Hibbert-Ware Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of the Hibbert-Ware family. The collection includes:

  • A household account book of Titus Hibbert, merchant of Manchester, 1770-95 (Eng MS 989);
  • Over 2,000 family letters and papers, the majority relating to Dr Samuel Hibbert-Ware (1782-1848), geologist and antiquary, 1797-1849 (Eng MSS 990-1022);
  • A commonplace book of Samuel Hibbert, June 1799-1815 (Eng MS 1023);
  • Lancashire tradesmen's bills, 1802-15 (Eng MS 1024);
  • Notes and papers of Dr William Hibbert, surgeon in the Second Queen's Royals, relating to his service in India, 1836-38 (Eng MS 1025);
  • Papers of Lieutenant Colonel George Hibbert (1790-1847), commander of the 40th Regiment, 1838-48 (Eng MS 1026);
  • Letters from Captain G.H. Hibbert-Ware during the Crimean War, 1854-56(Eng MS 1027);
  • Documents concerning the history of Ireland and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, and other historical and topographical notes (Eng MSS 1028 and 1031);
  • Papers of Mary Clementina Hibbert-Ware, biographer of Samuel, who also wrote a study of the Quaker divine, Thomas Ellwood, as well as her topographical notes of Northern England and Scotland (Eng MSS 1034-1038).

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Hibbert-Ware (1782-1848), antiquary and geologist, is probably the best-known member of the Hibbert-Ware family. He was the eldest son of Samuel Hibbert, a Manchester linen-yarn merchant. Samuel junior was born in St Ann's Square, Manchester on 21 April 1782 and was educated at Manchester Academy. From a early age he was interested in pursuing a literary career, writing verses for the European and Monthly magazines, prologues for the Manchester theatre and election squibs for a friend, Colonel Hanson. His first independent publication was an anonymous pamphlet, Remarks on the facility of obtaining commercial credit, published in 1806.

From 1809 to 1813 he served with the Royal Lancashire Militia before going to Edinburgh to study medicine in 1815. Hibbert-Ware took the degree of M.D. but never practised. In Scotland, he pursued an interest in geology, visiting the Shetlands in 1817, where he discovered iron chromate, and later making a second visit to the islands to complete a geological survey; the Society of Arts awarded him the Iris gold medal for these endeavours. In 1822 he published A description of the Shetland Islands: comprising an account of their geology, scenery, antiquities and superstitions. He also delivered lectures on geology to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and the Royal Manchester Institution. Hibbert-Ware made many geological trips to the Continent, in particular to the volcanic parts of France and Italy and northern Germany, and published numerous papers on his findings.

Hibbert-Ware was also an enthusiastic antiquary, serving as secretary to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland from 1823 to 1827. He conducted important research on the history of Lancashire, including the History of the collegiate church of Manchester, which comprised the first two of the four volumes of his History of the foundations in Manchester of Christ's College, Chetham's Hospital, and the Free Grammar School (Manchester: Agnew and Zanetti, 1828-48). Hibbert-Ware was a member of the first council of the Chetham Society, and edited one of its early volumes, Lancashire memorials of the rebellion in 1715 (1845). His last work was The ancient parish church of Manchester and why it was collegiated (1848).

After leaving Edinburgh in 1835, Hibbert-Ware eventually settled on a small family estate at Hale Barns near Altrincham, Cheshire. In 1837 he assumed the surname Hibbert-Ware by royal licence, as the representative of Sir James Ware, the historian of Ireland. He died on 30 December 1848 and was buried at Ardwick cemetery, Manchester. Hibbert-Ware was married three times and had six children.

Source: C.W. Sutton, 'Ware, Samuel Hibbert- (1782-1848)', rev. Elizabeth Baigent, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press - http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/13197.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated to the John Rylands Library by the Reverend G. Hibbert-Ware of Cambridge in June 1946.


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

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1937-1951 (English MSS 989-1038).

Related Material

Samuel Hibbert-Ware's papers may be found in the following other repositories:

  • Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections: 76 letters to David Laing, 1822-48 (ref.: La iv 17);
  • Manchester Archives and Local Studies: correspondence, 1844-5;
  • Natural History Museum: 2 volumes of drawings;
  • Newcastle upon Tyne University, Robinson Library: letters to Sir Walter Trevelyan (ref.:WCT);
  • St Andrews University Library: correspondence with James David Forbes, 1831-46.


There is a biography of Samuel Hibbert-Ware which was based on some of the papers in this collection; see Mary Clementina Hibbert-Ware, The life and correspondence of the late Samuel Hibbert-Ware (Manchester: J.E. Cornish, 1882) ; in particular Eng MS 989 (chapter VI), Eng MSS 990-1022, Eng MS 1025 (pp. 469-74), Eng MS 1029 (pp. 467-68).

Geographical Names