Books printed before 1701
in the libraries of
the Anglican Cathedrals of England and Wales


Books printed in the British Isles and British America
and English books printed elsewhere

By Margaret S.G. McLeod (née Hands)
and others

Edited and completed by
Karen I. James
David J. Shaw





© Copyright, The Bibliographical Society, 1984, 2018
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



History of the Catalogue

The Cathedral Libraries Catalogue has been a long time in the making. In an article published in The Library (5, ii, 1947, pp. 1–13), Miss M.S.G. Hands, the Catalogue’s creator, decribes the project’s origins in the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Catalogue under Strickland Gibson in the thirties. In October 1943 the Bibliographical Society and the Pilgrim Trust were asked to support the creation of a Cathedral Libraries Catalogue. The Bibliographical Society’s sponsorship of the project has been vital throughout, through the enthusiasm firstly of Sir Frank Francis during his time as the Society’s Hon. Secretary and then of his successor, Mr R.J. Roberts.

The Pilgrim Trust provided finance for the project and in March 1944 Miss Hands started work at Worcester Cathedral where she worked until August of that year, cataloguing 3230 books printed before 1701. It was originally intended that all entries should be made in duplicate so that a copy could be left for each cathedral. This proved to be too time-consuming, though as late as 1956 Miss Hands was still trying to devise a way of providing such a record. The Society can now make good this debt through publication of the Catalogue, something which was only tentatively considered at the beginning of the project.

Miss Hands estimated that there were approximately 20,000–25,000 books to be catalogued and that the work could be completed in six years. In fact, this estimate must be doubled (at least) — this first volume contains about the same number of entries simply for the English books and the number of individual copies is far in excess of this. Consequently, when the grant from the Pilgrim Trust finally ran out after twelve years in 1956, Miss Hands had catalogued the early printed books of twenty-eight cathedrals. Several of the remaining libraries were known to be very large and the Society was for many years perplexed as to what steps it should take to see the catalogue completed.

The catalogue boxes were made available to scholars in the North Library at the British Museum Library, while the Society made frequent efforts to renew the impetus. Miss Hands had married (becoming Mrs McLeod) and a sick husband prevented her giving much time to the catalogue. In 1966 after his death she returned (at the age of 79) to deal with Carlisle Cathedral. Thereafter she still managed to continue with editorial work on the catalogue in the North Library. She died quite recently, in June 1979 (obituary in The Library, 6, ii, 1980, p.86). Present workers on the Catalogue would like to record their admiration for her astonishing achievement, the fruits of which they have inherited.

Before she died, Mrs McLeod was able to learn that the Society had at last managed to obtain a new source of subsidy for the project. The newly established British Library had been empowered to make grants to historical cataloguing projects and in 1976 the Society was successful in obtaining a grant to catalogue Salisbury and Wells. This work was undertaken by Miss Suzanne Eward (now Librarian at Salisbury) whose initial work at Salisbury in 1977 had been financed from the Society’s own funds supplemented by a donation from the late Dr N. R. Ker and a grant from the British Academy. Some work at York was also undertaken as part of the British Library grant.

At the same time, the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral obtained a British Library grant to catalogue the pre-1801 books at Canterbury, with a condition that cataloguing information should be supplied to the Cathedral Libraries Catalogue. Work at Canterbury was started in 1978 under the direction of Mr W. J. Simpson, the University Librarian, and Dr D. J. Shaw, a lecturer in French at the University and a member of the Bibliographical Society’s Council. Mrs M. Brown and Miss K. James worked on the Canterbury material until mid 1980, preparing a MARC catalogue (MAchine Readable Catalogue) which is stored on the University computer at Canterbury.

Durham Cathedral also successfully asked the British Library for a cataloguing grant for the pre-1801 books, to be supervised by Dr A. I. Doyle, Keeper of Rare Books at Durham University Library, who was at that time Chairman of the Bibliographical Society’s Cathedral Libraries Committee with Dr Shaw as his Secretary. The grant was again made conditional on submission of data for incorporation into the Union Catalogue. The work at Durham was done mainly by Miss S. Strongman (now Mrs Hingley), Mr R. Kornicki and Mr D. Pearson (who had previously given some voluntary help at Canterbury), directed by Miss E. M. Rainey.

By 1980, it was clear that completion of the Catalogue was sufficiently certain for thought to be given to publication. The outstanding tasks were to complete the cataloguing of the York material and to incorporate this and the Canterbury and Durham material into the catalogue boxes which Miss Eward had inherited at Salisbury and Wells. It was realised that the material would also require considerable editing, since it had its origin in several independent catalogue projects.

The Bibliographical Society once again applied to the British Library and was awarded a grant to edit the Catalogue and publish it in two volumes –- a finding list of STC and Wing books (the English material), and a short-title catalogue of the continental material. The project was offered accommodation in the University Library at Canterbury and was to be processed on the University computer using the programs which Dr Shaw had developed for the Canterbury Cathedral project. Dr Shaw was asked to be Editor-in-Chief and Miss James transferred from the Canterbury Cathedral catalogue to work on the project as Editorial Assistant. The catalogue boxes were moved to Canterbury and work started on the English material in early 1981. The problem of the York material was soon resolved. The Bibliographical Society found monies from its own funds to have a list (rather than a catalogue) prepared for the pre-1701 English material for Volume One of the Catalogue. This work was done by David Pearson before he moved to Durham.

This account brings us to the publication (jointly by the Bibliographical Society and the British Library) of the first part of the Catalogue. There had been an earlier intention to produce a microfiche catalogue of Miss Hands’s hand-written slips, but the addition of the Canterbury, Durham and York material, all on slips of different physical size and layout, made this impracticable. We hope that the present solution of splitting the catalogue into English and continental sections and using computer methods to store and print the catalogue will offer scholars a usable end-product at an acceptable price.

Scope of the Catalogue

At its simplest, the scope of this volume of the Catalogue is the English books printed before 1701 in the English and Welsh Anglican cathedral libraries. It covers the same ground as (and acts as a supplement to) the Bibliographical Society’s Short-title Catalogue of books printed in England Scotland & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475–1640 (STC), now being issued in a second, enlarged and revised edition, and Donald Wing’s similar Short-title Catalogue for the period 1641–1700, also currently undergoing revision at Yale. Our Catalogue additionally lists periodical material for the whole period (included by STC but excluded by Wing), and Statutes for the Wing period. The following Anglican libraries, often mentioned in conjunction with the cathedrals, have not been included in the Catalogue: Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (which is included as a college library in the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Catalogue); Lambeth Palace Library; St George’s Chapel, Windsor (of which a printed catalogue was published in 1976); Westminster Abbey; and some modern foundations without a library of the traditional type.

So far as completeness is concerned, a number of qualifications must be made, mostly resulting from the particular nature of the cathedral libraries and especially from their frequent lack of permanent specialised staff. An entry in this catalogue cannot guarantee the presence of the book in a particular library today. The book will have been seen in that library by Miss Hands or one of her successors at some time between 1944 and early 1984, but it could have been lost, mislaid or otherwise disposed of since. The local catalogues of individual cathedrals are of very variable quality and several have radically changed their shelving arrangements since their books were entered in the Cathedral Libraries Catalogue. It could well be that a particular book is still in its library but cannot for the moment be located, especially in the case of pamphlet material (which is abundantly represented in this volume). Only recently, Canterbury received a request for information about a binding which was specified by pre-war shelfmark but not by author or title. As the whole library had been rebuilt and reshelved as a result of wartime bombing, it will not prove easy to trace the item. For the most part, of course, these problems will not arise, but scholars wishing to consult books in cathedral libraries should not be unaware of the potential difficulties.

We have attempted to make enquiries about possible dispersals. Fortunately, it seems that there have been very few in the post-war period for the early printed books. The one serious case is the regrettable sale of much of the Ely Cathedral Library. Here, we have checked the lists of that portion of the Ely books which was, happily, acquired by Cambridge University Library but have listed the Ely books in full as Miss Hands recorded them in 1945, since this does help to give a record of the contents of a now defunct library. In the case of deposits of books elsewhere, we also continue to record them under the name of the cathedral in question. For example, Peterborough (deposited at Cambridge) is still recorded as Peterborough.

As to the comprehensiveness of our records, we cannot pretend to have every book which should have been included. Given the frequent inadequacy of local catalogues, work has always been done directly from the shelves and always with the goodwill and advice of the local Canon Librarian or his staff. However, books are not always on their shelves at the right time; they may have been borrowed by one of the canons or otherwise be away from the library. In any cathedral library there is always the possibility that some odd corner has been used by a previous librarian to store books, which is unknown to the present incumbent. Some printed material can often be found in the cathedral archives: it is our feeling that it has rarely been possible to find time to search such a source. Finally, there must remain the fear that occasional catalogue slips might have been lost during the catalogue’s long peripatetic existence or during its time of rest at the British Library. The second edition of STC lists cathedral locations which we cannot find in Miss Hands’s records. Where it has not been possible to verify these in the time available, we have omitted them from this catalogue.

While the main cathedral collections have always been recorded, the treatment of deposited smaller collections may not have been consistent during the long period of work on the Catalogue. Our impression is that deposits of parish libraries, for example, have been included where they are considered to have become a permanent part of the cathedral library but that other less closely associated collections will have been excluded.

One further question is that of accuracy. Our basic data come from a variety of sources (mainly Miss Hands’s and Miss Eward’s work and the entries supplied by Canterbury, Durham and York). Every entry has been checked against STC or Wing for the allocation of the appropriate identifying number and at this stage we have sometimes been able to raise queries with individual libraries. It has clearly not been practicable to query every single variant. In view of the frequency of variation in early printing, we generally assume that our cataloguing information is correct and record variation as we find it. Particularly with Wing, where the level of detail is less than with STC, we would recommend caution in assuming that a record of variation always means a genuine new or variant edition. We suspect that the variation may sometimes be due to inadequate transcription on one part or the other.

We remain confident that deficiencies due to these various causes are small and that this volume and its successor overwhelmingly represent the true holdings of the cathedral libraries.

Access to Cathedral Libraries

It is likely that the publication of this Catalogue will increase the demands made on the resources of the cathedral libraries. We would ask those who need to access to early printed books in person or who request postal information to remember that the cathedral libraries are not public libraries. Only a few of them have full-time professional staff. Some have no staff at all and any requests made must be dealt with by the Canon Librarian who will have many other claims on his time. A query of some bibliographical complexity is likely to be very taxing for an untrained volunteer. Requests about individual books should include full details of author, title, imprint, etc. (and not simply STC or Wing number) since many libraries simply do not own copies of the standard reference works.

Equally, the cathedrals (contrary to popular belief) do not enjoy vast revenues. The courtesy of a stamped addressed envelope for a reply would always be appreciated.

Several cathedrals do have professional staff, in some cases provided by a local university library. Here, a wider range of technical help might be expected. At the time of writing, the cathedrals with resident specialist staff include Canterbury, Chichester, Durham, Hereford, Lincoln, Salisbury, St Paul’s and York, and of course those specialist libraries where some cathedral collections are deposited. Exeter, Lichfield, Ripon, Rochester, Winchester, and Worcester have access to occasional specialist help.

Production of the Catalogue

It might be of interest to give a brief, non-technical account of the way this volume of the Catalogue has been produced. The data are stored on the University of Kent’s ICL 2960 computer. A set of programs was prepared to handle a simple database in which each record consisted of five fields: reference number, heading, date, notes (optional), and locations. The first program guides the keyboarder when typing in the data from the catalogue slips which have been checked and marked up and also produces printout for initial proofing. An interactive editor for the database allows corrections, changes and additions to be made as required. For example, this editor has made it a simple matter to add new locations to existing entries in the database as we have received them from collaborators. The order of preparation of material is of no consequence to the computer as t can sort the database into numerical order of STC or Wing number whenever necessary. This has enabled us to proceed with straightforward material and to leave queries and difficult items until later: we did not at first enter any of the material requiring greek type, preferring to handle these entries in a single block and merge them into their correct place.

The next stage of proof-reading was done using a small laser printer made available in the Computing Laboratory at Canterbury which produced roman, italic and bold type in several sizes and also some of the additional special characters needed. A program was written which combined the material from the database with commands to make the laser printer take appropriate actions (change fount, change point size, flush to a new line, indent, print an accented character, print a superior character, etc.) This output enabled us to make a final check for literals and for typographical presentation.

The final form of the Catalogue was produced on a Monotype Lasercomp photo-typesetter at the University of Oxford Computing Centre. Once again, a program was prepared to read the database and generate a mixture of data and typesetting commands to drive the Lasercomp. This time, the program had to produce the correct column widths and depths, three columns to the page, with running titles, without breaking entries over the column ends. The film-set output was then dispatched to the printer.

On the whole this seems to have worked successfully. If the reader notices any small imperfections due to this method of automated production, he should blame the Editor-in-Chief, not the computer, but he should also consider the considerable savings of cost which have been achieved over more conventional methods and the unlikelihood of the Catalogue appearing in any other form at all.

Most of the programs were written by the Editor-in-Chief in the programming language BCPL running under the EMAS operating system on the University of Kent’s mainframe computer. Specialised software to drive the photo-typesetters was made available by colleagues in the Electronic Publishing Research Unit at Canterbury and by the Lasercomp Service at the Oxford University Computing Centre.

Using Volume One of the Catalogue

Most of the Catalogue takes the form of references to STC and to Wing and it is expected that it will be used in conjunction with them. There are two main sections, for STC books and for Wing books, subdivided by volume. These show, in the form of finding lists, the cathedrals’ holdings of known STC and Wing items. Most of the Catalogue’s new material is also to be found in these two main sections, where new editions or variant issues of known STC or Wing items are recorded. We have brought into separate sections the totally new material; that is, titles previously not recorded at all. These have been given a much fuller form of entry, under a heading corresponding to the style used in STC or Wing. This completely new material consists mostly of Wing items, since the revisers of the second edition of STC have drawn on the Catalogue and new material has also been communicated to them by a number of cathedrals. This has also happened with Wing material, but to a lesser extent.

Since STC lists Newsbooks, etc. whereas Wing does not, we have provided a separate section of periodical material for 1641–1700. In doing this we have been much helped by Dr M. Seccombe of the Wing Revision team who is himself working on a catalogue of Wing periodical material. We have been able to draw on pre-publication material from his Short-Title Catalogue of British Serials, 1641–1700 for reference numbers and for cross-references to alternative headings. We have also brought together in a separate section the Wing period Statutes so as to give fuller information about this material which is not dealt with very consistently by Wing.

The following notes explain our method of recording entries.


The first item of each entry, given in bold type, is the STC or Wing number. In the case of STC, this is taken from the second edition of volume two and from the proofs of the second edition of volume one (for letters A–G) or from the typescript (for letter H). For Wing entries, we have used the second edition of volume two. We have not used the second edition of volume one, since its numbering system is inconsistent with that of the first edition and general preference has been to retain the numbers of the first edition. However, entries new to the first edition of Wing and present in the second edition have been inserted in their appropriate position in the first edition numbering sequence, with a reference to the second edition, where the detailed entry will be found. The Wing Revision Project intends to reissue volume one in a revised form following the practices it has adopted for volumes two and three.

After the number may be found one of the following symbols: + and are used to indicated the relative position of new items with respect to the existing STC and Wing numbers. The section of entries for Wing S2043–60 shows a typical example (John Scott’s The Christian life) where we have added a number of new or variant entries into Wing’s sequence. We have not wanted to devise our own new numbers since this would lead to confusion if different numbers had to be adopted when the items came to be incorporated into new editions of STC or Wing. All of our numbers are in fact unique as we allow sequences of + or . For example, a sequence such as 123 – – –, 123 – –, 123 –, 123, 123 +, 123 ++, 123 +++ is theoretically possible.

? is used (mainly in Wing entries) to indicate that although there are discrepancies between our entries and Wing, we think it likely that the number should be allocated to the book and that the differences are due to error on Wing’s part. A note of the discrepancies is given. Where there is clear evidence of an error in Wing, we have assigned the number without a query and again have listed the discrepancies.

When numbers are quoted for the new material in this catalogue, we should like them to be preceded by the abbreviation CLC.


We have given for each entry a brief heading, taken (sometimes abbreviated or modified) from STC or Wing as appropriate. We hope that this will improve the readability of the Catalogue and also that, together with the date, it will help to act as a check on any remaining misprints in the numbers, by showing an item which is not in its correct place. We have generally retained the wording and spelling, etc. of the form of heading found in STC and Wing, even when this results in inconsistencies between the sections or in forms of heading which we would not ideally choose.


As with the heading, the date is generally as given in STC and Wing, including inferred dates in square brackets. For new material, we have tried to follow STC practice of giving colophon dates in parentheses.


Where necessary, we give brief notes to indicate the nature of variations from the STC or Wing entry to which we are relating the item. These notes are not necessarily intended to be comprehensible without reference to the detailed wording of the original entry. Information noted includes pagination, format, edition statement, and variant title or imprint information. Variants are often noted as a single word; its significance should be clear n reference to the original entry. We have tried to distinguish title variants from imprint variants by enclosing the former in single quotes and by citing the latter without quotation marks.

The different practices of STC and of Wing have been followed in the respective sections of the Catalogue. In notes concerning titles, we indicate where STC Volume One in the first edition has silently omitted words within the opening five words of the title; for the rest of the title, we indicate only errors of spelling, etc. Wing’s practice of making no silent omissions of title information has been followed for Wing entries. In notes concerning imprints, for STC we follow STC’s practice of abbreviation, but for Wing imprints we follow Wing in giving full Christian names, etc. Wing has given all edition statements (in whatever language or form) in a standardised English form. It is assumed that users of Wing are familiar with this practice. Accordingly, the edition statement as given in the book is only noted where Wing has omitted it; for new entries; or to emphasise the presence of an edition statement on the title-page where Wing has given it in quotation marks.


The cathedrals recorded as holding a copy of the book are listed in alphabetical order. The abbreviations used are explained at the end of the Introduction. For each cathedral, there may be a note in parentheses giving details of imperfections, e.g. Ex (tpw), or the number of copies held, e.g. Cant (4), or a combination of both, e.g. Linc (2 – 1 imp), or other details, usually relating to the Notes section. These notes should be self-explanatory. The asterisk * is used where it has proved impossible to assign a book to a particular number. This may be because the book is imperfect or because of insufficient evidence in the bibliography in question or because STC now makes a distinction between numbers which the information in our catalogue entries does not enable us to make.


For those who like such things, we are able to offer some statistics on the survival of the STC and Wing material in the cathedral libraries. These figures have been produced automatically by the computer from the database for the material in the main STC and Wing sections. The other sections (Periodicals and Statutes) were not stored in the same way and so are not included in the counts.

Globally, there are 8,017 entries for STC and 17,837 for Wing, a total of 25,854 entries, representing (more or less) the number of editions in the catalogue. Of these entries, 1,637 are new ones (whose numbers have a + or –), there being 38 for STC and 1,599 for Wing. The number of separate copies recorded is 15,260 for STC (an average of 1.9 per edition) and 37,645 for Wing (an average of 2.1). The total number of copies in the catalogue is 52,905.

As the statistics of survival for early printed books are of some interest to historians of printing and to social historians, we provide a fuller analysis of the two sets of data, showing the number of editions surviving in 1, 2, 3, … copies.

 #  STC  Wing
 1 4,836 10,059
 2 1,636   3,566
 3    684   1,671
 4    328      955
 5    188      554
 6    121      357
 7      64      178
 8 41 133
 9 35  94
10 32  73
11 16  44
12 10  42
13  4  32
14  6   19
15  5   10
16  2  13
17  1    5
18  2    4
19  3  11
20  1    4
21  2    2
22  0    1
23  0    1
24  0    0
25  0    1
26  0    3
27  0    1
28  0    0
29  0    0
30  0    0
31  0    0
32  0    2
33  0    1
34  0    0
35  0    1


Not surprisingly, by far the largest single group is the group of editions surviving (in this catalogue) in only one copy: 60 per cent of the STC items, and 56 per cent of the Wing items. The missing category in these data is for editions surviving in no copies. We invite statisticians to investigate the distributions shown in the table and to try to estimate the size of this zero category. (Would this figure, added to the figure for the total cathedral holdings, represent an estimate of the output of the English booktrade to 1700?)

A further satisfaction for the curious is provided by asking the computer to identify the most popular books in the catalogue. The survival figures given (as in the table above) do not always indicate the number of cathedrals owning the book, as there are many examples of multiple copies (in some cases as many as five or more copies in one cathedral).

For STC, the list of best-sellers is:


14629a   John, Chrysostom, Saint, Τα ἐυρισκομενα, 1613. (21 copies).


15298    William Laud, A relation of the conference betweene William Lawd, and Mr Fisher the Jesuite, 1639. (21 copies).


25382    Francis White, A replie to jesuit Fishers answere, 1624. (20 copies).


602        Lancelot Andrewes, Opuscula quædam posthuma, 1629. (19 copies).


18033    Richard Montague, Apparatus ad origines ecclesiasticas, 1635. (19 copies).


23066    Sir Henry Spelman, Concilia, decreta, leges, constitutiones, in re ecclesiarum orbis Britannici, 1639. (19 copies).


17598    Francis Mason, Vindiciæ ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, 1625. (18 copies).


25223    John Weever, Ancient funerall monuments, 1631. (18 copies).


18037    Richard Montagu, Diatribæ upon the first part of of the late history of tithes, 1621. (17 copies).


3534      Thomas Bradwardine, De causa Dei, contra Pelagium, et de virtute causarum, libri tres, 1618. (16 copies).


5821      Richard Cosin, An apologie for sundrie proceedings, 1593. (16 copies).


For Wing, the corresponding figures are:

1. B2797 Bible, Biblia sacra polyglotta, 1657. (35 copies).
2. B3622 Book, Book of Common Prayer, By His Ma:ties printers, 1662. (33 copies).
3=. C1224+ Edmund Castell, Lexicon heptaglotton, 1669. (32 copies).
3=. P2853+ Matthew Poole, Synopsis criticorum, 5 vols, fol., 1669–76. (32 copies).
5. F2416 Thomas Fuller, The church-history of Britain, 1655. (27 copies).
6=. B2115 William Beveridge, Συνοδικον sive pandectae, 1672. (26 copies).
6=. L3565 William Lyndwood, Provinciale, 1679, fol. (26 copies).
6=. O607 John Overall, Bishop Overall’s convocation-book, 1690. (26 copies).
9. W1560 Henry Wharton, Anglia sacra, 1691. (25 copies).
10. C7711 St Cyprian, Opera, 1682. (23 copies).


The Bibliographical Society would like to thank the several bodies which have made grants to the Cathedral Libraries Catalogue: the Pilgrim Trust which financed the first twelve years of work, the British Academy which helped to prime the pump when a new drive to complete the Catalogue was being attempted, and the British Library which has not only financed the editorial work on the Catalogue but also through its separate grants to Canterbury and Durham cathedrals enabled these two libraries to contribute entries. Thanks are also due to the Canon Librarians and their staff who have assisted the project during the last forty years.

Within the Bibliographical Society, mention should be made of the many officers who have given of their time to try to keep the project alive when it seemed in difficulties or who gave of their time when the project was prospering and required discussion, negotiations and decisions. The past and present chairmen of the Ecclesiastical Libraries Committee, Ian Doyle and Anthony Hobson, have both been of especial help to the Editor in Chief.

At the British Library, Miss Doris Crews and Dr Richard Christophers deserve the thanks of the bibliographical community for the support and encouragement they have offered the Catalogue and cathedral libraries in general while administering the Library’s funds for external cataloguing projects.

The Bibliographical Society is indebted to the University of Kent at Canterbury on several grounds. The University Librarian, Mr Will Simpson, has provided the project with office space for the past three years and has constantly helped and supported us. The Finance Office in the University Registry has administered the project’s funds on behalf of the Bibliographical Society. The Director of the Computing Laboratory, Professor Brian Spratt, has made invaluable computing resources available for the project and given us his support. Several members of his staff, in particular Mr Bob Eager, have offered encouragement in general and practical help at times of need. Members of the French Board of Studies deserve thanks for tolerating the activities of a colleague whose enthusiasms for early printing and for computing must sometimes seem to take him a long way from the line of duty.

The Editor-in-Chief would personally like to thank those who have worked with him on Volume One, especially his full-time editorial assistant, Karen James, on whose diligence and skills the success of the project has constantly depended.

David Shaw

1 January 1984
lightly revised December 2017