Bamburgh Library Manuscripts

  • 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 two 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. Over 30 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, an 18th-century life of Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, a 19th 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)

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by the Trustees of Lord Crewe's Charity, 1938-58. Bamburgh MSS 24-25 were donated by Joan Knott in the 1970’s. Bamburgh MSS A2, A7, A8, C1 and C8, (copies of items among the Lloyd-Baker Papers in Gloucestershire Archives) were acquired from Gloucestershire Archives 1980-2017.

Other Finding Aids

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

An online catalogue describes all of part 2 and has links to individual catalogue descriptions of items in part 1.

Separated Material

Durham Cathedral Library: 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). Catalogued B. Crosby, A Catalogue of Durham Cathedral Music Manuscripts, (Oxford, 1986) 82-93.

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 sale 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 Cathedral Library.


Doyle, A.I., Unfamiliar Libraries IV: the Bamburgh Library, The Book Collector, 8 no.1 (Spring 1959), 14-24 Crosby, B., Concerts on Land and Water: the Musical Activities of the Sharp Family, c.1750-c.1790, (Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle 34, London, 2001) Stranks, C.J., The Charities of Nathaniel Lord Crew and Dr John Sharp, (Durham Cathedral lecture 1976, Durham, 1976)

Geographical Names