William Godwin's Diary


The State Paper Office is a government archive, which contains records from the reign of Henry VIII onwards. It was established in 1578 and originally located in Whitehall Palace. The Office suffered large losses of earlier documents during the English Civil War. It contains a large number of documents relating to the government (especially minutes and orders) during the Commonwealth (7 Dec 1653 – 25 Oct 1659). In the early eighteenth century, the Office moved to an apartment above the Lord Chamberlain’s lodgings at the Cockpit, with the addition of the Middle Treasury Gallery. In 1750, due to damp and damage, the collection was split between the Gallery and a house in Scotland Yard. In 1819, due to further damp and damage, this house was demolished and the papers it contained moved to Great George Street, at the corner of Duke Street, with the rest remaining at the Gallery; it is unclear which part of the collection Godwin visited. In 1833, all the papers were moved to a purpose built office in St James’s Park. Godwin began his regular visits to the State Paper Office in September 1824. It seems likely that he was researching material relating to his History of the Commonwealth. There may have been new documents for him to consult; The Times, 21 January 1824 reports a Latin MS by Milton newly discovered in the SPO by Mr Lemon. See The Times, 21 January 1824.