Routh Library

Scope and Content

The library of Martin Joseph Routh (1755-1854), patristics scholar and President of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Routh bequeathed his collection of printed books to the University of Durham, except for a small number which went to his family. The collection contains approximately 16,500 titles, including 146 incunabula (all foreign), 1,189 STC, and 4,509 Wing items. Its contents are extremely wide-ranging. Particular strengths are in patristics and scripture, church history, religious controversy (especially English), and English political controversy of the 17th and 18th centuries. Liturgy, classical and antiquarian studies, European and British history, and bibliography are all well represented. Coverage of travel and English literature is more patchy. Routh continued to be an assiduous collector of pamphlet literature on all periods and aspects of English history throughout his life, up to and including such subjects as Catholic Emancipation, the Oxford Movement, and University Reform.

The collection is rich in first and important editions, association copies and examples of fine printing and binding. Notable items include Marsiglio Ficino's Epistolae (1495) with an autograph epistle and corrections; the only known copy of the first version of Thomas More's Opus contra Lutherum (1523); one of the few surviving sets of engravings of Maurist monasteries in the 17th century made for the Monasticon Gallicanum. There are numerous book sale catalogues, many cited by Munby and Coral (1977), some annotated with prices.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Other Finding Aids

The collection is in the main catalogue. To restrict the search to this collection, use the following URL

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Routh Manuscripts


A.I. Doyle, The Routh Library, Times Literary Supplement, 24 Dec. 1954, p.844.  A.I.Doyle, Martin Joseph Routh and his Books in Durham University Library, Durham University Journal, 48 (1955-6), 100-7. Vivian H. H. Green, Routh, Martin Joseph (1755–1854), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 14 Jan 2009]