ery few people can claim to have been sent a copy of Magna Carta, but that is exactly what happened to Sir Robert Cotton on 10 May 1630, when he received this note from his ‘affectionate freind and servant’ Sir Edward Dering (1598–1644), the lieutenant of Dover Castle. He wrote:
I have sent up two of your books, which have much pleasured me: I have here the charter of K. John dated att Running Meade: by the first safe and sure messenger it is your’s. So are the Saxon charters, as fast as I can coppy them: but in the meane time I will close K. John in a boxe and send him.
Dering shared Sir Robert Cotton’s antiquarian interests, and clearly regarded the Cotton library as a suitable home for Magna Carta. Edward Dering’s copy can be identified as the now-damaged Cotton Charter XIII 31A, part of the British Library’s collections.
- Full title:
- Letters addressed to Sir Robert Cotton (d. 1631) by, among others, Sir Edward Dering (d. 1644)
- Manuscript / Letter
- Sir Edward Dering
- Usage terms:
- Public Domain in most countries other than the UK
- Held by:
- British Library
- Cotton MS Julius C III
- Article by:
- Claire Breay, Julian Harrison
- Medieval origins
What is Magna Carta. Why was it created? What does it say, and why has it become one of the most celebrated documents in history?