Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1595

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Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1595

As I just reposted an older article of a Queen Elizabeth I passport issued 1598, I found out that the St.Andrews University Library has even an older document in its archive. For now, I can only give you a description of the passport as there is no photo available. I will try to get one from St.Andrews University.

Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1595
Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1595

Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England, at Greenwich, for Sir Anthony Mildmay, allowing him safe passage for one year to visit healing baths in Germany on the advise of his doctors, ‘moved unto us by the advise of phisiciens for lycence to be given him to repaire to certaine Bathes in the partes of Germanie’.

Addressed to all ‘Admiralles, viceadmiralles, Captains of anie our Shippes serving on the Seas’, as well as to other public officials, ‘Wherefore we will and commannde you to suffer him quyetly to passe by you out of this our Realme with Three Servants Three horse and one hundred poundes in money together with all other his necessarie Carriages and utensiles’, provided he does not ‘haunte or resorte into’ the territories of hostile foreign powers, and ‘use not the companie of anie Jhesuite or Semynarie or other evill affected person’. Document signed at the head, ‘Elizabeth R’, dated ‘the sixth day of June 1595 in the Seven and Thirtith yeere of o[ur] Raigne’.

Sir Anthony Mildmay (c.1549-1617) was to be appointed ambassador to France the following year – a role he had assiduously tried to avoid with pleas of poverty, unsuitability, and the weak health to which the present document bears witness – being presented to Henry IV at Rouen in October 1596. Mildmay’s embassy was to prove something of a disaster: in March 1597 the French king ordered him from his chamber, threatening to strike him. He was never again to receive an appointment of any distinction: ‘I always knew him’, claimed the letter writer John Chamberlain in 1597, ‘to be paucorum hominem’. Notable in the present document is the ever-present danger posed on the seas by England’s continental enemies, as well as the looming spectre of Catholicism.

Provenance: Dr. Max Thorek, Chicago (partially erased ownership stamp).Physical Description: 19 lines on a vellum membrane (160 x 283mm, the signature approx. 70 x 140mm) inscription in a 19th-century hand in the top margin, close-trimmed right and lower margins, small losses to the lower margin. Mounted.

Passport signed by Elizabeth I, Queen of England 1595


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FAQ Passport History
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1. What are the earliest known examples of passports, and how have they evolved?

The word "passport" came up only in the mid 15th Century. Before that, such documents were safe conducts, recommendations or protection letters. On a practical aspect, the earliest passport I have seen was from the mid 16th Century. Read more...

2. Are there any notable historical figures or personalities whose passports are highly sought after by collectors?

Every collector is doing well to define his collection focus, and yes, there are collectors looking for Celebrity passports and travel documents of historical figures like Winston Churchill, Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read more...

3. How did passport designs and security features change throughout different periods in history, and what impact did these changes have on forgery prevention?

"Passports" before the 18th Century had a pure functional character. Security features were, in the best case, a watermark and a wax seal. Forgery, back then, was not an issue like it is nowadays. Only from the 1980s on, security features became a thing. A state-of-the-art passport nowadays has dozens of security features - visible and invisible. Some are known only by the security document printer itself. Read more...

4. What are some of the rarest and most valuable historical passports that have ever been sold or auctioned?

Lou Gehrig, Victor Tsoi, Marilyn Monroe, James Joyce, and Albert Einstein when it comes to the most expensive ones. Read more...

5. How do diplomatic passports differ from regular passports, and what makes them significant to collectors?

Such documents were often held by officials in high ranks, like ambassadors, consuls or special envoys. Furthermore, these travel documents are often frequently traveled. Hence, they hold a tapestry of stamps or visas. Partly from unusual places.

6. Can you provide insights into the stories behind specific historical passports that offer unique insights into past travel and migration trends?

A passport tells the story of its bearer and these stories can be everything - surprising, sad, vivid. Isabella Bird and her travels (1831-1904) or Mary Kingsley, a fearless Lady explorer.

7. What role did passports play during significant historical events, such as wartime travel restrictions or international treaties?

During war, a passport could have been a matter of life or death. Especially, when we are looking into WWII and the Holocaust. And yes, during that time, passports and similar documents were often forged to escape and save lives. Example...

8. How has the emergence of digital passports and biometric identification impacted the world of passport collecting?

Current modern passports having now often a sparkling, flashy design. This has mainly two reasons. 1. Improved security and 2. Displaying a countries' heritage, icons, and important figures or achievements. I can fully understand that those modern documents are wanted, especially by younger collectors.

9. Are there any specialized collections of passports, such as those from a specific country, era, or distinguished individuals?

Yes, the University of Western Sidney Library has e.g. a passport collection of the former prime minister Hon Edward Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret. They are all diplomatic passports and I had the pleasure to apprise them. I hold e.g. a collection of almost all types of the German Empire passports (only 2 types are still missing). Also, my East German passport collection is quite extensive with pretty rare passport types.

10. Where can passport collectors find reliable resources and reputable sellers to expand their collection and learn more about passport history?

A good start is eBay, Delcampe, flea markets, garage or estate sales. The more significant travel documents you probably find at the classic auction houses. Sometimes I also offer documents from my archive/collection. See offers... As you are already here, you surely found a great source on the topic 😉

Other great sources are: Scottish Passports, The Nansen passport, The secret lives of diplomatic couriers

11. Is vintage passport collecting legal? What are the regulations and considerations collectors should know when acquiring historical passports?

First, it's important to stress that each country has its own laws when it comes to passports. Collecting old vintage passports for historical or educational reasons is safe and legal, or at least tolerated. More details on the legal aspects are here...

Does this article spark your curiosity about passport collecting and the history of passports? With this valuable information, you have a good basis to start your own passport collection.

Question? Contact me...