The usefulness of Bulstrode Whitelocke’s Memorials of the English Affairs: or, An Historical Account of what passed from the Beginning of the Reign of King Charles the First, to King Charles the Second His Happy Restauration (1682; enlarged edition, 1732) has been generally recognized, but there have been varying estimates over the years as to their accuracy. James Wellwood, writing a little more than a generation after Whitelocke’s death, declared that the Memorials “will be a lasting Monument of his Fidelity and exactness, and when he Relates any Matter or Transaction of his own Knowledge, He may be intirely depended upon1 It will be noticed that this assertion contains a limitation: an area is indicated in which he cannot be so fully depended upon as elsewhere. The editors of the Old Parliamentary History, while severely criticizing Rushworth, found Whitelocke “very exact” but Clarendon “much less so” They were aware, however, that Whitelocke, like Clarendon, made many chronological errors.2 Charles Morton, the eighteenth-century editor of two of Whitelocke’s works, spoke of the Memorials, “the candor, accuracy, and usefulness of which… are so universally allowed.” 3 But J. L. Sanford, who was one of the founders or revivers of accurate knowledge of the Civil War in the nineteenth century, spoke of the Memorials’ “thorough untrustworthiness.”4


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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1974

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  • Royce MacGillivray

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