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Charlie and the Chocolate Inventory

Alison Barnes has unearthed a transcription of the Privy Purse Accounts of Charles II that fills the gap for 1666, for which year the originals are now lost. They offer a fascinating glimpse of how the King liked to spend his time and his money.

Charles presented with the first pineapple grown in England in 1675, painting by Hendrick DanckertsEver since the death of Charles II in February 1685, there has been a constant stream of books written about him, most of which I have read as part of my research on the seventeenth century. Somehow none of these biographies made me feel that I knew the King, however, and it wasn’t until I recently discovered his Privy Purse Accounts for 1666-69 in the Bodleian Library, (MS. Malone 44), that he suddenly sprang vividly to life. For these extracts possess an immediacy that turns the remote monarch into a flesh-and-blood human being.

Edmund Malone (1741-1812), a book and manuscript collector, transcribed these Accounts from the notebooks of Baptist May, Privy Purse, in about 1800. The full Privy Purse Accounts for 1667-69 are in the National Archives at Kew, but those for 1666 are missing, so Malone’s transcripts of that year have added interest.

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