Sir Henry Ellis: Papers

Scope and Content

MS.Add.4479: 'Observations on Anglo-Saxon Literature', papers read to the Society of Antiquaries, 1810.

MS.Add.4480: 'Illustrations of Piers Plowman', 1808.

MS.Add.4481: 'Notes on Anglo-Saxon Scholars', 1798-1808.

MSS.Add.6921 and 6922: Notes on Joseph Hall's Virgidemiarum: Satires in six books (Oxford, 1753), 19th century, 2 volumes (81 folios and 44 folios).

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry Ellis (1777-1869) was born in London on 29 November 1777. He attended Merchant Taylors' School, before matriculating at St John's College, Oxford, in 1796, where he later held a fellowship until 1805. In 1798 he was appointed an assistant in the Bodleian Library. He joined the British Museum in 1800, first as a temporary library assistant, and, from 1805, as the assistant-keeper of printed books. He was made head of the department in 1806. Ellis carried out the reconstruction of the library's printed catalogue with the assistance of the Revd H.H. Barber between 1807 and 1819. In 1812 he was transferred to the Department of Manuscripts. He became the museum secretary in 1814, and the principal librarian in 1827. Ellis served as secretary of the Society of Antiquaries in 1814, and as the society's director between 1853 and 1857. He published a catalogue of its papers in 1816. He retired in 1856, and died at his home in Bedford Square on 15 June 1869.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Presented by W. Aldis Wright, 1909.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Sir Henry Ellis in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, Vol. VI (London, 1908), pp. 698-700.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library also holds correspondence of Sir Henry Ellis, MS.Add.6869.