Tag Archives: Roger Gale

Catalogues and Corrections

Friday n° 48, September 13th, 2019

Editorial note: There will be no blog post on 20 September 2019 as I will be attending the biannual meeting of the members of the working group Early Modernity within the German Historian’s Association. See you on September 27th!

A miss is as good as a mile

Feels good to be in time again. How my latest results make me feel is something I’m not as sure about though. A few weeks ago, I wondered here on this blog about Thomas Gale’s books not selling so well. And on the basis of those sales catalogues which I had at hand I determined that most likely Roger Henry Gale (1710-1768), his grandson, sold parts of his father’s and grandfather’s libraries to the London bookseller Thomas II Osborne (c.1704–1767) around 1758/59. Well, I nearly hit it. I was so close. So very close, but… not close enough, as it turned out.

More sales catalogues!

For in the meantime I managed to find more sales catalogues, and as always when I find something like that I wonder why I didn’t search the way I found it by straight from the beginning. I do not know, and I’m afraid I can’t help it. But that is what’s research is like: Think of something, find new sources, correct yourself and think again. So that’s what I’m going to do with the rest of this post.

For among the catalogues which I found where three Osborne catalogues forming a series running from 1756 through 1758. Looking at their titles it becomes instantly clear that these were the sources I was looking for:

So the good news is, I guessed right, and the books really were sold to Thomas Osborne. Bad news is, this did not happen in 1758/59 but already in 1755 (it can’t have been in 1756 as catalogue nr. 1 advertises the begin of the sale for 1 January 1756), three years earlier. Well, at least I got the general picture right. But what about the details, now that I have got three thick volumes (more than 400 pages each) with additional information at hand?

A broader picture

Unfortunately the catalogues are framed in a way which makes it impossible for me to assess which of these books once belonged to the Gale family library, much less which of them would likely have belonged to either Thomas Gale or his son Roger Gale, because Osborne jumbled all the libraries of the people on his title pages up in one big lot (and probably even more, since each title page says something about “others”). So the libraries of at least ten persons were taken together to form a massive collection, advertised to contain more than 200.000 volumes. It was so large that Osborne and Shipton from the start projected its sale to last at least two years:

Which will begin to be sold (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, without any Abatement, for Ready Money only) at T. Osborne’s and J. Shipton’s in Gray’s-Inn, This Day, and for the Conveniency of the Nobility and Genrry who live at a Distance (this Collection being so very numerous) will continue daily selling for two Years, viz. to the First of January 1758.[1]

Osborne & Shipton: A Catalogue of the Libraries of the following Eminent and Learned Persons, vol. 1, 1756, title page.

I must confess that I have no idea why the sale was organized in this way. The most likely explanation would be that they sold the collection as they themselves had bought it. But this only relocates the problem as it would mean that they bought it from someone who had assembled it before; and who would assemble two hundred thousand books? This is a figure sufficient for stocking a present-day medium-sized public library, let alone an early 18th century library. The sheer handling of the physical objects must have presented the booksellers with quite a challenge, as these were literally several tons of books to store. How many ox-carts or freight barges would have been necessary to transport them?  Well, apart from these rather fascinating questions to which I have absolutely no answers (but really would like to know more), the mass of books also was too much to be organized the way they normally were, which would have been thematically. This was only done for the folios, which would generate most of the proceeds; all the rest was just sorted by size, and all books of each size alphabetically within each of the catalogues.

So as before, the only books which I may assign to have been part of the Gale library with certainty are, as before, those which are listed in the catalogues as carrying manuscript notes by either Thomas or Roger Gale. These were, by the way, not as many as I would have expected; here’s the list.

Books annotated by Thomas and Roger Gale in the library sale

Volume I, 1756

None. Yes, that’s right, not a single one.

Volume II, 1757

Here we go. That’s a bit of a list.

  • p. 9: [Folio] “16590 Idem [=Beda Historia Ecclesiastica, cui accessere Leges Anglo-Saxonicae, Saxonice & Latine], cum Additionibus MSS. a Decano Gale, 1l 18s ib. 1643”
  • p. 12: [Folio] “16702 Balei Scriptorum Britanniae Centuriae ix. cum Observationib. MSS. a D. Galeo, 1l 1s Basil. 1559”
  • p. 14: [Folio] “16747 [Burton’s] Commentary on Antoninus’ Itinerary, with MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 10s 6d 1658”
  • p. 16: [Folio] “16822 [Camdeni] Britannia, cum Additionib. Margine Mss. in Margine a T. Gale, 1l 1s Lond.”
  • p. 31: [Folio] “17237 Dictionarium Graeco Latinum, a Budaeo & aliis, 4 tom. interfoliat. cum Addit. MSS. a Th. Galeo, 3l 3s Basil. 1565”
  • p. 42: [Folio] “17564 Gesneri Bibliotheca universalis, 2 tom. interfoliat. cum multis Notis MSS. per Th. Gale, 1l 1s Tiguri 1574”
  • p. 43: [Folio] “17593 Gordon’s (Alexander) Itinerarium Septentrionale: or, Journey thro’ Scotland, with the Supplement and Cuts, large Paper, with marginal MSS. Observations by Roger Gale, Esq; neatly bound, 2l 2s 1726”
  • p. 46: [Folio] “17673 Herodoti Hist. Gr. & Lat. a Sylburgio, cum multis Observationibus per Th. Gale, 2l 2s Francof. 1608”
  • p. 47: [Folio] “17723 Idem [=Hesychii Lexicon, Gr.], cum multis Additionib. MSS. in margine, a Heinsio & T. Gale, 1l 1s Venet. 15[1]4”
  • p. 53: [Folio] “17898 Jamblichus de Mysteriis Liber ex Edit. Tho. Gale, cum Indice Mss. 5s Oxon. 1678”
  • p. 58: [Folio] “17994 Idem [=Luciani Opera], Gr. cum Notis MSS. in margine, 5l 5s. Fuit Liber hic Henrici Stephani & hac sunt Notae ejus manus literae. Teste T. Gale.”
  • p. 64: [Folio] “18179 Idem [=Matthaei Paris Historia Angliae, a Watts], cum MSS. Additionib. per T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Lond. 1684”
  • p. 77: [Folio] “18555 Idem [=Platonis Opera Omnia], cum variis Observationib. Mss. in Margine per T. Gale, 2l 2s [Basil.] 1534”
  • p. 83: [Folio] “18748 Philipot’s Survey of Kent, with MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; very fair, 2l 2s 1659”
  • p. 88: [Folio] “18876 [Scriptores] Rerum Anglicarum post Bedam, cum multis Additionibus MSS. per Th. Galeum, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 89: [Folio] “18907 [Stephani (Rob)] Glossaria ad utriusque Linguae, cum MSS. Observationib. Th. Gale, 3l 3s 1573”
  • p. 89: [Folio] “18914 Idem [=Suidae Lexicon], Gr. cum Observationibus MSS. per Th. Gale, 2l 2s Basil. 1544”
  • p. 91: [Folio] “18983 Septuaginta ex Auctoritate Sixti V, Pont. Max. editum, cum variis Lectionibus Mss. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Romae 1587”
  • p. 101: [Folio] “19292 Thoresby’s Topography of the ancient Town and Parish of Leeds in Yorkshire, with cuts, and a great number of MSS. Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 1l 5s 1715”
  • p. 105: [Folio] “19405 Vincent’s Discoverie of Errours in the first Edition of the Catalogue of Nobility, published by Raph. Brooke, with a great Number of MSS. Additions by Mr. William Burton, the Leicestershire Antiquary, which appears by the Testimony of Roger Gale, Esq; 15s 1622”
  • pp. 3-4: [Quarto Litera A] “88 Antonini Iter Britanniarum cum comment. per Th. Gale & quam plurimis Additionibus MSS. per R. Gale, 1l 1s ibid. [=London] 1709”
  • p. 61: [Quarto Litera G] “1849 [Goadvirini] Idem [=de Praesulibus Angliae Comment.], cum multis Emendationibus, MS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 7s 6d”
  • p. 101: [Octavo Letter G] “3781 The same [=Grand Question concerning Bishops Right to Votes in Parliament in Capital Cases] with Manuscript Observations and Additions, by Dean Gale, 3s 6d”
  • p. 147: [Octavo Letter L] “Life of Bp. Kennet, with a MSS. Copy of a letter to Roger Gale, Esq; from Browne Willis, relating to Mr. Tho. Hearne, 2s 6d 1730”

Volume III, 1758

The leftovers, please.

  • p. 58: [Folio] “2133 Account of what past [sic] in Parliament concerning Dr. Sacheverel – Tryal of Dr. Sacheverel – Bishops of Salisbury, Oxford, Lincoln, and Norwich’s Speeches – Report of the Committee of the House of Commons relating to the Mine Adventure, with other Tracts, the whole interspers’d with a great Number of MSS. Notes by R. Gale, Esq; 12 s”
  • p. 197: [Octavo] “8402 Rawlinson’s English Topographer, interleav’d with a great number of Manuscript Additions by Roger Gale, Esq; 2 vol. very fair, 1l 1s 1720”

So these three volumes contain 26 titles with annotations by either Thomas or Roger Gale, which in total add up to the sum of 42 £ 14 Shilling; quite a bit of money in the 1750s. But, and that was a surprise, obviously these prices were not too high, or at least not as much too high as I originally thought. In the 1760 catalogue which I started from in my last post on this subject, this list dwindles down to 9 volumes, totalling 17 £ 11 Shilling.

  • p. 12: “338 Herodotus, Gr. & Lat. cum multis addition. MSS. in margin. a T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1608”
  • p. 27: “735 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607”
  • p. 27: “736 [Camdeni] Anglica Normannica, &c. cum multis addition. MSS. a Roger Gale, 1l 1s Francof. 1602”
  • p. 27: “732 Matthaei Westmonast. Flores Histor. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Viri Erud. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 42: “1272 Vetus Testamentum juxta Septuaginta, Gr. cum multis additionib. MSS. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Rom. 1587”
  • p. 51: “1570 Budaei & al. Dictionarium, Gr. & Lat. inferfol. in 4 vol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Gale, 3l 3s ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • p. 51: “1593 Idem [= Gesneri Bibliotheca Universalis], 2 vol. interfol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Tho. Gale, 1l 1s”
  • p. 52: “1621 Suidae Lexicon, Gr. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Gale, 2l 2s Basil. apud. Froben. 1544”
  • p. 186: “6374 Rawlinson’s English Topographer, 2 vol. with MSS. Additions [by] Mr. [Roger, TW] Gale, interleaved, 1l 1s”

Actually, it comes even down to seven volumes, as two – set in bold in the above – were not even on the original list. Without these two, it’s seven volumes left over in 1760, estimated for 14 £ 18 Shilling and sixpence in total. Which means, that in two years two thirds of the books had been sold, and also that two thirds of the originally estimated proceeds had been realized.

Some things change, some don’t

This in turn means that the observation I made in my first post – that those volumes which were still on the list in 1760 were not selling so well, and only after 1762 disappear from Osborne’s catalogues – still holds, and may even be extended to 1758, which is when they were left over after termination of the ‘original’ sale. What might a bit trickier now is to come to a sound conclusion from this pattern of sales. On the whole, it’s still safe to say that books annotated by Roger Gale sold better than those annotated by Thomas Gale; which comes as no big surprise, as they were newer and leaning more towards general interest than Thomas Gale’s Greek classics and specialised philological literature.  It’s no longer valid to say that they did not sell so well altogether, as two thirds of them did, and I would assume that to be a rate quite good. So I no longer that sure that the decisive factor for this sales pattern is that Thomas Gale was comparatively forgotten by the time it happened; it be due as much to changing patterns of scholarly interest. Perhaps there were just not enough philologists frequenting Thomas Osborne’s shop at the time. Yet even if it may not be the sole decisive factor, I would still like to maintain that it is one among the decisive factors determining which of these books sold well – and which rather not.


[1] Thomas Osborne & J. Shipton: A Catalogue of the Libraries of the following Eminent and Learned Persons, deceased, viz. the Rev. Dr. Thomas Gale, Dean of York, and Editor of the Hist. Angl. Scriptores; Roger Gale, Esq; the great Antiquarian, and Commissioner of the Customs; the Learned Mr. Henry Wotton, Editor of St. Clementis Epistolae; Dr. Francis Dickens, Regius Professor of the Civil Law in the University of Cambridge; Counsellor Stukeley of the Temple; Counsellor Owen of Lincolns-Inn; Mr. Reynell, an Eminent Apothecary; and several Others. Vol. I. Containing near Two Hundred Thousand Volumes of the most scarce and valuable Books in all Languages, Arts and Sciences; great Numbers on large Paper, Morocco Leather, and other rich Bindings. […] Which will begin to be sold (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, without any Abatement, for Ready Money only) at T. Osborne’s and J. Shipton’s in Gray’s-Inn, This Day, and for the Conveniency of the Nobility and Genrry who live at a Distance (this Collection being so very numerous) will continue daily selling for two Years, viz. to the First of January 1758. Catalogues may be had at all the Chief Cities and Noted Towns in Europe, and at the Place of Sale; where may be had Money for any Library or Parcel of Books, Prints or Manuscripts. [N.B.] There are some Manuscript Sermons to be disposed of, recommended by an eminent and dignified Divine. N. B. The Books contained in the Two Volumes of the Catalogue for the last Year, which remain unsold, stand in their Order for the Conveniency of those Gentlemen who have not seen the Catalogue, or sent their Orders. London, 1756, title page. Digitzed via Google Books.

Transferring Structual Remembrances

John Nichols, Binding directions for Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, vol. 3, 1790

Friday n° 40, July 19th, 2019

“The plan of this Number was suggested by a valuable collection of Letters that passed between Mr. R. Gale and some of the most eminent Antiquaries of his time, which had been presented by his grandson to Mr. George Allan of Darlington. This gentleman, with the indefatigable diligence which distinguishes all his pursuits, transcribed them all into three quarto volumes, and communicated them to Mr. Gough, with a wish that in some mode or other they might be made public.”[1]

John Nichols, in: Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, No. 2, part 1, General preface (1781).

When in 1781 the learned printer and editor John Nichols printed the first of three parts of Reliquiae Galeanae as the second volume of his Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, this marked a point which is seldom observed and communicated as detailed as in this case: the point where references to a certain body of information, in this case the learned members of the Gale family, are no longer a private phenomenon but are taken up by an institution.

Institutional connections

The quote given above does in itself not convey any sense of an institution at work here: All people referred to are mentioned as individual persons without any affiliations clearly visible. By having a closer look at the matter however it becomes clear that the Society of Antiquaries served as the common denominator uniting them all.

Roger Gale (1672–1744) had been, together with his brother Samuel Gale (1682–1754) among those who re-founded the Society in 1717/18 and had been acting as its first vice-president, while Samuel had been its first treasurer (for 21 years, until 1739/40) – and it was their letters that formed the “valuable collection” reprinted by Nichols. George Allan (1736 – 1800) , who had acquired these letters, had for long carried out his antiquarian interests privately in his native county of Durham when he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1774, so that he at the time No. 2, part 1 of the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica went off the press had been a member of that illustrious body for seven years already. Richard Gough (1735–1809), to whom he had communicated the papers, had been elected into the SAS already in 1767 and since 1771 served as its director.

Now Gough also had been a follower of the work of William Stukeley (1687–1765) since his studies at Cambridge, who had been a close friend of both Roger and Samuel Gale, had also been one of the re-founders of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1739 had married their sister Elizabeth Gale as his second wife. Moreover, Gough was a close friend of John Nichols (1745–1826), the printer, to whose major journal, the Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, he contributed frequently, as well as developing editorial projects with him (such as, for instance, the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica). This was nothing accidental also, as Nichols’s printing house had served the Society of Antiquaries as its official printer since 1736. Nichols himself was only admitted as a fellow into the Society in 1810, but throughout his career avidly pursued antiquarian interests and printed corresponding publications.

Leaving the family circles…

The only one falling out of this raster is Roger Gale’s grandson, Henry Gale (1744–1821), who, like his father Roger Henry Gale (1710–1768), does not seem to have shared the antiquarian interests of his ancestors. When – as I detailed here recently – Roger Henry Gale sold at least some of the books his grandfather and father left him in 1759, he obviously still kept the manuscript letters of his father and uncle, which his son Henry Gale could then, at some point after his father’s death, present to George Allan. In the fourth generation counted from Thomas Gale, the first and major learned member of the family, virtually all the materials needed for references to him and his sons had left the narrow circles of family ownership and had become dispersed among institutions, collectors, and other private owners. With the family displaying no interest in frequently referring to its learned predecessors, this would now likely be the point in time at which structural forgetting would set in. From the perspective of Thomas Gale, one of my protagonists, this unfortunate event took place a good sixty years after his own death in 1702.

…and passing into institutional channels

At this point, the letters came – via George Allen and Richard Gough – into one of the publications printed by John Nichols, changing the medium the information incorporated in this body of correspondence circulated in and, at least potentially, offering them to a wider public. The Society of Antiquaries itself cannot be credited with having initiated this development though, as Nichols’ publication was a commercial enterprise devised by Gough and him, and not commissioned by the corporate body as such. But it provided the necessary platform to connect the relevant actors responsible for putting Roger and Samuel Gale’s correspondence out in print, and it supplied them with a motive to do so. As Nichols in 1790 put it in the General Preface to the complete version of all three parts the 1781 issue had been the first of:

“Among the various Labours of Literary Men, there have always been certain Fragments whose Size could not secure them a general Exemption from the Wreck of Time, which their intrinsic Merit entitled them to survive; but having been gathered up by the Curious, or thrown into Miscellaneous Collections by Booksellers, they have been recalled into Existence, and by uniting together have defended themselves from Oblivion, Original Pieces have been called in to their Aid, and formed a Phalanx that might withstand every Attack from the Critic to the Cheesemonger, and contributed to the Ornament as well as Value of Libraries.”[2]

ohn Nichols, Antiquities in Lincolnshire, General Preface (1790).

Fighting Oblivion

This was exactly what Roger and Samuel Gale had aimed at in re-founding the Society of Antiquaries: fighting oblivion, and rescuing as many vestiges of bygone times as possible; in 1726 Roger Gale had written to John Clerk that in the meantime they had succeeded in that “a great many old seals, ruins, and other monuments of antiquity have been preserved from oblivion, and the danger of being intirely [sic] lost in a little time”[3], and Samuel Gale had in 1712 addressed Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) in a letter as that “[t]he Learned World is indebted to you for your sedulous Preservation of so many antient [sic] Monuments which otherwise in a little Time must have utterly perished.”[4] The remaining question is whether they achieved these goals, and if they did, for which period of time.

To which effect?

I would doubt that the institutional framework within which these references were now made and within which information about the Gale family circulated contributed little to rescuing them from becoming structurally forgotten. The communication circuit Nichols’ publication created via the audience it targeted was larger than the family or even the Society of Antiquaries as a whole, but it still remained a limited number of persons who took an interest in such matters. The predominant media products for the circulation of reference to the Gales – Thomas Gale first and foremost – since the middle of the 18th century were dictionaries, as I already hinted at; and even within their circuits there was no escape from becoming structurally forgotten. Even if scholars would were so lucky as to have an institution to care about their memory after their death, to really preserve that memory it needed a special kind of institution, which the Society of Antiquaries unfortunately was not.  


[1] Nichols, John (ed.): Bibliotheca topographica Britannica. No II. Part I. Containing Reliquiae Galeanae; or miscellaneous pieces by the late brothers Roger and Samuel Gale. In which will be included their Correspondence with their learned Contemporaries, Memoirs of their Family, and an Account of the Literary Society at Spalding. Printed by and for J. Nichols, Printer to the Society of Antiquaries: and Sold by All the Booksellers in Great-Britain and Ireland, London 1781, General Preface, p. [i].

[2] Nichols, John (ed.): Antiquities in Lincolnshire; being the third volume of the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica. London: Printed by and for J. Nichols, 1790, General Preface, p. [i].

[3] Roger Gale to John Clerk, 26 April 1726, Bodleian Library MS Top Gen D 74, pp. 178–186; here p. 185.  

[4] Samuel Gale to Thomas Hearne, London 15 November 1712, Bodleian Library MS Rawl Letter 15/16 (Letters to Thomas Hearne Vol. 15–16, Letters G–T), p. 11.  

Not Selling so Well: The Books of Thomas Gale

Camden’s Britannia and Anglica Normannica with manuscript additions by Thomas and Roger Gale in Thomas II Osborne’s sales catalogue for the spring of 1760

There is an update for this post!

Some of the information in this post has become outdated by later research. Please also visit this post here.

Friday n° 39, July 11th, 2019

Thomas Gale sired Roger Gale, and unto him passed on his books as he deceased, and Roger put them to good use, and all was well. Roger Gale sired Roger Henry Gale, and unto him passed on his books as he deceased, and Roger Henry put them on the market, and all was not so well anymore.

And that’s where today’s story begins. As I have already indicated in another post, Roger Gale (1672–1744) relied rather heavily on the library and notes he inherited from his father Thomas Gale, except from those volumes which Thomas Gale himself donated to Oxford and Cambridge. Roger Gale could use them very well, as they suited his own interests in Antiquarianism, which he pursued besides his political career as MP and Commissioner of the Excise and his duties as an estate proprietor in Scruton, Yorkshire. I did not know until now what became of these books when Roger Gale himself died in 1744 and passed his estate on to his son Roger Henry Gale (1710–1768), who did not share in the learned interests of his father.

Books on Sale

But ploughing diligently through heaps of auction catalogues I think I may now have assembled enough clues to bring a bit of light into the matter. For in his catalogue for the first half of 1760 the London bookseller Thomas II Osborne (c.1704–1767) advertised quite some books which were explicitly described as being heavily annotated by the hands of Thomas and/or Roger Gale:[1]

  • p. 12: “338 Herodotus, Gr. & Lat. cum multis addition. MSS. in margin. a T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1608”
  • p. 27: “735 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607”
  • p. 27: “736 [Camdeni] Anglica Normannica, &c. cum multis addition. MSS. a Roger Gale, 1l 1s Francof. 1602”
  • p. 27: “732 Matthaei Westmonast. Flores Histor. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Viri Erud. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 42: “1272 Vetus Testamentum juxta Septuaginta, Gr. cum multis additionib. MSS. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Rom. 1587”
  • p. 51: “1570 Budaei & al. Dictionarium, Gr. & Lat. inferfol. in 4 vol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Gale, 3l 3s ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • p. 51: “1593 Idem [= Gesneri Bibliotheca Universalis Tiguri 1545], 2 vol. interfol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Tho. Gale, 1l 1s”
  • p. 52: “1621 Suidae Lexicon, Gr. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Gale, 2l 2s Basil. apud. Froben. 1544”
  • p. 186: “6374 Rawlinson’s English Topographer,[2] 2 vol. with MSS. Additions [by] Mr. [Roger, TW] Gale, interleaved, 1l 1s”

As these had not been part of Osborne’s catalogues before,[3] the sale must have taken place sometime around the second half of 1759, before the first catalogue for 1760 went to the press, but after the second catalogue for 1759 saw print.[4] Now Osborne was notorious for on the one hand running the largest second-hand book store in London, with a regular stock of some 14.000 titles, but also for not being able to judge any of the volumes on his shelves for their content. He nevertheless has been described as having a good intuition when it came to valuing his stock.[5] This lead him to label the nine volumes quoted above, all of which I take to be coming from the library of the late Roger Gale, 17 £ 11 shilling in total, quite a heavy sum in 1760.

Books still on Sale…

Perhaps too heavy a sum for his customers, for in 1761 he still had six of these volumes on his list:[6]

  • S. 23: “586 Herodotus, Gr. & Lat. cum multis addition. Mss. in margine, a T. Gale, 1l 11s 6d ib. [=Frankfurt] 1608”
  • S. 28: “741 Budaei & ak. Dictionarium, Gr. & Lat. interfol. in 4 vol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Gale, 3l 3s ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • S. 28: “765 Idem [=Gesneri Bibliotheca Universalis], 2 vol. interfol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Tho. Gale, 1l 1s [Zürich 1545]”
  • S. 29: “794 Suidae Lexicon, Gr. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Gale, 2l 2s Basil. apud Froben. 1544”
  • S. 31: “888 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in margine a Tho Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607
  • S. 58: “1797 Vetus Testamentum juxta Septuaginta, Gr. cum multis additionib. MSS. a Tho. Gale, 5l 5s Rom. 1587”

And, surprisingly, Osborne now listed yet another title with manuscript annotations by Gale.[7]

  • S. 26: “675 Idem [=Platonis Opera omnia], Graece, cum var. Observat. Mss. in margine T. Gale, 2l 2s ib. [=Basel] 1534”

Moreover, the three titles which had been sold from the original list were those featuring annotations by Roger Gale, which may indicate that Thomas Gale’s notes did not spark so much interest amongst contemporary scholars as had been expected:

  • p. 27: “736 [Camdeni] Anglica Normannica, &c. cum multis addition. MSS. a Roger Gale, 1l 1s Francof. 1602”
  • p. 27: “732 Matthaei Westmonast. Flores Histor. cum multis addition. MSS. in margine a Viri Erud. Gale, 1l 11s 6d Francof. 1601”
  • p. 186: “6374 Rawlinson’s English Topographer, 2 vol. with MSS. Additions [by] Mr. [Roger, TW] Gale, interleaved, 1l 1s”

Together these three volumes accounted for 3 £ 13 shilling, while the addition of the annotated Plato was valued at 2 £ 2 shilling, so that Osborne still had Gale-annotated tiles totalling exactly 16 £ in his books. Things eventually got better, though. In 1762 the catalogue noted only three leftovers from the original list (which still amounts to over 40% of it):[8]

  • S. 8: “239 Budaei & al. Dictionarium, Gr. & Lat. interfol. in 4 vol. cum multis addition. MSS. per Gale, 2l 12s 6d ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • S. 19: “646 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in Margine a Tho. Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607”
  • S. 44: “1380 Vetus Testamentum juxta Septuaginta, Gr. cum multis additionib. MSS. a Tho. Gale, 4l 4s Rom. 1587

Value for Money?

Those titles together totalled only 7 £ 17 shilling now, slightly below 50% of the original list’s value, but that was due to a change in mind concerning the most heavily priced item on the list, the 1587 Septuagint with Gale’s additions. Having for two years not sold it for the originally estimated 5 £ 5 shillings, Osborne cut down the price by 20% and offered it for 4 £ 4 shilling now.

How much of a premium was accorded Gale’s annotations by Osborne can for the first time be seen directly in the 1762 catalogue, too, as it listed after n° 239, Guillaume Budé’s (1480–1540) Greek-Latin dictionary,[9] a comparable item: “240 Idem, absque addition. MSS. 10s 6d Basil. 1563”,[10] which was thought to fetch only about one fifth of that which once belonged to, and was written in by, the dean of York. Gale’s notes thus seem to have served, at least for this particular item, to quintuple its value – a bit over the top, I’d say (but obviously not worth changing, this price stayed the same). An unknown scholar’s annotations for the third copy on the list only served to raise the price by 4 shilling sixpence. A similar, but not as drastic, case is Conrad Gesner’s (1516–1565) Bibliotheca Universalis,[11] which in the 1759 catalogue was 1l 1 shilling with Gale’s additions and 10 shilling sixpence without, or half the price.

Perhaps the price cut for the Septuagint also influenced the estimate put to yet another Gale title to appear on the list in 1762, this time annotated by Roger Gale, bringing the total up to four items totalling 8 £ 2 shilling:[12]

  • S. 199: “7109 Knowledge of Medals, with MSS. Observations and Additions by Roger Gale, 5s 1715”

Patterns of Sale vs. Patterns of Reference

What becomes visible here is an interesting pattern of Osborne’s in putting his annotated Gale volumes on the market, although these conclusions need to be taken as preliminary, as the evidence is a bit shaky; not all of Osborne’s catalogues have survived.[13] But from what I have seen and related above, it looks like as if Osborne had not first of all not put ‘Roger Gale, Esq, lately deceased’ or something the like on the title page of his next catalogue when he purchased the books, but had rather been content with having them encompassed by “And of several other Eminent Genlemen, lately deceased”.[14] As Thomas Gale in 1760, when the sale would begin, was dead for 58 years, and his son Roger also for 16 years already, this seems quite sensible. Their deaths would not have been fresh in the memory of the contemporaries anymore, and thus their names would probably only have drawn a very limited circle of customers. This might also have been caused by the dimensions of the sale, which I don’t know. Only the annotated volumes are easily singled out, as other volumes which might have belonged to father or son Gale are not marked in the catalogue and thus not identifiable.

But even the nine annotated volumes Osborne put on sale between 1760 and 1762 will in all likelihood not have been all that Thomas Gale had annotated and left to his son, or that Roger Gale had annotated with his own hands. Which tempts me to think that only a part of the library had been sold, perhaps to make room, and not everything, for instance no manuscript volumes. And from the adding of new items each time others had been sold, it seems that Osborne had put some of them in store, and only offered them one after the other, although I’m not really sure what the reason for this would have been. From the rather long drawn-out sales processes it does not look like as if he would have spoiled the market in releasing too many at once. For in 1762 the story was not yet at its end.

When Osborne announced that from now on his catalogues would employ a new system to make better accessible to his customers in 1766, two old acquaintances showed up again:[15]

  • S. 12: “434 [Budaei] Idem [=Constantini & al. Lexicon, Gr. Lat. 2 vol.], interfol. cum addition. MSS. Gale, 4 vol. 2l 2s ib. [=Basel] 1565”
  • S. 15: “548 [Camdeni Britanniae] cum tab. geo. & addit. MSS. in margine a J. [sic, =T.?] Gale, 1l 1s ib. [=London] 1607”

That is, if the second one, the edition of William Camden’s (1551–1623) Britannia,[16] is the same as noted in Osborne’s catalogues for the first time in 1759 as “735 Camdeni Britannia, cum addition. MSS. in margine a Tho. Gale, 1l 1s Lond. 1607”.[17] I must confess that I would rather take the “J.” in the 1766 catalogue as a misprint for “T.” than believe that the Baptist preacher and theologian John Gale (1680–1721) who never displayed any interest in historical geography had annotated a copy of the same edition of Camden’s work as his not-related namesake, the dean of York. Osborne’s catalogues were shoddy work more often than not, aiming at quick profit rather than at scholarly exactitude, and both Drs Gale were mistaken for each other sometimes, the more often the longer both were dead. Unless proven wrong by other sources, I will settle for this item to be that which I already know. Which leaves me with two of the nine Gale-annotated volumes put on sale by Thomas Osborne still being unsold six years later, one of them being the Budé dictionary which I already suspected to have been slightly overrated in accessing its price. Well, at least Osborne had managed to get rid of the Septuagint, although I don’t know how much it fetched in the end.

Remembrance, fading

In 1759 Thomas Osborne did not think either Gale sr. nor jr. suitable as headline figures to promote the sales catalogue for the upcoming year, although he had just bought at least a part of their library. He did nevertheless account their manuscript additions to some of the books he had acquired as increasing their worth considerably, but realising this added value proved to be a quite long drawn-out process in the course of which Osborne at least once had to correct overly optimistic calculations. Taking these book market conjunctures as indicative of the larger conjunctures in the scholarly community, at least for the London of the 1760s I can say that Thomas Gale’s star had sunken, though not yet disappeared. His son’s name obviously guaranteed a faster turnaround of books annotated from his, Roger Gale’s, hand, although at lower overall prices – what may be directly related to the lesser relative distance in time of Roger, who was but 14 years dead in 1760, compared to Thomas, whose death had befallen 58 years ago, to the catalogue’s readers. If this was the case, though, obviously Thomas Gale’s scholarly achievements did not compensate for the chronological distance, or only to a group of people too small to make much of a difference. Which in turn might be taken to say something interesting concerning the balance of different factors in social memories active in processes of getting structurally forgotten, but this is something I’ll still have to think about.   


[1] Osborne, Thomas: A catalogue of the libraries of that learned antiquarian Edmund Sawyer, Esq; (Late one of the Masters of the High Court of Chancery;) And of several other Eminent Genlemen, lately deceased; Containing many Thousand Volumes of the most approved Authors in all Languages, Arts and Science. […] Which will begin to be sold on the first day of January 1760, and continue selling for one year, (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, without any Abatement, and for Ready Money only) at T. Osborne’s in Gray’s-Inn. Where may be had Money for any Library or Parcel of Books, Prints, or Manuscripts. Catalogues may be had of the Booksellers in all the chief Cities and noted Towns in Europe, and at the Place of Sale. N.B. To be disposed of, some curious Manuscript Sermons of an eminent Divine, lately deceased, which will be warranted Originals, [London], [1759/60]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Document Number: CW3316875388.

[2] Most likely this title: Richard Rawlinson: The english topographer: or, an historical account, (as far as can be Collected from Printed Books and Manuscripts) of all the pieces that have been written relating to the antiquities, natural history, or topographical description of any part of England. Alphabetically digested, and illustrated with the Draughts of several very Curious old seals, exactly Engraven from their respective Originals. By an impartial hand, London: printed for T. Jauncy at the Angel without Temple-Bar, 1720. The manuscript additions thus would have to be of Roger Gale’s hand, as Thomas Gale was 18 years dead when the book appeared in print.

[3] Cf. the 1758 catalogue: T. Osborne, J. Shipton. The third part of a catalogue of the large and valuable stock of bound books of T. Osborne and J. Shipton, (the Partnership being amicably Dissolved) Which will be sold by auction, In the Great Room up One Pair of Stairs, at the East End of Exeter-Change, on Monday the 6th of March, and be continued every Evening, exactly at Six O’Clock, till Saturday, March the 25th. The books may be viewed on Wednesday the 1st of March, and every Day after, from Ten to Two O’Clock, till the Day of Sale. Catalogues may be had of the Booksellers of Oxford, Cambridge, and Eton, at T. Osborne’s in Gray’s-Inn, W. Shropshire’s Bookseller in New Bond-Street, and at the Auction-Room. Price Six-Pence. The Fourth Part of this Catalogue, containing a curious Collection of Books, Prints, Drawings, &c. by the most eminent Masters, will positively begin selling on Monday, April 3d, and the following Evenings. [London]: n.p., [1758]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Document Number: CW116632955.

[4] This is however a bit difficult to determine exactly, as only one catalogue each from 1758 and 1759 has been accessible to me so far.

[5]Brack, O. M. 2008 “Osborne, Thomas (bap. 1704?, d. 1767), bookseller.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 9 Jul. 2019. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-20885.

[6] Osborne, Thomas. A catalogue for the year 1761, of the libraries of the Hon. Augustus George Egerland, The Learned and Eminent Physician Dr. George Hepburn, of King’s Lynn in Norfolk; Dr. Edward Hody, Physician to St. George’s Hospital; and many other Gentlemen, lately deceased; containing many Thousand Volumes of the most Scarce and Valuable Books, in all Languages. Great Numbers on Large Paper, bound in Morocco and Russia Leather, and other rich Bindings. […] Which will begin to be sold this day (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, for Ready Money only) and will continue daily selling ’till the First of January 1762. At T. Osborne’s in Gray’s-Inn. Catalogues may be had at all the Chief Cities and noted Towns in Europe, and at the Place of Sale. Where may be had Money for any Library or Parcel of Books, Prints or Manuscripts, [London] [1761. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Document Number: CW3325362744.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Osborne, Thomas. The first volume of a catalogue of the libraries of the Rev. Mr. Dongworth, of Durham, Dr. Green, of Spalding, Henry Anderson, Esq; of the Temple, And many other Gentlemen, lately deceascd; Consisting of Near One Hundred Thousand Volumes, Of the most Scarce and Valuable Books,) Prints, Books of Prints, and Manuscripts, In all Languages, Arts and Sciences: Great Numbers on large Paper, most elegantly bound in the richest Bindings. Which will begin to be sold this Day (the lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, for Ready Money only) and, for the Conveniency of Gentlemen abroad, will continue daily selling ’till the First of January 1763. At T. Osborne’s, in Gray’s Inn. Catalogues may be had at all the Chief Cities and noted Towns in Europe, and at the Place of Sale. Where may be had Money for any Library or parcel of Books, Prints or Manuscripts. The most valuable Manuscript Sermons of the late Reverend Mr. Dongworth are to be disposed of. [London]: n.p., [1762]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale Document Number: CW3316649518

[9] Guillaume Budé et al.: Lexikon Hellēnorōmaikon, Hoc est, Dictionarivm Graecolatinum : supra omnes editiones postremo Nvnc Hoc Anno Ex Variis Et multis praestantioribus linguae Græcæ authoribus, commentarijs, thesauris & accesionibus, non duntaxat allegationum, sed etiam plurimarum uocum simplicium auctario locupletatum, illustratum & emendatum, Basel: Henricpetri 1565.

[10] Ibid, p. 8.

[11] Conrad Gesner: Bibliotheca vniversalis, siue catalogus omnium scriptorum locupletissimus, in tribus linguis, Latina, Graeca et Hebraica: extantium et non extantium, ueterum et recentiorum in hunc usque diem, doctorum et indoctorum, publicatorum et in bibliothecis latentium, Zürich: Froschauer 1545.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Brack 2008.

[14] Osborne [1759/1760], title.

[15] Osborne, Thomas. A catalogue of a farther part of the stock of T. Osborne, Bookseller, in Gray’s-Inn. Vol. IIId, for the year 1766. (The lowest Prices printed in the Catalogue, for ready Money only.) Which will be selling every day (Sundays excepted) to the First of January 1767. Containing the largest most curious and valuable Collection of Books, in all Languages, Manuscripts, Prints, Books of Prints and Drawings, that have been exposed to Sale for many years […] Many of the Books are on the larger Paper, being the Libraries of the following Gentlemen, and many others deceased, Viz. Dr. James Sherrard, and his brother the Consul at Smyrna. The Hon. Adm. Lestock […]. Wm. Eyre, Esq; Serjeant at Law. The Hon. Gen. Murray. Mr. Alderman Dickenson, Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means. The Rev. Mr. Bryan, Editor of Plutarch, at the Recommendation of Dr. Hare, Bishop of Chichester. Dr. Monk of Walthamstow. Samuel Berkley, Esq; one of the Benchers of the Hon. Society of Gray’s-Inn. As likewise, the Rev. Mr. Noble, Afternoon Preacher to the said Society. […] The Catalogue is made in a New Method, so that any Person, at any Time, may find out any Book, &c., they may want. […] Vol. 3. [London], [1766]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Gale Document Number: CW3306652960.

[16] William Camden: Britannia Sive Florentissimorum Regnorum Angliae, Scotiae, Hiberniae, Et Insularum adiacentium ex intima antiquitate Chorographica descriptio, London: Bishop & Norton 1607.

[17] Osborne [1759], p. 27.

For Family, Knowledge, and Country

Philip Sydenham to Thomas Hearne, Brympton St Every, 23 May [1725?] (Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 15, f. 473-474)

Friday N° 24, March 22nd, 2019

I have been writing about the entanglements between lexicographical biographic memoralization and national ideas in my last post and had originally announced going further in this direction only in next week’s post. As I was in Oxford for archival research at the Bodleian library to consult correspondences I had not awaited to find anything in there fitting this thread of investigation of my sources. But sometimes one’s in for a bit of a surprise, and so I might try to connect some of my findings in these letters to the theme of national framings of knowledge.

Last week I already observed that British dictionaries and encyclopaedias where going for the national label early in the 19th century. This of course provokes the question whether this was a new development, coming out of the blue, or something which might be connected to longer-running developments. 

The introductory clipping from Philip Sydenham’s (c.1676-1739) letter to Thomas Hearne (1678-1735) points in the latter direction. In his letter, Sydenham complements Hearne to his edition of the itinerary of John Leland (c.1506-552);[1] the full passage runs:

“I hope y[ou]r publick Services for ye Honor & good of this Nation will receive publick approbation. this will be one m[anu]s[cript] to preserve & recover our old Noble Constitution many very valuable M[anu]s[cript]s deserv ye publick reading & encouragment & I hope y[ou] will proceed. ye more ancient ye more brave & Noble.”[2]

Sydenham thus entangled the antiquarian pursuits of Hearne’s, who was an avid editor of medieval manuscripts besides being librarian to the Bodleian library, with the national “Honor” in two ways, on the one hand by the scholarly value of his results and their potential of contributing to a better “publick” understanding of the nation’s past, and on the other hand by linking this more directly to the conditions for being a nation, to “our old Noble Constitution” to be retrieved this way. While this way of searching the origin and the primordial good laws of a community in the past was entirely in keeping with early modern conceptions of how time and historical research operated, the appeal to “publick approbation […] reading & encouragment” is somewhat more unusual and already seems to point to later developments in constructing national identities on a larger scale.

But Sydenham had more to offer still. In the next paragraph, he directly linked Hearne’s other professional activities, that as a librarian, both to the advancement of learning in general – as was a fairly common topos – and – a less common inflection –, to national honour also:

“I am glad [that] y[ou]r Library (=the Bodleian) is daily improving. it is so much for ye Honor of ye Nation, & interest of Learning.[3]

The three intersecting topoi of interest here, from the perspective of my project, are 1) ‘Fighting Oblivion’, 2) ‘Advancement of Learning’, and 3) ‘National Glory’. To see how this affects my protagonists, of whom there has been no mention yet in this post, I’ll have to take you to another of Hearne’s editions, the development of which was indeed coupled to the Leland volumes Sydenham already praised.

In 1716, Roger Gale (1672-1744), eldest son of Thomas Gale, approached Thomas Hearne in the same way as Sydenham would do nine years later, by complementing him on his just published Leland edition. The real aim of the letter was something else, though. Gale wanted to secure Hearne’s editorship for a manuscript in his possession, the Scotichronicon of John of Fordun (or Ffordun, c.1320-c.1386), which already had been partly edited by his father.[4] Hearne willingly accepted Gale’s offer of providing him with the manuscript and every assistance necessary for the edition and publication of the chronicle.[5] Both entered a long-drawn out process of working on the edition in which Roger Gale was constantly checking on Hearne to ensure the progress of the work, to provide him with colligations from other manuscripts, and helping him to gain enough subscribers for publication, he himself taking 20 copies.[6] When in 1722 the Fordun edition finally went to the press,[7] the Gale family was highly pleased with the result.

First, it represented a success in the endeavours of both Roger and his younger brother Samuel Gale, who both had been founding members of the Society of Antiquaries in 1718, in fighting oblivion. To do so represented a recurrent thread in their discussions of all fields of research they were actively engaged in, and print seemed a convenient way of doing it. When on February 25th, 1723, Samuel Gale held a speech before the Society of Lincoln, he spoke about the benefits of engraving:

“Give me Leave, Gentlemen, to Congratulate ye latter age on this Noble Invention, this Beneficial Discovery, and which alone seems to surpass all the great Things the Ancients ever did. Since eben the mouldring Fragments of theire proudest Structures, ye Temples of ye Gods, ye Statues of ye Heroes, ye Hippodromes ye Amphitheatres the Triumphal Arches, Aquaeducts, Military Ways, Baths, Colums, Medals, and Inscriptions, which yet, feebly beare up against ye power of corroding Time: even these Remaines I say of Athens, Corinth, and of Rome can be, and are now, only by this diffusive Art, triumphantly rescu’d from that total Havock, ye everlasting oblivion: Which a few more revolving years must inevitably bring on, and that of the Poet, then be too sadly verified: etiam periere Ruinae.”[8]

In 1726, Roger Gale took recourse to almost the same words in a letter to John Clerk to explain the purpose of the Society of Antiquaries, only with less rhetorical flourish:

“Besides the ½ guinea payd upon admission, one shilling is deposited every month by each member, and this money has been hitherto expended in buying a few books, but more in drawing and engraving, whereby a great many old seals, ruins, and other monuments of antiquity have been preserved from oblivion, and the danger of being intirely lost in a little time.”[9]

 Second, it was connected to the advancement of learning, which Samuel Gale not only connected to printing, but also to the scholars who had been paragons of learning. At the end of his speech, he made the connection quite explicit and directed it not only to the memory of the past, but also to the future.

“These [engravers] are They who by an uncommon Genius have almost outdone Nature, and have given Life & Spirit to Good Men after Death, Who is there yet Beholds ye Aspects of the Great & Learned, and Burns not with secret Æmulation to imitate their High Example.”[10]

And this connection might have been the driving force behind Roger Gale playing the driving force behind putting the manuscript inherited and already partly edited by his father to the press through Thomas Hearne although it costed him time, labour, and money. Samuel Gale put this into words in his letter congratulating Hearne on finishing the Fordun edition, thanking him because:

“Ye Hon[o]r You have done my Father, in mentioning him so often in It, is a great Satisfaction to Me in particular […].”[11]

And thus the history of knowledge, scholarly biographies, and – following Philip Sydenham – national honour which could be derived from both seem to have become entangled in Britain already in the early 18th century. The question is only to what end?


[1] Thomas Hearne (ed.): Joannis Lelandi antiquarii de rebus Britannicis collectanea ; Ex autographis descripsit ediditque Tho. Hearnius, 6 vol., Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1715.

[2] Philipp Sydenham to Thomas Hearne, Brympton St Every 23 May [1725?], Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 15, f. 473. Orthography as in the original, ligatures in [].

[3] Ibid.

[4] Roger Gale to Thomas Hearne, London 24 July 1716, Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 14a, f. 311–312.

[5] Thomas Hearne to Roger Gale, [Oxford 1716 – Concept, no dates], Bodleian Library, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 15a, f. 313–314.

[6] Roger Gale to Thomas Hearne, London, 20 February 1722, MS Rawls letters 6, N° 35a, f. 355–357.

[7] Thomas Hearne (ed.): Johannis de Fordun Scotichronicon genuinum, una cum ejusdem supplemento ac continuatione. E codicibus Mss. eruit ediditque Tho. Hearnius, Oxford: Sheldon Theater 1722.

[8] Samuel Gale, Oratio Habita coram Societate Lincolniensi vicesimo quarto Die Februarii Anno C. 1723, Bodleian Library, MS Eng Misc E 147, f. 61, r.

[9] Roger Gale to John Clerk, [no place] 26 April 1726, Bodleian Library, MS Top Gen d 74, pp. 178–186; p. 184.  

[10] Ibid, f. 65, v.

[11] Samuel Gale to Thomas Hearne, London, 26 May 1722, Bodleian Library MS Rawls letters 6, f. 376–377.