Cockerell Papers relating to William de Brailes

Scope and Content

This small collection contains mainly letters to Sir Sydney Cockerell relating to his publication of The Work of W. de Brailes (Roxburghe Club, 1930), 1930-1931. William de Brailes was a 13th c. manuscript illuminator on whom Cockerell did much research. The correspondents include members of the Roxburghe Club.

Also included: letters from M.?K/R.T of The Lodge, Eton College, 1929, relating to the Wandering Jew; one letter from Dorothy Miner, Librarian and Keeper of Manuscripts at Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 1937, enclosing photograph of a manuscript psalter possibly illuminated by Brailes; offprint of article by Graham Pollard on William de Brailes, Bodleian Library Record, 1955, with some biographical notes by Pollard; article by Swarenski on Brailes and early English Bible illustration, Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 1938 or 1939.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell (1867-1962), museum director and book-collector, was born in Brighton, son of Sydney John Cockerell and his wife Alice Elizabeth. He was educated briefly at St. Paul's School, London, before entering the family business Geo. J. Cockerell and Co. of Cornhill, as a clerk. Following the early death of his father, he gave up aspirations for a university career and went into a coal business with his two uncles until 1891. Through a family friend, Octavia Hill, he met John Ruskin, with whom he corresponded throughout the remainder of Ruskin's life. Through William Morris, he joined the committee of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and was employed by Morris to catalogue his library of manuscripts and early printed books. He was secretary to the poet and traveller Wilfred Scawen Blunt for a brief period, and was also manuscript advisor to Henry Yates Thompson. He then went into an engraving partnership with Emery Walker between 1900-1904.

Following the illness of his wife, (Florence) Kate Thompson, manuscript illuminator and artist, he became director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, on the resignation of Montague Rhodes James in 1908. He was to hold the post for a period of twenty-nine years. He was a member of the Roxburghe Club from 1915, and was a keen manuscript and book collector. He was knighted in 1934, and retired to Richmond where he later died.

Conditions Governing Access

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Biographical information taken from the Dictionary of National Biography (2004) and The Concise Dictionary of Art and Artists (1996).

Other Finding Aids

Not currently listed.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 5 January 2005, and encoded into EAD 2 June 2005.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Found with Cockerell's copy of the book in the University Library, 2001. Note within relates to purchase.

Related Material

Other papers relating to Cockerell are held at the following repositories: British Library, Manuscript Collections; Victoria and Albert Museum: National Art Library; Reading University Library; West Sussex Record Office; Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies; Cambridge University: Fitzwilliam Museum; Trinity College, Dublin; Edinburgh University Library: Special Collections; Castle Howard; Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts; Dorset County Museum; City of Westminster Archives Centre; Cambridge University Library: Dept. of Manuscripts and University Archives; University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Library; Glasgow University Library: Special Collections Dept.; Society of Antiquaries of London; Hammersmith and Fulham Archives and Local History Centre; National Library of Scotland: Manuscript Collections; Imperial War Museum Department of Documents; Ruskin Library; Durham County Record Office; Princet


It is not known whether this collection has been used in a publication.