Library Records project 1785-1953

A project to produce new catalogue descriptions of the Library’s records from 1785 to 1953, together with a web guide to the evidence which they contain, has begun with the generous support of the Friends of Lambeth Palace Library.

The first phase of the project has focused on the years from 1785 to 1828 when the Library was under the direction of John Moore (Archbishop 1783-1805) and Charles Manners-Sutton (Archbishop 1805-28). Archbishop Manners-Sutton emerged from the research as a far more significant patron of the Library than has hitherto been appreciated. His interest in biblical studies led not only to the acquisition of the Carlyle Greek manuscripts but to a substantial collection of early printed Bibles, including a splendid copy on vellum of the Greek/Latin New Testament edited by Erasmus (Basel, 1519), as well as Wycliffite Gospels and other manuscripts. He also gave two printed works owned by Archbishop Cranmer, and significant manuscripts, including the 13/14th century cartulary of the See of Canterbury and a 13/14th century miscellany from St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, with texts relating to Magna Carta. It now seems likely that he also acquired the 9th century Macdurnan Gospels which were first recorded in the Library in the 1830s. Manners-Sutton also supported the publication of the catalogue of the Library’s manuscripts, edited by H.J. Todd, in 1812.

Henry J Todd

The project has also brought to light unexpected new information on the Lambeth Librarians. After the librarianship (1786-90) of the antiquary Michael Lort, the work of the Library was divided between the antiquary John Topham as ‘Manuscripts Librarian’ 1790-1803, and a previously unidentified printed books Librarian, the Old Testament scholar Henry Dimock, who served until his death in 1810. Henry John Todd served as ‘Keeper of the Archiepiscopal Manuscripts and Records’ until 1818. Thereafter the work of the Library fell to two others whose roles were previously unknown. George D’Oyly, Archbishop’s chaplain, Rector of Lambeth and biographer of Archbishop Sancroft, was serving as ‘Keeper of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Records’ by 1824 and  evidently became responsible for the management of the printed books. Also closely involved was Thomas Archdeacon Lewis, Assistant Secretary at Lambeth Palace, who succeeded D’Oyly as Keeper of the Records during the 1830s.

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