Bamburgh LibraryManuscripts

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 33 BAM
  • Dates of Creation
      12th - 19th centuries
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English ; Latin ; Church Slavonic
  • Physical Description
      1 metre

Scope and Content

The manuscripts divide roughly into three groups:

  • 1. Two medieval manuscripts (Bamburgh Sel. 6, a liturgical psalter, and Sel. 25, a psalterium, etc.) and a 16th/17th century Russian Church Slavonic psalter.
  • 2. [Located in Durham Cathedral Library and not included in the statement of extent above] Some 40 music manuscripts, secular and sacred, instrumental and vocal, largely 17th-18th century, mostly copied by or for members of the Sharp family,but also including music from the collection of the Hon. Edward Finch (1664-1738).
  • 3. Over 20 volumes and files of papers, mainly records of the Sharps' book collections and the subsequent history of the library at Bamburgh Castle, but also including a commonplace-book of John Sharp III, an 18th century gunnery manual, a19th century enquiry into Northumberland schools, and a 19th century account of the discovery of an ancient coffin at Chatton, Northumberland.

Administrative / Biographical History

Part of the Bamburgh Library (primarily printed books) formed from the collections of three generations of the Sharp family.

  • 1. John I (1644-1714), Archbishop of York
  • 2. John II (1677-1727), M.P. for Ripon, (son of John I)
  • 3. Thomas I (1693-1758), Archdeacon of Northumberland and Canon of Durham (son of John I)
  • 4. John III (1723-92), also Archdeacon of Northumberland and Canon of Durham, (son of Thomas I)
  • 5. Thomas II (1725-72), Perpetual Curate of Bamburgh (son of Thomas I)

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Trustees of Lord Crewe's Charity, 1938-58.

Other Finding Aids

1. The medieval manuscripts are described in N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, II, (Oxford, 1977) 46-8, and, more fully, in the Draft Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts in the University Library. For the Slavonic psalter see R. Cleminson,A Union Catalogue of Cyrillic Manuscripts in British and Irish Collections (London, 1988) p. 49.

2. For the music manuscripts see B. Crosby, A Catalogue of Durham Cathedral Music Manuscripts, (Oxford, 1986) 82-93.

3. For manuscripts in group (3) above there is as yet no catalogue; Sub-Librarian (Special Collections) has interim notes for list in course of compilation.

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 assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Custodial History

John Sharp III arranged, by gift in 1779 supplemented by bequest in 1792, for the bulk of the collections to pass to the Trustees of Lord Crewe's Charity, who maintained them as a public library at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, until 1958.Some additions were made up to ca.1860. The Select class was moved to Durham in 1938, and in 1958 the entire library was deposited in the University Library, except for the music (printed and manuscript), which was deposited in Durham CathedralLibrary.


R. Ovenden, Thomas Sharp's library at Cambridge ca. 1748, (MA thesis, University College, London, 1987). [edition of Bamb. MS.1]

Geographical Names