Home  »  Volume IV: English PROSE AND POETRY SIR THOMAS NORTH TO MICHAEL DRAYTON  »  § 8. The Chetham Library, Manchester

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XIX. The Foundation of Libraries

§ 8. The Chetham Library, Manchester

The erection and endowment of the Chetham library, by Humphrey Chetham, a wealthy Manchester tradesman, resulted in the formation of a collection which may compare, in both its origin and its design, with that of Bodley. In founding his library “within the town of Manchester for the use of scholars,” and also directing that “none of the books be taken out of the Library at any time, but be fixed or chained, as well as may be,” Chetham would seem to have profited by the experience of the friaries; while his puritan sympathies are shown in his bequest of a special fund of £200 for the purchase of the works of Calvin, and, also, of those of two eminent Cambridge divines, Preston and Perkins, which he directed should be affixed to the pillars in the churches of Manchester and the neighbouring localities. Chetham died in 1653, and his executors proceeded, forthwith, to carry out his instructions by purchasing, and placing in fine old shelves, a considerable collection of the chief English protestant divines, among whom were Baxter, Cartwright, Chillingworth, Foxe, Jewel, Joseph Mede and Ussher. In some of the parishes, however, the collections were allowed to fall into neglect and have altogether disappeared. In Manchester itself, the main library was stored in a fine old building known as the Baron’s hall, and, before 1664, had acquired some 1450 volumes.