PHILLIPPS, THOMAS, SIR. Manuscripts and documents relating to the Bibliotheca Phillippica, 1794-1886
Sir Thomas Phillipps: Manuscripts and Documents
Relating to the Bibliotheca Phillippica, 1794-1886
RLIN ID No.
Manuscripts and documents relating to the Bibliotheca Phillippica, 1794-1886 (bulk 1800-1864)
Ca. 80 items
English antiquary and bibliophile. He began collecting while at Rugby School and Oxford and on inheriting his father’s estate at Middle Hill in Worcestershire he embarked on a career of collecting manuscripts and books. His collection eventually contained over 60,000 manuscripts and included many in Greek, Latin and eastern languages as well as English and Continental manuscripts. In the 1820s Phillipps made trips to the Continent where he visited many libraries and purchased manuscripts. On his return to England he continued to collect, frequently buying up entire estate libraries at auction; he printed a number of the manuscripts, as well as other works, at the Middle Hill Press he established on his estate. During 1864-1865 he removed his household and all his collections to Thirlestaine House, Cheltenham.
Scope and Contents Note
Correspondence, invoices and other items from auctioneers, booksellers and printers, including John Lowe, Obadiah Rich, Thomas Thorpe and Bernard Quaritch. Thirty catalogs of various portions of the collection, mainly in manuscript, created between 1816 and 1872. Items from the auctioneers Payne and Foss concern their purchase for Phillipps of material from the Richard Heber sale of 1833 and the Benjamin Bright sale of 1844-45. There is also miscellaneous correspondence, including letters from Brasenose College Oxford and the Bodleian Library about gifts from Phillipps, as well as several letters by him including copies of letters for 1854-55 made by the Wedgwood Patent Manifold Writer. Material concerning Phillipps’s Continental tours includes but is not limited to visas, his notes on Continental libraries and letters from the Librarian of Lille to the Librarian of Cambrai regarding his use of their collections. The collection also includes Phillipps’s holograph manuscript of a “Visual shelf list” (an early attempt to systematize the arrangement of his collections), notes of the expenses involved in moving the collections from Middle Hill to Thirlestaine House, and lists of manuscripts in the libraries of collectors Walter Sneyd and John Lee drawn up for his Catalogus Manuscriptorum in Bibliothecis Angliae. Among the miscellaneous manuscripts are items relating to the purchase of the estate of Donald Fenton and a manuscript book of miscellaneous poems, including “Amor Patrie,” a poem spoken at Manchester. Material about the disposition of his collections after his death includes of his furniture, plate and pictures by James Toovy, and autograph letters form Edward Bond, Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum.
Title devised by cataloger.
Oversize material housed in portfolio boxes.
Finding Aid Note
Unpublished finding aid available in repository.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift; Jean Mermin Horblit, widow of collector Harrison D. Horblit; 1995.
Portions exhibited: “Sir Thomas Phillipps, Portrait of a Collector: An Exhibition of the Greatest Book Collector of All Time,” organized by the Grolier Club, 1972 December 19 to 1973 February 14.
Portions exhibited: “The Collector Collected: The Horblit Archive of Sir Thomas Phillipps at the Grolier Club,” organized by the Grolier Club, 1997 May 20 to July 31.
Bond, E. A. (Edward Augustus), 1815-1898. Correspondence.
Bright, Benjamin Hayward, former owner.
Erpenius, Thomas. 1584-1624. Rudiments de la languae…English.
Fenton, Donald, former owner.
Heber, Richard, 1773-1833, former owner.
Horblit, Harrison D., collector.
Horblit, Jean Mermin, donor.
Lee, John, 1783-1866. Library.
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872. Correspondence.
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872. Library.
Phillipps, Thomas, Sir, 1792-1872. Library. Catalogs.
Rich, Obadiah, 1777-1850.
Sneyd, Walter, 1809-1888. Library.
Thorpe, Thomas, 1791-1851.
Bernard Quaritch (Firm). Correspondence.
Bodleian Library. Correspondence.
Brasenose College. Correspondence.
Payne and Foss.
Book collectors. England. 19th century.
Book collecting. England. 19th century.
Private libraries. England. 19th century.
Private libraries. England. 19th century. Catalogs.
Cambrai (France). Libraries. Correspondence. 19th century.
Lille (France). Libraries. Correspondence. 19th century.
Broadsides. England. 19th century.
Catalogues. England. 19th century.
Invoices. England. 19th century.
Invoices. France. 19th century.
Shelf lists. England. Worcestershire. Broadway. Middle Hill. 19th century.
Occupation (as reflected in collection)
Book collectors. England. 19th century.
Librarians. France. 19th century.
Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022-1098.
Note: Entries in The Phillipps Manuscripts: Catalogus Manuscriptorum in Bibliotheca D. Thomae
Phillipps, Bt., with an introduction by A. N. L. Munby (London: Holland Press, 1968) are
identified as “Phillipps MS #__.”
Items in appraisal list of Harrison D. Horblit’s Sir Thomas Phillipps Collection prepared by Lionel
and Philip Robinson of London is identified by list section and number as (i.e.): “Robinson Misc.
MS # __.”
Some items appear in both the Phillipps Catalog and the Robinson lists.
Auctioneers, Booksellers and Printers Items
Catalogue of books, & c. to be sold by auction by Mr. Read, on Tuesday the 24th of June 1794 in the city of Gloucester…belonging to George Savage. 28 p. Stitched. Savage had been the owner of Middle Hill in the parish of Broadway, Worcestershire until his death in 1793; TP’s father purchased the estate in 1794.
John Lowe. 4 leaves of bills. N.d. John Lowe printed for TP in 1865.
Thomas Phillipps. ALS, 1821 et al. Complains of high prices charged by booksellers. (Robinson Misc. MS #14)
Catalogue of miscellaneous books. Chelsea: T. Mason, 1829. Note on title page in hand of TP.
Payne and Foss (Auctioneers). Bill for purchases at Heber Sale, part 11. 7-1/2 p. Richard Heber was a major collector of printed books and manuscripts; after his death in 1833 his library was sold at auction in sixteen sales conducted by Payne & Foss.
_______. ALS, 1844 June 19. The collector Benjamin Haywood Bright died in 1843; his library was sold by Sotheby’s between 1844 and 1845. This letter informs TP of results of one of the first sales.
_______. Receipt with annotations by TP. 1848.
_______. Receipt with notes by TP. 1848 [another]
Obadiah Rich (bookseller). 9 ALS, 1843-1847. Bound in Middle Hill Boards. Phillipps MS #18,401. (Robinson Misc. MS #26)
Thomas Thorpe (bookseller). Bill for purchases at Heber Sale, Part 11. 1836 Feb. 22. TP bought Thorpe’s entire stock of manuscripts in 1836; he also bought books for TP at the Heber sale.
______. ALS with extensive notes by TP, 1850 June 27.
Shotover Mansion library catalogue. Fourth day. 1855 Oct. 25. Manuscript notes by TP.
Bernard Quaritch. ALS, 1858-1859. 21 cm. Middle Hill Boards. [Includes some bills.] (Robinson Misc.
Rare and valuable books. To be sold at auction…at the Angel Hotel, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire… . [Pencilled note at bottom of this broadside: “Bough entire by Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart.”] This collection of the historian Thomas Price included a 13th century manuscript of the 6th century Welsh poem Gododin.
Continental Book Buying Tour
États general des postes du Royaume de France pour l’an 1823. Paris: 1822. 196 p. Blue boards with vellum spine. 21 cm. Printed book with mss. notes from his tour to Switzerland. Includes calling cards for Mrs. and Miss Molyneux. Phillipps had married Henrietta Molyneux 1819 Feb. 23. (Phillipps MS #19,380; Robinson Misc. MS #19)
Thomas Phillipps. ALS to M. Le Pasteur Wittenbach at Berne. 1823 August. In French.
Miscellaneous travel papers, including original visa signed by the French Ambassador and bills and letters relating to his residence at Treves in 1823. (Robinson Misc. MS #5)
Three-manuscript notebooks bound together: “Notes on Continental libraries” (1827); “Observations on
reading Hume” (1827); and “Voyages of Mr. Vergull.” (Robinson Misc. MS #32)
Lille. Librarian. ASL to Librarian at Cambrai, 1828 20 June. 2 p.
Lille. Librarian. ALS to Librarian at Cambrai. 1828 20 June (a second letter). 2 p. Both letters relate to
activities of TP at the libraries in Lille and Cambrai.
Library of Sir Thomas Phillips: Arrangements
Expenses incurred in removing library from Middle Hill to Thirlstane (sic) House, Cheltenham. Holograph
ms. 9 p. TP moved his library from his Middle Hill estate to Thirlestaine House in Cheltenham between 1863 July 10 and 1865 March 18.
“Visual shelf list.” 2 leaves in hand of TP. N.d. Diagram of an arrangement of the long wooden boxes that contained the books and manuscripts; the arrangement was not maintained.
Lists of Manuscripts for Phillipps’s Catalogus Manuscriptorum in Bibliothecis Angliae
List of manuscripts in the Sneyd collection now in the Phillipps collection. 1837. 3-1/2 p. TP purchased the library of Walter Sneyd of Keele Hall, Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Dr. [John] Lee. Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire. [List of manuscripts in his library]. 8 p. In hand of TP. John Lee (1783-1866) collected antiquities at his estate of Hartwell in Buckinghamshire.
Estate of Sir Thomas Phillipps
James Toovy. Inventory of the furniture, plate, pictures, etc. at Thirlestaine House, 1872.
British Museum. Heads of a scheme with reference to library…of Sir Thomas Phillipps. 1872 December. 6 p. Apparently drawn up by the Trustees of the British Museum and discussing lack of adequate funds to maintain his library and suggesting various schemas to overcome the difficulty. Also ms. copy of a letter “To the Honourable Trustees of the British Museum. (Robinson Misc. MS #10)
Edward Bond. ALS 1872 April 17. Concerns Phillipps’ manuscripts. Bond was Keeper of Manuscripts at
Edward Bond. LS 1873 June 25. 3 p. Concerns valuation of TP’s manuscripts.
A short catalogue of Sir Thomas Phillipps’ privately printed works. 1886
List of books presented by Sir Thomas Phillipps to the British Museum. N.d., but after 1837. Holograph ms. on blue paper.
“Directions respecting the Reading Room of the British Museum.” N.d. Printed notice with holograph jottings on verso.
Thomas Phillips. Draft of letter to Cambridge Public Library in which TP presents his catalogue of manuscripts. ALS. N.d. 3 p.
_______. LS to a bookseller, 1821 May 8. TP complains of high prices charged by booksellers.
_______. ALS to Sir Cuthbert Sharpe, 1849 June 14. Sharpe had collected old ballads for TP in the North of England in the 1830s.
_______. Collection of manuscript notes, letters and autographs. Disbound.
Brasenose College, Oxford. Librarian, ALS to TP, 1850 June 27. Regards TP wish to view manuscripts.
Letters 1854-1855. Copies in notebook with “Wedgewood Patent Manifold Writer” on front cover. 26 cm. Marbled boards. (Robinson Misc. MS #24)
Bodleian Library. Proposal regarding proposed gift of TP’s manuscripts. 1858 June 9. 2 p. (blue paper). The curators of the Bodleian Library declined the collection.
Catalogs from Bibliotheca Phillippica
NOTE: Titles have been transcribed as found in the manuscripts. Material in brackets indicates a supplied title, a spine title or information added for clarity.
E Libris TP [with dates 1808 and 1811 in the booklet]. 22 leaves. Autograph list of printed books owned,
many with prices. TP completed this list at the age of 19 and it is the earliest record of the
Bibliotheca Phillippica. Marbled paper wrappers.
Cat. Index to Part 3 [Cover title. Middle Hill Press, c. 1863-1871]. 90 leaves (20 copies of sheet 1; p. 1-4]. 34 x 21 cm. Middle Hill boards. Multiple copies of proof sheets of the Index to Part # of TP’s Catalogus Manuscriptorum.
Reference Catalog of Phillipps MSS [Cover title. Middle Hill Press, n.d.]. 82 p. 34 x 21 cm. Middle Hill
Boards. [While it is undated, this catalog may have been prepared after Sir Thomas moved his
collection from Middle Hill to Thirlestaine House.]
Refer-Indices [Cover title]. Spine title: TP [Thomas Phillipps] MS Reference. N.d. Various paginations.
34 x 21 cm. Middle Hill boards.
Sir Thomas Phillipps Scheme for his Catalogue 1842 MS. [Envelope title] 1842. 34 x 21 cm.
[Robinson Misc. MS #27]
[Section of entries headed “Transcript pro T. P. after MS 6868: Catalogue of Guilford MSS. Ex MSS.
Additional British Museum, Fol. Ch.”] Robinson Misc. MS #9; Phillipps MS #6869.
[TP MS List of books and some personal correspondence.] Spine title: MS Catalogue of Middle Hill
Printed Books.” N.d. (Phillipps MS #26,079)
[Lists of manuscripts, many being dealers’ reports.] N.d. 146pp. 22 x 36 cm. Blue paper over boards. [List of contents, possibly in hand of collector Harrison D. Horblit, includes manuscripts TP purchased from Heber and other sales. (Robinson Misc. MS #11)
[Catalogue of Middle Hill Library, 1816]. N.d. White vellum and boards. Ruled sheets divided into columns labeled: Author, Vols., Size. The format is not consistently maintained. (Robinson Misc. MS #33; Phillipps MS 26, 364)
[Catalogue of Phillipps MSS at Middle Hill.] Spine title. N.d. Printed forms with some holograph entries. 35 x 22 cm. Pages not numbered. Bound in Middle Hill boards. [The catalog consists of duplicates of the same form, all blank, and contain headings labeled: No., Subject; Vols.; Author or Collector; Residence, Vol.; Beginning, Ending, Form, Inches, Material, Century, Binding, Perf[ect], Imperf[ect], Bought of; Printed or not, Leaves, Price, Scribe and Observations.” (Robinson Misc. MS 3$; Phillipps MS #19, 624)
[Catalog to Midd. (sic) Hill Library of MSS 1863.] Vols. 2-3. Half white vellum and paper-covered boards. 33 x 29 cm. Vol. 1 not present. This catalog lists both manuscripts (by numbers) and printed books (by short title). Inserted slip reads: Books sent to Thirlestaine House 12 August 1863.” (Phillipps MS #26,352)
[Catalog of books and MSS in the numbered boxes made by Sir T.P. preparatory to removing to
Thirlestaine House.] 1863. Vol. 1. Vellum with marbled paper over boards. [Short titles of printed
books as boxed for moving.] (Robinson Misc. MS #15; Phillipps MS 19,345 [Vol. l])
Catalog of printed books according to alphabet of authors [not filled in]. 1827. White vellum and paper over boards. 19 x 24 cm. (Robinson Misc. MS #15; Phillipps MS #21,573)
Catalog of Phillipps MSS 23,838-26,365 [Cover and spine title]. N.d. White vellum and paper over boards.
17 x 23 cm.  leaves. Edward Bond, Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum
prepared a list of manuscripts numbered 23,838 to 26,179 for probate of Phillipps’ estate. Thomas
Fitzroy Fenwick, one of TP’s sons-in-law, added additional items from 26,180 onwards and made
corrections to Bond. This catalog supplements the Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum.
List of the stray volumes in the Thirlestaine Library that have never been catalogued or have lost their
catalogue number, or have been removed by Mr. [Edward] Bond from the trunks, [Title on front
end-paper. Made for probate of will. 18 x 23 cm. Half-leather with buff paper over boards.
[Sir Thomas Phillipps’ (sic) Preface to his catalogue of manuscripts.] N.d. 92 leaves. 19 x 24 cm. (Phillipps
[Elizabeth Cooper]. Largely blank book with spine title (sic): CHART:/ANT:/COLL.:MSS. 92 leaves. 19 x 25 cm. Half-leather with marbled paper over boards (Phillipps MS #26,364). [Only the first few leaves have writing. Cooper was planning a book on the courtiers of Queen Elizabeth and wished to consult manuscripts in TP’s library, detailed in a list dated 1866 Jan. 1.
Leander van Ess. Catalogue editionum incunabulum in bibliotheca sua. 44 leaves. 24 x 28 cm. Ruled notebook. Blue paper over boards with wrapper of brown marbled paper. Autograph catalog of incunabula owned by Leander van Ess of Darmstadt that he sold to TP in 1824. (Robinson Misc. MS #28; Phillipps MS #10,995)
Leander van Ess. Sammlung und Verzeichniss Handscriften Bucher… (Darmstadt: 1823) [Copy of the printed pamphlet with blank interleaves. TP added his own catalog numbers when the volumes were checked in.]
Leander van Ess. Catalogus manuscriptorum et incunabulum typographicum. 10 leaves. 15 x 23 cm. [Thomas Fitzroy Fenwich made this identification, although the described materials seem not to be related to items in the van Ess collection; the lists seem to be compilations from dealers’ catalogs. (Phillipps MS #28,466?)
Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex. Catalogue of the Earl of Essex’s Library, 1681-83. 388 leaves. [Folio 9 states that the catalog is an account of all books in the library at Cashiobury, Hertfordshire made between 1681 and 1683. Not from the Horblit collection. (Phillipps MS #22,975)
Arthur Capel, Earl of Essex. Index to the catalog of the Library of the Earl of Essex at Cassioburoy (i.e. Cahiobury) in 1682-83. 186 leaves. Not from the Horblit collection. (Phillipps MS #23,003)
Catalogue of a library unknown, containing some manuscripts. N.d. 17 x 23 cm. Blank stationer’s book with alphabetical tabs. Half-leather with marbled paper boards. [Fragmentary contents with some dealers’ catalog descriptions tipped in. (Phillipps MS #7,144)
[Irish MSS]. [Spine title: Catalogue of Irish Manuscripts/Cotton. Landsdowne/Harley. Lambeth/Rolls in
Tower of London.] 258 leaves. 22 x 35 cm. Leather with marbled paper over boards. [Entered in
section of Phillipps’ manuscript catalogue headed: “Wm. Monk Mason’s MSS (of Dublin)]
(Phillipps MS #17,049)
[Irish Manuscripts.] Catalogue of Irish MSS in Trinity College, Dublin. N.d. 360 fols. (Phillipps MS
[Bishop Samuel Butler]. Catalogue of Bp. Butler’s MSS. N.d. 20 x 33 cm. Bound in composition boards.
Pencil annotations on fol. 1: Catalogue of Bishops Butler’s Manuscripts with his autograph
annotations and additions. (Robinson Misc. MS #3; Phillipps MS #25,856)
[Lille.. Arras and Amiens]. Sir Thomas Phillipps Catalogue of MSS at Lille, Arras and Amiens, etc. Ca.
1827-28. 21 x 32 cm. Bound in composition boards. [TP made these notes on manuscripts in
French libraries during his Continental trip of 1827-29. A typed manuscript description of the
volume and list of contents are inserted.] (Robinson Misc. MS #16; Phillipps MS #26,220)
[List of manuscripts in Lille, Arras and Amiens, Rouen, etc.] Ca. 1818. [List of manuscripts examined by
TP during his trip, including many he purchased. 94 leaves. 30 cm. Boards covered in dark green
paper. [Listed as “Codices MSS Galliae. Listed in a section of Phillipps’ manuscript catalog
headed: “Collected by T. P. either Autograph or Amanusenses.” (Robinson Misc. MS #19;
Phillipps MS #10,488)
[Bibliotheque Imperiale]. [Notes on manuscripts of the Bibliotheque Imperiale, made by a professional
scribe.] N.d. 18 leaves. Bound in composition boards. No title or identifying marks on binding.
Catalogue of the Tournay [i.e.: Tournai]. Manuscripts by Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart./Catalogue of his
books and manuscripts bought abroad, ca. 1828. 12 x 20 cm. Half-leather with paste-paper
covered boards. [One list details manuscripts acquired at Tourna; the other lists printed books
purchased during his trip of 1828. (Phillipps MS #1,063)
Manuscript book of miscellaneous poems and notes, etc; first entry is “Amor Patrie, a poem spoken at Manchester.” The manuscript includes extracts from books read by TP. Tipped in front is engraving “Minuet de la Court” published by Heyday and Ryder, Birmingham, 1806 Nov. 4. Printed in red. (Phillipps MS #22,165; Robinson Misc. MS #30)
Facsimiles of old deeds and writings. c.1850. (Phillipps Manuscript #24,497; Robinson Misc. MS #8))
Société des antiquaries de la Morinie. Secretary. ALS to TP 1836 July 11. Sir Thomas was made a corresponding member of the society. Letter accompanies the printed Statuts et Reglement Interieur De la Society. His draft reply of 1836 Sept. 14 is included. (Robinson Misc. MS #13)
Miscellaneous material. Includes correspondence re purchase of estate of Donald Fenton, Esquire and pages describing the contents. 26cm. Middle Hill Boards. Phillipps bought the topographical manuscripts of Richard Fenton in December 1858; Fenton had been associated with the antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare. (Phillipps MS # 24,079; Robinson Misc. MS #21).
“Cartul. Sarum Index.” In TP’s hand, with address panel.
“Gregorius”. Sheet of proofs with corrections in TP’s hand.
List of libraries in Germany. 9 p. (JH 31)
“Phillipps Collection” on binding. 20cm. Contents are very miscellaneous. Bound in Middle Hill Boards.
(Phillipps MS #26,368; Robinson Misc. MS #25)
Other Miscellaneous Items
Printed encomium of TP as thanks for use of his library. 58 x 30cm. No information about author or
circumstances of visit; Mended with tape on the folds.