The History of the Coronation of James II

 Francis Sandford, London, 1687  (X.5.23)

Procession for the Coronation of James II by Francis Sandford

The Coronation ceremony of James II and VII, which took place on 23rd April 1685 in Westminster Abbey, was described and illustrated in Francis Sandford’s The History and Coronation of James II. The book, which was published in 1687, contains twenty-seven plates and three plans, images of regalia, processions, feasts, ceremonies and fireworks.

The page on display shows James II under the canopy of state, attended by dukes and bishops. His train is carried by four sons of earls and Arthur Herbert, the Master of the Robes. Captains of the Guards take up the rear and gentlemen pensioners surround the “Kings majestie”. The orb is carried by the Duke of Somerset and the Sceptre with dove is carried by the Duke of Albemarle. Both Somerset and Albemarle were major benefactors of the Wren Library; Somerset’s statue by Grinling Gibbons can be seen in the niche on the south wall and Albemarle’s portrait on the north wall.

James’s initial popularity on his accession quickly evaporated and he was dethroned in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which brought William III and Mary II jointly to the throne. This proved disastrous for Sandford who was barely able to recoup the costs involved in the lengthy production of this expensive volume published on the eve of the overthrow of James and for which the market disappeared abruptly. Sandford was almost bankrupted and died in 1694 in Newgate prison, London, where he had been imprisoned for debt.

Trinity’s copy of The History and Coronation of James II was presented to the Library by Henry Firebrace, Fellow of the College from 1674 to 1708. There is an inscription on the title page of the book which indicates that the book was presented while he was a Fellow (Donum Henrici FFirebraci huius Coll. Soc).  It is one of the few examples surviving of this book which can be linked to a contemporary owner.

More illustrations from X.5.23:

X.5.23 Title page X.5.23 Illustration X.5.23 Map X.5.23 Illustration X.5.23 Illustration X.5.23 Illustration

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