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Drake Note Book

William Drake (1606-1669) was a Bedfordshire gentleman who was preoccupied with self-improvement. Many of his notebooks survive, which scholars have used to study his interests, reading habits, and social network. Drake's notebooks contain extracts from plays, history books, pamphlets and parliamentary speeches. On this page, we see notes taken from King Charles's speech of 3 November 1640, which Drake probably read in a handwritten copy. We don't know if Drake owned the speech, or how he got access to it, but we do know that Drake regularly borrowed books (both printed and manuscript) from his friends. This practice of sharing texts meant that a single physical copy of a speech could sometimes have a dozen or more readers. We can be sure Drake did not hear the speech because he was not an MP, though he would in fact become an MP the following year. Documents like this one help us understand how people who were not MPs followed developments in Parliament.