Theological Notebooks of Arthur Samuel Peake

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1270
  • Dates of Creation
      19th century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      various sizes. 3 volumes (including 23 loose leaves);

Scope and Content

Three holograph notebooks of Arthur Samuel Peake dealing with aspects of Old Testament history. Inserted in the last volume (Notes on Isaiah) are 23 loose leaves containing notes relating to Jeremiah.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Samuel Peake (1865-1929), theologian and biblical scholar, was born at Leek, Staffordshire, on 24 November 1865. He went up to St John's College, Oxford, in 1883, with a classical scholarship, but after moderations he transferred to theology, with a view to ordination in the Church of England. He obtained a first in 1887, and continued to reside after graduation, winning the Ellerton essay prize in 1890. However, he was not ordained, remaining a Methodist layman for the rest of his life.

In 1890 Peake was elected to a theological fellowship at Merton College, which he held for seven years. Earlier in the same year he had begun teaching at Mansfield College, which had been established at Oxford in 1886 for the training of candidates for the ministry of the free churches. His work here was mainly in the field of the Old Testament. On the foundation of Hartley Primitive Methodist College at Manchester, Peake took on responsibility for the curriculum, with the position of tutor in the college. He moved to Manchester in 1892, and for the remaining thirty-seven years of his life he was identified with Hartley College. On 29 June 1892 Peake married Harriet Mary Sillman (b. 1867/8).

From 1904 Peake played a leading role in the establishment of the faculty of theology in the University of Manchester. This was the first theological faculty to be established in any of the secular universities, and from the outset it had an inter-denominational character. Peake became the first occupant of the Rylands chair of biblical criticism and exegesis, while retaining his appointment at Hartley College. In addition to his academic work, Peake served as chairman of the council of the John Rylands Library, from its foundation in 1899 until his death. He edited the Holborn Review from 1919 until his death, and took an active part in the ecclesiastical affairs of his own church, and of the free churches in general, strongly supporting the movement for reunion, both among the Methodist bodies and outside them. Peake's knowledge of current literature, both British and foreign, in the field of biblical studies, was exhaustive. His original contributions to biblical learning were marked by accurate scholarship and balanced and cautious judgement. Such books as The Bible: its origin, its significance, and its abiding worth (1913), and The problem of suffering in the Old Testament (1904), together with a Commentary on the Bible (1919), had a wide circulation and very great influence.

Source: C.H. Dodd, Peake, Arthur Samuel (1865-1929), rev. J. W. Rogerson, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Presented to the John Rylands Library by R. Walmsley esq. in March 1961.


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Arthur Samuel Peake.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1952-1970 (English MS 1270).

Related Material

The John Rylands University Library also hold the papers of Arthur Samuel Peake (unpublished catalogue); see Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 71, no. 2 (1989), p. 129, and A Guide to Special Collections of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (1999), p.60, also at

Peake's letters to Gilbert Murray (1889-1918) are located at the Bodleian Library (ref.: GB 0161 MSS Gilbert Murray ), and the National Library of Scotland holds his correspondence with publishers, 1924-9 (ref.: GB 0233 Dep 247 342 ).

Geographical Names