St John's College U.4

A list of printed books from the library of William Crashawe given by the Earl of Southampton. Latin, c. 1627-34.


This manuscript lists printed books from the library of the religious controversialist William Crashawe (1572-1625/6) presented to St John's College by Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (1573-1624). Crashawe was a student (BA 1592) and fellow (1594) at St John's, and from 1605 served as preacher to the Inner and Middle Temples in London. He amassed an extensive collection of manuscripts and printed books but a move from London to Burton Agnes in 1613 forced him to investigate its dispersal. In 1615 he came to an arrangement with Henry Wriothesley, also an alumnus of St John's, whereby 'almost 200 volumes of manuscripts' and 'about 1000 printed books' from Crashawe's library would be given to St John's as a gift from the Earl. The said collection was duly delivered into Southampton House pending the erection of a new library at St John's, where they eventually arrived in 1625-6 under the auspices of Wriothesley's widow.

The title of this manuscript, as it appears on fo. ii recto, points to its original intended contents: 'Catalogus librorum bibliothecae Johanensis quo libri, quotquot ibi extant disponuntur ordine, prout singulis forulis cuiusque classis reponuntur, additis benefactorum nominibus, ad propalandum quos libros, et quantum valore Collegio dederint.' The actual contents are better reflected in the heading on fo. 1r: 'Ex dono Henrici Illustrissimi Comitis Southamptoniensis; cuius muneris copia quatuor adimplentur classes, modo quaque classe sex numeras forulos: sunt enim revera unaquaque octo foruli.' The list that follows appears to have been compiled between 1627 and 1634. The books are described as being in four classes, two on the south side and two on the north. This would fit with the orientation of the new library at St John's (now the Old Library in Third Court) to which the college's books were moved in the second quarter of 1627. By 1634 the Southampton donation had been reorganised into the rest of the collection – a surviving shelf list of this date (U.3) lists them in classes H-M on the south side and classes H-M on the north side.

The books are listed as they appear on the shelves viz shelves 1-6 and 1-3, 5 and 6 in the first and second classes on the south side of the library, and shelves 1-6 and 1-7 in the first and second classes on the north side. The collection was thus housed in four classes spread over twenty-four shelves. The books appear to have been arranged roughly in accordance with format i.e. folios together etc. Each entry gives the author and title for the work and the format, and occasionally the number of volumes. At a later date someone has added in class marks, ranging from A to Uu. A few of the entries relate to manuscripts but the vast majority are printed books. The total number of items comes to around 794, in approximately 1016 volumes. A note at the end of the list reads 'Horum valorem aiunt esse 360 l.' Each page of the list carries the running title 'Ex dono Comitis Southamptoniensis'.

The manuscript bears a few other notes. Fo. i recto carries some jottings dated 1634. Fo. ii verso bears the note 'Vide omnes hosce libros in Classe H utrinque descend: Valent 360l'. A note at the back reads '1637 October 10. Rec. into the Library 2 bookes in folio being ye gift of Mr Patrick Melvill'. On the upper cover, in faint writing, appears the note 'Librorum nomina de quibus non liquet quis dedit Coll:', followed by a list of 18 items, plus others crossed through.

Manuscript extra information

200 x 160 mm. ii, 14, [30 blank] folios. Paper. The list is written in a single neat hand within borders ruled in pencil. The class marks are in a later (late seventeenth-century?) hand. The pages are arranged in a single quire, stab-stitched along the spine within a vellum wrapper. The former class mark H.30 can be seen inside the upper cover.