Francis Robert Raines Papers

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Canon F.R. Raines's original copies of thirteen volumes of works edited by him and others and published by the Chetham Society between 1845 and 1875, complete with his manuscript additions and corrections, as well as the deeds and family papers of Raines's brother-in-law, John Halliwell Beswicke of Pike House, Rochdale.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Robert Raines (1805-1878), antiquary, was born in Whitby, Yorkshire, on 22 February 1805. In 1818 he was sent to Clitheroe, Lancashire, as an apprentice to William Coultate, a surgeon. In 1826 he was admitted to St Bees Theological College in Cumberland (founded in 1816). In 1828 he was assistant curate of Saddleworth on the Lancashire and Yorkshire border, and in 1829 he was ordained and took the curacy at Rochdale parish church. In 1832 the vicar of Rochdale appointed him perpetual curate of the chapelry of St James, Milnrow, where he remained for the rest of his life, rebuilding the church there and providing schools and a parsonage.

The Earl of Dunmore appointed him as his domestic chaplain in 1841, and in 1845 the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded him an MA. He was rural dean of Rochdale from 1846 to 1877, and an honorary canon of Manchester Cathedral from 1849. On 30 March 1843 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In the same year he was one of the founders of the Chetham Society, along with Edward Holme, James Crossley, Richard Parkinson and others. He served on the Society's council from its foundation, and became vice-president in 1858.

Raines was a prolific author and editor for the Chetham Society: between 1844 and 1878 he edited eighteen volumes and contributed eleven sections to the various Chetham miscellanies. He also built up a remarkable collection of original manuscript material and detailed transcripts. He died at Scarborough on 17 October 1878, and was buried in Milnrow churchyard.

Source: C.W. Sutton, 'Raines, Francis Robert (1805-1878)', rev. Alan G. Crosby, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the John Rylands Library from the First Edition Bookshop, London, in December 1924.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Klett, project archivists, with reference to:

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MSS 289-291).


See Alan Crosby, 'A society with no equal': the Chetham Society, 1843-1993, Chetham Society, 3rd Series, vol. 37 (1993).

Geographical Names