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Special Collections & Archives logo : Pamphlets

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.


Pamphlet literature from the 16th-20th centuries, covering British political and economic controversies from the Civil War to the Second World War, with a 19th century collection on Liverpool local history.

Image of front cover of Knowsley pamphlet 446(6)Civil War, 1642: Knows.pamph. 446(6). See below for the spotlight on the English Civil War pamphlets.

Pamphlets reveal the great debates, campaigns, and controversies of their age, written polemically to reach a mass audience, and covering all aspects of society, including politics, science and technology, the arts and entertainment. The known personal and family provenance of most of the pamphlet collections at Liverpool adds an extra dimension to their use as a valuable primary resource in research and teaching.

17th to 19th-century pamphlet collections
  • English pamphlets 1685-1727
  • This period, encompassing the reigns of James II, William & Mary, Anne and George I, is particularly well-represented in the Library's pamphlet collections, and many additions, especially on economic topics, have been purchased.
  • Knowsley Hall Library
  • Lancelyn Green sermons
  • Mark Thomson
  • Thomas Dawson's Liverpool collections.
20th-century pamphlet collections
Pamphlet Highlights

Image of proposed British decimal currency disc, reading "£0-100 1 Florin 1854 100 Mils", 1854Proposed British decimal currency, 1854

British 19th Century Pamphlets Online includes pamphlets from the Library of the 14th Earl of Derby at Knowsley Hall, many of them sent by their authors to lobby him as prime minister. 
SPEC Knows.pamph. 612(4).


Spotlight on the English Civil War (1642-49)

Although the texts featured in the spotlight are available to consult by appointment in Special Collections and Archives, links to external digitised copies are provided where possible. The digital copies and the affiliated websites are administrated by external providers and may require subscription credentials.

"The armed struggle between the supporters of the king (Cavaliers) and Parliamentarians (Roundheads), which erupted in 1642 and continued, with an interruption, until 1648. It arose from constitutional, religious, and economic differences between Charles I and the Members of the Long Parliament. Of these the most decisive factor was religion, since the attempts of Laud to impose liturgical uniformity had alienated substantial numbers of clergy, gentry, and craftsmen. All sections of society were affected, though many in the localities desired peace not war, and sometimes families were divided by conflicting allegiances.Image of woodcut showing two dogs: Puddle, Prince Rupert's dog and Pepper, a puritan named Toby's dog. Pepper is calling Poodle a “cavalier dog” and Poodle replies by calling Pepper a “roundhead cur.”

The king's primary objective in 1642 was the capture of London, a Parliamentary stronghold. After an indecisive engagement at Edgehill, he eventually had to take refuge in Oxford, which became his wartime capital. His plan in 1643 to bring together Cavalier armies from Oxford, Newcastle, and the south-west, followed by a march on London, was not realized. Meanwhile the balance was tipping toward the Roundheads, for by the Solemn League and Covenant they secured Scottish assistance, of value in 1644 at Marston Moor. Charles's attempt to march on London (1644) was frustrated at the battle of Newbury. With the formation of the New Model Army, the Roundheads were able to inflict a crushing defeat on the Cavaliers at Naseby (1645). Charles, having rejected terms previously offered him at the Uxbridge negotiations, eventually surrendered to the Scots near Newark (1646) after Oxford had fallen.

Charles's subsequent attempts to profit from divisions between the Parliamentary factions prevented a settlement from being reached in 1647. His escape to the Isle of Wight and ‘Engagement’ with the Scots sparked off the second phase of the war (1648). This consisted of unsuccessful Cavalier risings in Wales, Essex, and Kent, and a Scottish invasion which came to grief at Preston. Pride's Purge of Parliament then cleared the way for the trial and execution of the king and the establishment of the English Commonwealth."

(Source: "English Civil War." In A Dictionary of World History, edited by Wright, Edmund. : Oxford University Press, 2006

Image: John Taylor (1580 -1653) A dialogue, or, Rather a parley betweene Prince Ruperts dogge whose name is Puddle, and Toby's dog whose name is Pepper (1643). 

The work is a woodcut showing two dogs: Puddle, Prince Rupert's dog (left) and Pepper, a puritan named Toby's dog. Pepper is calling Poodle a “cavalier dog” and Poodle replies by calling Pepper a “roundhead cur.” This represents the two opposing sides of the English Civil War. 

Full text available from Early English Books Online (University of Liverpool credentials required)

External links:

Henry Parker (1604-1652) The case of shipmony briefly discoursed : according to the grounds of law, policie, and conscience. And most humbly presented to the censure and correction of the high court of Parliament, Nov. 3. 1640. Classmark: SPEC Knows. pamph 435(01)

Parker was a Barrister and Parliamentarian. Shipmoney was a tax levied against seaside towns and port cities to gather funds during war times. Engraving titled The true portraicture of his Ma. royall ship The Soveraigne of the Seas built in the yeare 1637King Charles I revived the tax, which had fallen out of use, and tried to extend the tax to the inland towns and cities. This was an extremely unpopular policy; shipmoney was seen as an investment tax by coastal settlements - a stronger Navy would mean more protection for themselves during war or invasion - but obviously this was not a primary concern for inland settlements. To add to the outrage, the King did so without the approval or permission of Parliament during his "personal rule", the period whereby Charles would not call Parliament to support his policies. As such, Charles's actions regarding shipmoney was one of the causes of the Civil War in 1642.  

This work from 1640 explores the pros and cons to the King's attempt to levy the shipmoney tax. However, it considers the rights and actions of a King more widely. Parker argues that the King cannot apply the law for his own gain and there should be bodies to prevent the King from abusing his power - this would be Parliament. Parker goes further to argues that power tends to be misused by those in charge, including Kings, and war is used as a tool to scare the population into paying taxes or accepting restrictive laws. He cautions that a civil war is imminent if a solution cannot be found to the shipmoney issue and wider grievances regarding the King's power (Source: Online Library of Liberty, Leveller Tract 282)

Full text available via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership

View online via Early English Books Online (University of Liverpool credentials required)

Image from the British Museum. "The true portraicture of his Ma. royall ship The Soveraigne of the Seas built in the yeare 1637". 

Thomas May (1595-1650) The history of the Parliament of England: which began November the third, M.DC.XL. With a short and necessary view of some precedent yeares (1647). Classmark: SPEC Knowsley 252. 

Thomas May was a poet, historian, and made joint secretary for the Parliamentarians in 1646. During the 1620s, May's publications dedicated to Image of frontispiece and title page of the History of Parliament nobles and the King gained little thanks or acknowledgement from the dedicatees. It is possible this led to his preference for the Parliamentary cause and criticism of the nobility in the 1640s. 

This work was commissioned by the House of Commons and attempts to show how the Stuarts recklessly disregarded and dismantled the well established and prosperous Elizabethan polity. Although this work has been praised for its impartiality between both the Royalists and Parliamentarians, it subtly supports the Parliamentarians in many places; such as the below: 

The next day the famous Battell of Newbury was fought; which Battell may deserve (because the condition of the whole Kingdom so much depended on the successe of it) to be related in a large and particular manner. But because I have found nothing written of it by those of the Kings Party; and that there was a punctuall Narrative published by some Colonels of the Parliament Army, Gentlemen of great and unstained Reputation, concerning this Battell; which Narrative I have heard some of their Enemies confesse to be full, not onely of modesty, but truth in the Generall, or for the most part; let the Reader be pleased to take it from their Relation. (p. 109). 

Image taken from 1655 edition of the work on Proquest Early English Books Online (Harvard Library). 

Full text available online via Early English Books Texts Creation Partnership


Edward Howard (1624-1712). Caroloiades; or, The rebellion of Forty One. In ten books. A heroick poem (1689). Classmark: SPEC J4.41

Howard was a Restoration era (1660-1688/1714) dramatist and author. Howard was not a popular dramatist, and his plays were often ridiculed by his fellow playwrights. The most dramatic incident surrounding his works occurred in 1667 with his play The Change of Crownes. It was suppressed By King Charles II soon after its opening night in April, as the King did not enjoy the actor John Lacy's improvised criticism of the court. Lacy was imprisoned for a short while - when congratulated upon his release by Howard, Lacy responded that "[Howard] was more a fool than a poet; upon which Howard did give him a blow on the face with his glove; on which Lacy, having a cane in his hand, did give him a blow over the pate" (Source: Edward Howard by J.P. Vander Motten, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; University of Liverpool credentials required). 

In the preface of this work, Howard emphasises the importance of fiction as well as historical fact, as:

Besides, it is very Notorious, that few Historians compile all considerable deeds or events, whose business is to observe Publique and General occurrences, rather then the particular discovery of Personal concernments as they relate to Characters: Which ought to be the undertaking of the Poet... 

Full text available via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership

John Milton (1608-1674) Pro populo Anglicano defensio, contra Claudii Anonymi, alias Salmasii, defensionem regiam (1651). Classmark: SPEC G38.15(1)/t1

Title page of Pro populo anglicano defensioJohn Milton is perhaps best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. However, politics played a significant role in Milton's life. He was a republican who supported the parliamentarian effort. In March 1649, Milton was appointed as the Secretary of Foreign Tongues, a post within Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth. This particular work was in response to a work by Claudius Salmasius entitled Defensio Regia pro Carolo I ("Royal Defence on behalf of Charles I"), issued by royalist supporters in exile in Holland. Salmasius argued that the rebels led by Cromwell were guilty of regicide for executing King Charles. Milton responded with this justification of the parliamentary party, littered with insults and ridicules towards Salmasius. It is not believed that Salmasius penned a response. 

The Bodleian Library Citizen Milton exhibition points out that this work was a national and international success. Where readers could not acquire a printed version, they could commission a pirated, hand written manuscript copy (Source: Citizen Milton at the Bodleian Library). 

Image taken from the Internet Archive online version (Bavarian State Libraries). 

Full text available via Early English Books Online (University of Liverpool credentials required). 


Joshua Sprigg (1618-1684) Anglia Rediviva (trans. England's Recovery, 1647) Classmark: SPEC H98.13

Sprigg (or Sprigge) was theologian who severed as chaplain to Sir Thomas Fairfax, commander in the Parliamentarian New Army, 1945-1950. Title page of England's RecoveryThis work is a chronicle of Fairfax's victories. However, the climate was tense - many members of the public were growing tired of the heightened taxes which came with war. Similarly, areas under Royalist control had become ruled by the military, whilst Parliamentarian county committees were overshadowed by radical individuals dedicated to Westminster over local issues. As such, this work was not well received nor sold well. (Source: David Scott, Politics and War in the Three Stuart Kingdoms, 1637–49, 2004, p. 99). 

Right image shows the frontispiece, Sir Thomas Fairfax's coat of arms, and the title page. Image taken from the Internet Archive (Boston Public Library)

Full text available from Early English Books Online (University of Liverpool credentials required). 


Bruno Ryves (1596-1677) Mercurius Rusticus; or the Countries Complaint of the Barbarous Outrages committed by the Sectaries of this late flourishing Kingdom (1685) Classmark: SPEC H46A.70.Image of Mercurius Rusticus, showing various scenes

Bruno Ryves was a member of the clergy and staunch royalist. Between June and December 1943, Ryves edited nineteen numbers of this periodical, which were republished in 1646, 1647, and 1685. The right image shows the illustrated title page, which includes the fortification of Oxford and Cambridge, the plundering of three great houses, the Battle of Edgehill (bottom panel), and the humiliation of ministers of religion (one is forced to ride on a bear). This publication was countered by the poet and satirist George Wither. 

Having at first entrance violated their Loyalty to their King (according to his Majesties frequent predictions) their fellow Subjects cannot expect Justice at their hands: Now all is lawful prize that comes to hand, Money, Plate, Jewels, many suits of rich Hangings, Linnen, Bedding, they plunder from the Cabinet to the Larder, and make clean work as they go, leaving no Booty for a second plunder.

Ryves description of parliamentarian plundering in Sir Richard Mynshall's home, Buckinghamshire, August 1642 (p. 38)

Image from the British Museum

Full text of publication available via Early English Books Text Creation Partnership




Thomas Wentworth Strafford (1593-1641) The Earle of Straffords speech on the scaffold before he was beheaded on Tower-hill, the 12 of May, 1641 (1641). Classmark: SPEC Knows. pamph 437(15)

engraving of Strafford's execution from a distance showing crowds and tower of londonThe 1st Earl of Strafford, Thomas Wentworth, was a significant figure in the lead up to the events of the Civil War. He was a member of Parliament and loyal to King Charles I.

From 1632-1640, he was the Lord Deputy of Ireland. His rule was considered to be successful in reducing the influence of the rich over the poor in Ireland; however, it was enforced using unpopular methods, such as awarding English colonists land once belonging to Irish landowners, and suppressing the cloth trade to ensure that the English counterpart thrived.

On his return to England he became an advisor to the King and aimed to secure the King's position against Parliament. Parliament sentenced Strafford to death by bill of attainder, and Charles signed the death warrant reluctantly, but believing that there was no other option. It is believed that Charles I believed his own execution some eight years later was partly punishment for Strafford's death. 

Image: An engraving by Wenceslas Hollar depicting the execution of Strafford. 

Full text available via Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership

Clement Walker (1595-1651) The mysterie of the two junto's, Presbyterian and Independent; Or, The serpent in the bosome, unfolded. (1647). Classmark: SPEC H83.17

First page excerpt from the Mysterie of the two juntosClement Walker was a lawyer and politician; a 'junto' is a political grouping. Despite originally supporting the Parliamentary cause, this pamphlet is a heated attack on the corruption of Parliamentary government which the Long Parliament's assumption of all power had produced. It is so named as Walker was notoriously critical of the Independents, and was accused as being part of the subsequent riots after the Presbyterians won over the Independents in July 1647. In 1648, Walker was expelled during the Pride's Purge, when soldiers prevented MPs critical to the New Army from entering the House of Commons. Soon after, he published a protest against the King's trial in 1649. He remained in the Tower of London until his death in 1951. 

The copy of this text in Special Collections and Archives is signed by a 'Theodorus Verax'; this a know the pseudonym Walker used. 

Image taken from Google Books online digitised version. 


Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646). The glorious name of God, the Lord of Hosts. Opened in two sermons, at Michaels Cornhill, London. Vindicating the commission from this Lord of Hosts, to subjects, in some case, to take up arms (1643). Classmark: SPEC H83.18.

Jeremiah Burroughs The glorious name of god title pageJeremiah Burroughs was a puritan preacher and Independent.

Burroughs supported the Parliamentarian efforts, however was concerned that an abuse of power was taking place against the people of England. 

Let none think that though we thus justifie taking up Arms, that therfore we are of those that delight in War; God forbid. Our souls desire after peace, we pray for peace, we would gladly lay down our lives (if we know our own hearts) for peace. (p.13)

Full text available online via Early English Books Text Creation Partnership

Image taken from Google Books

Finding and using

  • The 19th Century British Pamphlets project gives online access via JSTOR to the full text of more than 20,000 pamphlets in major research collections, including Liverpool's 19th-century Knowsley Pamphlets.

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