While cataloguing an extensive collection of Illustrated Victorian Notepapers I was mystified by a recent acquisition captioned ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol’.
However, all was revealed by a visit to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds which contains an excellent library accessible to the public.
The 24 foot long gun was a gift to Henry VIII from Maximilian Count of Buren,
cast by Jan Tolhuys of Utrecht, and installed at Dover Castle in 1545. This cannon saw service on both sides during the Civil War, and was then returned to Dover where it remains.
The gun became popularly known during the 17th century as ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket Pistol’, a name given at one time to several large pieces of artillery. The Dutch inscription has been variously translated; the version on the notepaper reads:
- O’er hill and dale
- I throw my ball
- Breaker my name
- Of mound and wall.