Sir Richard Bulstrode, 1610 – 1711

What is memorable about Sir Richard Bulstrode is not his longevity, which is remarkable in and of itself given the lack of medical care during the 17th century, but the network of correspondence that this diplomat engaged in. “… the Pforzheimer collection [Harry Ransom Center, University of Texan at Austin] preserves over 1,450 handwritten newsletters that were sent from offices in London to Richard Bulstrode between 1667 and 1689 while he was stationed in Brussels. These newsletters contained proprietary information for their subscribers about proceedings in parliament, activities of the military and royal family, and court gossip that could not be printed in public newspapers. As reciprocation for this service, Bulstrode and other subscribers around the English realm and Europe mailed accounts of news and politics from their host regions along with copies of local newspapers back to London.”

The Bulstrode Papers, contained in the invaluable series Catalogue of the Collection of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents, present these newsletters in modern transcriptions along with editorial apparati. They are a treasure house of information and are considered a logical successor to Pepys’ diaries, extending coverage from 1667 to 1675.

His writings were published posthumously. They include: Memoirs and reflections upon the reign and government of King Charles the 1st. and K. Charles the IId … wherein the character of the royal martyr, and of King Charles II. are vindicated from fanatical aspersions.
Written by Sir Richard Bulstrode. Now first published from his original manuscript (1721), and    Miscellaneous essays: Viz. I. Of company and conversation. … XIII. Of old age (1715)

Two recent monographs that explore the dissemination of news during Bulstrode’s time are: News Networks in Early Modern Europe (2016) and Travelling Chronicles: News and Newspapers from the Early Modern Period to the Eighteenth Century (2018).

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