The volume contains drawings of the arms and seals of gentry families, arranged in alphabetical order of family name, with brief genealogical and antiquarian notes. Most of the families have connections with Lancashire and surrounding counties. The manuscript contains a substantial entry for the Towneley family, which suggests that it was created either by or for them. There is a bookplate of Richard Towneley, 1702.
Towneley Arms and Seals
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- ReferenceGB 133 Eng MS 416
- Dates of Creationn.d. [1665x1702]
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish and Latin
- Physical Description167 x 101 mm. 1 volume (43 folios); Binding: late 18th- or early 19th-century full calf binding. Condition: front board detached.
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Richard Towneley (1629-1707) was the son of Charles Towneley (1600-1644) of Towneley near Burnley, Lancashire, and the nephew of the antiquarian Christopher Towneley (1604-1674). He made a number of important contributions to science. He collaborated with fellow scientist Henry Power to demonstrate empirically the inverse relationship between gas pressure and volume. He was also the first person to keep regular rainfall records in England, using a gauge of his own design that he described in great detail in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. On the succession of King James II in 1685, Catholics were again allowed to take part in public life, and Richard Towneley became a justice of the peace. This public role, however, was to be shortlived, as Richard and his son Charles were implicated in plots to secure the return of King James II in 1690. From this time on the family were noted for their Jacobite sympathies.
The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.
Purchased by the John Rylands Library, through the London bookseller Bernard Quaritch, at the auction held at Sotheby's on 14 February 1927 of the library of the late William Alexander Lindsay (1846-1926), Clarenceux King of Arms. The Library also purchased lot 64, deeds predominantly relating to Lancashire (some relating to the Towneley family), now catalogued as Rylands Charters 701-755.
Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Elizabeth Gow with reference to:
- C. Webster, 'Richard Towneley (1629-1707), the Towneley group and seventeenth-century science', Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 118 (1966), pp. 51-76;
- 'Tracing the Towneleys' article on the history of the Towneley family at http://www.burnley.gov.uk/towneley/family/TTv4_web.pdf.
Other Finding Aids
Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 416).
The manuscript was owned by Richard Towneley of Towneley, Lancashire in 1702. It later formed part of the library of the English bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872); Phillipps MS 4459. The manuscript was probably purchased by W.A. Lindsay from one of the sales of the Bibliotheca Phillippica. Inventory numbers 553 (struck out) and 771 are written on small circular labels attached to the front cover.