Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version

Spring 2003

Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 2003. ISSN 0196-7134


2003 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


The manuscripts of Elizabeth Freke's reminiscences are contained in two commonplace books held by the British Ubrary. The larger "white vellum" volume, which includes the earlier reminiscence, also contains letters, recipes, snatches of poetry and history, a survey of the West Bilney estate, and some inventories. The second "brown wallpaper" volume, begun some ten years after the first, also contains copies of rental agreements, land deeds, and financial transactions. These two manuscripts were donated to the British Ubrary in 1941 by Lady Mary Carbury, a descendant by marriage of Elizabeth Freke. Early in the twentieth century, Carbury published the only previous edition of the remembrances, as Mrs. Elizabeth Freke, Her Diary (Guy & Company, Ltd.: Cork, 1913). This edition "cut, conflated, and rearranged the two versions of the life", amalgamating them into a chronologically arranged single document that misrepresented the text and concealed the dialogue between the two originally separate narratives, written at different times.

In The Remembrances of Elizabeth Freke, Raymond Anselment corrects this mistake. Part of the long-running and highly respected Camden series of primary sources in medieval and early modem British history, Anselment's multiple-text edition is divided into three sequential parts. Much of the white vellum manuscript volume makes up Part I: "Remembrances, 1671-1714," comprising 173 pages, mainly dated diary entries, but also including an inventory of the contents of Freke's house (helpfully glossed by Anselment in the footnotes), transcriptions of letters received, passages from her readings, some legal arguments, and an account of the Irish wars. The brown manuscript volume is presented in Part II: "Remembrances, 1671-1713," comprising seventy-seven pages of dated entries, while Part III: "Miscellaneous Documents," contains forty-one pages of some of the additional material in both manuscripts that Anselment feels pertain to the remembrances. These include a ledger of expenses incurred during her husband's death, an estate history and inventory, a list of money Freke lent to her husband, a list of documents left for her executors, and a recipe for laudanum.