So I’ve been looking at more of Mabbott’s newsletters. There isn’t anything terribly groundbreaking in them, but if anyone is looking at the Anglo-Dutch War or is interested in accounts of what the Nominated Assembly was up to, it’s worth a look. I’ve been cross-checking the newsletters with ones in the Clarke Papers, volume 3. I’m betting that if I look at the actual papers I’ll find more, but right now I’m still seeing a number of these newsletters showing up in Clarke’s possession as well. They are largely identical, but with some interesting differences, usually toward the end of the letter.
I’ve been looking at how these letters are written, and I think that they are written on an almost daily basis, meaning that Mabbott writes down the news for a day or two, then comes back and adds more. The newsletters will often say something like “this business put off till tomorrow,” and the pick it back up in the same letter with “today, the committee for . . . .” As well, the letters to Hull and to Clarke are often dated on the same day. Since newsbooks were often written in a very similar manner, there’s more fodder for the newsbooks-from-newsletters argument, the difference being that while the newsbook editor had to allow the printer the necessary time to work, the newsletter writer is taking into account his inability to write letter after letter on the same day.
I also liked this little ps to Mabbott’s letter on June 14, 1653: “Lt Coll Lilburne came yesterday to Towne hee wilbee secured this night.”
The other thing I have been wondering about is how good of an agent Mabbott actually was. He occasionally reports back to the Hull city fathers about some petition or other that he is pressing on some committee or the like. There are frequent delays, which he of course says are not his fault. He does seem to be able to get face time with some important people. And Mabbott was originally hired as the New Model’s agent, so he was well experienced, and he was also the agent for Leith, though I haven’t looked into that yet.
However, Hull’s use of Mabbott to forward their petitions does support Derek Hirst’s argument in “Making Contact: Petitions and the English Republic” that it was generally believed that you needed the right person to get your petition read.
Well, more work to do.