The Lansdowne Collection contains more than 1200 volumes of manuscripts covering a wide range of subjects. They were acquired from various owners by Lord Lansdowne, first Earl of Shelbourne, in the 18th century and were purchased for the British Museum by vote of Parliament in 1807.
Noteworthy subsections include the papers of Sir William Cecil, first Lord Burghley (volumes 1-122) and Sir Julius Caesar, Elizabethan Minister (volumes 123-174). Later volumes contain valuable material which should not be overlooked. These were notable acquisitions from the leading 17th- and 18th-century antiquarians, including Strype, Kennett, James West, Harding, Umfreville, Le Neve and Warburton, providing central evidence for affairs of state, the government of England, the impact of the Reformation and other topics.
The most outstanding feature of the Lansdowne Collection is its range. In addition to matters of high politics, government, trade and religion, there are numerous documents of interest to historians of culture. There is material relating to Revels, Masques and players, disorderly inns and licensing laws, bear baiting, restriction of building in London, John Evelyn on old English popular customs, a manuscript copy of Middleton's A Game of Chess and John Daye's translation of An Old Manuscript Containing the Parliament of Bees.
Part One: Lord Burghley's Papers
Part Two: The Papers of Sir Julius Caesar, Elizabethan Minister
Part Three:The Most Important Volumes Selected from Vols. 187-554 of the Lansdowne Collection
Part Four: The Most Important Volumes Selected from Vols. 555-1036 of the Lansdowne Collection
Part Five: The Most Important Volumes Selected from Vols. 1036-1238 of the Lansdowne Collection
Complete Collection: 164 reels