Each volume has a contents list (folios 1, 77) and the second volume has its own foliation added in an apparently later hand.
The first volume (folios 1-74) consists of copies (in the same hand), made apparently in or about 1585, of the following:
(i) ‘Discorso del Priore d`Inghilterra a Papa Pio V circa la Riduttione di quel Regno’ (folio 2), being an account by Sir Richard Shelley, Grand Prior of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, written apparently early in 1570, of his experiences since leaving England in 1558, and of the possibilities of restoring Roman Catholicism in England.
(ii) ‘Scriptura porrecta Pio Pape V super reductione Regni Britannie’ (folio 8), written also by Shelley, apparently about the same time.
(iii) ‘Discorso del sudetto Priore al med(esim)o Pontefice circa la reduttione del Regno d`Inghilterra’ (folio 13).
(iv) ‘Instruttione o vero Informatione sopra le cose d`Inghilterra data dal Cardinal Polo a Papa Paolo III quando ui fù destinato Legato’ (folio 22), written probably shortly after February 1537. Published, with a small number of unimportant variations, in ‘Epistolarum Reginaldi Poli ... et aliorum ad ipsum’, volume II, pages CCLXXIV-CCLXXIX.
(v) ‘Discorso sopra le potenti ragioni che debbano spingere il Rè Cattolico piu tosto all` Impresa d`Inghilterra, che a quella di Fiandra oue si mostra anco con quanta facilità si possa conseguire’ (folio 30), written apparently at the beginning of 1581. The writer has not been identified.
(vi) ‘Relatione della Prigionia della Regina di Scotia con la Morte del Rè Henrico suo Marito’ (folio 59), written apparently in 1573. The writer has not been identified. The additional note on the current state of Scotland, dated 1585 (folio 69), which is in the same hand as the rest of the volume, may possibly be the copyist`s own composition.
The remainder of the volume (folios 71-74) is blank except for a note `Imperfecta` in another hand at folio 71.
The second volume (folios 75-224) consists of papers mostly relating to the dispute between the Jesuits and the secular priests concerning the running of the mission to England, which became known as the Archpriest Controversy. It is a collection of copies, made in 1607, of papers which for the most part defend the position of the Jesuits (for whom it was doubtless compiled) against that of the seculars, and consists of the following:
(i) ‘Summarium petitionum Patris Personij et Presbyterorum Appellantium ex Gallia ad Romanam Curiam 6 Sep 1602’ (folio 79), consisting of a list of the petitions submitted to Rome by Parsons in favour of continuing the appoint¬ment of George Blackwell as Archpriest in charge of the mission to England, followed (folio 80 verso) by a list of the petitions by the seculars against it. Comments are added in a contemporary hand in the margins of both lists. For other comments by both parties, see folios 158-161.
(ii) ‘Copia della lettera del Serenissimo Duca di Lorena al suo Agente presso Nostro Signore sopra le cose d`Inghilterra de 10 Novembre 1606’ (folio 82). The letter, written originally in French, relates to three discussions on religious affairs in England between King James and the Duke`s son, the Count of Vaudémont.
(iii) ‘De Regni Anglici Statu et Religione ad Paulum V incerti auctoris’ (folio 89), written apparently soon after 1605. There are several corrections in a contemporary hand of what appear to have been errors of transcription.
(iv) ‘Lettera di Gio(vanne) Musheo de 26 Giugno 1605 à Paolo V delle cose d`Inghilterra’ (folio 115), in Latin.
(v) ‘Facultates petendae a SS. D. N. [Paulo V] pro D. Jo(ann)e Musheo Anglio Presb(yte)ro 1605 Junii 23 (folio 122).
(vi) ‘Lettera di Roberto Personio à Paolo V Pro Anglia Regnisque septemtrionalibus 30 Jun 1605 (folio 123), in Latin, written from the English College, Rome, of which he was Rector.
(vii) ‘Vera, et fidelis declaratio afflicti, et desolati Status omnium Catholicorum in Scotia una cum remediis huic malo in presenti maximae adhibendis incerti Auctoris’ (folio 129).
(viii) ‘Memoriale à Paolo V [in fact to Clement VIII] di sei Inglesi, nel quale rappresentano lo Stato, e`l bisogno dei Cattolici di quel Regno’ (folio 137) written in 1604 against the application of Christopher Bagshaw for the position of agent at Rome for the clergy.
(ix) ‘Copia di un Memoriale di Giovanni Cecilio Prete Inglese dato al Re d`Inghilterra, e suoi Consiglieri nel mese di Ottobre 1603’ (folio 140). An Italian translation made in 1607 of Cecil`s memorial, written whilst he was in prison, followed by comments upon it by the Jesuits at Rome.
(x) ‘Memoriale Paulo V pro Sacerdotibus Anglis’ (folio 147), asking for the termination of the appointment of the Archpriest, and for the satisfaction of the other grievances of the seculars.
(xi) ‘Acta in Congregatione 22 Jul 1602 pro rebus Anglicanis’ (folio 153) being the decisions of a congregation of the inquisition appointed by Clement VIII to hear the second appeal by the clergy against the conduct of the Archpriest.
(xii) ‘Propositiones explicande pro tollendis in Anglia Scandalis 1602’ (folio 156), being the affirmation of a list of propositions put in the interrogative form by a number of English priests at Rome. Although their names are not given, they were probably Jesuits, as the propositions had been apparently denied in a number of books (presumably those listed at folios 176-177) published shortly before by the seculars against the Archpriest.
(xiii) Comments by the Jesuits (folio 158) and by the seculars (folio 160, dated 6 September 1602, on the two lists of petitions of Parsons and the seculars to Rome contained in folios 79-81. Some of the comments of the Jesuits are the same as the marginal notes thereto. These comments are not mentioned in the contents list.
(xiv) ‘Memoriale pro parte Procuratorum Archipresbyteri Angliae porrectum Paulo V’ (folio 162), being comments by the Jesuits apparently on the second appeal to Rome by the seculars against the Archpriest, followed by
(xv) ‘Memoriale pro parte Appellantium’ (folio 164) being comments by the seculars.
(xvi) ‘Clausulae sententiae declaratoriae contra Elisabetham Angliae Reginam’ (folio 167) ‘una cum literis Pauli V, dum esset Cardinalis, ad Sanctissimum Clementem VIII’ (folio 169). The documents referred to are a brief paragraph excerpted from sections 4 and 5 of the Bull `Regnans in excelsis` of Pius V issued in 1570, and an excerpt from the faculty granted to Edmund Campion and Robert Parsons by Gregory XIII in 1580; the letter, which is in Italian and dated 13 September 1602, is a request for a complete copy of the faculty.
(xvii) ‘Cathalogus librorum a Presbyteris Appellantibus Angliae editorum’ (folio 170). The original titles of the books that were published in English are added in the margins.
(xviii) ‘De modo procedendi Sacerdotum qui Appellantes dicuntur’ (folio 173), written, according to the full title, by a Jesuit at Rome, 23 April 1602 and sent to England.
(xix) The title and contents of a book recently written against the seculars (folio 176) entitled ‘Manifestatio summae stultitiae et spiritus maligni quorundam in Anglia qui vocant se ipsos Sacerdotes saeculares... 1602`, being apparently an excerpt from a letter sent to England 3 June 1602. The name of the author of this work is not given, nor is it known where or if it was published. This description is not mentioned in the contents list.
(xx) Comments of the seculars (folio 178) dated 6 September 1602 on the two lists of petitions of Parsons and the seculars to Rome contained in folios 79-81. These comments are almost the same as those at folios 160-161 and are likewise not mentioned in the contents list.
(xxi) Letter, 20 October 1602, of William Chisholm, Bishop of Vaison, to the Pope (folio 180), requesting the usual faculties granted to English and Scottish priests returning to their countries. Mentioned in the contents list, but with an incorrect reference.
(xxii) ‘Genealogia Regum Anglie in duas Arbores’ (folio 181), showing the descend¬ants of Henry VII, drawn up in tabular form on two large sheets. It was written not long before the death of Elizabeth, and was apparently designed to illustrate the claim of James VI of Scotland to the throne of England.
(xxiii) ‘Capitolazioni fra Spagna et Inghilterra 1603’ (folio 183) being a description of the principal articles of the treaty signed between England and Spain in 1604 following the unsuccessful landing of Spanish troops in Ireland.
(xxiv) Iudicium Francisci Peniae Rotae Auditoris super sequenti Scriptura’ (folio 184), more particularly, on a number of propositions asserted by William Cecil, Lord Burghley, concerning the loyalty of Catholics to a Protestant sovereign.
(xxv) ‘Ex diversis Literis Anglie 16 et 21 Martji’ (folio 187), concerning propositions made to Silvester Norris, a seminary priest, whilst he was imprisoned in the Bridewell in 1605-1606, about the conditions under which toleration might be granted to the Catholics, together with his reply, and a note (folio 189 verso) about the outcome, At folio 188 is an excerpt from a letter of the Rector of the College of St Omer, concerning the questions asked of Friar Henry Garnet, Society of Jesus, during his interrogation.
(xxvi) ‘Obiecta in Seditione contra duos Sacerdotes, qui venerunt ex Anglia 1599’ (folio 190), being the objections of Richard Haydock and Martin Array, dated Rome, 10 January 1599, to the appeal by William Bishop and Robert Charnock on behalf of the seculars against the conduct of the Archpriest. Printed (with some differences) in ‘The Archpriest Controversy’, volume 1, pages 129-136.
(xxvii) ‘Summarium Confessionum duorum Sacerdotum Anglorum’ (folio 199 verso), that is, Bishop and Charnock, in January 1599, when they were interrogated in the English College, Rome.
(xxviii) ‘Copia della Lettera, e Relazione, che il Signor di Breval l`uno de due Personaggi che furono mandati in Inghilterra dal Duca di Lorena, fece a Clemente VIII (folio 205), being an account of discussions with James and with Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, in 1604, about the possibility of granting toleration to the Catholics.
(xxix) ‘Sommario di quello è Stato negoziato in Inghilterra dalli Gentiluomini mandati dal Duca, e Cardinal di Lorena’ (folio 208), written apparently to the Cardinal of Lorraine from London, 31 August 1604, by Monsieur de Marinville, the other of the Duke`s envoys to James.
(xxx) ‘Postulatio Catholicorum Angliae à Summo Pontifice pro Anglicana expeditione’ (folio 214), addressed to Clement VIII at the beginning of his reign in 1592 by one or more of the pro-Spanish party amongst the Catholics.
The remainder of this volume (folios 223-224) is blank. The leaves have been foliated, and references to this foliation added to the contents list in an apparently contemporary hand; it has also been amended throughout by small corrections and additions in a hand apparently of 17th century British provenance.
The volumes were bound together sometime during the 17th century (it is not known for whom or for what reason), and rebound by the Faculty of Advocates, probably during the latter half of the 18th century.