This item is from the antiquarian collections of Sir Thomas Gage, 7th Baronet, and of his brother, John Gage. The collection consists of family and estate records of the Hengrave estate from the sixteenth century onwards, including papers relating to the Kytson, Gage, and Rookwood (or Rokewode) families. All three families were recusant Catholics and the collection provides an insight into the lives of the Catholic gentry after the Reformation. This item is a memorial, almost a kind of literary reliquary, following the execution of Ambrose Rookwood, the Jacobite conspirator, nearly a hundred years after his namesake was executed in relation to the Gunpowder Plot. Gage has pasted in a Bill dated 1696, entitled the ‘True Copy of the Paper Delivered by Brigadier Rookwood, to the Sheriff at Tyburn, the Place of Execution’. The Paper celebrates faithfulness to religion and king even in the accusation of treason: the ‘Wills of Dying Men, were ever Sacred, and as such ought to be fulfill’d’. Rookwood declares ‘…Near twelve years, I have serv’d my True King and Master K. James, and freely now lay down my Life in his Cause. I ever Abhor’d a Treacherous Action even to an Enemy. If it be Guilt to have Complied with what I thought, and still think to have been my Duty, I am Guilty. No other Guilt do I Own’. BC
True Copy of the Paper Delivered by Brigadier Rookwood, to the Sheriff at Tyburn, the Place of Execution (1696).
CUL: MS Hengrave 76/1
Mark Nicholls, ‘Rookwood, Ambrose (c.1578–1606)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).
Paul Hopkins, ‘Rookwood, Ambrose (1664–1696)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).
Thompson Cooper, ‘Rokewode, John Gage (1786–1842)’, rev. J. M. Blatchly, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).