Library Records Project 3

Dr Richard Palmer reports further progress on the project to produce new online descriptions of the early catalogues of Lambeth Palace Library 1610-1785, together with a guide to the catalogues, shelf marks and other physical evidence of the collection.

Thomas Tenison, Archbishop 1694-1715, was a notable benefactor of libraries. He was the founder of Archbishop Tenison’s Library at St. Martin-in-the-Fields (stocked with books from his own collection), placed books and manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library in his lifetime, bequeathed further books and manuscripts to Lambeth, placed his archiepiscopal papers in the Library, and passed other correspondence to Bishop Gibson (which later returned to Lambeth as the Gibson papers). His personal collection, partly housed in a study at St. Martin’s, partly at Lambeth in some 27 different locations, is difficult to encapsulate. The project has described seven catalogues produced during Tenison’s era, especially the important catalogues of printed books and manuscripts produced by Edmund Gibson and a shelf list of the Tenison books produced later by David Wilkins. It has also identified the earliest catalogue of the Library at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and of the Archbishop’s personal collection housed there (LR/F/11). This was begun c.1684 at the foundation of the Library and was replaced c.1698 by a new version which has been studied by Peter Hoare. Another catalogue was identified as being in the hand of Gibson’s successor as Librarian, Benjamin Ibbot.

Plan of the public library erected by Tenison in Castle Street, Westminster, in 1685 (MS 4444/1)
Plan of the public library erected by Tenison in Castle Street, Westminster, in 1685 (MS 4444/1)

A full account of the custodial history of the Henry Wharton manuscripts (which Tenison purchased after Wharton’s death in 1685 and placed in the Library in 1686) has been added to the description of MS 580, the catalogue of the Lambeth manuscripts which Wharton compiled in 1688. Wharton’s catalogue  influenced the subsequent catalogues by Gibson and Wilkins and ultimately the catalogue by HJ Todd printed in 1812.

William Wake, Archbishop 1716-37, left his books and papers to Christ Church Oxford. Nevertheless he made a considerable impact on the Lambeth library through the work of his Librarian David Wilkins. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Wilkins was employed for three years only, from 1715. However this cannot be correct. Wake was only confirmed as Archbishop in January 1716 and Wilkins was still Librarian in 1720. Wilkins’ numerous letters to Wake show that he was away from London, engaged in academic work, throughout 1716 and most of 1717. However on 20 June 1717 Wilkins wrote from Oxford to Wake: ‘A catalogue of books or whatever your Grace will judge necessary for Lambeth Library shall be made, as well as I can, as soon as your Grace orders me to repair to your Palace, for I shall never grudge any labours to discharge my trust faithfully…’. Wilkins’ new catalogue of the printed books, dated 1718, remained in use until around the 1870s; his catalogue of manuscripts, dated 1720, was not replaced until 1812.

Work was begun on the work of Andrew Coltee Ducarel, whose productive Librarianship spanned the years 1757-85.

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