Catalogue of Alnwick Parochial Library

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1410
  • Dates of Creation
      1723 and 1737
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      312 x 200 mm. 2 bifolio sheets. Medium: paper.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

Two catalogues of the parochial library at Alnwick, Northumberland. The first, entitled 'No. 13. A Catalogue of the Parochial Library at Alnwick in the County of Northumberland', records the contents of the library, in shelf order. The library occupied four shelves and comprised 65 works in 67 volumes, including thirteen volumes of Archbishop Tillotson's Posthumous Sermons. 'No. 13' identifies this as the thirteenth library established by the Bray Trustees for Erecting Parochial Libraries. At the end of the catalogue is note by Leonard Darant, minister, dated 26 August 1723, declaring that when he took receipt of the library, the ninth volume of Tillotson's Sermons and Bennet's Confutation of Popery were missing, 'which if they can possibly be procured, shall be restored to the Library.'

A second sheet contains another copy of the catalogue, listing the books in identical order. Each book is also valued, with calculations of the total value of each shelf, the case (£1 5s), packing and carriage (£1 5s), and of the entire library (£22 10s). The most valuable work recorded is Dr [Daniel] Whitby's two-volume Commentary on the New Testament, although the edition is not stated. At the end of this catalogue is a note by John Wilson, curate, acknowledging receipt of the library, 'appropriated to the use of the curate of Alnwick & that I have them in my custody & possession', 10 September 1737.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Reverend Dr Thomas Bray (1656-1730), concerned to improve the education and standing of Anglican clergymen, devised a scheme for establishing parochial libraries in England and its colonies during the 1690s. This project led to the formation of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) on 8 March 1699. In 1705 Bray formed a special committee for creating libraries, styled the Trustees for Erecting Parochial Libraries and Promoting other Charitable Designs. By 1729, when the Associates of Dr Bray was formed as a new management group, the Trustees had set up at least fifty-six parochial libraries in England and ten in Wales, each costing more than £20.

The Bray Trustees established a parochial library at Alnwick, Northumberland, in 1711, comprising 68 volumes. The library was augmented in 1822 and again in 1870. The books were transferred to Newcastle Cathedral Chapter Library in or shortly before 1889, and since 1965 they have been held on permanent loan at Newcastle University Library as part of the Chapter Library. Thirty six of the original works are identifiable in Hicks' and Richmond's A catalogue of the Newcastle Chapter Library (1890).

Sources: Perkin, Directory of parochial libraries; Jacob, 'Libraries for the parish': see Bibliography below.

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was purchased from John Drury Rare Books of Wrabness, Essex, in April 2010, for £750.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The previous history of the manuscript is not known.

Related Material

The JRUL holds catalogues of the parochial libraries from Nantwich, Cheshire (Eng MS 1409), and Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire (Eng MS 1412).


Michael Perkin, Directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, revised edition (London: Bibliographical Society, 2004), p. 118.

W.M. Jacob, 'Libraries for the parish: individual donors and charitable societies', in Giles Mandelbrote and K.A. Manley (eds), Cambridge history of libraries in Britain and Ireland, vol. 2: 1640-1850 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 65-82.

Geographical Names