Catalogue of Poulton-le-Fylde Parochial Library

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1412
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      315 x 200 mm. 1 volume, 73 folios (the majority blank and unfoliated). Medium: paper. Binding: full-bound in limp vellum.
  • Location
      Collection available at John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

Catalogue of the parochial library at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. The volume, which remarkably was in use for over 250 years, comprises:  

  • pp. 2-3: Printed copy of the Act for the better Preservation of Parochial Libraries in that Part of Great Britain called England, 7 Anne, 1719.
  • p. 7: Printed copy of 'Rules for the better Preservation of Parochial Libraries'.
  • p. 8: Printed catalogue of the parochial library at Poulton-le-Fylde, signed by Henry Newman, Lady Day 1720.
  • pp. 12-13: Printed copy of 'Rules for the better Preservation of Parochial Libraries'. A seventh rule has been added in manuscript at the end, 'That no Book offer'd to be added to the Library which is contrary to sound Religion or good Manners shall be accepted by the Incumbent.'
  • p. 14: Printed bond for performance of the above rules.
  • pp. 16-18: List of benefactions to the parochial library; only three additions are recorded, in 1720, 1731 and 1806. There follow declarations by incumbents that the library has been examined and found correct, 1836, 1864 and 1869.
  • pp. 20-24: New shelf catalogue of the parochial library, compiled on 28 May 1889.
  • p. 26: Summary of the reply to the Bray Associates on their review of libraries, 25 October 1895.
  • pp. 27, 29: Summary of the return to the Bray Associates, 1901.
  • p. 28: List of books borrowed from the parochial library, 1892-1902.
  • p. 31: Inventory of the parochial library undertaken in March 1976, when all but two of the volumes from 1720 were still present.

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 Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, in 1720, comprising 81 volumes. The library, which was housed in a locked cupboard on the ground floor of the church tower, was augmented in 1871. In 1885 Richard Copley Christie described it as a 'complete and excellently preserved Bray library'. An inventory compiled in 1976 showed that all but two of the volumes from the 1720 endowment were still present. The library, comprising 105 volumes, was transferred on permanent loan to the John Rylands University Library of Manchester in 1978.

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 catalogue was found in the John Rylands Library in 2012 and is presumed to have been transferred with the Bray library from Poulton-le-Fylde in 1978.

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 catalogue is presume to have been housed with the Bray library at Poulton-le-Fylde, and to have been in the charge of the incumbent.

Related Material

The JRUL holds catalogues of the parochial libraries from Nantwich, Cheshire (Eng MS 1409), and Alnwick, Northumberland (Eng MS 1410).


Michael Perkin, Directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England and the Church in Wales, revised edition (London: Bibliographical Society, 2004), pp. 320-1.

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.