English Book Collectors
by William Younger Fletcher
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[Footnote 56: Edwards, Lives of Founders of the British Museum, p. 274.]

[Footnote 57: There are 4100 volumes of Sloane MSS. in the British Museum. A catalogue of them, compiled by the Rev. S. Ayscough, was printed in 1782.]

[Footnote 58: Sims, Handbook to the Library of the British Museum, p. 2.]

PETER LE NEVE, 1661-1729

Peter Le Neve was the son of Francis Neve (the Le had been dropped for several generations, when Peter resumed the ancient form of his name), a citizen and draper of London. He was born in London in 1661, and was educated at Merchant Taylors' School. From an early age he displayed a great love of antiquarian pursuits, and in 1707, when the Society of Antiquaries was reconstituted, he was chosen the first President, which office he held until 1724. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society. On the 17th of January 1690, Le Neve was appointed Rouge-Croix Pursuivant; on April the 5th 1704, Richmond Herald; and on the 25th of the succeeding month Norroy King-at-Arms. He died on the 24th of September 1729, and was buried in the chancel of Great Witchingham Church, Norfolk. Oldys states that Le Neve had 'a vast treasure of Historical Antiquities, consisting of about 2000 printed books and above 1200 MSS., interspersed with many notes of his own.' Oldys also mentions that 'it is said that he had some pique with the Heralds' Office a little before his death, so cut them off with a single book, otherwise he had left them the whole of his library.'[60]

'Honest Tom Martin of Palgrave,' the antiquary, who was Le Neve's executor, and who married his widow, appears to have succeeded to the bulk of Le Neve's collections. They were sold by auction in 1731. The title-page of the sale catalogue reads:—'A Catalogue of the valuable library collected by that truly Laborious Antiquary, Peter Le Neve, Esq.; Norroy King of Arms (lately deceas'd), containing most of the Books relating to the History and Antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland, and many other nations. With more than a thousand Manuscripts of Abstracts of Records, etc., Heraldry, and other Sciences, several of which are very antient, and written on Vellum. Also, a great number of Pedigrees of Noble Families, etc. With many other Curiosities. Which will be Sold by Auction the 22nd Day of February 1730-1 at the Bedford Coffee-house, in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden. Beginning every Evening at Five a-Clock. By John Wilcox, Bookseller in Little Britain.'

The sale appears to have lasted about a fortnight, and was followed by a small supplementary one on March the 19th, of 'Some Curiosities and Manuscripts omitted in the previous Catalogue.' A copy of the sale catalogue, with the prices and the names of some of the purchasers in manuscript, is to be found in the British Museum.

Although Le Neve was an ardent collector and compiled a considerable number of works on heraldry and topography, many of which are preserved in the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, Heralds' College, and the Record Office, he does not appear to have printed anything. His list of Pedigrees of Knights made by King Charles II., King James II., King William III. and Queen Mary, King William alone, and Queen Anne, was edited by Dr. G.W. Marshall for the Harleian Society in 1873.


[Footnote 59: Edwards, Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, p. 308.]

[Footnote 60: Memoir of Oldys, etc. London, 1862, p. 76.]




Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, who was born in Bow Street, Covent Garden, on the 5th of December 1661, was the eldest son of Sir Edward Harley, K.B., who was Governor of Dunkirk after the Restoration. Entering Parliament in 1689, in 1701 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons; in 1710 he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in 1711 he was created Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, and made Lord High Treasurer, from which post he was dismissed in 1714. In 1713 he received the Order of the Garter. He was impeached by the House of Commons in 1715; acquitted without being brought to a trial in 1717, and died at his house in Albemarle Street, London, on the 21st of May 1724.

Harley was the greatest collector of his time, and formed a splendid library, which, at the time of his death, besides the printed books, contained more than six thousand volumes of manuscripts, and an immense number of charters, rolls, and deeds. This noble collection was inherited by Lord Oxford's son Edward, second Earl, by whom it was very considerably augmented in every department; and when he died in June 1741, the volumes of manuscripts amounted to seven thousand six hundred and thirty-nine volumes, exclusive of fourteen thousand two hundred and thirty-six original rolls, deeds, charters, and other legal documents. The printed books were estimated at about fifty thousand volumes, the pamphlets at about three hundred and fifty thousand, and the prints at forty-one thousand. In the Account of London Libraries, by Bagford and Oldys, it is stated:—

'For libraries in more expressly particular hands, the first and most universal in England, must be reckoned the Harleian, or Earl of Oxford's library, begun by his father and continued by himself. He has the rarest books of all countries, languages, and sciences, and the greatest number of any collector we ever had, in manuscript as well as in print, thousands of fragments, some a thousand years old; vellum books, some written over; all things especially respecting English History, personal as well as local, particular as well as general. He has a great collection of Bibles, etc., in all versions, and editions of all the first printed books, classics, and others of our own country, ecclesiastical as well as civil, by Caxton, Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, Berthelet, Rastall, Grafton, and the greatest number of pamphlets and prints of English heads of any other person. Abundance of ledgers, chartularies, old deeds, charters, patents, grants, covenants, pedigrees, inscriptions, etc., and original letters of eminent persons, as many as would fill two hundred volumes; all the collections of his librarian Humphrey Wanley, of Stow, Sir Symonds D'Ewes, Prynne, Bishop Stillingfleet, John Bagford, Le Neve, and the flower of a hundred other libraries.'

The library was remarkably rich in early editions of the Greek and Latin classics (there were as many as one hundred and fifteen volumes of various works by Cicero printed in the fifteenth century), English early poetry and romances, and books of prints, sculpture and drawings. The collection of Caxtons was both large and fine, and it comprised the only perfect copy known of the Book of the Noble Histories of King Arthur, which, nearly a century and a half after the dispersion of the Harleian library, was purchased for nineteen hundred and fifty pounds, at the sale of the Earl of Jersey's books in 1885, by Mr. Quaritch for a New York collector.

The volumes in the library were all handsomely bound; mostly in red morocco, and tooled with a distinctive kind of ornamentation, which has since been known as the Harleian Style. This commonly consisted of a centrepiece, generally of a lozenge form, surrounded by a broad and elegant border. Eliot and Chapman were the binders of the greater portion of the books, at a cost, it is said, of upwards of eighteen thousand pounds.

Humphrey Wanley was for several years librarian to both the first and the second Earls, and he commenced the compilation of the catalogue of the manuscripts, which was finally completed by the Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne in 1812. Among the Lansdowne manuscripts in the British Museum is a diary,[61] kept by Wanley, which contains much interesting information respecting the library. Some time after Wanley's decease, William Oldys was appointed librarian at a salary of two hundred pounds per annum.

The second Earl of Oxford had a passion for building and landscape gardening, as well as for collecting books, paintings and curiosities, and some years before his death these expensive tastes involved him in pecuniary difficulties. George Vertue, the eminent engraver, in one of his commonplace-books, now preserved in the British Museum,[62] thus feelingly refers to the embarrassed circumstances of the Earl:—'My good Lord, lately growing heavy and pensive in his affairs, which for some late years have mortify'd his mind.... This lately manifestly appeared in his change of complexion; his face fallen less; his colour and eyes turned yellow to a great degree; his stomach wasted and gone; and a dead weight presses continually, without sign of relief, on his mind.'

A fortnight after this was written Vertue had to lament his loss.

Lord Oxford died in Dover Street, London, on the 16th of June 1741, and on his decease the library became the property of Margaret, Duchess of Portland, the only daughter and heiress of the Earl, who sold the printed books to Mr. Thomas Osborne, the bookseller of Gray's Inn, for about thirteen thousand pounds. The manuscripts were purchased by Parliament in 1753 for the sum of ten thousand pounds, and were placed in the library of the British Museum four years later. The portraits, coins, and miscellaneous curiosities were sold by auction in March 1742.

Osborne bought Lord Oxford's books with a view of disposing of them by sale, and engaged Dr. Johnson and Oldys to compile a catalogue of them, which was printed in four volumes octavo in the years 1743-44. A fifth volume was issued in 1745, but this is nothing more than an enumeration of Osborne's unsold stock. Osborne also published in eight volumes quarto, 'The Harleian Miscellany: or, a Collection of Scarce, Curious, and Entertaining Pamphlets and Tracts, as well as in Manuscript as in Print, found in the late Earl of Oxford's library, interspersed with Historical, Political and Critical notes. London 1744-46.' This work, which was edited by Oldys, was republished by Thomas Park in 1808-12, with two supplemental volumes. A catalogue of the pamphlets contained in the Harleian Miscellany was also prepared by Oldys, and printed in a quarto volume, which appeared in 1746; and a Collection of Voyages and Travels, compiled from the Miscellany, was published in two volumes folio in 1745.


[Footnote 61: Lansdowne MSS. 771, 772.]

[Footnote 62: Add. MS. 23,093.]

JOHN BRIDGES, 1666-1724

John Bridges, the author of The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire, was born in 1666 at Barton Seagrave, Northamptonshire. He was appointed Solicitor of the Customs in 1695, a Commissioner of the Customs in 1711, and in 1715 a Cashier of the Excise. He was a Bencher of Lincoln's Inn, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He died on the 16th of March 1724.

Bridges, who is mentioned with great respect by Hearne and other antiquaries, was, says Dibdin, 'a gentleman, a scholar, and a notorious book-collector.' His library, which consisted of 'above 4000 Books and Manuscripts in all languages and faculties, particularly in Classics and History, and especially the History and Antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland,'[63] was sold at his chambers, No. 6 Lincoln's Inn, by Mr. Cock, on the 7th of February 1726, and twenty-six following days. The number of lots was four thousand three hundred and thirteen, and the total proceeds of the sale were four thousand one hundred and sixty pounds, twelve shillings. The books sold well, and Hearne, in his Diary, under February 15th, 1726, writes: 'My late friend John Bridges esqr.'s books being now selling by auction in London (they began to be sold on Monday the 7th inst.). I hear they go very high, being fair books, in good condition, and most of them finely bound. This afternoon I was told of a gentleman of All Souls' College, I suppose Dr. Clarke, that gave a commission of 8s. for an Homer in 2 vols., a small 8 deg. if not 12 deg.. But it went for six guineas. People are in love with good binding more than good reading.' Humphrey Wanley, who was a buyer at the sale for Lord Oxford's library, was much dissatisfied with the large sums which the books fetched, and suspected there was a conspiracy to run up the prices. He writes in his Diary (February 9, 1725-26): 'Went to Mr. Bridges's chambers, but could not see the three fine MSS. again, the Doctor his brother having locked them up. He openly bid for his own books, merely to enhance their price, and the auction proves to be, what I thought it would become, very knavish'; and on the 11th of February he adds: 'Yesterday at five I met Mr. Noel and tarried long with him; we settled then the whole affair touching his bidding for my Lord [Oxford] at the roguish auction of Mr. Bridges's books. The Reverend Doctor one of the brothers hath already displayed himself so remarkably as to be both hated and despised, and a combination among the booksellers will soon be against him and his brother-in-law, a lawyer. These are men of the keenest avarice, and their very looks (according to what I am told) dart out harping-irons. I have ordered Mr. Noel to drop every article in my Lord's commissions when they shall be hoisted up to too high a price. Yet I desired that my Lord may have the Russian Bible, which I know full well to be a very rare and a very good book.'

A copy of the sale catalogue, with the prices in manuscript, is preserved in the library of the British Museum.

Bridges expended several thousand pounds in making collections for his History of Northamptonshire, which, after many delays, was published under the editorship of the Rev. Peter Whalley in 1791.


[Footnote 63: Description of library in sale catalogue.]

JOHN MURRAY, 1670-1748

John Murray of Sacombe in Hertfordshire, who was born on the 24th of January 1670, and died on September 13, 1748, was an indefatigable collector of books. In the Account of London Libraries, by Bagford and Oldys, we read that he 'made scarce publications of English authors his inquiry all his life,' and that he had been 'a collector above forty years at all sales, auctions, shops, and stalls, partly for his own curiosity, and partly to oblige such authors and gentry as have commissioned him.' He was a friend of Hearne, who frequently mentions him in his works and Diary. Hearne states that Murray told him he began to collect books at thirteen years of age. Dr. Rawlinson possessed a painting of him, which was engraved by Vertue. He is leaning on three books, inscribed 'T. Hearne, V. III., Sessions Papers, and Tryals of Witches,' and holding a fourth under his coat. Underneath are the following lines, signed G.N.:—

'Hoh Maister John Murray of Sacomb! The Works of old Time to collect was his pride, Till Oblivion dreaded his Care: Regardless of Friends, intestate he dy'd, So the Rooks and the Crows were his Heir.'

DR. MEAD, 1673-1754

Dr. Richard Mead, the eminent physician and collector, was born at Stepney, Middlesex, on the 11th of August 1673. His father, Matthew Mead, was a divine of some eminence among the dissenters, and during the Commonwealth was minister of Stepney, but was ejected for nonconformity in 1662. Richard Mead was first educated at home, and at a private school kept by Mr. Thomas Singleton, who was at one time second master at Eton. At the age of sixteen he entered the University of Utrecht, where he remained three years, and then proceeded to the University of Leyden for the purpose of qualifying himself for the medical profession. In 1695 he made a tour in Italy, and after taking the degree of doctor of philosophy and physic at Padua, he visited Naples and Rome. In 1696 he returned to England, and began to practise at Stepney, in the house in which he was born. In 1703 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the same year he was chosen Physician to St. Thomas's Hospital, and took a house in Crutched Friars, in the City of London, where he resided until 1711, when he removed to one in Austin Friars, which had formerly been inhabited by Dr. Howe. In 1707 the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and in the following year he was admitted a member of the College of Physicians, of which institution he was elected a Fellow in 1716. On the death of Dr. Radcliffe in 1714, Mead removed to the residence which had been occupied by that distinguished physician in Bloomsbury Square, and in 1720 he took a house in Great Ormond Street, which he filled with books, pictures and antiquities, and where he lived until his death on the 16th of January 1754. In 1727 he was appointed Physician-in-Ordinary to King George II., and in 1734 he was offered the post of President of the College of Physicians, but this he declined, being desirous of retirement. He was twice married. Dr. Mead was the foremost medical man of his time, and his professional income was a very large one. The greater part of his wealth he devoted to the patronage of science and literature, and to the acquisition of his valuable collections, which were always open to students who wished to consult them. He had a very large circle of attached friends, amongst whom were Newton, Halley, Pope, Bentley, and Freind; and Dr. Johnson said of him that he 'lived more in the broad sunshine of life than almost any other man.' Pope refers to his love of books in his epistle to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, Of the Use of Riches:—

'Rare monkish manuscripts for Hearne alone, And books for Mead and butterflies for Sloane.'

Dr. Mead's library consisted of upwards of ten thousand printed volumes, and many rare and valuable manuscripts. The collection was especially rich in medical works, and in early editions of the classics. Among the latter were to be found the Spira Virgil of 1470 on vellum, and the 1469 and 1472 editions of the Historia Naturalis of Pliny; the former of which was bought at the sale of his books by the King of France for eleven guineas, and the latter by a bookseller named Willock for eighteen guineas. One of the choicest manuscripts was a missal said to have been illuminated by Raphael and his pupils for Claude, wife of Francis I., King of France. This was acquired by Horace Walpole for forty-eight pounds, six shillings. It was bought at the Strawberry Hill sale in 1842 by Earl Waldegrave for one hundred and fifteen pounds, ten shillings. The books were generally very fine copies and handsomely bound. After Mead's death they were sold by auction by Samuel Baker of Covent Garden, in two parts, and realised five thousand five hundred and eighteen pounds, ten shillings and elevenpence, including nineteen pounds, six shillings and sixpence for fifteen bookcases. The sale of the first part commenced on the 18th November 1754, and lasted twenty-eight days; that of the second part began on the 7th of April 1755, and lasted twenty-nine days. The pictures, prints and drawings, antiquities and coins and medals, were sold in the early part of 1755 for ten thousand five hundred and fifty pounds, eighteen shillings; the pictures fetching three thousand four hundred and seventeen pounds, eleven shillings—about six or seven hundred pounds more than Mead gave for them. Some portions of his collections were sold during his lifetime.

Dr. Mead was the author of several medical works, of which his Discourse on the Plague, published in 1720, was the best. The magnificent edition of De Thou's Historia Sui Temporis, in seven folio volumes, London, 1733, edited by Samuel Buckley; and the Opus Majus of Roger Bacon, London, 1733, edited by Dr. Samuel Jebb, were produced partly at his expense. Collected editions of his medical works were published in London in 1762, and in Edinburgh in 1765. His life has been written by Dr. Maty, the second Principal Librarian of the British Museum; and a very interesting account of his library, by Mr. Austin Dobson, will be found in the first volume of Bibliographica. A portrait of him by Allan Ramsay, painted in 1740, is in the National Portrait Gallery, and a bust of him by Roubillac is preserved in the College of Physicians. His gold-headed cane, given him by Dr. Radcliffe, is also kept in that institution.


Charles Spencer, third Earl of Sunderland, who was born in 1674, was the second son of Robert, second Earl, by Anne, daughter of George Digby, second Earl of Bristol. He appears, even when a boy, to have displayed much ability, for as early as 1688, Evelyn, who was on very intimate terms with the Spencer family, mentions him as 'a youth of extraordinary hopes, very learned for his age, and ingenious, and under a governor of great merit.' This governor appears to have been Dr. Trimnell, afterwards Bishop of Winchester. When quite young, Lord Spencer manifested a great love for books, and already possessed a considerable collection of them, for he was but twenty years of age when Evelyn wrote to him: 'I was with great appetite coming to take a repast in the noble library which I hear you have lately purchased.' Evelyn's Diary also contains several notices of the collection, and particularly mentions the purchase of the books of Sir Charles Scarborough, an eminent physician, which were at one time destined for the Royal Library.

At the general election in 1695 Lord Spencer was returned both for Tiverton in Devonshire, and for Heydon in Yorkshire. He elected to sit for Tiverton, which he represented in Parliament until the death of his father in 1702, when he succeeded to the title, his elder brother having died in 1688. While a member of the House of Commons he appears to have held opinions of a somewhat republican nature; and Swift tells us, 'he would often, among his familiar friends, refuse the title of Lord (as he had done to myself), swear he would never be called otherwise than Charles Spencer, and hoped to see the day when there should not be a peer in England.' These views, however, were very considerably modified on his succession to the title. In 1705 he was appointed envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Court of Vienna, to congratulate the Emperor Joseph on his accession to the crown. Shortly after his return to England, Sunderland, notwithstanding the opposition of Queen Anne, who always entertained a great antipathy for him, was made one of the Secretaries of State, an office which he held until June 1710, when he was dismissed by the Queen, who wished, however, to bestow on him a pension of three thousand pounds a year. This he refused, with the remark, 'I am glad your Majesty is satisfied I have done my duty. But if I cannot have the honour to serve my country, I will not plunder it.' He remained out of office during the remainder of Anne's reign, but on the accession of George I. to the throne he was made Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. This post, however, was by no means agreeable to him, for he regarded it as a kind of banishment, and during the short time he held it he never crossed the Channel. In 1715 he was appointed Lord Privy Seal, Vice-Treasurer of Ireland in 1716, and in April 1717 he was a second time made a Secretary of State, his friend Addison receiving a like appointment. On the 16th of March 1718 he became Lord-President of the Council, and on the 21st of the same month First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, which office he resigned on the 3rd of April 1721. He died, after a short illness, on the 19th of April 1722.

Lord Sunderland was thrice married, and had children by all his wives. By his second wife, Anne, daughter of the great Duke of Marlborough, he had four sons and a daughter. The eldest son died in infancy; Robert, the second, succeeded to the earldom, and died unmarried on the 15th of September 1729; Charles, the third, became Earl of Sunderland on the death of his elder brother, and in 1733 second Duke of Marlborough, but he did not obtain the Marlborough estates until the demise of the Dowager Duchess in 1744; John, the youngest son, who, by a family arrangement, then succeeded to the Spencer estates, was the father of the first Earl Spencer.

Lord Sunderland was a most liberal patron of literature, and the splendid library which he commenced in his early youth, and sedulously augmented till the time of his death, bore witness for several generations to his love of books. This noble collection was kept in his town house, which stood between Sackville Street and Burlington House, where it occupied five large rooms, and at the time of the Earl's death in 1722 consisted of about twenty thousand printed volumes, together with some choice manuscripts, and was valued at upwards of thirty thousand pounds; the King of Denmark being anxious to purchase it of his heirs for that sum. Charles, the fifth Earl, also took great interest in the library, and added a considerable number of books to it, among which was a copy on vellum of the Livy of 1470, printed at Venice by Vendelin de Spira. Only one other perfect copy on vellum of this edition is known to exist. In 1749 the library was removed to Blenheim, where it remained until 1881. It was sold by Puttick and Simpson in five portions in 1881, 1882 and 1883, and the entire sale, which consisted of thirteen thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight lots, realised fifty-six thousand five hundred and eighty-one pounds, six shillings.

Lord Sunderland was always very liberal in his dealings with booksellers, and the prices which he gave for his books frequently gave umbrage to other collectors. Humphrey Wanley, Lord Oxford's librarian, when giving in his Diary an account of a book-sale which took place in 1721, mentions that: 'Some books went for unaccountably high prices, which were bought by Mr. Vaillant, the bookseller, who had an unlimited commission from the Earl of Sunderland. The booksellers upon this sale intend to raise the prices of philological books of the first editions, and indeed of all old editions, accordingly. Thus Mr. Noel told me that he has actually agreed to sell the Earl of Sunderland six ... printed books, now coming up the river, for fifty pounds per book, although my Lord gives no such prices.' And on the demise of the Earl, Wanley wrote: 'This day died the Earl of Sunderland, which I the rather note here, because I believe by reason of his decease some benefit may accrue to this Library, even in case his relatives will part with none of his books. I mean, by his raising the price of books no higher now; so that, in probability, this commodity may fall in the market, and any gentleman be permitted to buy an uncommon old book for less than forty or fifty pounds.'

BRIAN FAIRFAX, 1676-1749

Brian Fairfax, who was the eldest son of Brian Fairfax, author of the Life of the Duke of Buckingham and other works, was born on the 11th of April 1676. He received his early education at Westminster School, where he entered as a Queen's Scholar, and from whence he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, taking the degrees of B.A. in 1697 and M.A. in 1700. He became a Fellow of his College in 1698. In 1723 he was appointed a Commissioner of the Customs, a post he held until his death on the 9th of January 1749.

Fairfax collected in his house in Panton Square a very valuable library, which, together with a considerable fortune, a gallery of pictures, a fine collection of Greek, Roman, and English coins and medals, and other curiosities, he bequeathed to his relative, the Hon. Robert Fairfax, of Leeds Castle, Kent, afterwards seventh Lord Fairfax. Robert Fairfax intended to sell the library by auction on the 26th of April 1756, and the seventeen following days; but after having advertised it, he privately disposed of it for two thousand pounds to his kinsman, Mr. Francis Child,[64] of Osterley Park, Isleworth, Middlesex, and the printed catalogues, with the exception of twenty, were suppressed.[65] The title to the catalogue of the intended sale reads: 'A Catalogue of the Entire and Valuable Library of the Honourable Bryan Fairfax, Esq., one of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs, Deceased: which will be sold by Auction, by Mr. Prestage, at his great room the end of Savile Row, next Conduit Street, Hanover Square. To begin selling on Monday, April 26, 1756, and to continue for seventeen days successively. Catalogues to be had at the Place of Sale, and at Mr. Barthoe's, Bookseller in Exeter Exchange in the Strand. Price Six-pence, pp. 68. 8 deg..' In a copy of the catalogue mentioned by Dibdin in his Bibliographical Decameron, the price at which each article was valued is given for the express purpose of the purchase of the whole by Mr. Child. Among the prices thus noted are those of the nine Caxtons which the library contained, which altogether amounted to thirty-three pounds, four shillings. The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye was valued at eight guineas, the Confessio Amantis at three pounds, and the Histories of King Arthur at two pounds, twelve shillings and sixpence. The prices obtained for these books at the sale of the Osterley library in 1885 were eighteen hundred and twenty pounds, eight hundred and ten pounds, and nineteen hundred and fifty pounds, respectively. The collection became part of the Osterley library, of which a catalogue was made in 1771 by Dr. Thomas Morell, assisted by the preceding labours of the Rev. Dr. Winchester. Only twenty-five copies of this catalogue were printed.

Brian Fairfax's pictures, statues, urns, and other antiquities were sold by auction on April the 6th and 7th, and the prints and drawings on May the 4th and 5th, 1756.

In 1819 the library passed by marriage into the family of the Earls of Jersey, and on the 6th of May 1885 and seven following days it was sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. The sale consisted of one thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven lots, which realised the large sum of thirteen thousand and seven pounds, nine shillings.


[Footnote 64: The first wife of the Hon. Robert Fairfax was Martha Collins, niece to Sir Francis Child, Bart.]

[Footnote 65: Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. v. p. 326.]

THOMAS HEARNE, 1678-1735

Thomas Hearne, the eminent antiquary, was born in July 1678 at Littlefield Green in the parish of White Waltham, Berkshire, where his father, George Hearne, was the parish clerk. At a very early age he showed such marked ability that Francis Cherry, the nonjuror, who resided at Shottesbrooke in the same neighbourhood, undertook to defray the cost of his education, and first sent him to the free school of Bray, and afterwards, in 1695, to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. This kindness is frequently referred to by Hearne, who speaks of his benefactor as 'my best friend and patron.' He took the degrees of B.A. in 1679, and M.A. four years later. While an undergraduate, Dr. John Mill, the Principal of St. Edmund Hall, and Dr. Grabe employed him in the collation of manuscripts; and Hearne tells us in his Autobiography that, after taking his B.A. degree, 'he constantly went to the Bodleian Library every day, and studied there as long as the time allowed by the Statutes would admit.' His industry and learning attracted the notice of Dr. Hudson, who had been recently elected Keeper of the Bodleian Library, and, in 1701, by his influence Hearne was made Janitor, or Assistant, in the Library, succeeding to the post of Second Librarian in 1712. The duties of this appointment he continued to perform until the 23rd of January 1716, the last day fixed by the Act for taking the oaths to the Hanoverian dynasty. These oaths as a nonjuror he could not conscientiously take, and he was in consequence deprived of his office on the ground of 'neglect of duty'; but the Rev. W.D. Macray, in his Annals of the Bodleian Library, tells us that 'to the end of his life he maintained that he was still, de jure, Sub-librarian, and with a quaint pertinacity, regularly at the end of each term and half-year, up to March 30, 1735, continued to set down, in one of the volumes of his Diary, that no fees had been paid him, and that his half-year's salary was due.' Hearne continued a staunch nonjuror to the end of his days, and refused many University appointments, including the Keepership of the Bodleian Library, which he might have had, had he been willing to take the oath of allegiance to the government; but he preferred, to use his own words, 'a good conscience before all manner of preferment and worldly honour.' The Earl of Oxford offered to make him his librarian on Wanley's death, but this post he also declined, and continued to reside to the end of his life at St. Edmund Hall, engaged in preparing and publishing his various antiquarian and historical works. He died on the 10th of June 1735, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter's-in-the-East at Oxford. Hearne, who was a man of unwearied industry, and a most devoted antiquary, is described by Pope in the Dunciad, under the title of Wormius—

'But who is he, in closet close ypent, Of sober face, with learned dust besprent? Right well mine eyes arede the myster wight, On parchment scraps y-fed, and Wormius hight.'

Hearne amassed a considerable collection of manuscripts and printed books, of which he made a catalogue, with the prices he gave for them. This manuscript came into the possession of Mr. Beriah Botfield, M.P., of Norton Hall, Northamptonshire, who privately printed some extracts from it in 1848.

Hearne left all his manuscripts and books with manuscript notes to Mr. William Bedford, son of the nonjuring bishop, Hilkiah Bedford, whose widow sold them to Dr. Richard Rawlinson for one hundred guineas, and by him they were bequeathed to the Bodleian Library. Hearne's diary and note-books, in about one hundred and fifty small duodecimo volumes, were among them.[66] His printed books were sold by Thomas Osborne on the 16th of February 1736, and following days. The title-page of the catalogue reads: 'A Catalogue of the Valuable Library of that great Antiquarian Mr. Tho. Hearne of Oxford: and of another Gentleman of Note. Consisting of a very great Variety of Uncommon Books, and scarce ever to be met withal.

Which will begin to be sold very cheap, the lowest Price mark'd in each Book, at T. Osborne's Shop in Gray's Inn, on Monday the 16th day of February 1735-36.'

The title-page has also a small portrait of Hearne, with the following lines below it:—

'Pox on't quoth time to Thomas Hearne, Whatever I forget, you learn.'

The catalogue contains six thousand seven hundred and seventy-six lots.

Hearne's publications, which were almost all printed by subscription at Oxford, are very numerous. Among the most valuable are an edition of Livy in 6 vols., 1708; the Life of Alfred the Great, from Sir John Spelman's manuscript in the Bodleian Library, 1710; Leland's Itinerary, 9 vols., 1710; Leland's Collectanea, 6 vols., 1715; Roper's Life of Sir Thomas More, 1716; Camden's Annals, 3 vols., 1717; Curious Discourses by Eminent Antiquaries, 1720; Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, 2 vols., 1724; Peter of Langtoft's Chronicle, 2 vols., 1725; Liber Niger Scaccarii, 2 vols., 1728; and Walter of Hemingford's History, 2 vols., 1731.


[Footnote 66: Extracts from these volumes were published by Dr. Bliss in 1857, and again in 1869, under the title of Reliquiae Hearnianae; and Hearne's Remarks and Collections are now being printed by the Oxford Historical Society.]


Thomas Rawlinson, who, Dibdin says, 'may be called the Leviathan of book-collectors during nearly the first thirty years of the eighteenth century,' was born in the Old Bailey on the 25th of March 1681. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, Lord Mayor of London in 1705-6, by Mary, eldest daughter of Richard Tayler, of Turnham Green, Middlesex, who kept the Devil Tavern near Temple Bar. He was also an elder brother of Dr. Richard Rawlinson, the nonjuring bishop, who was himself an ardent collector. In 1699 he matriculated at the University of Oxford from St. John's College, having been previously educated at Cheam under William Day, and at Eton. He was called to the bar in 1705, and applied himself to the study of municipal law; but three years later, on the death of his father in 1708, who left him a large estate, he devoted himself to the collection of books, manuscripts and pictures. His love for books appears to have been early fostered by his grandfather, Richard Tayler, who settled upon him, while a schoolboy at Eton, an annuity of fourteen pounds per annum for his life to buy books with; 'which,' Hearne informs us in his Diary, 'he not only fully expended, and nobly answered the end of the donor, but indeed laid out his whole fortune this way, so as to acquire a collection of books, both for number and value, hardly to be equalled by any one study in England.' For some years Rawlinson resided in Gray's Inn, but in 1716, having filled his four rooms so completely with books that he was obliged to sleep in the passage, he was compelled to move, and he took lodgings at London House, in Aldersgate Street, an ancient palace of the bishops of London, but at that time the residence of Mr. Samuel May, a wealthy druggist. Here he lived, says Oldys, 'in his bundles, piles, and bulwarks of paper, in dust and cobwebs,' until the 6th of August 1725, when he died, and was buried in St. Botolph's Church, Aldersgate Street.

Rawlinson was a Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Society of Antiquaries. He was also a Governor of Bridewell and Bethlehem Hospitals. About a year before his decease he married his servant, Amy Frewin, but left no issue.

Towards the end of his life Rawlinson became involved in pecuniary difficulties, and he sold a portion of his collection by auction to meet his liabilities. Prior to his death there were five sales, the first of which took place on the 4th of December 1721, which realised two thousand four hundred and nine pounds. But when he died an enormous number of books were still left, and it required eleven additional sales, which extended to March 1734, to dispose of them and the manuscripts, of which there were upwards of a thousand. These sales lasted on an average for more than twenty-one days each, but it should be observed that they took place in the evening, generally commencing at five o'clock. All Rawlinson's books were sold by Thomas Ballard, the bookseller, at the St. Paul's Coffee House, with the exception of those disposed of at the seventh and eighth sales, which were sold by Charles Davis, the bookseller; the former at London House, and the latter at the Bedford Coffee House, in the great Piazza, Covent Garden. In addition to the printed books and manuscripts, Rawlinson's gallery of paintings was sold at the Two Golden Bulls in Hart Street, Covent Garden, on April the 4th and 5th 1734, in one hundred and seventeen lots. Among the portraits was one in crayons of Rawlinson by his brother Richard.

Copies of the sale catalogues of Thomas Rawlinson's books are very rare, but the Bodleian Library possesses an entire set of them, almost all of which are marked with the prices which the books fetched, while two or three have also the names of the purchasers. A fairly correct list of them is given by Dibdin in his Bibliomania, which he made from a complete collection of them in the Heber library. The catalogue of the manuscripts was compiled by Rawlinson's brother Richard.

Rawlinson's books appear to have realised but poor prices, for Hearne writes in his Diary (Nov. 10th, 1734), that 'Dr. Rawlinson by the sale of his brother's books hath not rais'd near the money expected. For, it seems, they have ill answer'd, however good books; the MSS. worse, and what the prints will do is as yet undetermin'd.' No doubt the low prices were caused by the immense number of books thrown upon the market by Rawlinson's sales; for, as early as April 1723, Hearne tells us in his Diary that 'the editions of classicks of the first print (commonly called Editiones Principes), that used to go at prodigious prices, are now strangely lowered; occasioned, in good measure, by Mr. Tho. Rawlinson, my friend's, being forced to sell many of his books, in whose auction these books went cheap, tho' English history and antiquities went dear: and yet this gentleman was the chief man that raised many curious and classical books so high, by his generous and couragious way of bidding.' It is quite possible too that Rawlinson's books were not always in the finest condition, and had suffered from the dust and cobwebs of which Oldys speaks.

The Caxtons, of which there were upwards of five and twenty (perfect and imperfect), realised but very moderate prices. The Recuyell of the Histories of Troy sold for two pounds, seven shillings; Gower's Confessio Amantis for two pounds, fourteen shillings and sixpence; The Golden Legend for three pounds, twelve shillings; and Lydgate's Life of Our Lady for two pounds, thirteen shillings. The Histories of King Arthur and his Knights, for which Mr. Quaritch, at the Earl of Jersey's sale in 1885, gave as much as nineteen hundred and fifty pounds, fetched no more than two pounds, four shillings and sixpence. These were the highest prices obtained. Many of the volumes went for a few shillings—the first edition of The Dictes or Sayings for fifteen shillings, Chaucer's Book of Fame for nine shillings and twopence, and The Moral Proverbs of Christine de Pisan for four shillings and tenpence. Mr. Blades does not make any mention of Thomas Rawlinson's Caxtons in his life of the printer.

Rawlinson appears to have greatly increased the number of separate works in his library by breaking up the volumes of tracts; for Oldys complains, 'that out of one volume he made many, and all the tracts or pamphlets that came to his hands in volumes and bound together, he separated to sell them singly, so that what some curious men had been pairing and sorting half their lives to have a topic or argument complete, he by this means confused and dispersed again.'

Dr. Richard Rawlinson said of his brother that he collected in almost all faculties, but more particularly old and beautiful editions of the classical authors, and whatever directly or indirectly related to English history. As early as 1712 Rawlinson told Hearne that his library had cost him two thousand pounds, and that it was worth five thousand. Among many other choice and rare books in the collection were three copies of Archbishop Parker's De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae. Two of them are now in the Bodleian Library, and the Rev. W.D. Macray, in his Annals of the Bodleian Library, states that 'one of these is the identical copy described by Strype in his Life of Parker, and which was then in possession of Bp. Fleetwood of Ely.'

Rawlinson's passion for collecting books was evidently well known to his contemporaries, for Addison, who disliked and despised bibliomaniacs, gives a satirical account of him, under the name of 'Tom Folio,' in No. 158 of The Tatler. Hearne, who was greatly indebted to Rawlinson for assistance in his antiquarian labours, warmly defends his friend:—'Some gave out,' he writes, 'and published it too in printed papers, that Mr. Rawlinson understood the editions and title-pages of books only, without any other skill in them, and thereupon they styled him TOM FOLIO. But these were only buffoons, and persons of very shallow learning. 'Tis certain that Mr. Rawlinson understood the titles and editions of books better than any man I ever knew (for he had a very great memory), but besides this, he was a great reader, and had read abundantly of the best writers, ancient and modern, throughout, and was entirely master of the learning contained in them. He had digested the classicks so well as to be able readily and upon all occasions (what I have very often admired) to make use of passages from them very pertinently, what I never knew in so great perfection in any other person whatsoever.'[67]

A poem of twenty-six lines by Rawlinson on the death of the Duke of Gloucester in 1700 was printed in a collection of verses written by members of the University of Oxford on that event. This appears to be his only publication with his name attached. The pretty edition of the Satires of Juvenal and Persius, published at London in 1716, and edited by Michael Maittaire, was dedicated by him to Rawlinson.

It is stated in Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century (vol. v. p. 704) that the following inscription was found among the papers of Rawlinson, written with his own hand, and in all probability designed by him for part of an epitaph on himself:—

'Hic jacet——Vir liberrimi Spiritus qui omnes Mortales pari ratione habuit; tacuisse de Criminibus non auro vendidit. Qui, Rege dempto, neminem agnovit superiorem; illum vero, O infortunium! nunquam potuit inspicere.'


[Footnote 67: Diary, Sept. 4, 1725.]

JOSEPH SMITH, 1682-1770

Joseph Smith, a portion of whose collection formed the foundation of King George III.'s library, now in the British Museum, was born in 1682. Nothing appears to be known about his parents and his early years, but at the age of nineteen he took up his residence at Venice, where he spent his life, apparently engaged in commerce.[68] In 1740 he was appointed British Consul in that city, and he died there on the 6th of November 1770, aged eighty-eight.

Smith was well known as a collector of books, manuscripts, and works of art. In 1762 George III. purchased all the books Smith had amassed up to that time for about ten thousand pounds, and at a later period the king also bought his pictures, coins, and gems for the sum of twenty thousand pounds. After the sale of his library Smith still continued to collect, and the books which he subsequently acquired were sold after his death, partly by auction by Baker and Leigh at their house in York Street, Covent Garden, on Monday, January 25th, 1773, and the thirteen following days, and partly in the shop of James Robson, bookseller, in New Bond Street. Those sold by Baker and Leigh realised two thousand two hundred and forty-five pounds. A portion of his manuscripts was purchased by the Earl of Sunderland for one thousand five hundred pounds. Smith's library was rich in the best and scarcest editions of Latin, Italian and French authors. It also contained a considerable number of fine manuscripts, some of them beautifully illuminated, and many valuable books of prints and antiquities.

About 1727 Smith compiled a catalogue, which was limited to twenty-five copies, of some of the rarest books in his collection, of which a second edition with additions was published in 1737. A catalogue of his entire library was printed at Venice in 1755, and in 1767 an account of his antique gems in two volumes folio, written by Antonio Francesco Gori, was published in the same city under the title of Dactyliotheca Smithiana. An edition of Boccaccio's Decamerone was brought out by Smith in 1729.


[Footnote 68: Dictionary of National Biography.]


Richard Rawlinson was the fourth son of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, Lord Mayor of London in 1705-6, and younger brother of Thomas Rawlinson the collector. He was born in the Old Bailey on the 3rd of January 1690, and, after having received his early education at St. Paul's School and Eton, matriculated as a commoner of St. John's College, Oxford, in 1708; but, in consequence of the death of his father, he became a gentleman-commoner in the following year. He took the degrees of B.A. in 1711, M.A. in 1713, and in 1719 he was created D.C.L. On the 21st of September 1716 he was ordained deacon, and two days later, priest among the nonjurors by Bishop Jeremy Collier, in Mr. Laurence's chapel on College Hill, London.[69] After his ordination he travelled through a great part of England, and in 1719 paid a visit to France, and afterwards to the Low Countries, where he was admitted into the Universities of Utrecht and Leyden. Towards the end of the year he returned home, but in 1720 he again left England, and spent several years in France, Germany, Italy, and other parts of the Continent. In April 1726 he again came home, in consequence of the death of his brother, which took place in the preceding year. During his travels he kept a series of note-books, some of which are preserved among his miscellaneous manuscripts in the Bodleian Library. In 1728 he was consecrated bishop by the nonjuring bishops Gandy, Doughty and Blackbourne in Gandy's chapel, but he appears to have been always desirous of concealing both his clerical and episcopal character, for in a letter written in 1736 to Mr. T. Rawlins of Pophills, Warwickshire, he requests him not to address him as 'Rev.'[70] Dr. Rawlinson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1714, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1727, but later he quarrelled with both these Societies, and stipulated in his will that the recipients of his bequests should not be Fellows. He was also a Governor of Bridewell, Bethlehem, and St. Bartholomew's Hospitals.

Dr. Rawlinson lived for some time in Gray's Inn, but shortly after the death of his brother Thomas he took up his abode in the rooms which had been occupied by him in London House in Aldersgate Street. He died at Islington on the 6th of April 1755, and was buried, in accordance with a direction in a codicil to his will, in St. Giles's Church, Oxford. His heart, which he bequeathed as a token of affection to St. John's College, Oxford, is preserved in a marble urn in the chapel of that College, inscribed with the text 'Ubi thesaurus, ibi cor,' and with his name and the date of his death. It is said that Rawlinson also left instructions that a head, which he believed to be that of Counsellor Christopher Layer, the Jacobite conspirator, who was executed in 1723, should be buried with him, placed in his right hand; but this injunction, if really made, does not appear to have been complied with.[71]

Rawlinson devoted himself to antiquarian pursuits, and, like his brother Thomas, was an enthusiastic collector of manuscripts and books. The Rev. W.D. Macray, in his Annals of the Bodleian Library, says that his collections were 'formed abroad and at home, the choice of book-auctions, the pickings of chandlers' and grocers' waste-paper, everything, especially, in the shape of a MS., from early copies of Classics and Fathers to the well-nigh most recent log-books of sailors' voyages. Not a sale of MSS. occurred, apparently, in London, during his time, at which he was not an omnigenous purchaser; so that students of every subject now bury themselves in his stores with great content and profit. But history in all its branches, heraldry and genealogy, biography and topography, are his especially strong points.'

Rawlinson bequeathed all his manuscripts, with the exception of private papers and letters, 'to the chancellor, masters and scholars of the University of Oxford, to be placed in the Bodleian Library, or in such other place as they should deem proper'; and he further directed that they should be 'kept separate and apart from any other collection.' All his deeds and charters, his books printed on vellum or silk, and those containing MS. notes, together with some antiquities and curiosities, were also left by him to the University. His manuscript and printed music he bequeathed to the Music School. The number of manuscripts left by him exceeded four thousand eight hundred in number, together with a large collection of charters and deeds. A catalogue of them has been made by the Rev. W.D. Macray, the author of the Annals of the Bodleian Library. The printed books which he selected from his library for the University amounted to between eighteen and nineteen hundred.[72] Other books and manuscripts, together with some valuable pictures and coins, were given by him to the Bodleian Library during his lifetime. The remainder of his printed books, with the exception of a few which he bequeathed to St. John's College, were sold by auction by Samuel Baker, of York Street, Covent Garden, at two sales. The first commenced on the 29th of March 1756, and lasted fifty days. It consisted of nine thousand four hundred and five lots, which fetched one thousand one hundred and sixty-one pounds, eighteen shillings and sixpence. The second sale, which, as the preface to the catalogue informs us, consisted of 'upwards of Twenty Thousand Pamphlets ... and his most Uncommon, Rare and Old Books,' began on Thursday, March 3rd, 1757, and was continued on the nine following evenings. It realised but two hundred and three pounds, thirteen shillings and sixpence. These were followed by a sale of prints, books of prints and drawings, upwards of ten thousand in number. One hundred and sixty-three pounds, ten shillings and threepence, however, was all that could be obtained for them. Marked catalogues of the three sales are preserved in the Library of King George III. in the British Museum. The prices at all the sales were very low. There were three Caxtons in the first sale—Tully of Old Age, Curia Sapientiae, and the Order of Chivalry, which fetched respectively one pound five shillings, six shillings, and eleven shillings. The prints and drawings fared even worse than the printed books. One hundred and three prints by Albert Duerer, in two lots, sold for one pound, ten shillings and sixpence, and a large collection of woodcuts by the same artist for half a crown. Twenty-four etchings by Rembrandt, in four lots, realised but three pounds, five shillings; while eleven shillings and sixpence was all that could be got for thirty-four heads and thirty-five views by Hollar.

The collection of manuscripts which Dr. Rawlinson bequeathed to the University of Oxford is a magnificent one, and Mr. Macray gives a long and very interesting account of it in his Annals of the Bodleian Library. It contains some fine Biblical manuscripts, and about one hundred and thirty Missals, Horae, and other Service-books, many of them from the library of the celebrated collector Nicolas Joseph Foucault. It is rich in early copies of the classics, and there are upwards of two hundred volumes of poetry, including the works of Chaucer, Hoccleve, Lydgate, etc. English history is remarkably well represented. Among the manuscripts of this division of the collection are the Thurloe State Papers in sixty-seven volumes, which were published by Dr. Birch in 1742, and the Miscellaneous Papers of Samuel Pepys in twenty-five volumes. The Pepys papers, among other very interesting matter, comprise many curious dockyard account-books of the reigns of King Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth. This division also contains some important letters of King Charles II., King James II., and the Duke of Monmouth, together with an acknowledgment by Monmouth that Charles II. had declared that he was never married to Lucy Walters, the Duke's mother. This was written and signed by him on the day of his execution, and witnessed by Bishops Turner and Ken, and also by Tenison and Hooper. As might be expected, the number of works relating to topography, heraldry and genealogy is very large. The collection also comprises many Irish manuscripts, a considerable number of Italian papers bearing on English history, and the valuable collections made by Rawlinson for a continuation of Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, and for a History of Eton College. There are one hundred volumes of letters, two hundred volumes of sermons, and the immense quantity of ancient charters and deeds already mentioned.

Rawlinson also bequeathed to the University Hearne's daily diary and note-books in about one hundred and fifty small duodecimo volumes, which he had bought of the widow of Mr. William Bedford.

Among the printed books is a magnificent collection of the original broadside proclamations issued during the reign of Elizabeth, and a set of almanacs extending from 1607 to 1747, bound in one hundred and seventy-five volumes.[73]

To St. John's College, Rawlinson bequeathed a large portion of his estate, amounting to about seven hundred pounds a year, a few of his printed books, a collection of coins, etc.; and to the College of Surgeons he gave some anatomical specimens. He also left property to endow a professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and to provide a salary for the Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum. But all his endowments were accompanied by eccentric restrictions, which remained in force until a few years ago, when they were annulled by statute. He directed 'that no native of Scotland or Ireland, or of any of the plantations abroad, or any of their sons, or any present or future member of the Royal or Antiquary societies,' should hold these endowments; and in the case of the Ashmolean Museum, he further enjoined that the Keeper 'is not to be a doctor in divinity or in holy orders ... neither born nor educated in Scotland, neither a married man nor a widower, but one who hath regularly proceeded in Oxford to the degrees of master of arts or bachelor of law.'

Rawlinson wrote a considerable number of works, chiefly of an antiquarian or topographical nature. Among the more important are The English Topographer, The History and Antiquities of the City and Cathedral Church of Hereford, The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Rochester, The History and Antiquities of Glastonbury; and a Life of Anthony a Wood. He also edited Aubrey's Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey, and other books.

Although Dr. Rawlinson, like his father and his brother, was a warm Jacobite, he does not appear to have taken part in any of the movements for the restoration of the Stuart family to the throne. He entirely occupied himself with antiquarian and literary pursuits, and the formation of his noble collections. In order that he might devote as much as possible of his income to the purchase of books and antiquities, he denied himself the luxuries, and even the comforts of life; and he went about so meanly clad, that the coachman of his late father happening to meet him one day, and judging from his appearance that he was in a destitute condition, begged his acceptance of half a crown to relieve his distress. The story is told by Dr. Rawlinson himself.


[Footnote 69: Rev. W.D. Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library. London, etc., 1868, p. 168.]

[Footnote 70: Ibid. p. 168.]

[Footnote 71: When the head of Layer was blown off from Temple Bar (where it had been placed after his execution), it was picked up by a gentleman in that neighbourhood, who showed it to some friends at a public-house; under the floor of which house, I have been assured, it was buried. Dr. Rawlinson, mean-time, having made enquiry after the head, with a wish to purchase it, was imposed on with another instead of Layer's, which he preserved as a valuable relique, and directed it to be buried in his hand.—Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol. v. p. 497.]

[Footnote 72: Macray, Annals of the Bodleian Library, p. 170.]

[Footnote 73: Rawlinson also left to the University some autograph writings of King James I. The existence of these had been forgotten, and has only been recently discovered.]

MARTIN FOLKES, 1690-1754

Martin Folkes, the eminent antiquary and scientist, was the eldest son of Martin Folkes, a Bencher of Gray's Inn. He was born in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, on the 29th of October 1690, and after receiving his early education at the University of Saumur, was sent, in 1707, to Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he so greatly distinguished himself in all branches of learning, and more particularly in mathematics and philosophy, that in 1714, when only twenty-three years of age, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and two years later was chosen one of its Council. In 1723 he was appointed a Vice-President of the Society, and on the retirement of Sir Hans Sloane in 1741 he became President, a post he held until 1753, when he resigned it on account of his health. Folkes was also elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1720, and in 1750 he succeeded the Duke of Somerset as President, an office he filled during the remainder of his life. His attainments were also recognised by the French Academy, which elected him in 1742 one of its members. He was a D.C.L. of the University of Oxford, and LL.D. of the University of Cambridge. He died on the 28th of June 1754, and was buried in the chancel of Hillington Church, Norfolk. In 1792 a monument was erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.

Folkes, who was the author of two works on English coins, and several papers in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and the Archaeologia of the Society of Antiquaries, formed a fine collection of books, prints, drawings, pictures, gems, coins, etc., a considerable portion of which he acquired during his travels in Italy and Germany. His library, which was very rich in works on natural history, coins, medals, inscriptions, and the fine arts, was sold by Samuel Baker, York Street, Covent Garden, on Monday, February the 2nd 1756, and forty following days. The sale consisted of five thousand one hundred and twenty-six lots, which produced three thousand and ninety-one pounds, six shillings. A catalogue, marked with the prices, is preserved in the Library of King George III. in the British Museum. A copy of the first Shakespeare folio fetched but three guineas. The sale of Folkes's prints and drawings occupied eight days, and that of his pictures, gems, coins, and mathematical instruments five days. Dibdin says that 'the MSS. of his own composition, not being quite perfect, were, to the great loss of the learned world, ordered by him to be destroyed.'

WILLIAM OLDYS, 1696-1761

William Oldys, Norroy King-at-Arms, was born on the 14th of July 1696. There is some obscurity respecting his parentage, but there is little doubt he was the natural son of Dr. William Oldys, Chancellor of Lincoln, and Advocate of the Admiralty Court. His father left him some property, which he appears to have lost in the South Sea Bubble. From the year 1724 to 1730 Oldys resided in Yorkshire, but in the latter year he returned to London, and became acquainted with Edward Harley, the second Earl of Oxford, to whom he sold his collection of manuscripts for forty pounds. In 1738 the Earl appointed him his literary secretary and librarian, first at a salary of one hundred and fifty pounds, and afterwards of two hundred pounds, a year. Unfortunately the Earl died in 1741, and Oldys was obliged to earn a precarious livelihood by working for booksellers, and was soon involved in pecuniary difficulties. He was confined in the Fleet prison from 1751 to 1753, when he was released by the kindness of the Duke of Norfolk, who not only paid his debts, but in 1755 procured for him the office of Norroy King-at-Arms, which congenial post he held for six years. He died at his rooms in Heralds' College on the 15th of April 1761, and was buried in the church of St. Benet, Paul's Wharf. A portrait of him will be found in the European Magazine for November 1796. The principal works by Oldys are a Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, prefixed to an edition of his History of the World, printed in 1736; The British Librarian, published anonymously in 1738; and The Harleian Miscellany, published in 1744-46. He also annotated England's Parnassus, and two copies of Langbaine's Account of the early Dramatick Poets. One of these copies was purchased by Dr. Birch at the sale of Oldys's books for one guinea, and was bequeathed by him to the British Museum. Twenty-two of the lives in Biographia Britannica were from his pen, and in addition to the works already mentioned he wrote a few minor ones on bibliographical and medical subjects. Oldys's library was not a large one, but it contained some very interesting and scarce books. After his death it was purchased by Thomas Davies, the bookseller, author of Memoirs of the Life of Garrick, and was sold by him in 1762. The title of the sale catalogue reads: 'A Catalogue of the Libraries of the late William Oldys, Esq., Norroy King-at-Arms (author of The Life of Sir Walter Raleigh); the Rev. Mr. Emms of Yarmouth, and Mr. Wm. Rush, which will begin to be sold on Monday, April 12 [1762] by Thomas Davies.' The books were disposed of for extremely low prices.


Nothing appears to be known of the parentage and birth of John Ratcliffe, the collector, who for some years kept a chandler's shop in Southwark, where he seems to have amassed a sufficient competency to enable him to retire from business and devote the remainder of his life to the acquisition of old books. It is said that his passion for collecting them arose from the perusal of some of the volumes which were purchased by him for the purpose of wrapping his wares in. Ratcliffe kept his library at his house in East Lane, Bermondsey, where, Nichols informs us in his Literary Anecdotes, 'he used to give Coffee and Chocolate every Thursday morning to Book and Print Collectors; Dr. Askew, Messrs. Beauclerk, Bull, Croft, Samuel Gillam, West, etc., used to attend, when he would produce some of his fine purchases.' Nichols adds, 'he generally used to spend whole days in the Booksellers' warehouses; and, that he might not lose time, would get them to procure him a chop or a steak.' An amusing letter respecting him appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1812. The writer states that 'Mr. John Radcliffe was neither a man of science or learning. He lived in East Lane, Bermondsey; was a very corpulent man, and his legs were remarkably thick, probably from an anasarcous complaint. The writer of this remembers him perfectly well; he was a very stately man, and, when he walked, literally went at a snail's pace. He was a Dissenter, and every Sunday attended the meeting of Dr. Flaxman in the lower road to Deptford. He generally wore a fine coat, either red or brown, with gold lace buttons, and a fine silk embroidered waistcoat, of scarlet with gold lace, and a large and well-powdered wig. With his hat in one hand, and a gold-headed cane in the other, he marched royally along, and not unfrequently followed by a parcel of children, wondering who the stately man could be. A few years before his death, a fire happened in the neighbourhood where he lived; and it became necessary to remove part of his household furniture and books. He was incapable of assisting himself; but he stood in the street lamenting and deploring the loss of his Caxtons, when a sailor, who lived within a few doors of him attempted to console him: "Bless you, Sir, I have got them perfectly safe!" While Ratcliffe was expressing his thanks, the sailor produced two of his fine curled periwigs, which he had saved from the devouring element; and who had no idea that Ratcliffe could make such a fuss for a few books.' He died in 1776.

Ratcliffe's collection, though not large, was marvellously rich in the productions of the early English printers; and the volumes were generally in fine condition, and handsomely bound, though not always in good taste. It contained no less than forty-eight Caxtons, among which were the Game of the Chesse, the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers, the History of Jason, and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. It comprised also numerous books from the presses of the Schoolmaster of St. Albans, Lettou, Machlinia, Pynson, Wynkyn de Worde, etc., and a few manuscripts. Dibdin in his Bibliomania remarks: 'If ever there was a unique collection, this was one—the very essence of Old Divinity, Poetry, Romances and Chronicles.' Ratcliffe compiled a manuscript catalogue of his library in four volumes, which was disposed of at the sale of his collection for seven pounds, fifteen shillings. It is said that he always wrote on the first fly-leaf of his books 'Perfect'—or otherwise, as the case might be.

After his death his library was sold by auction by Mr. Christie of Pall Mall. The sale, which commenced on the 27th of March 1776 and lasted till April 6th, consisted of one thousand six hundred and seventy-five lots. It does not appear to have been well managed, for Nichols says, 'there were many hundred most rare Black-letter books and Tracts, unbound, with curious cuts. They were sold I remember in large bundles, and were piled under the tables in the Auction Room, on which the other books were exposed to view, and were not seen by the Booksellers who were the purchasers.' A priced copy of the catalogue is preserved in the British Museum, which shows that the Caxtons fetched but two hundred and thirty-six pounds, five shillings and sixpence; the highest prices obtained being sixteen pounds for the Game of the Chesse, fifteen guineas for the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers, and nine pounds, fifteen shillings for the Golden Legende. King George III. bought twenty of the Caxtons at an aggregate cost of about eighty-five pounds. Among them were the De Consolatione Philosophiae of Boethius, Reynard the Foxe, the Golden Legende, the Curial, and the Speculum Vitae Christi. The Boethius, which was a fine copy, was acquired for four pounds, six shillings. A copy of the Bokys of Hawkyng and Huntyng, etc., ascribed to Dame Juliana Bernes, printed at St. Albans in 1486, sold for nine pounds, twelve shillings, and a manuscript Bible on vellum, finely illuminated, for two pounds, ten shillings.

JAMES WEST, 1704?-1772

James West, who is described by Dibdin as 'a Non-Pareil Collector: the first who, after the days of Richard Smith, succeeded in reviving the love of black-letter lore and of Caxtonian typography,' was born about 1704. He was the son of Richard West of Priors Marston in Warwickshire, said to be descended from Leonard, a younger son of Thomas West, Lord de la Warr, who died in 1525. James West was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, whence he took the degrees of B.A. in 1723 and M.A. in 1726. In 1721 he was admitted as a student at the Inner Temple, and was called to the Bar in 1728. On the 4th of January 1737, while residing in the Temple, he lost a large portion of his collections, valued at nearly three thousand pounds, through a fire in his chambers.[74] In 1741 he was elected one of the representatives in Parliament for St. Albans, and was appointed one of the Joint Secretaries of the Treasury, which post he held until 1762. Three or four years later his patron the Duke of Newcastle obtained for him a pension of two thousand a year. He sat for St. Albans until 1768, and afterwards represented the constituency of Boroughbridge in Yorkshire until his death on July the 2nd, 1772. He was Recorder of Poole for many years, and also High Steward of St. Albans. He married the daughter of Sir Thomas Stephens, timber merchant in Southwark, with whom he had a large fortune in houses in Rotherhithe.

West had a great love for scientific and antiquarian pursuits, and as early as 1726 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the following year a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he became a Vice-President. Of the first-named Society he was chosen Treasurer in 1736 and President in 1768, which office he held during the remainder of his life. In addition to his extensive and valuable library of manuscripts and printed books, West collected paintings, prints, and drawings, coins and medals, plate, and miscellaneous curiosities. His collection of printed books was exceedingly rich in early English ones. It contained no fewer than thirty-four Caxtons, and a large number of works from the presses of Lettou, Machlinia, the anonymous 'Scole mayster' of St. Albans, Wynkyn de Worde, Pynson, and the rest of the old English typographers, many of which were unique copies. His manuscripts were exceptionally interesting and valuable. These, with some exceptions, were bought by William, Earl of Shelburne, afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne, and were subsequently purchased by Parliament, together with the other manuscripts of the Marquis, for the British Museum. Many of the manuscripts had previously belonged to Bishop Kennet.

West's coins, pictures, prints, drawings, and museum of curiosities were disposed of at various sales in the early part of 1773,[75] and on the 29th of March and twenty-three following days in the same year his library was sold by Messrs. Langford[76] at his late dwelling-house in King Street, Covent Garden.[77] There were four thousand six hundred and fifty-three lots, which realised two thousand nine hundred and twenty-seven pounds, one shilling. A copy of the catalogue with the prices and the names of the purchasers is preserved in the Library of King George III. in the British Museum. Many of the more valuable books were purchased by Gough, the antiquary, the greater part of which were bequeathed by him to the Bodleian Library. Although Horace Walpole, in a letter to the Rev. W. Cole, dated April 7th, 1773, writes that he considered 'the books were selling outrageously,' the prices were only fairly good for the time, and not high. The thirty-four Caxtons realised no more than three hundred and sixty-one pounds, four shillings and sixpence. The highest prices obtained were forty-seven pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence for the first edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, thirty-two pounds, eleven shillings for the Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, thirty-two pounds and sixpence for the first edition of the Game of the Chesse, and twenty-one pounds for the second edition of the Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers. These four works were purchased for King George III., who bought largely at the sale. Among many other rare English books a fine example of the Bokys of Hawkyng and Huntyng, printed at St. Albans in 1486, fetched thirteen pounds, and unique copies of two works from the press of Wynkyn de Worde—The Passe Tyme of Pleasure, 1517, and the Historye of Olyver of Castille, 1518—three guineas, and one pound, twelve shillings respectively. The latter book was reprinted in 1898 by Mr. Christie-Miller for the Roxburghe Club. It was edited by Mr. R.E. Graves, late Assistant-Keeper, Department of Printed Books, British Museum. West's famous collection of ballads, which was begun by Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, was bought for twenty pounds by Major Pearson, who made many additions to it. It afterwards came into the possession of the Duke of Roxburghe, by whom it was also greatly enlarged. After passing through the library of Mr. Bright, it was finally acquired in 1845 by the trustees of the British Museum.

Among the manuscripts a beautifully illuminated Missal, made by order of King Henry VII. for his daughter Margaret, afterwards Queen Consort of James IV., King of Scotland, was bought by the Duke of Northumberland for thirty-two pounds, eleven shillings; a Book of Hours sold for forty-three pounds, one shilling; and a manuscript of Boccaccio for twenty-five pounds, four shillings. Both of these manuscripts had exceedingly fine illuminations.


[Footnote 74: Oldys, Diary, London, 1862, p. 3.]

[Footnote 75: Horace Walpole says that the prints sold for the 'frantic sum of L1495, 10s.'—Letters, London, 1857-59, vol. v. p. 439.]

[Footnote 76: Nichols states that the books were sold by auction under the name of Messrs. Langford, but actually by Mr. Samuel Paterson, who compiled the catalogue.—Anecdotes of literature, vol. vi. p. 345.]

[Footnote 77: West's country residence was Alscot Park, Preston-on-Stour, Gloucestershire.]


Benjamin Heath, who was born at Exeter on the 20th of April 1704, was the eldest son of Benjamin Heath, a fuller and merchant of that city.[78] He was educated at the Exeter Grammar School, and afterwards studied law, with a view of being called to the Bar; but having inherited a handsome fortune on the death of his father, he abandoned his intention, and devoted himself to literature, and also to the formation of a library, which he had commenced at a very early age. In 1752 Heath was elected town-clerk of Exeter, an appointment he held until his death on the 13th of September 1766. In 1762 the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.C.L. He was the author of several works, principally on the Greek and Latin classics and the text of Shakespeare. Heath in his lifetime divided a portion of his fine library between two of his sons, but retained a large part of it. Dibdin in Bibliomania prints an interesting letter, dated Exeter, March 21st, 1738, from Heath to Mr. John Mann of the Hand in Hand Fire Office, London, asking him to superintend the purchase of some books at a sale which was shortly to take place, and appending a list of those he desired, and the prices he was willing to pay for them.


[Footnote 78: Drake, Heathiana. London, 1882.]


Horatio or Horace Walpole, fourth Earl of Orford (he disliked the name Horatio, and wrote himself Horace), was the fourth and youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, first Earl of Orford, by his first wife, Catherine Shorter, eldest daughter of John Shorter of Bybrook, near Ashford in Kent. He was born, as he himself tells us, on the 24th of September 1717 O.S. In 1727 he was sent to Eton, where he had for his schoolfellows the future poets Thomas Gray and Richard West; and eight years later he proceeded to King's College, Cambridge. Walpole entered the House of Commons in 1741 as Member for Callington in Cornwall, and afterwards sat for the family boroughs of Castle Rising and King's Lynn, but although he took a considerable interest in politics, public life was not congenial to his pursuits and tastes, and in 1767 he resigned his seat in Parliament. In his earlier days he was a Whig with a strong leaning to republicanism, but the public events of his later years greatly modified his views. It has been well said of him that 'he was an aristocrat by instinct and a republican by caprice.' On the death of his nephew, George, the third Earl, in 1791, he succeeded to the earldom, but he never took his seat in the House of Lords, and seldom signed his name as Orford. He died at his house in Berkeley Square on the 2nd of March 1797, and was buried at Houghton, the family seat in Norfolk.

In 1747 Walpole purchased the remainder of the lease of a small house which stood near the Thames 'just out of Twickenham,' popularly called Chopped-Straw Hall, on account of its having been the residence of a retired coachman of an Earl of Bradford, who was supposed to have made his money by starving his master's horses. On the 5th of June 1747 Walpole writes to Sir Horace Mann, that although 'the house is so small that I can send it to you in a letter to look at, the prospect is as delightful as possible, commanding the river, the town (Twickenham), and Richmond Park, and being situated on a hill descends to the Thames through two or three little meadows, where I have some Turkish sheep and two cows, all studied in their colours for becoming the view.' This cottage grew into the Gothic mansion of Strawberry Hill, the erection and embellishment of which formed for so many years the principal occupation and amusement of Walpole's life. Here he collected works of art and curiosities of every kind—pictures, miniatures, prints and drawings, armour, coins, and china, together with a fine library of about fifteen thousand volumes, chiefly of antiquarian and historical subjects. These he acquired with the emoluments of three sinecure offices which his father had obtained for him.

In 1757 Walpole set up a printing-press in a small cottage adjoining his residence, and this continued in use until his death in 1797. Gray's Odes, in a handsome quarto, was the first of a large number of works and fugitive pieces, many from his own pen, which issued from it. An excellent account of the press, by Mr. H.B. Wheatley, F.S.A., will be found in Bibliographica, vol. iii., pp. 83-98. Walpole was the author of many works, but his literary reputation now rests mainly on his letters. Mr. Austin Dobson, in his delightful Memoir of Walpole, says of them that 'for diversity of interest and perpetual entertainment, for the constant surprises of an unique species of wit, for happy and unexpected turns of phrase, for graphic characterisation and clever anecdote, for playfulness, pungency, irony, persiflage, there is nothing like his letters in English.' A collected edition of his works, edited by Mary Berry, under the name of her father, Robert Berry, was published in 1798 in five volumes.

Although the library formed by Walpole at Strawberry Hill consisted principally of works 'which no gentleman's library should be without,' it also contained some beautiful manuscripts, a goodly number of rare books of the Elizabethan and Jacobean times, and an immense collection of interesting papers and letters, prints and portraits. Many of the prints were by the great engravers of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. The most notable of the manuscripts were a copy of the Psalms of David on vellum, with twenty-one illuminations attributed to Giulio Clovio; a magnificent 'Missal,' executed for Claude, Queen Consort of Francis I., King of France; and a folio volume of old English poetry, written on vellum, from the library of Ralph Thoresby, the antiquary. Among the more important of the collections of papers and letters were those of Sir Julius Caesar, which contained letters of James I., Henry, Prince of Wales, the King and Queen of Bohemia, and most of the leading nobility and gentry of the time of Elizabeth and James I.; Sir Sackville Crowe's Book of Accounts of the Privy Purse of the Duke of Buckingham in his different journeys into France, Spain, and the Low Countries with Prince Charles; the manuscripts bequeathed to Walpole by Madame du Deffand, together with upwards of eight hundred letters addressed by her to him; and Vertue's manuscripts in twenty-eight volumes. Sir Julius Caesar's travelling library, consisting of forty-four duodecimo volumes, bound in white vellum, and enclosed in an oak case covered with light olive morocco, elegantly tooled, and made to resemble a folio volume (now in the British Museum); and the identical copy of Homer used by Pope for his translation, with the inscription, 'Finished ye translation in Feb. 1719-20—A. Pope,' and containing a pencil sketch of Twickenham Church by the poet, were among the most interesting printed books in the library. A remarkable and beautiful collection of about forty original drawings, being portraits of Francis the First and Second of France, and the members of their Courts, taken from life in pencil, tinted with red chalk, by Janet; Callot's Pocket Book, with drawings by this master; and fine collections of the works of Vertue and Hogarth also deserve to be mentioned.

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