Howard Library

Scope and Content

Predominantly the surviving undispersed portion of the library of Lord William Howard (1563-1640), housed in his book tower at Naworth Castle, Cumberland. As it now survives, the collection comprises over 200 printed books, mainly 16th and early 17th century, predominantly continental, with one incunable, a 1488 ed. of Peter Lombard. The books strongly reflect Lord William's antiquarian interests and his Roman Catholicism. There are over 70 historical and geographical works, including a small concentration of volumes on the 16th century quarrels in Flanders, and G. Benzoni and J. da Costa on the New World. Religious works, around half the collection, include lives of saints, histories of religious orders,and works of Catholic spirituality.

Administrative / Biographical History

Lord William Howard (1563-1640) was the younger son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk by his second wife Margaret, who died the year after his birth. William married Elizabeth Dacre in 1577, co-heir to the Dacre estates, and thereafter became involved in extensive litigation to claim this inheritance. His Catholicism and family connections led to several spells in the Tower of London and he was excluded from active politics. He was a leading antiquary and collector of books and manuscripts (most since dispersed) with a network of London associates. He also established himself at Naworth Castle in Cumberland (part of the Dacre inheritance) and became one of the major landowners in the region, laying the foundations for the estates of the future Howard Earls of Carlisle.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Purchased at auction in 1992 by the University Library, assisted by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, V & A Purchase Grant Fund, and Friends of the National Libraries.

Other Finding Aids

The Howard Library is included in the main library catalogue, and can be found using a shelfmark search

Separated Material

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

Howard Library Manuscripts

Howard of Naworth Papers


Richard Ovenden and Stuart Handley, Howard, Lord William (1563–1640), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 21 Jan 2009]