The last will of Humphry Chetham, of Clayton, in the county of Lancaster, Esq; date December 16, 1651; whereby he founded and endowed a hospital and library in Manchester. Also the charter of King Charles II dated November 10, 1665 for making the trustees under Mr. Chatham’s will a body-corporate.

Manchester, printed by J. Harrow, [1759?].

4to, pp. [2], 56, printed on thick paper, the title-page with ornamental letter press border, internally a very good crisp and clean copy; bound in the original marbled paper covered boards, back strip worn away, but cords strong.


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First edition and the earliest printing of Humphrey Chetham’s will. Chetham (1580-1653) was a cloth merchant and banker. Not having children of his own Chetham maintained 22 poor boys during his life by providing money for their maintenance and education. By his will this number was to be increased to 40 boys; he also left funds to build a house where the boys should live. Chetham left also considerable funds for the endowment of a chained library for the benefit of the people of Manchester, which was to become the Chetham’s Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. He also gave money to fit out a suitable library building. He gave money to endow further chained libraries of ‘godly English Books’ (p.41) in the parish churches of Manchester, Boulton, Turton, Walmsley and Gorton. He also left money for a hospital.

The date of printing is not established; ESTC opts for ‘1759?’ older catalogues opted for ‘1750?’.

ESTC locates seven copies in the UK, and two in US: Folger and Huntington.

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