English Book Collectors
by William Younger Fletcher
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The English Bookman's Library

Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, (late) Printers to Her Majesty

[Transcriber's note:

Letters that could not be properly displayed in the e-text are represented as follows:

1. a letter with a macron is represented by an =, as in ā 2. the letter h with a line through the top is represented as h 3. a letter with a tilde is represented by an ~, as in m]


My principal object in compiling this work on English Book Collectors has been to bring together in a compact and convenient form the information respecting them which is to be found scattered in the works of many writers, both old and new. While giving short histories of the lives of the collectors, and some description of their libraries, I have also endeavoured to show what manner of men the owners of these collections were. In doing this I have sought, where practicable, to let the accounts be told as much as possible in the words of their biographers, as their narratives are often not only full of interest, but are also couched in delightfully quaint language. As it would not be possible in a volume of this size to furnish satisfactory notices of all the Englishmen who have formed large libraries, I have selected some of those who appear to possess special claims to notice, either on the ground of their interesting personality, or the exceptional importance of their collections. I have not given any account of the collectors who lived prior to the reign of Henry VII., for until that time libraries consisted almost entirely of manuscripts; and I have also excluded men who, like Sir Thomas Bodley, collected books for the express purpose of forming, or adding to, public libraries.

My friend, Mr. Walter Stanley Graves, has in an appendix to this volume compiled a list of the principal sales of libraries in this country from an early period to the present time, which will be found to supply useful information about many of those collectors who are not otherwise mentioned in the book.

Mr. Locker-Lampson in the introduction to the catalogue of his library very pertinently remarks: 'It is a good thing to read books, and it need not be a bad thing to write them; but it is a pious thing to preserve those that have been some time written.' To collectors scholars owe a deep debt of gratitude, for innumerable are the precious manuscripts and rare printed books which they have rescued from destruction, and not a few of them have enriched by their gifts and bequests the public libraries of their country. Every lover of books must feel how greatly indebted he is to Archbishops Cranmer and Parker, the Earl of Arundel, Lord Lumley, Sir Robert Cotton, and other early collectors, for saving so many of the priceless manuscripts from the libraries of the suppressed monasteries and religious houses which, at the Reformation, intolerance, ignorance, and greed consigned to the hands of the tailor, the goldbeater, and the grocer. A large number of the treasures once to be found in these collections have been irrecoverably lost, but many a volume, now the pride of some great library, bears witness to the pious and successful exertions of these eminent men.

A love of book-collecting has always prevailed in this country, and since the end of the seventeenth century it has become very widely diffused. In the early days of the eighteenth century the Duke of Devonshire, the Earls of Oxford and Sunderland, and several other collectors, employed themselves during the winter months in rambling through various quarters of the town in search of additions to their libraries, and with some of these collectors the acquisition of books became a positive passion. In 1813 Dr. Dibdin thought that the thermometer of bibliomania had reached its highest point, and it would certainly appear to have been very high indeed, judging from the prices obtained at the Roxburghe and other sales of the time. For some years there was a period of depression, which perhaps was at the lowest between 1830 and 1850, but the desire to acquire rare books appears never to have been greater than at the present day, and for the choicest examples collectors are willing to give sums which dwarf into insignificance the prices which excited the astonishment of our fathers. These high prices may possibly be somewhat due to the spirited bidding of the great bookseller we have recently lost, and to the competition of our American cousins; but they are also distinct evidences that the beautiful and interesting volumes which issued from the presses of the old printers have not lost their charm for the bibliophiles of our own time. They have the advantage, too, of causing these treasures to be more valued, and consequently better treated, for it has been well said that nothing tends to the preservation of anything so much as making it bear a high price.

A chronological arrangement of the collectors has been adopted for several reasons as the preferable one, but an alphabetical list of their names will be found at the beginning of the volume. It ought also to be observed that accounts of the different libraries rarely mention the number of books contained in them, but when they have been sold by auction I have found by a careful examination of the sale catalogues that on an average each lot may be reckoned as consisting of about a volume and a half.

'For out of the olde feldes, as men saythe, Cometh al this newe come fro yere to yere, And out of olde bokes, in good faythe, Cometh al this newe science that men lere.'

CHAUCER.—Parlement of Foules.




Arundel, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of, 30 Ashburnham, Bertram, Earl of, 382 Askew, Dr. Anthony, 219 Bagford, John, 129 Banks, Sir Joseph, Bart., 270 Beauclerk, Hon. Topham, 251 Beckford, William, 317 Bernard, Dr. Francis, 111 Bindley, James, 244 Brand, Rev. John, 274 Bridges, John, 156 Buckingham, Richard Grenville, Duke of, 342 Burghley, William Cecil, Lord, 38 Burney, Charles, 306 Burton, Robert, 72 Corser, Rev. Thomas, 372 Cotton, Sir Robert Bruce, Bart., 61 Cracherode, Rev. C.M., 221 Cranmer, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, 18 Crawford, Alexander William, Earl of, 399 Daniel, George, 358 Dee, Dr. John, 45 Dent, John, 277 Devonshire, William, Duke of, 364 D'Ewes, Sir Symonds, Bart., 103 Digby, Sir Kenelm, 105 Douce, Francis, 293 Edwards, James, 297 Fairfax, Brian, 170 Farmer, Rev. Richard, D.D., 235 Fisher, John, Bishop of Rochester, 14 Folkes, Martin, 195 Gibson-Craig, James Thomson, 395 Gough, Richard, 238 Grenville, Right Hon. Thomas, 281 Guilford, Frederick North, Earl of, 321 Hamilton, Alexander, Duke of, 328 Hargrave, Francis, 267 Hearne, Thomas, 172 Heath, Benjamin, 208 Heath, Rev. Benjamin, D.D., 253 Heber, Richard, 336 Hibbert, George, 300 Hoare, Sir Richard Colt, Bart., 313 Huth, Henry, 409 Inglis, John Bellingham, 349 Laing, David, 377 Lansdowne, William Petty Fitzmaurice, Marquis of, 248 Laud, William, Archbishop of Canterbury, 66 Leicester, Robert Dudley, Earl of, 49 Le Neve, Peter, 147 Locker-Lampson, Frederick, 418 Lumley, John, Lord, 52 Luttrell, Narcissus, 139 Marlborough, George Spencer Churchill, Duke of, 324 Mead, Dr. Richard, 160 Miller, William Henry, 355 Moore, John, Bishop of Ely, 125 Morris, William, 423 Murray, John, 159 Norfolk, Thomas Howard, Earl of, 91 Oldys, William, 197 Orford, Horace Walpole, Earl of, 209 Oxford, Robert and Edward Harley, Earls of, 150 Parker, Matthew, Archbishop of Canterbury, 21 Pearson, Major Thomas, 256 Pembroke, Thomas Herbert, Earl of, 137 Pepys, Samuel, 113 Perkins, Frederick, 347 Perkins, Henry, 346 Phillipps, Sir Thomas, Bart., 367 Ratcliffe, John, 199 Rawlinson, Dr. Richard, 186 Rawlinson, Thomas, 176 Reed, Isaac, 269 Roxburghe, John Ker, Duke of, 259 Royal Collectors, 1 Selden, John, 85 Sheldon, Ralph, 108 Sloane, Sir Hans, Bart., 143 Smith, Joseph, 184 Smith, Richard, 93 Smith, Sir Thomas, 34 Spencer, George John, Earl, 308 Steevens, George, 240 Stillingfleet, Edward, Bishop of Worcester, 122 Sunderland, Charles Spencer, Earl of, 165 Sykes, Sir Mark Masterman, Bart., 331 Thomason, George, 96 Thorold, Sir John, Bart., 233 Tite, Sir William, C.B., 392 Totnes, George Carew, Earl of, 59 Towneley, John, 226 Turner, Robert Samuel, 415 Usher, James, Archbishop of Armagh, 76 West, James, 203 Willett, Ralph, 215 Williams, John, Archbishop of York, 81 Wodhull, Michael, 263 Wotton, Thomas, 43



Earl Spencer, Frontispiece Henry, Prince of Wales, 6 Archbishop Parker, 21 Device of Earl of Arundel, 30 Book-stamp of Sir Thomas Smith, 35 Book-stamp of Lord Burghley, 42 Arms of Thomas Wotton, 44 Dr. Dee, 46 Book-stamp of Earl of Leicester, 50 Lord Lumley, 53 Book-stamp of Earl of Totnes, 59 Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, Bart., 62 Archbishop Usher, 76 Archbishop Williams, 81 Arms of Earl of Norfolk, 92 Book-stamp of Sir Symonds D'Ewes, Bart., 104 Book-stamp of Sir Kenelm Digby, 106 Book-stamp of Ralph Sheldon, 109 Book-plate of Samuel Pepys, 114 Book-stamp of Samuel Pepys, 118 Book-stamp of Samuel Pepys, 120 Book-plate in Bishop Moore's Books, given by George I. to the University of Cambridge, 127 John Bagford, 131 Sir Hans Sloane, Bart., 143 Book-plate of Robert Harley, 151 Book-stamp of Robert Harley, 152 Dr. Mead, 161 Earl of Sunderland, 165 Thomas Hearne, 172 Book-plate of Joseph Smith, 184 Dr. Richard Rawlinson, 189 Strawberry Hill, 211 Rev. C.M. Cracherode, 221 Book-stamp of Rev. C.M. Cracherode, 225 Book-plate of John Towneley, 228 Book-plate of James Bindley, 245 Rev. Dr. Heath, 254 Duke of Roxburghe, 259 Book-stamp of Michael Wodhull, 264 Right Hon. Thomas Grenville, 283 William Beckford, 318 Duke of Devonshire, 364 Small Book-stamp of the Earl of Balcarres, 400 Large Book-stamp of the Earl of Balcarres, 402 Frederick Locker-Lampson, 418 Book-plate of Frederick Locker-Lampson, 419


Although various books are incidentally mentioned in the Wardrobe Accounts of the first, second, and third Edwards, there is no good reason to believe that any English king, save perhaps Henry VI., or any royal prince, with the exception of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, and possibly of John, Duke of Bedford, possessed a collection large enough to be styled a library until the reign of Edward IV. In the Wardrobe Accounts of that Sovereign, preserved among the Harleian MSS. in the library of the British Museum, mention is made of the conveyance, in the year 1480, of the King's books from London to Eltham Palace. It is stated that some were put into 'the kings carr,' and others into 'divers cofyns of fyrre,' Several entries also refer to the 'coverying and garnysshing of the books of oure saide Souverain Lorde the Kynge' by Piers Bauduyn, stationer. Among the books mentioned are the works of Josephus, Livy, and Froissart, 'a booke of the holy Trinite,' 'a booke called le Gouvernement of Kinges and Princes,' 'a booke called la Forteresse de Foy,' and 'a booke called the bible historial.' The price paid for 'binding, gilding, and dressing' the copy of the Bible Historiale and the works of Livy was twenty shillings each, and for several others sixteen shillings each. Other entries show that the bindings were of 'Cremysy velvet figured,' with 'Laces and Tassels of Silk,' with 'Blue Silk and Gold Botons,' and with 'Claspes with Roses and the Kings Armes uppon them.' 'LXX Bolions coper and gilt,' and 'CCC nayles gilt' were also used.

The first English king who formed a library of any size was Henry VII., and many entries are found in his Privy Purse Expenses relating to the purchase and binding of his books. The great ornament of his collection was the superb series of volumes on vellum bought of Antoine Verard, the Paris publisher, which now forms one of the choicer treasures of the British Museum. Henry's principal library was kept in his palace at Richmond, where, with the exception of some volumes which seem to have been taken to Beddington by Henry VIII., it appears to have remained for more than a century after his death, for Justus Zinzerling, a native of Thuringia, and Doctor of Laws at Basle, states in his book of travels, entitled Itinerarium Galliae, etc., Lyons, 1616, that 'the most curious thing to be seen at Richmond Palace is Henry VII.'s library.' It was probably removed to Whitehall, for the only book in the library mentioned by Zinzerling, a Genealogia Rerum Angliae ab Adamo, appears in a catalogue of Charles II.'s MSS. at Whitehall, compiled in 1666.

Henry VIII. inherited the love of his father for books, and added considerably to his collection. Besides the library at Richmond, Henry had a fine one at Westminster, a catalogue of which, compiled in 1542 or 1543, is still preserved in the Record Office. He had also libraries at Greenwich, Windsor, Newhall in Essex, and Beddington in Surrey. Some of his books were also kept at St. James's, for in the inventory of his furniture at that palace, entries occur of a Description of the hollie lande; 'a boke covered with vellat, embroidered with the Kings arms, declaring the same, in a case of black leather, with his graces arms'; and other volumes. Of these libraries the largest and most important appears to have been that at Westminster. It was fairly rich in the Greek and Latin classics, and in the writings of French and Italian authors. The English historians were well represented, but the principal feature of the collection was the works of the Fathers, which were very numerous. The library also contained no less than sixty primers, many of them being bound in 'vellat,' or in 'lether gorgiously gilted.' In the succeeding reign this library was purged 'of all massebookes, legendes, and other superstitiouse bookes' by an Order in Council, which also directed that 'the garnyture of the bookes being either golde or silver' should be delivered to Sir Anthony Aucher, the Master of the Jewel House.

The library at Greenwich contained three hundred and forty-one printed and manuscript volumes, besides a number of manuscripts, kept in various parts of the palace. An inventory, taken after the King's death, mentions among other books 'a greate booke called an Herballe,' 'twoo great Bibles in Latten,' and 'a booke, wrytten on parchment, of the processe betweene King Henry th' eight and the Ladye Katheryne Dowager.' The Windsor and Newhall libraries were smaller; the first comprising one hundred and nine, and the second sixty volumes. At Beddington were some remarkably choice books, including many beautiful editions printed for Antoine Verard, probably some of those purchased by Henry VII. Among these was 'a greate booke of parchment, written and lymned with gold of gravers worke, de confessione Amantis.'

Edward VI. and Mary during their short reigns added comparatively few books to the royal collection, nor are there many to be now found in it which were acquired by Elizabeth. It is difficult to say what became of this Queen's books, of which she appears to have possessed a considerable number; for Paul Hentzner tells us in his Itinerary that her library at Whitehall, when he visited it in 1598, was well stored with books in various languages, 'all bound in velvet of different colours, although chiefly red, with clasps of gold and silver; some having pearls and precious stones set in their bindings.' Probably the richness of the bindings had much to do with the disappearance of the books.

James I. is undoubtedly entitled to a place in the list of royal book-collectors, and the numerous fine volumes, many of them splendidly bound, with which he augmented the royal library, testify to his love of books. When but twelve years of age he possessed a collection of something like six hundred volumes, about four hundred of which are specified in a manuscript list, principally in the handwriting of Peter Young, who shared with George Buchanan the charge of James's education. This list is preserved in the British Museum, and was edited in 1893 by Mr. G.F. Warner, Assistant-Keeper of Manuscripts, for the Scottish History Society. After the death of the learned Isaac Casaubon, the King, at the instigation of Patrick Young, his librarian, purchased his entire library of his widow for the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds.

If James I. is entitled to be regarded as a collector, his eldest son Henry has even a better claim to the title. This young prince, who combined a great fondness for manly sports with a sincere love for literature, purchased from the executors of his tutor, Lord Lumley, the greater portion of the large and valuable collection which that nobleman had partly formed himself, and partly inherited from his father-in-law, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, the possessor of a fine library at Nonsuch, comprising a number of manuscripts and many printed volumes which had belonged to Archbishop Cranmer. Henry's first care after the acquisition of the books was to have them catalogued, and in his Privy Purse Expenses for the year 1609 we find the following entry: 'To Mr. Holcock, for writing a Catalogue of the Library which his Highness hade of my Lord Lumley, L8, 13s. 0d.' He also unfortunately had the volumes rebound and stamped with his arms and badges, a step which must have destroyed many interesting bindings. Henry only lived three years to enjoy his purchase, but during that time he made many additions to it. Edward Wright, the mathematician, who died in 1615, was his librarian, and received a salary of thirty pounds a year. As Henry died intestate his library became the property of his father, and passed into the royal collection which was given to the British Museum by George II.

Prince Rupert also appears to have inherited to some extent the love of books possessed by his grandfather James I. and his uncle Prince Henry, for he formed a well-selected library of about twelve hundred volumes, of which a catalogue is preserved among the Sloane manuscripts in the British Museum.[1]

King Charles I., although he bought some books, and had a number of valuable volumes given to him by his mother, can hardly be classed with the royal book-collectors. He had a greater inclination to paintings and music than to books, and it is said that he so excelled in the fine arts, that he might, if it were necessary, 'have got a livelihood by them.' One very precious addition to the royal library was, however, made during his reign: the famous Codex Alexandrinus, which Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, in 1624 placed in the hands of Sir Thomas Roe, the English ambassador to the Porte, as a gift to King James, but which did not reach England till four years later, when that sovereign was no longer alive. The royal library, which had narrowly escaped dispersion in the Civil War, was largely increased during the reign of Charles II., and at his death the works in it amounted to more than ten thousand. A love of books can scarcely be attributed to Charles, and although he certainly caused some important additions to be made to the collection—notably a number of valuable manuscripts which had belonged successively to John and Charles Theyer—the greater part of the increase may be ascribed to the operation of the Copyright Act, which was passed in the fourteenth year of this reign, and enabled the royal library to claim a copy of every work printed in the English dominions. From the death of Charles until the library was given to the nation by George II. in 1757 little interest was taken in it by the kings and queens who reigned in the interval.

Although George III. was a man of somewhat imperfect education, he keenly regretted the loss of the royal collection, and no sooner was he seated on the throne than he began to amass the magnificent library which has now joined its predecessor in the British Museum. In this labour of love he was assisted by the sympathy and help of his Queen, who, Dr. Croly tells us, was in the habit of paying visits, with a lady-in-waiting, to Holywell Street and Ludgate Hill, where second-hand books were offered for sale. The King commenced the formation of his collection in 1762 by buying for about ten thousand pounds the choice library of Mr. Joseph Smith, who for many years was the British consul at Venice, and 'for seven or eight years the shops and warehouses of English booksellers were also sedulously examined, and large purchases were made from them. In this labour Dr. Johnson often assisted, actively as well as by advice.'[2] It is said the King expended during his long reign, on an average, about two thousand pounds a year in the purchase of books. In 1768 he despatched his illegitimate half-brother, Mr. Barnard, afterwards Sir Frederic Augusta Barnard, whom he had appointed his librarian, on a bibliographical tour on the Continent, during which so many valuable acquisitions were obtained for the library, that it at once took its place amongst the most important collections in the country, and after the death of the King, when the books it contained were counted by order of a select committee of the House of Commons, they were found to number 'about 65,250 exclusive of a very numerous assortment of pamphlets, principally contained in 868 cases, and requiring about 140 more cases to contain the whole.' These tracts, which number about nineteen thousand, have since been separately bound. The manuscripts belonging to the library amount to about four hundred and forty volumes, and there is also a magnificent collection of maps and topographical prints and drawings. The library is very rich in bibliographical rarities as well as in general literature. The Gutenberg Bible, the Bamberg Bible, the first and second Mentz Psalters (the first, a superb volume, is kept at Windsor Castle), and no less than thirty-nine Caxtons are among the most conspicuous of the many treasures of this splendid collection. The Caxtons were principally purchased at the sales of the libraries of James West in 1773, John Ratcliffe, the Bermondsey ship-chandler, who had acquired the remarkable number of forty-eight, in 1776, and of Richard Farmer in 1798. Edwards, in his Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, informs us that 'Ratcliffe's forty-eight Caxtons produced at his sale two hundred and thirty-six pounds, and that the king bought twenty of them at an aggregate cost of about eighty-five pounds. Amongst them were Boethius de Consolatione Philosophiae, the first editions of Reynard the Foxe and the Golden Legende, the Curial, and the Speculum Vitae Christi. The Boethius is a fine copy, and was obtained for four pounds six shillings.'

George III.'s library was first kept in the old Palace of Kew, which was pulled down in 1802, and afterwards in a handsome and extensive suite of rooms at Buckingham House; the site which at one time had been proposed for the British Museum. Scholars and students were at all times liberally permitted by the King to consult the books, and he also showed his kindly consideration for them by instructing his librarian 'not to bid either against a literary man who wants books for study, or against a known collector of small means.' A handsome catalogue of the library was compiled by Sir F.A. Barnard, who had charge of the collection from its commencement to the time when it was acquired by the nation. He died on the 27th of January 1830, aged eighty-seven.

The library in which George III. took so keen an interest was regarded by his successor as a costly burden, and there is little doubt he intended to dispose of it to the Emperor of Russia, who was very anxious to obtain it. The design of the King having become known to Lord Farnborough and Richard Heber, the collector, they communicated intelligence of it to Lord Liverpool and Lord Sidmouth, who were fortunately able to prevent the proposed sale of the books by offering the King an equivalent for them, the amount of which has not transpired, out of a fund known as the Droits of the Admiralty. On the completion of the bargain, George IV. addressed to Lord Liverpool a letter, dated January 15th, 1823, in which occur the following words: 'The King, my late revered and excellent father, having formed during a long series of years a most valuable and extensive library, consisting of about 120,000 volumes, I have resolved to present this collection to the British Nation.' This letter, printed in letters of gold, is preserved in the British Museum. In addition to the first edition of the Mentz Psalter; the Aldine Virgil of 1505, the Second Shakespeare folio which once belonged to Charles I., four Caxtons forming part of the collection, viz., The Doctrinal of Sapience, on parchment, The Fables of AEsop, The Fayts of Arms, and the Recueil des Histoires de Troye, with a few other volumes, were retained at Windsor.

Of the sons of George III., the Duke of Sussex alone appears to have inherited his father's love of collecting books, and he formed a magnificent library in his apartments at Kensington Palace. The collection consisted of more than fifty thousand volumes, twelve thousand of which were theological. It included a very considerable number of early Hebrew and other rare manuscripts, and about one thousand editions of the Bible. An elaborate catalogue of a portion of it, entitled Bibliotheca Sussexiana, was compiled by Dr. T.J. Pettigrew, the Duke's librarian, in two volumes, the first of which was printed in 1827, and the second in 1839.

After the Duke's death his books were sold by auction by Evans of Pall Mall. They were disposed of in six sales, the first of which took place in July 1844, and the last in August 1845; and they occupied altogether sixty-one days. The number of lots was fourteen thousand one hundred and seven, and the total amount realised nineteen thousand one hundred and forty-eight pounds.

The Duke of York possessed a good library, which was sold by Sotheby in May 1827, but it consisted almost entirely of modern books, and the Duke could hardly be considered a collector.

On his succession to the throne William IV., as he remarked, found himself the only sovereign in Europe not possessed of a library, and speedily took steps to acquire one. He did more than this, for in July 1833 he caused a special codicil to his will to be drawn up which sets forth that 'Whereas His Majesty hath made considerable additions to the Royal Libraries in His Majesty's several Palaces, and may hereafter make further additions thereto, Now His Majesty doth give and bequeath all such additions, whether the same have been or may be made by and at the cost of His Majesty's Privy Purse or otherwise unto and for the benefit of His Majesty's successors, in order that the said Royal Libraries may be transmitted entire.'

When on November 30th, 1834, the King signed this document, he made it yet more emphatic by the autograph note: 'Approved and confirmed by me the King, and I further declare that all the books, drawings, and plans collected in all the palaces shall for ever continue Heirlooms to the Crown and on no pretence whatever be alienated from the Crown.'

Thus explicitly protected from the fate which befell its two predecessors, this third Royal Library throve and prospered under Queen Victoria till it fills a handsome room at Windsor Castle. The few books reserved by George IV. give it importance as an antiquarian collection; but its development has been rather on historical and topographical than on antiquarian lines, though it possesses sufficient fine bindings to have supplied materials for a handsome volume of facsimiles by Mr. Griggs, edited with introduction and descriptions by Mr. R. R. Holmes, M.V.O., the King's Librarian at Windsor.


[Footnote 1: Sloane MSS. 555.]

[Footnote 2: Edwards, Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, p. 469.]


John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was born at Beverley in Yorkshire, and was the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a mercer of that town. The date of his birth is uncertain, some of his biographers placing it as early as 1459, and others as late as 1469. He was educated in the school attached to the collegiate church of his native place, and afterwards at Michael House, Cambridge (now incorporated into Trinity College), of which he became a Fellow in 1491, and Master in 1497. In 1501 he was elected Vice-Chancellor, and in 1504 Chancellor of the University. The respect in which Margaret, Countess of Richmond, the mother of Henry VII., held him, induced her to appoint him her chaplain and confessor, and it was principally through his exertions that the Countess's designs for founding St. John's College, Cambridge, were carried out, Fisher himself subsequently founding several fellowships, scholarships, and lectureships in connection with the college. He was appointed the first 'Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity' in the University of Cambridge in 1503, and in 1504 was consecrated Bishop of Rochester. The firmness with which he opposed the royal supremacy, and the divorce of Henry VIII., brought on him the displeasure of the King, and in 1534, having given too ready a credence to the 'revelations' of Elizabeth Barton, 'the nun of Kent,' he was attainted of misprision of treason, and soon afterwards, on his refusal to acknowledge the King's supremacy and the validity of his marriage with Anne Boleyn, was committed with Sir Thomas More to the Tower. During his imprisonment Pope Paul III. created him a cardinal, an act which greatly increased the irritation of the King against him, and on the 22nd of June 1535 Fisher was beheaded on Tower Hill.

Bishop Fisher, who was the author of a considerable number of controversial tracts, was a man of great learning, and is said to have possessed the finest library in the country. In an account of his life and death first published in 1665, which was professedly written by Thomas Baily, a royalist divine, but is said to have been really the work of Dr. Richard Hall of Christ's College, Cambridge, who died in 1604, a relation is given of the seizure of his goods and books after his attainder. 'In the meantime lest any conveyance might be made of his goods remaining at Rochester, or elsewhere in Kent, the King sent one Sir Richard Moryson, of his Privy Chamber, and one Gostwick, together with divers other Commissioners, down into that Countrey, to make seisure of all his moveable goods that they could finde there, who being come unto Rochester, according to their Commission, entred his house; and the first thing they did was, they turned out all his Servants; then they fell to rifling his goods, whereof the chief part of them were taken for the Kings use, the rest they took for themselves; then they came into his Library, which they found so replenished, and with such kind of Books, as it was thought the like was not to be found againe in the possession of any one private man in Christendom; with which they trussed up and filled 32 great vats, or pipes, besides those that were imbezel'd away, spoyl'd and scatter'd; and whereas many yeares before he had made a deed of gift of all these books, and other his household stuffe to the Colledge of St John in Cambridge, ... two frauds were committed in this trespasse; the Colledge were bereaved of their gift, and the Bishop of his purpose.' An account of his library and its confiscation is also to be found in a manuscript treatise concerning his life and death, preserved among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum. 'He had ye notablest Library of Books in all England, two long galleries full, the Books were sorted in stalls & a Register of ye names of every Book at ye end of every stall. All these his Books, & all his Hangings, plate, & vessels for Hawl, Chamber, Buttry, & Kitchin, he gave long before his death to St Joh: College, by a Deed of gift, & put them in possession thereof; & then by indenture did borrow all ye sd: books & stuff, to have ye use of ym during his life, but at his apprehension, the Lord Crumwell caused all to be confiscated, which he gave to Moryson, Plankney of Chester, and other that were about him, & so ye College was defrauded of all this gift.'

Erasmus represents Fisher as a man of the greatest integrity, of deep learning, incredible sweetness of temper, and grandeur of soul; and Sir Thomas More declared that there was 'in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved vertue together, mete to be matched and compared with him.'

An excellent portrait of Fisher is preserved among the Holbein drawings at Windsor Castle, and others are to be found in several of the Colleges of the University of Cambridge.


Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, the events of whose life are so well known that it is not necessary to give an account of them here, possessed a very fine library, both of manuscripts and printed books. Many of the volumes it contained are still in existence, and fortunately they can be identified without difficulty, as almost all of them bear the Archbishop's name written, it is believed, by one of his secretaries. As might be expected, the books are principally of a theological nature, although copies of the Greek and Latin Classics, and of works treating of historical, scientific, legal, medical, and miscellaneous subjects are fairly numerous. Strype tells us 'that the library was the storehouse of ecclesiastical writers of all ages: and which was open for the use of learned men. Here old Latimer spent many an hour; and found some books so remarkable, that once he thought fit to mention one in a sermon before the King.' Strype adds that Cranmer both annotated the books in his library, and also made extracts from them, and the notes which are found in many of those which have been preserved to our time confirm his statement.

The fate of the library after the fall of its owner can only be conjectured.

Soon after the accession of Mary to the throne Cranmer was put on his trial for high treason, and sentence of death was passed upon him; and although at that time his life was spared, he was included in the Act of Attainder passed in Parliament against the Earl of Northumberland, deprived of his archbishopric, and committed to the Tower. He had to produce an inventory of his goods; and a list of all the property found in the Archbishop's palaces is still preserved in the Record Office, but, with the exception that it is stated that a 'bible with other bookes of service' were 'conveyed and stolen awaie' from the chapel, no mention is made of the books. They probably shared the fate of the goods of Robert Holgate, Archbishop of York, who was deprived of his see in 1554, and imprisoned in the Tower, and while confined there had his houses at Battersea and Cawood rifled of all their valuables.

It is evident that many of Cranmer's books were acquired by Lord Lumley, then a young nobleman in high favour at Court; and others by Lord Lumley's father-in-law, Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, the Lord Steward, who at that time was forming a library at Nonsuch, which he had recently purchased of the Queen; as a number of the volumes which were in their libraries have the Archbishop's name inscribed in them.

By far the larger portion of Cranmer's books which have survived to the present time are preserved in the British Museum, whither they came in 1757 as part of the old Royal Library, Henry Prince of Wales having purchased the Lumley and Arundel collections in 1609. But some are also possessed by the Cambridge University Library, the Bodleian Library, and the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, while others are to be found on the shelves of various cathedral and collegiate libraries, and a few are in private hands. Those belonging to the two University Libraries were probably gifts of Lord Lumley, who presented eighty-four volumes to the Cambridge University Library in 1598, and forty to the Bodleian in the following year.

Cranmer was the author of several theological books, and he also wrote the prologue to the second edition of the 'Great Bible,' printed in 1540. His works were collected and arranged by H. Jenkyns, and published in four volumes at Oxford in 1833. There is a portrait of the Archbishop, at the age of fifty-seven, by G. Fliccius in the National Portrait Gallery, and others are at Cambridge and Lambeth. Cranmer was born at Aslacton Manor, in Nottinghamshire, on the 21st of July 1489, and burned at the stake at Oxford on the 21st of March 1556.


Matthew Parker, the second Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, was born at Norwich on the 6th of August 1504. He was the son of William Parker, a calenderer of stuffs, who, Strype says, 'lived in very good reputation and plenty, and was a gentleman, bearing for his coat of arms on a field gules, three keys erected. To which shield, in honour of the Archbishop, a chevron was added afterwards, charged with three resplendent estoilles.' Parker was first privately educated, and afterwards proceeded to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, of which college he was elected a Fellow in 1527. In the same year he took holy orders, and in 1535 was appointed Chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn, who shortly afterwards conferred on him the Deanery of the College of St. John the Baptist at Stoke, near Clare in Suffolk. In 1538 he was created a Doctor of Divinity, and made one of the King's chaplains; and in 1544 he was elected Master of Corpus Christi College. He was chosen to the office of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1545, and again in 1549. In 1552 he was appointed to the Deanery of Lincoln, of which he was deprived in 1554. During the reign of Mary, Parker lived quietly pursuing his studies, as he himself tells us, 'Postea privatus vixi, ita coram Deo laetus in conscientia mea; adeoque nee pudefactus, nec dejectus, ut dulcissimum otium literarium, ad quod Dei bona providentia me revocavit, multo majores et solidiores voluptates mihi pepererit, quam negotiosum illud et periculosum vivendi genus unquam placuit.' On the accession of Elizabeth he was summoned from his retirement and made Archbishop of Canterbury. His consecration took place on the 17th of December 1559. He died on the 17th of May 1575, and was buried in his private chapel at Lambeth, in a tomb which he had himself prepared. His remains, however, were disinterred in 1648 by Colonel Scot, the regicide, and buried under a dunghill, but after the Restoration they were replaced in the chapel.

Parker married in 1547 Margaret, daughter of Robert Harlestone of Matsal, in the county of Norfolk, by whom he had four sons, of whom two died in infancy, and a daughter. John, the eldest son, was knighted in 1603, and died in 1618.

Archbishop Parker was not only a great churchman, a distinguished scholar, and a warm promoter of learning, but he was also an ardent collector of books, and formed a very fine and valuable library, composed to a great extent of rare and choice manuscripts which had once belonged to the suppressed monasteries and religious houses. He also appears to have purchased Bale's fine collection of manuscripts.

Some of his books he presented to the Cambridge University Library during his lifetime, and in his will he made bequests of other volumes from his collection to that library. He also gave books to the libraries of the colleges of Caius and Trinity Hall, but the great bulk of his manuscripts and printed books he left to his own college of Corpus Christi.[3] An original list of these volumes is preserved in the college, with a note by John Parker, the Archbishop's son, stating that the missing volumes 'weare not found by me in my father's Librarie, but either lent or embezeled, whereby I could not deliver them to the college.' Some singular conditions were attached to this bequest by the Archbishop. 'Every year on the 6th of August, the collection is to be visited by the masters or locum tenentes of Trinity Hall and Caius, with two scholars on Archbishop Parker's foundation, and if, on examination of the library, twenty-five books are missing, or cannot be found within six months, the whole collection devolves to Caius. In that case the masters or locum tenentes of Trinity Hall and Benet, with two scholars on the same foundation, are the visitors: and if Caius College be guilty of the like neglect, the books to be delivered up to Trinity Hall: then the masters or locum tenentes of Caius and Benet, with two such scholars, become the inspectors; and in case of default on part of Trinity Hall, the whole collection reverts back to its former order. On the examination day, the visitors dine in the College Hall, and receive three shillings and four pence, and the scholars one shilling each.'[4] It is also probable that he was a benefactor to the library at Lambeth, for some of the manuscripts preserved there contain notes in his handwriting. The books which he did not specially bequeath he left to his son John, afterwards Sir John Parker.

In addition to the books which Parker gave to Corpus Christi College he founded several scholarships in connection with it, and bestowed upon it large sums of money and presents of plate. He also gave various pieces of plate to Gonville and Caius College and Trinity Hall.

Parker's love for books, and the pains he took to rescue the precious volumes which, after the dissolution of the abbeys and religious houses, were being destroyed or sold for common purposes, is so well told by Strype that his account is worth giving at length: 'His learning, though it were universal, yet it ran chiefly upon antiquity. Insomuch that he was one of the greatest antiquarians of the age. And the world is for ever beholden to him for two things; viz., for retrieving many ancient authors, Saxon and British, as well as Norman, and for restoring and enlightening a great deal of the ancient history of this noble island. He lived in, or soon after, those times, wherein opportunities were given for searches after these antiquities. For when the abbeys and religious houses were dissolved, and the books that were contained in the libraries thereunto belonging underwent the same fate, being miserably embezzled, and sold away to tradesmen for little or nothing, for their ordinary shop uses; then did our Parker, and some few more lovers of ancient learning, procure, both by their money and their friends, what books soever they could: and having got them into their possession, esteemed many of them as their greatest treasures, which other ignorant spoilers esteemed but as trash, and to be burnt, or sold at easy rates, or converted to any ordinary uses.

'He was therefore a mighty collector of books, to preserve, as much as could be, the ancient monuments of the learned men of our nation from perishing. And for that purpose he did employ divers men proper for such an end, to search all England over, and Wales, (and perhaps Scotland and Ireland too), for books of all sorts, some modern as well as ancient; and to buy them up for his use; giving them commission and authority under his own hand for doing the same. One of these, named Batman,[5] in the space of no more than four years, procured for our Archbishop to the number of 6700 books. It seems to be almost incredible, then, what infinite volumes all the rest of his agents in many more years must have retrieved for him.

'It was in those times that many of our choicest MSS. were conveyed out of the land beyond sea. Of this our Archbishop complained often; taking it heavily, as he wrote in one of his letters to Secretary Cecyl, "that the nation was deprived of such choice monuments, so much as he saw they were in those days, partly by being spent in shops, and used as waste paper, or conveyed over beyond sea, by some who considered more their own private gain than the honour of their country." This was the reason he took so much pleasure in the said Secretary's library; "that such MSS. might be preserved within the realm, and not sent over by covetous stationers, or spoiled in the apothecaries' shops." ... For the retrieving of these ancient treatises and MSS. as much as might be, the Archbishop had such abroad, as he appointed to lay out for them wheresoever they were to be met with, as was shewn before.

'But he procured not a few himself from such in his own time as were studious in antiquity: as, namely, several Saxon books from Robert Talbot,[6] a great collector of such ancient writings in King Henry the Eighth's time, and an acquaintance of Leland, Bale, etc. Some of which writings the said Talbot had from Dr. Owen,[7] the said King Henry's physician; and some our archbishop likewise had from him; as appears in one of the Cotton volumes:[8] which is made up of a collection of various charters, etc., written out by Joh. Joscelyn.[9] Where at some of these MSS. collected, the said Joscelyn adds these notes, The copy of this Dr. Talbot had of Dr. Owen. The Archbishop of Canterbury had this charter from Dr. Owen, etc. There be other collections of this nature now remaining in Benet College, sometime belonging to this Talbot, which we may presume the Archbishop, partly by his own interest, and partly by the interest of Bale, Caius, and others, obtained; particularly his annotations upon that part of Antoninus's Itinerarium which belongs to Britain. And another De Chartis quibusdam regum Britannorum. These are mentioned by Anthony a Wood.

'And he kept such in his family as could imitate any of the old characters admirably well. One of these was Lyly, an excellent writer, and that could counterfeit any antique writing. Him the Archbishop customarily used to make old books complete, that wanted some pages; that the character might seem to be the same throughout. So that he acquired at length an admirable collection of ancient MSS. and very many too: as we may conjecture from his diligence for so many years as he lived, in buying and procuring such monuments. The remainders of his highly valuable collections are now preserved in several libraries of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, but chiefly in that of Benet College, Cambridge.'

Archbishop Parker was one of the founders of the Society of Antiquaries in 1572. He took a special interest in the early English Chronicles, and endeavoured to revive the study of the Saxon language. Among other works he caused to be printed Flores Historiarum, attributed to Matthew of Westminster, Matthew Paris's Historia Major, and the Latin text of Asser's Alfredi Regis Res Gestae in Saxon characters, cut by John Day, the printer. He also, says Strype, 'laboured to forward the composing and publishing of a Saxon Dictionary.' His great work, De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae et Privilegiis Ecclesiae Cantuariensis, cum Archiepiscopis eiusdem 70, which, if not written by him, was produced under his immediate supervision, was printed by John Day in Lambeth Palace in 1572. A very limited number of copies of this work, the first book privately printed in England, were struck off; not more than twenty-five are known to exist, and no two are found quite alike. The preparation of the Bishops' Bible, which was completed in 1568, was performed under his auspices. A presentation copy to Queen Elizabeth from the Archbishop of the Flores Historiarum, very handsomely bound, with the royal arms on the covers; and a copy of the work De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae, etc., in a fine embroidered binding, which is also believed to have been presented to the Queen by the Archbishop, are preserved in the British Museum. These books were probably bound in Lambeth Palace, for in a letter to Lord Burghley, dated the 9th of May 1573, the Archbishop writes, with reference to the last-named work, 'I have within my house on wagis, drawers and cutters, paynters, lymners, wryters, and boke-bynders'; and he adds that he has sent Lord Burghley a copy of it 'bound by my man.'

A list of Parker's writings, and his editions of authors will be found in Coopers' Athenae Cantabrigienses. There are portraits of him in Lambeth Palace, the Guildhall at Norwich, Corpus Christi College, and in the Master's Lodge, Trinity College, Cambridge. There is also a rare portrait of him, engraved in 1573, by Remigius Hogenberg, who appears to have been in the service of the Archbishop.


[Footnote 3: An interesting account of the sources of the manuscripts, by Montague Rhodes James, Litt. D., Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, was published in 1899 by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society.]

[Footnote 4: Hartshorne, Book Rarities in the University of Cambridge, p. 9.]

[Footnote 5: Dr. Stephen Batman, one of the Archbishop's domestic chaplains, editor of De Proprietatibus Rerum, by Bartholomeus Anglicanus.]

[Footnote 6: Robert Talbot, Rector of Haversham, Berkshire, and Treasurer of Norwich Cathedral, was the son of John Talbot of Thorpe Malsover, Northamptonshire. He was born about 1505, and was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford. Camden calls him 'a learned antiquary,' and Lambarde describes him as 'a diligent trauayler in the Englishe hystorye.' He died in 1558, and was buried in Norwich Cathedral. His choicest manuscripts were left by him to New College.]

[Footnote 7: Dr. Owen, physician to King Henry VIII., King Edward VI., and Queen Mary. He died in 1558, and was buried in St. Stephen's, Walbrook.]

[Footnote 8: Vitellius D. 7.]

[Footnote 9: An antiquary who resided in the Archbishop's house, and who wrote the lives in De Antiquitate Britannicae Ecclesiae.]


Henry Fitzalan, twelfth Earl of Arundel, was born about the year 1513. He was the only son of William Fitzalan, eleventh Earl of Arundel, K.G., by his second wife, Anne, daughter of Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland.

When fourteen years of age his father was anxious to place him in the household of Cardinal Wolsey, but he preferred to offer his service to his godfather, King Henry VIII., 'who did noblely receave him, and well esteemed of him for the same.'[10] In 1534 he was summoned to Parliament in his father's barony as Lord Maltravers,[11] and in 1536, although only twenty-three years of age, he was appointed Governor of Calais, a post he held until the death of his father in January 1544. On the 24th of April in the same year he was made a K.G., and in the following July he received the appointment of 'Marshal of the Field' in the army which invaded France. He greatly distinguished himself at the siege of Boulogne, and on his return home he was made Lord Chamberlain, which office he held until the fourth year of King Edward VI.'s reign, when, on a false and ridiculous charge of abusing the privileges of his post to enrich himself and his friends, he was deprived of it, and fined twelve thousand pounds, eight thousand pounds of which was afterwards remitted.[12]

On the death of Edward, Arundel took a prominent part in the proceedings which placed Mary on the throne, and as a reward for his exertions he was made Lord Steward of the Household, and was also given a seat on the Council Board. Queen Elizabeth, on her accession to the crown, continued him in all the appointments which he had held in the preceding reign, and on several occasions visited him at Nonsuch, his residence at Cheam in Surrey. These marks of kindness led him, it is said, to aspire to a union with his royal mistress; but being disappointed in gaining her hand, and 'being miscontented with sundry things,' in 1564 he resigned his post of Lord Steward 'with sundry Speeches of Offence,'[13] which so displeased Elizabeth that she ordered him to confine himself to his house. He afterwards partially regained the favour of the Queen, but having endeavoured to promote the marriage of his widowed son-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, with Mary Queen of Scots, he was once more placed under arrest, and although after a time he obtained his release, it was followed by further imprisonment, and he did not finally regain his liberty until some months after the execution of Norfolk on the 2nd of June 1572.

Arundel passed the remainder of his life in retirement, affectionately tended until her death in 1577 by 'his nursse and deare beloved childe' Lady Lumley. He died on the 24th of February 1580 at Arundel House in the Strand, and was buried in the Collegiate Chapel at Arundel, where a monument, with an inscription by his son-in-law, Lord Lumley, was erected to his memory.

Arundel was twice married. By his first wife, Katherine, second daughter of Thomas Grey, Marquis of Dorset, he had one son, Henry, Lord Maltravers, who died in 1556, and two daughters: Jane, who married Lord Lumley, and Mary, who became the wife of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, beheaded in 1572. His second wife, Mary, who died in 1557, was a daughter of Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, Cornwall, and widow of Robert Ratcliffe, first Earl of Sussex. By her he had no issue.

With the assistance of Humphrey Llwyd, the physician and antiquary, who married Barbara, sister of Lord Lumley, Lord Arundel formed at his residence of Nonsuch a fine collection of books, many of which had once been the property of Archbishop Cranmer. An account of this mansion is given in the manuscript Life of Lord Arundel, to which we have already alluded, and it also contains a reference to his library. 'This Earle moreover continewed allwayes of a greate and noble mynde. Amonge the number of whose doings, that past in his tyme, this one is not the least, to showe his magnificence, that perceivinge a sumptuous house called Nonsuche to have bene begon, but not finished, by his first maister Kinge Henry the eighte, and thearfore in Quene Maryes tyme, thoughte mete rather to have bene pulled downe and solde by peacemeale then to be perfited at her charges, he, for the love and honour he bare to his olde maister, desired to buye the same house, by greace, of the Quene, for wch he gave faire lands unto her Highnes; and having the same, did not leave till he had fullye finished it in buildings, reparations, paviments and gardens, in as ample and perfit sorte as by the first intente and meaninge of the saide Kinge his old maister, the same should have bene performed, and so it is nowe evident to be beholden of all strangers, and others, for the honour of this Realme as a pearle thereof. The same he haith lefte to his posterity, garnished and replenished with riche furnitures; amonge the wch his Lybrarye is righte worthye of remembrance.'

Lord Arundel left Nonsuch, with its library and furniture, together with the greater part of his estates, to his son-in-law, Lord Lumley.

There are portraits of the Earl of Arundel by Holbein and Sir Anthony More. That by Holbein, which is in the collection of the Marquis of Bath, is engraved in Lodge's Portraits of Illustrious Personages.


[Footnote 10: MS. Life of the Earl of Arundel, evidently written by one of his most intimate servants, probably a chaplain.—Royal MSS., 17 A ix., British Museum.]

[Footnote 11: Complete Peerage of England, etc. Edited by G.E.C.]

[Footnote 12: 'Th' erle of Arrundel committed to his house for certaine crimes of suspicion against him, as pluking downe of boltes and lokkes at Westminster, giving of my stuff away, etc., and put to a fine of 12,000 pound to be paide a 1000 pound yerely, of which he was after released.'—Journal of King Edward VI., Cotton MSS., C. x., British Museum.]

[Footnote 13: Strype, Annals (London, 1709), i. 413.]


Sir Thomas Smith, who was Secretary of State to King Edward VI., and afterwards to Queen Elizabeth, was born at Saffron Walden, Essex, on the 23rd of December 1513. He was the son of John Smith of Saffron Walden and Agnes Charnock, a member of an old Lancashire family. When eleven years old he was sent to Queens' College, Cambridge, as he himself informs us in his Autobiographical Notes, now preserved in the British Museum,[14] which he wrote for the purpose of having his nativity cast: '1525. Sub fine II āni circa festū Michis Cantabrigiam sū missus ad bonas Iras.' Here he so greatly distinguished himself that King Henry VIII. chose him and John Cheke, afterwards tutor to Prince Edward, to be his scholars, and allotted them salaries for the encouragement of their studies. Cheke makes mention of this honour in an epistle to the King prefixed to his edition of Two Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, published at London in 1543: 'Cooptasti me et Thomam Smithum socium atque aequalem meum, in scholasticos tuos.' Smith specially applied himself to the study of the Greek classics, and also to the reformation of the faulty pronunciation of the Greek language which then prevailed; and in a short time, so Strype, in his Life of Sir T. Smith, tells us, his more correct way 'prevailed all the University over.' He also endeavoured to introduce a new English alphabet of twenty-nine letters, and to amend the spelling of the time, 'some of the syllables,' he considered, 'being stuffed with needless letters.' As early as 1531 he had become a Fellow of his college, and in 1534 he was chosen University Orator. In 1540 Smith paid a visit to the Continent, and proceeded to Padua, where he took the degree of D.C.L. On his return to England in 1542 he was made LL.D. at Cambridge, and at the beginning of 1544 was appointed Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University. In the succeeding year he served as Vice-Chancellor, and also became Chancellor to Goodrich, Bishop of Ely, by whom in 1546 he was collated to the rectory of Leverington, Cambridgeshire, and also ordained priest, a fact unknown to Strype. About the same time he received a prebend from the Dean of Lincoln, and soon after he became Provost of Eton and Dean of Carlisle. Towards the end of February 1547, Smith was summoned to court, and 'mutata clericali veste, modoque, ac vivendi forma,'[15] he was made Clerk of the Privy Council, and Master of the Court of Requests of the Duke of Somerset, then Lord Protector. On the 14th of April 1548 he was sworn one of the King's Secretaries, and knighted in the beginning of the following year. Shortly after his appointment Smith was sent as ambassador to the Emperor Charles V., and in 1551 he took part in the embassy to France to arrange a match for the King with the French sovereign's eldest daughter. On the accession of Mary he lost all his offices and preferments, but he managed to pass through this dangerous reign in safety; and Strype says of him, 'that when many were most cruelly burnt for the profession of the religion which he held, he escaped, and was saved even in the midst of the fire, which he probably might have an eye to in changing the crest of his coat-of-arms, which now was a salamander living in the midst of a flame; whereas before it was an eagle holding a writing-pen flaming in his dexter claw.' When Elizabeth came to the throne, Smith returned to court, and was engaged in several embassies to France. In 1572 the Queen conferred on him the Chancellorship of the Order of the Garter; and shortly afterwards, on Lord Burghley's preferment to the office of Lord Treasurer, vacant by the death of the Marquis of Winchester, made him Secretary of State, a post which, four-and-twenty years before, he held under Edward VI. Smith died at his residence called Mounthaut, or Hill-hall, in Essex on the 12th of August 1577, and was buried in the parish church of Theydon Mount, where a monument was erected to his memory. He was twice married, but had no children by either of his wives.

Sir Thomas Smith possessed a fine library of about a thousand volumes. He bequeathed all his Latin and Greek books, as well as his great globe, of his own making, to Queens' College, Cambridge, or, if that college did not care to have them, to Peterhouse. Some of his Italian and French books he gave to the Queen's Library, and many volumes were also left to friends. Strype gives a list of the contents of the library at Hill-hall in 1566.

Smith was the author of several works, the principal one being De Republica Anglorum; the Maner of Gouvernement or Policie of the Realm of England, London, 1583, 4to. Between 1583 and 1640 this work passed through ten editions, and several Latin and other translations of it have been published.

A portrait of him by Holbein is at Theydon Mount, and another is preserved at Queens' College, Cambridge.


[Footnote 14: Sloane MSS. 325, f. 2.]

[Footnote 15: Autobiographical Notes by Sir T. Smith.]


William Cecil, Lord Burghley, a relation of whose life would be the history of England during the reign of Elizabeth, was born in 1520 and died in 1598. This great statesman, who at the age of sixteen delivered a lecture on the logic of the Schools, and at nineteen one on the Greek language, found time amid the cares and anxieties attendant on his high position to form a library, which Strype tells us was a very choice one. The same authority also mentions that he gave many books to the University of Cambridge, 'both Latin and Greek, concerning the canon and civil law and physic.' In 1687 a considerable portion of his printed books and manuscripts was sold by auction. The title-page of the sale catalogue reads 'Bibliotheca Illustriss: sive Catalogus Variorum Librorum in quavis Lingua et Facultate Insignium ornatissimae Bibliothecae Viri Cujusdam Praenobilis ac Honoratissimi olim defuncti, Libris rarissimis tam Typis excusis quam Manuscriptis refertissimae: Quorum Auctio habebitur Londini, ad Insigne Ursi in Vico dicto Ave-Mary-Lane prope Templum D. Pauli, Novemb. 21, 1687. Per T. Bentley and B. Walford, Bibliopolas. Lond.'; and in the Preface we read:—'If the catalogue, here presented, were only of Common Books, and such as were easie to be had, it would not have been very necessary to have Prefac'd any thing to the Reader: But since it appears in the World with two Circumstances, which no Auction in England (perhaps) ever had before; nor is it probable that the like should frequently happen again, it would seem an Oversight, if we should neglect to advertise the Reader of them. The first is, That it comprises the main part of the Library of that Famous Secretary William Cecil, Lord Burleigh: which consider'd, must put it out of doubt, that these Books are excellent in their several kinds and well-chosen. The second is, That it contains a greater number of Rare Manuscripts than ever yet were offer'd together in this way, many of which are rendred the more valuable by being remark'd upon by the hand of the said great Man. This Auction will begin on Monday the 21st day of November next 1687, at the sign of the Bear in Ave-Mary-Lane, near the West-end of St. Paul's Church, continuing day by day the first five days of every Week, till all the Books are sold, from the Hours of Nine in the Morning till Twelve, and from Two till Six in the Evening.' There were three thousand eight hundred and forty-four lots of printed books, and four hundred and thirteen manuscripts in two hundred and forty-three lots in the sale. A copy of the catalogue, marked with the prices, is preserved in the British Museum. The printed books in the sale do not appear to have been exceptionally choice or rare, but there were some valuable manuscripts. A few of the most notable, together with the prices they fetched, are given in the following list:—

Biblia Sacra Antiquissima, folio magno, vellum—six pounds, twelve shillings; Polychronicon vetus MS. per Radulphum Hygden, nunquam Latine impressum, vellum—eleven pounds; Wicklif's Book of Postils or Sermons in Old English—seven pounds, two shillings and six pence; Other Discourses by him—ten pounds, two shillings and six pence; Wilhelmus Malmesburiensis de gestis Regum Angliae, vellum—seven pounds, three shillings; L'Histoire du Roy Arthur, avec des Figures d'orees, folio grand on vellum—three pounds, two shillings; Le Chronique de Jean Froissart des guerres de France et D'Angleterre, folio grand, avec des belles Figures, vellum—three pounds, nine shillings; Norden . Speculum Britanniae—four pounds, seven shillings. It is not known to whom these books belonged at the period of the sale, but it appears probable they were the property of James Cecil, fourth Earl of Salisbury (a descendant of Lord Burghley's younger son), who succeeded to the title in 1683, and died in 1694. He was mixed up in the troubles of the time, and was, says Macaulay, 'foolish to a proverb,' and the 'prey of gamesters.' John Cecil, Earl of Exeter, from 1678 to 1700, who was descended from Lord Burghley's elder son, was himself a book collector, and therefore not likely to part with the library of his illustrious ancestor.

The bindings of Lord Burghley's books are generally stamped with his arms, which are sometimes encircled by the order of the Garter, but a little volume preserved in the library of the British Museum simply bears his name and that of his second wife, his affectionate companion for forty-three years. Lord Burghley left an immense mass of papers, which are now preserved at Hatfield House, the Record Office, the British Museum, etc. Those in the British Museum, which consist of one hundred and twenty-one folio volumes of state papers and the miscellaneous correspondence of Lord Burghley, together with his private note-book and journals, passed from Sir Michael Hickes, one of the statesman's secretaries, to a descendant, Sir William Hickes, by whom they were sold to Chiswell, the bookseller, and by him to Strype, the historian. On Strype's death they came into the hands of James West, and from his executors they were acquired by William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne, whose manuscripts were purchased by the Trustees of the British Museum in 1807.[16]

THOMAS WOTTON, 1521-1587

Thomas Wotton was born in 1521 at Bocton or Boughton Place, in the parish of Boughton Malherbe, in the county of Kent, and succeeded his father, Sir Edward Wotton, in that estate in 1550. He was appointed sheriff of the county of Kent in the last year of Queen Mary, and in July 1573 he entertained Elizabeth and her court at his residence, Bocton Place, when she offered him knighthood, which he declined. Wotton was twice married. By his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Rudstone, he had three sons: Edward, knighted by Elizabeth, and afterwards raised to the peerage as Baron Wotton by James I.; and James and John, who were also made knights by Elizabeth. His second wife was Eleanora, daughter of Sir William Finch of Eastwell in Kent, and widow of Robert Morton, Esq., of the same county, by whom he had a son, Henry, the poet and statesman, who was knighted by James I. He died in London on the 11th of January 1587, and was buried in the parish church of Boughton Malherbe, where a monument was erected to his memory.

Wotton was celebrated for his hospitality, and was much beloved and respected by all who knew him. He was also a patron of learning, and possessed a fine and extensive collection of books, remarkable for their handsome bindings. They are generally ornamented in a style similar to that used on the volumes bound for Grolier, whose motto he adopted. Although the majority of the bindings executed for him bear the legend THOMAE WOTTONI ET AMICORVM as the only mark of their ownership, they are sometimes impressed with his arms.

Izaak Walton, in his Life of Sir Henry Wotton, states that Thomas Wotton 'was a gentleman excellently educated, and studious in all the liberal arts, in the knowledge whereof he attained unto great perfection; who though he had—besides those abilities, a very noble and plentiful estate, and the ancient interest of his predecessors—many invitations from Queen Elizabeth to change his country recreations and retirement for a court life:—offering him a knighthood, and that to be but as an earnest of some more honourable and more profitable employment under her; yet he humbly refused both, being a man of great modesty, of a most plain and single heart, of an ancient freedom, and integrity of mind.'


[Footnote 16: Edwards, Lives of the Founders of the British Museum (London, 1870), p. 426.]

DR. DEE, 1527-1608

Dr. John Dee, 'that perfect astronomer, curious astrologer and serious geometrician,' as he is styled by Lilly, was born in London on the 13th of July 1527. He was the son of Rowland Dee, who, according to Wood, was a wealthy vintner, but who is described by Strype as Gentleman Sewer to Henry VIII. In his Compendious Rehearsal Dee informs us that he possessed a very fine collection of books, 'printed and anciently written, bound and unbound, in all near 4000, the fourth part of which were written books. The value of all which books, by the estimation of men skilful in the arts, whereof the books did and do intreat, and that in divers languages, was well worth 2000 lib.'; and he adds that he 'spent 40 years in divers places beyond the seas, and in England in getting these books together.' He specially mentions 'that four written books, one in Greek, two in French, and one in High Dutch cost 533 lib.' His library also contained a 'great case or frame of boxes, wherein some hundreds of very rare evidences of divers Irelandish territories, provinces and lands were laid up; and divers evidences ancient of some Welsh princes and noblemen, their great gifts of lands to the foundations or enrichings of Sundry Houses of Religious men. Some also were there the like of the Normans donations and gifts about and some years after the Conquest.' Dee, in a letter from Antwerp to Sir William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burghley, dated February 16, 1563, also states that he had purchased a curious book (probably a manuscript), Steganographia, by Joannes Trithemius, which was so rare that '1000 crowns had been offered in vain' for a copy. Dee placed his library in his house at Mortlake, Surrey, and so great was its repute, that on the 10th of March 1575, Queen Elizabeth, attended by many of her courtiers, paid him a visit for the purpose of examining it; but learning that his wife had been buried that day, she would not enter the house, but requested him to show her his famous magic glass, and describe its properties, which he accordingly did 'to her Majesty's great contentment and delight.' In 1583, during his absence on the Continent, the populace, who execrated him as 'a caller of divels,' broke into his house and destroyed a great part of his furniture, collections, and library. On his return to his home in 1589, he succeeded in regaining about three-fourths of his books; but these were gradually dispersed in consequence of the pecuniary difficulties he was in during the latter years of his life. Lilly states that 'he died very poor, enforced many times to sell some book or other to buy his dinner with.' An autograph catalogue of both his printed and manuscript books, dated September 6, 1583, is preserved among the Harleian manuscripts in the British Museum.[17] His private diary, and a catalogue of his manuscripts, were edited in 1842 for the Camden Society by Mr. J.O. Halliwell, F.R.S., from the original manuscripts in the Ashmolean Museum and Trinity College, Cambridge. Another portion of his diary, preserved in the Bodleian Library, was edited by Mr. J.E. Baily, F.S.A., and printed (twenty copies only) at London in 1880. In 1556 Dee presented to Queen Mary 'A Supplication for the recovery and preservation of ancient Writers and Monuments.' In this interesting document he laments the spoil and destruction of so many and so notable libraries through the subverting of religious houses, and suggests that a commission should be appointed with power to demand that all possessors of manuscripts throughout the realm should send their books to be copied for the Queen's library, so that it might 'in a very few years most plentifully be furnished, and that without one penny charge to the Queen, or doing injury to any creature.' He himself undertook to procure copies of the famous manuscripts at the Vatican, St. Mark's, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Vienna, etc.

Dee wrote a large number of works, but comparatively few of them have been printed. No fewer than seventy-nine are enumerated in Coopers' Athenae Cantabrigienses. A catalogue of his writings, printed and unprinted, is given in his Compendious Rehearsal. Many of his manuscripts came into the possession of Elias Ashmole, the eminent antiquary.

Aubrey says of Dee that 'he was a great peace-maker; if any of the neighbours fell out, he would never let them alone till he had made them friends. He was tall and slender. He wore a gown like an artist's gown, with hanging sleeves, and a slit. He had a very fair, clear, sanguine complexion, a long beard as white as milk. A very handsome man.'

He died in December 1608, and was buried in the chancel of Mortlake Church.


[Footnote 17: Harl. MSS. 1879.]


Robert Dudley, Baron Denbigh, and Earl of Leicester, the favourite of Elizabeth, was born on the 24th of June in 1532 or 1533. He was the fifth son of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who was executed in August 1553 for maintaining the claims of Lady Jane Grey, his daughter-in-law, to the crown. He was himself condemned to death for the part he took in the attempt of his father to place Lady Jane upon the throne; but on the intercession of the Lords of the Council was pardoned by Queen Mary, who received him into favour, and appointed him master of the English ordnance at the siege of St. Quentin, where his brother Henry was killed. On the accession of Elizabeth, Dudley soon became a great favourite of the Queen, who advanced him to the highest honours, and, there is little doubt, at one time contemplated a marriage with him. Leicester was a generous supporter of learning, and his letters show that he was himself possessed of considerable literary ability. Geoffrey Whitney, in his dedication of his Choice of Emblems to the Earl, mentions 'his zeale and honourable care of those that love good letters,' and states that 'divers, who are nowe famous men, had bin through povertie longe since discouraged from their studies if they had not founde your honour so prone to bee their patron.' Little is known respecting Leicester's library, which must have been a large and fine one, for many handsomely bound volumes which once belonged to it are found both in public and private collections. This dispersion of his books may probably be accounted for by the sale of his goods after his death, as mentioned by Camden in his Annals of the Reign of Elizabeth: 'But whereas he was in the Queen's debt, his goods were sold at a public Outcry: for the Queen, though in other things she were favourable enough, yet seldom or never did she remit the debts owing to her Treasury.' In the Notices of London Libraries, by John Bagford and William Oldys, it is stated: 'At Lambeth Palace over the Cloyster is a well-furnished library. The oldest of the books were Dudley's, Earl of Leicester.' Not more, however, than nine or ten which belonged to the Earl are to be found there now. Almost all his books have his well-known crest, the bear and ragged staff, stamped upon the covers, but a few of them bear his arms instead.

Leicester was suddenly seized with illness on his way to Kenilworth, and died at his house at Cornbury, in Oxfordshire, on the 4th of September 1588. The suddenness of his death gave rise to a suspicion that it was caused by poison; and Ben Jonson tells a story that he had given his wife 'a bottle of liquor which he willed her to use in any faintness, which she, not knowing it was poison, gave him, and so he died.' He was buried at Warwick.

JOHN, LORD LUMLEY, 1534?-1609.

John, Lord Lumley, was born in or about the year 1534. He was the only son of George Lumley of Twing, in the county of Yorkshire, who was executed in 1537 at Tyburn, for high treason. On the death of his grandfather, Lord Lumley, in 1544, John succeeded to the family estates, and in 1547 he was permitted to take the title of Baron Lumley. He matriculated in May 1549, as a fellow-commoner of Queens' College, Cambridge, and was also educated in the court of King Edward VI., whose funeral he attended. On the 29th of September 1553 he was created a Knight of the Bath, and, two days later, was present, together with his wife, at the coronation of Queen Mary;[18] Lady Lumley riding in the third chariot with five other baronesses.

On the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he, with other lords, was appointed to attend her Majesty on her journey from Hatfield to London. In 1559 his father-in-law, the Earl of Arundel, at that time Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, nominated him High Steward of the University. Lord Lumley was sent to the Tower in 1569 on suspicion of being implicated in intrigues to bring about the marriage of his brother-in-law the Duke of Norfolk with Mary, Queen of Scots, and to re-establish the Roman Catholic religion. In the next year he was released, but in October 1571 he was again imprisoned, and he did not obtain his liberty until April 1573, ten months after the execution of the Duke of Norfolk. At a later period he appears to have quite regained the favour of the Queen, for we read that she accepted as a New Year's gift from him in 1584 'a cup of cristall graven and garnished with golde,' and that at the New Year 1587 he presented to her 'a booke, wherein are divers Psalmes in Lattin written, the boards greate, inclosed all over on the outeside with golde enamuld cut-worke, with divers colours and one litle claspe.'[19] In 1580 Lord Lumley lost his father-in-law, who by a deed, dated March 14th, 1566, had conveyed a great part of his estates to Lord Lumley and Jane his eldest daughter, Lord Lumley's wife; and after her decease, Lord Arundel confirmed the same to Lord Lumley by his will, which he made a few months before his death. Among the estates bequeathed were the palace and park of Nonsuch, which in 1590 Lord Lumley conveyed to the Queen in exchange for lands of the yearly value of five hundred and thirty-four pounds. Lord Lumley died on the 11th of April 1609 at his residence on Tower Hill, in the parish of St. Olave, Hart Street, and was buried in Cheam church, in the county of Surrey, where a monument was erected to his memory in the Lumley aisle, which he had built. By his first wife, Jane, who died in 1577, Lord Lumley had three children, who all died in infancy. He had no issue by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John, Lord Darcy of Chiche, who survived him nine years.

Lord Lumley, Bishop Hacket says, 'did pursue Recondite Learning as much as any of his Honourable Rank in those Times, and was the owner of a most precious Library, the search and collection of Mr. Humfry Llyd.'[20] This fine library, which to a great extent was formed by the books bequeathed to him by his father-in-law in 1580, contained many volumes which had evidently been once the property of Archbishop Cranmer, as they bear his name, which is sometimes accompanied by the signature of Lumley, and in other instances by the signatures of both Arundel and Lumley. Lord Lumley also collected a number of portraits.

Lord Lumley made liberal donations of books to the University Library of Cambridge and the Bodleian Library during his lifetime, and also 'bestowed many excellent Pieces printed and manuscript upon Mr. Williams[21] for alliance sake.' After his death in 1609 the remainder of his library, 'which was probably more valuable than any other collection then existing in England, with the exception of that of Sir Robert Cotton,'[22] was purchased by Henry, Prince of Wales. At the Prince's decease in 1612 the books went to augment the old royal library of England, which was given to the nation in 1757 by King George II. A curious and interesting inventory of the 'moveables' found at Lumley Castle after the death of its owner is given in Surtees's History of Durham, vol. ii. pp. 158-163. The goods comprised pictures, sculptures, 'peeces of hangines of arras with golde of the Storie of Troye, Quene Hester, Cipio and Haniball,' etc., hangings of 'gilte leather,' 'Beddes' of gold, silver, and silk, splendid chairs, and velvet and Turkey carpets, and were valued at fourteen hundred and four pounds, seventeen shillings and eightpence, but no mention is made of any books. Most of these treasures were sold by auction at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Among the Royal MSS. preserved in the British Museum is a translation of Erasmus's Institutio Principis Christiani, signed 'Your lordshippes obedient sone, J. Lumley, 1550.' As Lord Lumley's own father was put to death in 1537, this was evidently addressed to his father-in-law, who has written his name Arundel on the first page. Lord Lumley was a member of the old Society of Antiquaries, and in conjunction with Dr. Caldwell[23] he founded a surgery lecture in the Royal College of Physicians, endowing it with forty pounds per annum.

The Lumley family was one of considerable importance and antiquity, and an amusing account is given by Pennant[24] and Hutchinson[25] of a visit paid by King James I. to Lumley Castle on the 13th of April 1603. In the absence of Lord Lumley the King was received by Dr. James, Dean of Durham, 'who expatiated on the pedigree of their noble host, without missing a single ancestor, direct or collateral, from Liulph to Lord Lumley, till the King, wearied with the eternal blazon, interrupted him, "Oh mon, gang na further; let me digest the knowledge I ha gained, for on my saul I did na ken Adam's name was Lumley."'

Lord Lumley's first wife was a very learned lady, and several volumes containing the exercises both of herself and her sister, the Duchess of Norfolk, are preserved among the Royal MSS. in the British Museum, having been handed down with the Lumley books. A quarto volume,[26] upon the first leaf of which is written 'The doinge of my Lady Lumley, dowghter to my L. Therle of Arundell,' contains Latin translations of several of the Orations of Isocrates, and 'The Tragedie of Euripides called Iphigeneia, translated out of Greake into Englisshe.' Among the royal manuscripts is also to be found a beautiful little volume of fourteen vellum leaves,[27] containing copies of moral apophthegms, in Latin, which Sir Nicholas Bacon had inscribed on the walls of his house at Gorhambury. On the first page, above the arms of Lady Lumley, which are splendidly emblazoned, is written in gold capitals, 'Syr . Nicholas . Bacon . Knyghte . to . his . very . good . ladye . the . ladye . Lumley . sendeth . this,' and on the second page this title, 'Sentences printed in the Lorde Kepar's Gallery at Gorhambury: selected by him out of divers authors, and sent to the good ladye Lumley at her desire.' The sentences, which are thirty-seven in number, are inscribed in gold capital letters upon grounds of various colours.

There are three portraits of Lord Lumley at Lumley Castle, and one at Arundel Castle. A fine engraving of another portrait, which was formerly in the Lumley aisle at Cheam, is in Stebbing's edition of Sandford's Genealogical History. There are also engravings of Lord Lumley by Fittler and Thane. Lumley Castle also contains a portrait of Lady Lumley, inscribed 'Jane Fitzalan, daughter to Henry Earle of Arundele, first wife to John Lord Lumley.'[28]


[Footnote 18: Cooper, Athenae Cantabrigienses, vol. ii. p. 517.]

[Footnote 19: Cooper.]

[Footnote 20: Humphrey Llwyd, physician and antiquary, Lord Lumley's brother-in-law.]

[Footnote 21: Afterwards Archbishop of York, a relative of Lord Lumley.]

[Footnote 22: Edwards, Lives of the Founders of the British Museum, p. 162.]

[Footnote 23: Richard Caldwell, M.D., elected President of the Royal College of Physicians in 1570.]

[Footnote 24: Pennant, Tour in Scotland, etc.]

[Footnote 25: Hutchinson, History of County of Durham.]

[Footnote 26: Royal MSS., 15 A ix.]

[Footnote 27: Royal MSS., 17 A xxiii.]

[Footnote 28: Cooper.]


George Carew, Baron Carew of Clopton and Earl of Totnes, was born in 1555. He was the son of George Carew, Dean of Windsor, by his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Nicholas Harvey. In 1564 he was sent to the University of Oxford, which he left in 1573, and in the following year went to Ireland and entered the service of his cousin Sir Peter Carew, who was then engaged in prosecuting his claims to his Irish property. Carew held various posts in that country, and remained there, save for visits to England and the Low Countries, until 1592, when he entered upon his duties as Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance, to which office he had been appointed in 1591. He took part in the expeditions of Essex to Cadiz in 1596, and to the Azores in 1597, and in 1599 returned to Ireland as Lord President of Munster, a post he held until 1603. In 1605 he was made Vice-Chamberlain to Queen Anne, and in the same year was created Baron Carew. Three years later he was made Master of the Ordnance, and in 1611 he again went to Ireland as 'Sole Commissioner for the reformation of the army and improvement of his majesties revenew.' On the 5th of February 1626, Carew, who had been knighted in 1585, was created Earl of Totnes, and later in the year received the appointment of 'Treasurer and receaver-general to queene Henriette Marie.'

He died at London on the 27th of March 1629, and was buried in the Church of Stratford-on-Avon, where a monument was erected to his memory by his widow, a daughter of William Clopton, of Clopton House, near Stratford-on-Avon. He left no children by her.

Carew, who was much attached to antiquarian pursuits, maintained a large correspondence with Camden, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Robert Cotton, and Sir Thomas Bodley, and many of his letters have been printed by the Camden Society. He bequeathed his books and manuscripts, of which he had acquired a considerable number, to Sir Thomas Stafford, who was said to be his illegitimate son. They afterwards became the property of Archbishop Laud, who placed forty-two of the volumes of manuscripts, which principally relate to Irish history in the time of Queen Elizabeth, in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, and four in the Bodleian Library. Others are preserved in the Department of M., British Museum, the State Paper Office, and at Hatfield.


Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, who is styled by Sir Symonds D'Ewes 'England's Prime Antiquary,' was born in 1571. He was the eldest son of Thomas Cotton, of Connington, Huntingdonshire, by his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis Shirley of Staunton-Harold, Leicestershire. He received his early education at Westminster School, and in 1581 matriculated at Jesus College, Cambridge, where four years later he took the degree of B.A. At a very early age he became a member of the Elizabethan Society of Antiquaries, which met for many years at his residence in Westminster, near Palace Yard. It was in this house that he formed that magnificent collection of manuscripts and other antiquities which now ranks as one of the principal treasures of the British Museum. The dissolution of the monasteries in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Edward VI. afforded special facilities to Cotton in forming the collection which comprises such valuable manuscripts as the famous Durham Book (a copy of the Gospels in Latin, written and illuminated in honour of St. Cuthbert by Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne, between the years 698 and 720, with an interlinear translation in Northumbrian Saxon), and the copy of the Gospels said to have been used to administer the oath at the coronation of King Athelstan. Other treasures are the original Bull of Pope Leo X. conferring on King Henry VIII. the title of Defender of the Faith; and a contemporary and official copy of Magna Charta, granted by King John, and dated at Runnymede, 15th June, in the seventeenth year of his reign, which was given to Cotton by Sir Edward Dering. Both these precious documents were unfortunately damaged by the fire at Ashburnham House, but have since been very skilfully repaired. More than two hundred volumes of the library consisted of letters of sovereigns and statesmen; but Cotton did not acquire these valuable documents without creating a strong feeling that such a large and important collection of official papers should rather be preserved in the Record Office than left in the possession of a private individual, and his library was twice sequestrated by the Government. On the first occasion his books were given back to him; but on the second, although he repeatedly petitioned the King for their restoration, he died before his applications were answered. His death took place at his house in Westminster on the 6th of May 1631, and he was buried in Connington Church, where a monument was erected to his memory. Cotton was knighted on the accession of James I., and was also one of the baronets created by that sovereign in 1611. Sir Robert Cotton gave directions in his will that his library should not be sold, and bequeathed it to his son, Sir Thomas Cotton, who on the decease of his father made great efforts to obtain its restoration, which were ultimately successful. He died in 1662, leaving the collection to his son, Sir John Cotton, who, having declined an offer for it of sixty thousand pounds from Louis XIV. in 1700, expressed his intention of practically giving it to the nation; and in the same year an Act was passed, enacting that on the death of Sir John (he died in 1702), Cotton House, together with the collection, should be vested in trustees, but at the same time continue in his family and name, and not be sold or otherwise disposed of. It was further ordered that the library should be kept and preserved for public use and advantage, and that a room should be provided for it, with 'a convenient way, passage, and resort to the same, at the will and discretion of the heirs of the family.' Obstacles, however, occurred in carrying out these directions, principally on account of the difficulty of access to the library, and the unsuitableness of the room in which it was deposited, it being described as 'a narrow little room, damp, and improper for preserving the books and papers.' An agreement was therefore made, by virtue of an Act of Parliament (5 Anne, cap. 30), with Sir John Cotton, grandson of the Sir John Cotton who died in 1702, for the purchase of the inheritance of the house where the library was deposited for the sum of four thousand five hundred pounds; and it was further provided that the library should continue to be settled in trustees, and a convenient room built in part of the grounds for its accommodation. This, however, was not done, and the dilapidated condition of Cotton House soon necessitated the removal of the collection, which was taken to Essex House, Essex Street, Strand, where it remained until 1730, when it was conveyed to Ashburnham House in Little Dean's Yard, Westminster, which was purchased by the Crown to receive it, together with the royal MSS. Here, on the 23rd of October 1731, the disastrous fire broke out in which one hundred and fourteen manuscripts were burnt, lost, or entirely spoiled, and ninety-eight damaged, but many of these have been cleverly restored. Those which were saved were placed in a new building designed for the dormitory of Westminster School, where they remained until they were transferred to the British Museum in 1757, having been included in the Act under which the Museum was founded in 1753.

The Cottonian Collection originally consisted of 958 volumes. A catalogue of it was compiled by Dr. Thomas Smith in 1696, and a more ample one by Mr. Joseph Planta, Principal Librarian of the British Museum, in 1802.

'Omnis ab illo Et Camdene tua, et Seldeni gloria crevit.'[29]


William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, whose eventful history is well known, was born at Reading on the 7th of October 1573. He was the son of a clothier of that town, and was first educated in the free grammar school of his native place, and afterwards proceeded to St. John's College, Oxford, where he successively obtained a scholarship and a fellowship, and in 1611 became President of the College. In 1616 James I. conferred on him the Deanery of Gloucester, on the 22nd of January 1621 he was installed as a prebendary of Westminster, and on the 29th of June in the same year he obtained the See of St. David's. On the accession of Charles I. to the throne Laud's influence became very great, and in 1626 he was made Bishop of Bath and Wells, and two years later Bishop of London. In 1630 he was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and in 1633 he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Shortly after the meeting of the Long Parliament in 1640 Laud was impeached of treason by the House of Commons, and committed to the Tower. After an imprisonment of three years he was brought to trial before the Lords, but as they showed an inclination to acquit him, the Commons passed an ordinance of attainder, declaring him guilty of treason, to which they compelled the Peers to assent, and on the 10th of January 1645 he was brought to the scaffold on Tower Hill. His body was interred in the chancel of All Hallows, Barking, where it remained until 1663, when it was removed to the Chapel of St. John's College, Oxford.

Archbishop Laud was an ardent collector of books, especially of manuscripts, but Wood in his Athenae Oxonienses says he was 'such a liberal benefactor towards the advancement of learning that he left himself little or nothing for his own use.' The Bodleian Library is indebted to him for a large portion of its choicest treasures, especially of Oriental literature. Between the years 1635 and 1640 he enriched the Library with repeated gifts of valuable manuscripts. In 1635 he presented four hundred and sixty-two volumes and five rolls. Among these were forty-six Latin manuscripts, 'e Collegio Herbipolensi [Wuerzburg] in Germania sumpti, A.D. 1631, cum Suecorum Regis exercitus per universam fere Germaniam grassarentur.' This gift was followed, in 1636, by another of one hundred and eighty-one manuscripts. In the next year five hundred and fifty-five additional manuscripts were given by him to the Library, and in 1640 eighty-one more. This splendid donation of nearly thirteen hundred manuscripts comprised works in Oriental and many other languages; a large number of them being of exceptional value and interest. Among them was a manuscript of the Acts of the Apostles in Greek and Latin, of the end of the seventh century, which is believed to have been once in the possession of the Venerable Bede. Other notable manuscripts were an Irish vellum manuscript containing the Psalter of Cashel, Cormac's Glossary, Poems attributed to St. Columb-Kill and St. Patrick, etc., and a copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which ends at the year 1154, and appears to have been written in, and to have formerly been the property of, the Abbey of Peterborough. In addition to the manuscripts, the Archbishop presented the Library with a collection of coins, and other antiquities and curiosities.[30] Archbishop Laud was also a great benefactor to his own college, St. John's. Sir Kenelm Digby in a letter to Dr. Gerard Langbaine, dated Gothurst, November 7th, 1654, writes: 'As I was one day waiting on the late King, my master, I told him of a collection of choice Arabic Manuscripts I was sending after my Latin ones to the University. My Lord of Canterbury [Laud] that was present, wished that they might go along with a parcel that he was sending to St. John's College: whereupon I sent them to his Grace, as Chancellor of the University, beseeching him to present them in my name to the same place where he sent his. They were in two trunks (made exactly fit for them) that had the first letters of my christian and sirname decyphered upon them with nails; and on the first page of every book was my ordinary motto and name written at length in my own hand. The troubles of the times soon followed my sending these trunks of books to Lambeth-house, and I was banished out of the land, and returned not until my lord was dead; so that I never more heard of them.'[31]

Some curious entries in the Journals of the House of Commons show that the books which the Archbishop retained for his own use fell into the hands of Hugh Peters, the regicide.

'Ao. 1643-4, March 8. Ordered, That a Study of books to the value of one hundred pounds out of such books as are sequestered, be forthwith bestowed upon Mr. Peters.'

'Ao. 1644, 25 April. Whereas this House was formerly pleased to bestow upon Mr. Peters, Books to the Value of an Hundred Pounds, it is this day ordered, that Mr. Recorder, Mr. Whitlock and Mr. Hill, or any Two of them, do cause to be delivered unto Mr. Peters Books of the Value of an Hundred Pounds, out of the particular and private study of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and out of the Books belonging to the said Archbishop, in his own particular.'

'Ao. 1644, 27 Junij. Whereas formerly Books to the Value of an Hundred Pounds were bestowed upon Mr. Peters, out of the Archbishop of Canterbury's particular private Study: And whereas the said Study is appraised at a matter of Forty Pounds more than the said Hundred Pounds; It is this day ordered, That Mr. Peters shall have the whole Study of Books freely bestowed upon him.'

These books, however, appear to have been recovered after the Restoration, for we find an entry in the Journals of the date of May 16, 1660, ordering 'That it be referred to the Committee to whom the Business of Secretary Thurloe is referred, to take Order, that all the Books and Papers, heretofore belonging to the Library of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, and now, or lately, in the Hands of Mr. Hugh Peters, be forthwith secured.'

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