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Narcissus Luttrell (1657–1732) was an English historian, diarist, and bibliographer, and briefly Member of Parliament for two different Cornish towns [1]. He wrote a chronicle of Parliament from 1678 to 1714, distilled from his diary.

Though Luttrell was for almost all this period a private citizen and relied primarily on secondary sources for the workings of Parliament, he is often the best source available for legal and political matters of the time. The legislation itself is covered by the official parliamentary journals, but Luttrell's diary is often the only record of debates within the Houses. As a result, Luttrell provides crucial political information that cannot be gleaned otherwise; as one example out of many, he notes that the debate on taxation of 1691 was divided according to geography, with Norfolk and Suffolk arguing against the remainder of the country over methods of taxation[2]. Since individual votes were not recorded, the political significance of the law would be less clear without Luttrell's record.

Luttrell's diary also covers major events in diplomacy and in literature and the arts as well as parliamentary proceedings, and is supplemented in those areas by annotations within his massive library. He also compiled a bibliography of texts relating to the Popish Plot, "stitch’d books and single sheets." Luttrell had one of the most impressive book collections of his time, but due apparently to financial difficulties he had to divide and sell it, and various portions are now contained in several libraries in Britain and the United States, notably the British Library, Newberry Library and Huntington Library.

Major published works

  • A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs from September 1678 to April 1714. 6 volumes. Oxford: At the University Press, 1857
  • The Compleat Catalogue of Stitch’d Books and Single Sheets, &c. Printed Since the First Discovery of the Popish Plot. London, 1680
  • The Parliamentary Diary of Narcissus Luttrell, 1691-1693; ed. Henry Horwitz. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972 ISBN 0198223676
  • Narcissus Luttrell's Popish Plot Catalogues. Oxford: Blackwell f. Luttrell Society, 1956

References

  1. ^ Rayment
  2. ^ Beckett
  • Beckett, J. V. (1985)'"Land Tax or Excise: The Levying of Taxation in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England." The English Historical Review, Vol. 100, No. 395 (Apr., 1985), pp. 285-308
  • Rayment, Leigh, "House of Commons," [1].
Parliament of England
Preceded by
William Coryton
John Tregagle
Member of Parliament for Bossiney
with Charles Robartes

1679–1681
Succeeded by
Charles Robartes
Sir Peter Colleton, Bt
Preceded by
Sir John Carew
Richard Carew
Member of Parliament for Saltash
with Sir John Carew 1691–1692
Michael Hill 1692–1695

1691–1695
Succeeded by
Francis Buller
Walter Moyle
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