Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The "French Prophets" - manuscripts from Chetham's Library Manchester

Chetham's Library, MS. A.6.14
LACY, John, Expositions of several passages of Scripture and other writings, [c. 1707-1720]. 2 vols. 864 pp. & iv, 188 pp.

These two weird and wonderful 18th-century manuscript books feature among "101 Treasures"  on the website of  Manchester's Chetham's Library. They are among a number of printed books and manuscripts in the Library relating to the so-called "French Prophets", a Millenarian group which grew up in early 18th-century London around refugees from the Camisard conflict. They record the "utterances" of John Lacy, who was the most prominent of the English inspirés. The two volumes are beautifully produced: "The lavish use of gold leaf, elegant two-colour initials and calligraphic embellishment show a wonderful synthesis of medieval artistry and English folk-art".   Since they are marked with the initials FM, they were probably made for the chemist Francis Moult, a prominent and wealthy follower.

As well as precious objects, the books may be counted as  "clandestine manuscripts". Lacy had published three volumes of "Warnings" in 1707, but, given the growing climate of suspicion against the Prophets, refrained from further publications. The manuscripts, which date from 1710, report his later pronouncements.  

The holdings in Chetham's Library relating to the Prophets are not part of a formal collection, but probably originate with the poet John Byrom (1692-1763) who  was interested in Millenarianism and Christian mysticism.


Chetham's Library:
"Works of the French prophets" [101 Treasures of Chetham's]

Handlist of Manuscripts: 

Principal MSS relating to the French Prophets.
MS. A.2.82. Records of meetings of the Prophets (1710-11)
MS. A.2.103 Isaac Owen, Expositions of several passages of Scripture by the Holy Spirit (1710)
MS. A.2.114 Table showing by whom and when the following warnings were spoken (1709-10)
MS. A.4.33. John LACY, John.  A collection of prophetic blessings by the Eternal Spirit; administered by the laying on of hands (1712).  
MS. A.6.14.1-2. LACY, John. Expositions of several passages of Scripture pronounced under the operation of the Holy Spirit (1710-20). 

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