How to look for Home affairs in the early modern period: state papers domestic 1660-1714

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1.Why use this guide?

This guide tells you:

  • what the state papers domestic 1660-1714 are, and what information they include
  • how to find state papers at The National Archives and elsewhere
  • which finding aids and websites can help you search the various state papers domestic

For state papers domestic for other dates, refer to these guides instead:

For state papers relating to foreign and Irish affairs see

2. What are the state papers domestic, 1660-1714?

The state papers domestic are the accumulated papers of the secretaries of state relating to home affairs.

They contain information on every aspect of early modern government, including social and economic affairs, law and order, religious policy, crown possessions and intelligence gathering as well as some references to foreign policy.

They may also include private and official letters, musters, reports, commissions and instructions, council orders and correspondence, proclamations, memoranda and draft parliamentary bills.

3. How do I search the records?

State papers for this period are only searchable by date on Discovery, our catalogue. The main finding aids instead are published calendars which can be used to trace a particular individual, place or subject.

The easiest way to search the calendars is to carry out a keyword search on State Papers Online (institutional subscription required or free to view onsite at The National Archives at Kew). This not only searches the calendars but also display digital scans of most (but not all) of the documents described in the calendars.

The calendars are also available online at British History Online (£).  If you do not have access to these online sources, you can consult the printed version of the calendar of state papers available at The National Archives and in many major reference libraries.

The printed versions have the added benefit of detailed indexes which can provide additional identifying information to help with your search.

More guidance is given below on how to use the printed calendars for records arranged by monarch’s reign.

Some records of state papers exist in other archives; see below.

4. State papers domestic for the reign of Charles II (1660-1685)

Most of the papers of this reign are in SP 29 with many warrants, licences, commissions, pardons, etc. in SP 30 (1660-1688).

State Papers Domestic for Charles II in SP 29 contains:

  • letters and orders relating to naval policy (including Navy Board Papers 1664-1673)
  • post civil war resettlement
  • many papers on domestic security and intelligence (including material on the Rye House Plot)

4.1 Calendars

Use the calendars to locate summaries of the records. Most of the papers are calendared in the Calendar of State Papers Domestic Charles II, eds. M A E Green, F H B Daniell, F Bickley, 28 volumes, (London, 1860-1947).

Remember to check the final Addenda volume 1660-1685 too.

Bear in mind that the calendars also refer to documents in the Colonial Office and Admiralty record series, the state papers foreign, the state papers interregnum, docket books and proclamations amongst others.

Fuller details can be found in the keys pasted into the front of each volume.

As a general principle, where items are numbered in the calendar they are in the main series of letters and papers; this includes those numbered items which include ‘Adm paper’ in square brackets at the end.

From 1667 most references to volume numbers in SP 29 appear in square brackets at the end of the extract. Where ‘Case’ appears in a calendar entry it is referring to an item in SP 30.

5. Reign of James II (1685-1688)

Papers covering 1685-1688 are in record series SP 31.

5.1 Calendars

Consult the Calendar of State Papers Domestic, James II, ed. E K Timings, 3 volumes, (London 1960-1972).

The calendars provide modern references to a variety of documents (apart from volume one which contains a key at the front of the text).

As in the calendars for the previous reign they include references to related material in ADM 77, SO 1, SP 44 and the state papers Ireland amongst others.

6. Reign of William and Mary (1689-1702)

The main series of papers is SP 32 (1689-1702, SP 32/1-17 on microfilm) and SP 33, covering the same dates (SP 33/A-D on microfilm).

Both classes refer to many aspects of government, including

  • finance
  • military and naval policy
  • Ireland
  • intelligence on Jacobite activity

6.1 Calendars

The content of SP 32 is described more fully in the Calendars of State Papers Domestic, of the reign of William and Mary, ed. W J Hardy, E Bateson, 11 volumes, (London, 1895-1937).

For entries before 1698, look for references for relevant entries in the square brackets at the end of each entry. For entries after 1698, look for document references that follows the following format: SP 32/456.

The calendars refer to many record series including:

  • SP 42 – State Papers Naval (1689-1782)
  • SP 44 – State Papers Entry Books (1660-1828)
  • SP 45 – State Papers Office and other Bodies: Various Administrative Records, Precedents and Proclamations (Edward VI – 1862)
  • ADM 77 – Royal Greenwich Hospital: Secretary of State’s Newsletters to Lord Derwentwater (1673-1696)
  • ADM 78 -Royal Greenwich Hospital: Entry Books of Secretary of State’s Newsletters to Lord Derwentwater (1681-1695)

They may also cross-refer to the Calendars of Treasury Books.

SP 33 is not calendared and includes duplicate Exchequer assessments from 16 counties for grant in aid to the crown in 1692 (a key is provided in the paper version of SP 33 held at The National Archives.

7. Reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714)

The main series of letters and papers is in SP 34.

7.1 Calendars and other published sources

The main series of letters and papers is in record series SP 34, and various supplementary series are described more fully for 1702-1704 only in Calendars of State Papers Domestic, Anne, ed. R P Mahaffy, 2 volumes (London, 1916 and 1924) and Calendars of State Papers Domestic, Anne, ed. C. S. Knighton 2 volumes (Woodbridge, 2005 and 2006).

The last two volumes contain lists of official passes for individuals traveling abroad and for the protection of ships.

For entries before 1698, look for references for relevant entries in the square brackets at the end of each entry. For entries after 1698, look for document references that follows the following format: SP 32/456.

A detailed, indexed list of SP 34, covering the whole reign, is available in the printed version of SP 34 held at The National Archives.

You can also consult List and Index Society vols 258-260 (1995), which contains a published list of SP 34.

8. Supplementary material for the reigns of Charles II and Anne

For relevant records, consult:

  • SP 41 for State Papers Military, 1640-1782 (not yet available online)
  • SP 42 for State Papers Naval, 1689-1782 (not yet available online)
  • SP 44 for State Papers Domestic Entry Books, 1661-1828
  • SP 45 for State Papers Domestic Various, Edward VI to 1862
  • SP 46 for State Papers Domestic Supplementary, 1361-1829 -for a fuller description of the miscellaneous series see the printed catalogue version of SP 46 at The National Archives

Supplementary material is also in:

  • PRO 30/32 Leeds papers, 1661-1717
  • PRO 30/70 Hoare (Pitt) 1667-1946
  • SO 7 Signet Office King’s Books 1661-1851
  • SO 8 warrants for King’s bills, series I, 1661-1800

8.1 Calendars of Treasury books and papers

See the Calendars of Treasury Books and Papers and Calendars of Treasury Books for general information on all aspects of government in the late 17th century, especially military and naval policy.

9. Records held in other archives

The state papers were frequently treated as private property by secretaries of state, many of whom incorporated them into their private collections on leaving office. Therefore, you may find state papers held elsewhere.

Try searching our catalogue to see if there are any relevant listed entries held in other archives or private collections.

Guide reference: Domestic Information Research Guide 18