A Prayer Book from 1661

This prayer book came to me from my grandfather, Dr John Willis. He was a priest, originally trained as a doctor in the family tradition that went back to the Dr Francis Willis who treated King George III (As an aside, I intended for a time to become a doctor, but that plan fell by the wayside). No further history of the book is actually known beyond the fact that the binding was restored by a Cambridge firm in 1932 or thereabouts.


The book must have been assembled between the restoration and the publication of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. There is a proclamation for the uniformity of common prayer dated "March the 5th in the first year of the King's reign"; literally, that would be 1661, but I understand that legal documents were dated as though Charles II had directly succeeded in 1649, so this might not be clear-cut. Some parts of the book were printed in 1660, as their title pages show:

Title page of ordinal dated 1660

Title page of Psalms dated 1660

Other signs of the date of printing are the reference to James Duke of York in the Litany, and the fact that the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer still follow the form of the older books of 1552 and 1559, ending at the third collect:

Part of the Litany

Part of Evening Prayer

The psalms (which were not officially included until 1662) contain a curious variant from Coverdale's translation.
In Psalm 68 v4, the word "yea" appears instead of "JAH":

Psalm 68 showing variant in v4

A final curiosity is that the book also has the metrical psalter of Sternhold and Hopkins (the "Old Version") bound up with it:

Title page of metrical psalter dated 1641