public duties as a magistrate and county magnate, he devoted the best energies of a powerful mind to the investigation of historical antiquity. Unlike them, as we learn from Kemble—who thoroughly explored his literary remains—his published works give only a slight notion of the resources of his well-stored mind or the energy of his application. To form an adequate conception of these one should have studied his numerous commonplace books, his marginal notes, his interleaved copies, and the treatises by him still awaiting a competent editor. Beneath these acquirements is discernible a character remarkable for steadfastness, piety, and true manliness. ‘Loyal, yet not a thorough partisan of the king; liberal, yet not proposing to go all lengths with the parliament; an earnest lover of the church of England, yet anxious for a reconciliation with Rome could such be effected without the compromise of any point of bible Christianity; a careful manager, yet an indulgent landlord; a somewhat stern and humorous man, yet a devoted son and husband and an affectionate father—such is the picture of a man who even to this day excites in us feelings of respect and attachment’ (Kemble).
The three of his works that were printed and published in Twysden's lifetime are: 1. ‘The Commoners Liberty: or the Englishman's Birth-right,’ London, 1648, proving from Magna Carta the illegality of his arrest and imprisonment. 2. ‘Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores Decem: Simeon Monachus Dunelmensis, Johannes Prior Hagustaldensis, Ricardus Prior Hagustaldensis, Ailredus Abbas Rievallensis, Radulphus de Diceto Londoniensis, Johannes Brompton Jornallensis, Gervasius Monachus Dorobornensis, Thomas Stubbs Dominicanus, Gulielmus Thorn Cantuariensis, Henricus Knighton Leicestrensis, ex vetustis manuscriptis nunc primum in lucem editi. Adjectis variis lectionibus Glossario indiceque copioso .... sumptibus Cornelii Bee,’ London, 1652, folio. The introduction ‘Lectori’ is signed Roger Twysden, and dated ‘ex ædibus meis Cantianis.’ Three of these chronicles, those of Simeon of Durham , Henry Knighton , and Ralph of Diceto , have since been edited separately in the Rolls Series, the editors in each case speaking of Twysden's work with respect. The last-mentioned work, drawn in the main from the royal manuscript in the king's library at St. James's, was carefully collated with a copy of the Lambeth manuscript (the codex A of the Rolls version). The work entitles Twysden to rank along with Camden, Selden, Savile, and Kennet as a pioneer in the study of English mediæval history. ‘Even the Puritans themselves,’ says Hearne, ‘affecting to be Mæcenases with Cromwell at their head, displayed something like a patriotic ardour in purchasing copies of this work as soon as it appeared’ (pref. to his edition of Otterbourne; cf. Dibdin, Libr. Comp. pp. 161–2). 3. ‘An Historical Vindication of the Church of England in point of Schism as it stands separated from the Roman and was Reformed 1° Elizabeth.’ The address ‘To the Reader’ is ‘given from my house in East Peckham on 22 May 1657,’ and the work appeared in July (London, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1675; Pitt Press, 1847, with additional matter, and embodying the author's latest marginalia and notes). In this work Twysden gives a most able expository sketch of early resistance to Romish authority from the time of Wilfrid's appeal, of the gradual encroachments of the papal power, and ‘how the kings of England proceeded in their separation from Rome.’
In addition to these separate printed works Twysden aided in the production of the Cambridge edition in 1644 of ‘Archaiomena, sive De Priscis Anglorum legibus libri,’ prefixing to the supplement, ‘Leges Willielmi Conquestoris et Henrici filii ejus,’ a Latin preface dated August 1644. In 1653 he prepared for press Sir Robert Filmer's ‘Quæstio Quodlibetica, or a Discourse whether it may bee Lawfull to take use for Money’ (1653), prefixing a long argument in favour of usury ‘To the Reader’ (dated East Peckham, 9 Oct. 1652). This was reprinted in 1678, and in the ‘Harleian Miscellany’ (vol. x.). Prefixed to the British Museum copy of the 1653 edition is a list of 180 works published by Humphrey Moseley in St. Paul's Churchyard.
Twysden's unfinished treatise on ‘The Beginners of a Monastick Life in Asia, Africa, and Europe,’ was first prefixed to the 1698 edition of Spelman's ‘History and Fate of Sacrilege,’ and it does not seem to have been reprinted. He maintains ‘with Latimer’ that a few monasteries of good report might well have been saved in every shire, and deprecates the extirpating ‘zeal of those in love with the Possessions Religious People were endowed with.’
Among the Roydon manuscripts that have been since printed are (i.) ‘An Account of Queen Anne Bullen from a Manuscript in the Handwriting of Sir R. Twysden, 1623, with the Endorsement, “I receaued this from my uncle Wyat, who beeing yonge had gathered many notes towching this Lady not without an intent to have opposed Saunders”’ (Twysden's grandfather, Roger, had married Anne, eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Wyatt [q. v.], the rebel). This was privately printed about 1815. The original manuscript has some interesting notes by Sir Roger upon the margin. (ii.) ‘Certaine Considerations upon the Government of England,’ first edited for the Camden Society in 1849, with a most able ‘Introduction’ by John Mitchell Kemble [q. v.], the historian. Of more interest than these, however, is (iii.) Twysden's own manuscript journal, formerly among the papers at Roydon House, and now in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 34163–5), entitled ‘An Historical Narrative of the two Houses of Parliament, and either of them their Committees and Agents' violent Proceedings against Sr Roger Twysden.’ This document, which constitutes the main authority for the middle portion of Twysden's life, was first printed (with a facsimile of the front page) in the ‘Archæologia Cantiana’ (1858–61, vols. i–iv.).
A large portion of Twysden's cherished books and manuscripts, many of them annotated, were, together with those of Edward Lhwyd [q. v.], in the library of Sir John Sebright of Beechwood, Hertfordshire, and were sold by Leigh & Sotheby on 6 April 1807. Among the books then acquired by the British Museum is a copy of Sarpi's ‘Historia del Concilio Tridentino,’ London, 1619, with Twysden's autograph signature under the date 1627, and a large number of marginal notes in his own hand; these are pronounced by Lord Acton to be ‘in part of real value’ (1876, manuscript note); among the manuscripts is an excellent one of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ which was used by Thomas Farnaby [q. v.] for his edition of 1637. Sir Roger possessed the rare unexpurgated edition of John Cowell's ‘Interpreter’ (Cambridge, 1607); this he interleaved, and his valuable ‘Adversaria’ are described in ‘Archæologia Cantiana’ (ii. 221, 313).[Kemble's Introduction to Twysden's Government of England (Camden Soc.), 1849; Proceedings in Kent in 1640, ed. Larking, for the same society, 1862; Betham's Baronetage, i. 126–9; Cotton's Baronetage, i. 214; Carew's Works, ed. Ebsworth; Berry's Kent Genealogies, p. 310; Burke's Extinct Baronetage; Hasted's Kent, ii. 213, 275, 728; Harleian Miscellany, vol. x.; Nichols's Progresses of James I; Gent. Mag. 1859, ii. 245; Brydges's Restituta, iii.; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hib. iii. 356; Evelyn's Diary, ed. Wheatley, ii. 188; Gardiner's Hist. of England, x. 182 sq.; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. x. 471; Archæologia Cantiana, i–iv., v. 89 n., 105, 110, viii. 59, 69, x. 211, 213, xviii. 124, 138; Addit. MSS. 34147–78 (Twysden family of East Peckham Collections); Brit. Mus. Cat. The name Twysden is conspicuous by its absence from the Encyclopædias, from the Britannica downwards.]