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I have used Thomas Cartwright's Diary with his will and other documents to piece together his genealogy. Joseph Hunter, who edited the Diary, told us in footnotes who the famous people were that Cartwright met with socially and recorded in his Diary. I decided to find out all I could about TC's family (about 32 of them mentioned in the Diary). Despite the limitations of the Diary mentioned in the previous review, it is a mistake to think it tells us very little. The exercise I have been through (for six years), along with reading Cartwright's sermons, which express his views on absolutism, gives a great deal of information. Cartwright's father worked under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Laud, and there are familial and career links to Laud throughout Cartwright's life. He is similar in ideology to Laud, maybe even more extreme in his royalism. His third marriage was to Frances Barnard of Caistor, and her brother-in-law married Letitia Heylyn, daughter of Peter Heylyn (who promoted Laud). Cartwright believed like Robert Filmer that the Bible taught that the family and the monarchy were twin institutions. Cartwright was an extreme Anglican who believed the king should be obeyed whatever their religion. As children should obey their fathers, so the nation should obey their king. The king had a unique position above the people and should be obeyed despite religious differences. The problem was that James II, a Roman Catholic, tried to force his religious ministers to go against Church of England policy, and this was against British constitutional law. In a sense James II's leaving England for France, which resulted in the Glorious Revolution, is a continuation of the same problem faced in the 1640s between the Puritans and the Royalists. Cartwright may have seen himself as a Laudian figure, pursuing very lofty ideals. To understand the period, more work has to be done on Cartwright and other Jacobites. Apparently not enough has been done because of the prejudices of historians (more favourable to the Puritans and maybe not very discerning about the propaganda against the Jacobites). There is a genealogical link between John Manningham's Diary and Thomas Cartwright's. One of the benefits of working out both genealogies is that it helps you understand how both of them got to court (JM was there the evening before Queen Elizabeth I died and recorded the event, one of the few sources).Well, Dr. Henry Parry, one of the Queen's chaplains, was related to a Cranmer (cousin of JM). How did Thomas Cartwright become the chaplain of James II? His mentor was Henry Mordaunt, 2nd Earl of Peterborough, the Groom of the Stole of James II, The Mordaunts and Wisemans of Essex were neighbours and exchanged property and intermarried. Cartwright's mother was born to a Wiseman, and this side of the family were represented in Henry VIII's court. Both John Manningham and Thomas Cartwright had gentry backgrounds that gave them an entrance to court. I do not agree with the previous reviewer that the Diary is not helpful in interpreting the period. But I looked at it in a very different way.
The diary is incomplete. This is the most frustrating aspect of this daily routine travelogue of Thomas Cartwright's movements. Much of the detail centres around Cartwrights movements onto other towns and into the houses of legal colleagues and Stuart allies. In an era when the judiciary travelled with a permanent military escort, for fear of highway robbery or mayhem in the streets of London, the rather unremarkable life of a provincial prelate is outstanding only for its prosaic normality. Much of it is written in short sentences of notation form. Cartwright rose from quite obscure background,like so many Early Modern politicians, who owed their careers to the King and his court. Cartwright was not a great academic but he had powerful friends who promoted his search for a senior position as a prelate. On the vacancy falling to Chester Palatinate, there were few who wanted a poison chalice in service of an absolutist government. Those judges eligible were not preferred. King James II sought a reliable witness to his policies, a man who would do his bidding. Accordingly he invited the newly advanced Cartwright to the Inner Sanctum of Windsor Castle to head the Fifth Ecclesiastical Commission. Commissioners had been used extensively by Charles II to administer his departments from Somerset House. Most notable of these were the Treasury Commissioners and Naval visitors during Pepys time. Cartwright however was prepared to take the King's Commission for Oxford Visitation, although reluctantly. He went with Baron Jenner on the uneventful journey. However the events at Magdalen would define his career. The policy of interference from a religious dogmatist, like James II was based on the dispensing principles of Justice, explicitly outlawed by the philosopher and former Chief Justice, Sir Matthew Hale. There is evidence that the Commissioners viewed the compliance with the King's rules of law was a matter of absolute duty, rather than a debate. It was typical of the prelate to become disengaged from the legal process, preferring the comfort of Windsor than the vitriolic argumentation of Magdalen Hall. The hothouse atmosphere was not improved by a rowdy crowd of townsmen aiming to disrupt proceedings. Nonetheless, Cartwright's diary ends abruptly before the culmination of these events in this edition. Whilst the diary remains interesting for researchers of the reigns of Charles II and James II it does little to add to the general interpretation of this period. The details might illuminate the social round of a rich and well-breeched civil servant, but apart from the knowledge that he knew many important people, its real value is superficial. Nonetheless the political climate of the times is often written in the context of an overbearing and corrupt regime, which in the whig interpretation has redolence for Marxist historians.