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Teaching Colleagues,

We told you last week that we were going to send you a handful of Notes in pretty quick succession, and we are women of our words.

We’ve also decided that every once in a while, we’re going to send you an image of something in the Folger collection . . . because there are all kinds of books, manuscripts, objects in our collection, and I think we should send you images of some of the coolest. (If you’d like a little tour through some of the Folger collection, a good start is in the latest issue of our research blog, called The Collation.

Currently, my total favorite collection item is a proclamation signed by Charles II in 1674. It is, as its title says, A Proclamation To Restrain the Spreading of False News and Licentious talking of Matters OF State and Government.

Who knew? (Excuse me . . . I didn’t know, though clearly loads of others, starting with historians, did and do.)

A transcript of the text is below (also here). A link to a digitized version of the original document is here. Share with your history-teaching and social studies-teaching friends, yes? Have fun!




By the King

A Proclamation

To Restrain the Spreading of False News, and Licentious talking of Matters


State and Government

Charles R.

Whereas of late many persons ill affected to the Government have assumed to themselves a Liberty their ordinary Discourses to censure and defame the proceedings of State, Whereby they endeavor to create and nourish the minds of His Majesties good Subjects an evil opinion of things they understand not; And further to promote their Seditious ends, they do daily invest false news, and spread the same abroad amongst the People, to the great scandal of His Majesties Government: Whereof His Majesty taking notice, and in particular of that very false Report of intention to dissolve this present Parliament, which hath not been under deliberation, His Majesty seeing no cause to change his resolutions taken touching their meeting: His Majesty therefore looks upon the Spreaders of that Report as persons Seditiously inclined and ill affected to his Service; And considering that by the Laws of this Realm great and heavy penalties are to be inflicted upon all such as shall be found to be Spreaders of false News, or promoters of any Malicious Calumnies against the State by their ordinary and common Discourses, to stir up dislike in the People of His Majesties Person and the established Government, whereof His Majesty is sensible the persons offending are not ignorant. Nevertheless, that all men may be left without excuse who shall not hereafter contain themselves within that modest and dutiful regard which they ought, His Majesty hath thought fit, by the advice of His Council, to publish this Royal Proclamation. And doth hereby forewarn and straightly Command all His Loving Subjects of what state or condition soever they be, from the Highest to the Lowest, that they presume not henceforth by any Writing or Speaking to utter or publish any false News or Reports, or to intermeddle with the Affairs of State and Government, or with the persons of any of His Majesties Counsellors or Ministers, in their common and ordinary Discourses, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost perils. And whereas all bold and irreverent speeches touching matters of this high nature are punishable not onely in the Speakers by the Hearers also, unless they do speedily Reveal the same unto some of His Majesties Privy Council, or some other His Majesties Judges or Justices of the Peace; His Majesty doth herby further Declare, that he will proceed with all severity not onely against such persons as shall use any bold and unlawful speeches of this nature, but also against those persons as shall be present where such speeches are used, without Revealing the same in due time, His Majesty being resolved to Suppress this Unlawfull and Undutifull kind of Discourse, by a most strict and exemplary Punishment of all such Offenders as shall hereafter by Discovered.

Given at Our Court at Whitehall, the Second day of May, 1674. In the Six and twentieth year of Our Reign.

God Save the King.


Printed by the Assigns of John Bill and Christopher Barker, Printers to the Kings most Excellent Majesty. 1674.

Folger Shakespeare Library Collection, Proclamation 239609. Bolding Courtesy of the Folger.