Catalogue description Public Record Office: Rome Archives Series I

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Details of PRO 31/9
Reference: PRO 31/9
Title: Public Record Office: Rome Archives Series I

This series contains transcripts of documents in the Vatican, the English College at Rome, the Angelica Library, the Barberini Palace and elsewhere.

Note: Reports and statements made by Bliss on his researches are printed in the appendices to the Forty-First Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (London 1880) and in the ten subsequent reports (to 1890). Some of these reports are particularly informative as they contain detailed lists of documents examined by Bliss. The transcripts were also used in the publication of the following volumes: Calendar of Papal Registers: Petitions to the Pope 1342 to 1419 (1 volume W H Bliss [ed] Public Record Office 1896); Calendar of State Papers Rome: Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland. These can be found in the reading rooms at The National Archives, Kew.
Date: 1066 - c1815
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: TRANS 9
Legal status: Not Public Record(s)
Language: French and Latin
Physical description: 147 bundles and volumes
Unpublished finding aids:

A partial card index which contains a catalogue of contents of the documents showing folio numbers and using the series former references TRANS 9 and TRANS 10 is available as an orderable document reference PRO 31/9/148

Administrative / biographical background:

In 1872, the British government decided to publish, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, all materials illustrative of the history of Great Britain which were extant in foreign libraries and archives (in particular, Venice, Madrid, Vienna, Brussels and Rome). For this purpose, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Romilly, appointed the Rev Joseph Stevenson of St Mary's College, Oscott, to go to Rome to transcribe copies of documents and papers preserved in the libraries and archives there which related to the history of Great Britain, commencing with the reign of Henry VIII.

On 24 December 1876, the Rev Stevenson resigned his appointment due to ill-health. He was replaced by Mr William Henry Bliss, formerly an assistant in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, who commenced his researches in January 1877. Bliss was assisted in his research in Rome and in the editing of the calendars, in particular by Mr Charles Johnson of the PRO, and primarily by Mr J A Twemlow, sometime Professor Emeritus and Reader of Palaeography at Liverpool University, who later had responsibility for editing the series of Calendars of Papal Registers.

On 8 March 1909, Bliss died in Rome and was succeeded, from September 1909, by Mr J A Rigg, editor for the Selden Society and an inspector for the Historical Manuscripts Commission (HMC). Rigg continued the work until 1917 when it was reported in the 79th DKR (1920), p 7, that the 'actual work of research in Foreign Archives has been wholly stopped by the war'. From 1920, the editor(s) of the Calendar of Papal Registers recommenced visiting Rome to acquire material for their continuation.

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