26 May 2013

Samuel Pepys, William Hewer & Ogilby's Bible

On 23 February, I wrote about a copy of Richard Knolles's Turkish History (London, 1687) owned and inscribed by Samuel Pepys (1633‒1703) to highlight the 380th anniversary of the great book collector's birth. 2013 also marks the 310th anniversary of Pepys's death on 26 May 1703. To note the occasion, this week's post describes a second book from the Dunedin City Library's Heritage Collections associated with (but not owned by) Pepys.

Pepys's Final Years
The Dunedin copy of Knolles's Turkish History was inscribed by Pepys sometime in the latter half of 1690 after his brief imprisonment on suspicions of Jacobitism. Eleven years later, he retired from public life and left London for a house in Clapham Common, Surrey. Pepys spent the remaining years of his life there, living with his trusted friend and fellow naval administrator, William Hewer (1642–1715) (Pepys's wife Elisabeth died in 1669). Hewer, who was appointed executor of Pepys's will, was once one of his menservants and is mentioned numerous times in Pepys's diary. Pepys's renowned library (now at Magdalene College, Cambridge) was kept in Hewer's home from 1703 to 1724.

1660 Cambridge Bible
The Heritage Collections holds a book from Hewer's personal library, which was widely dispersed after his death. It is a copy of the 1660 Cambridge Bible in folio, printed for John Field and illustrated by John Ogilby ( ESTC R17044). The edition ‘marked the beginning of illustrated Bibles for the high end of the market .… Ogilby first presented a copy to the House of Commons, then extracted a payment of ₤50 for it’ (Van Eerde 46). The engraved title-page of Solomon enthroned is 'blatantly … royalist, for it is difficult not to see the long-haired king as Charles II, and the twelve small lions as twelve apostolic spaniels’ (Norton 148).

The 1660 Cambridge Bible is noted in Pepys’s diary (27 May 1667): 

‘There come also Richardson, the bookbinder, with one of Ogilby’s bibles in quires for me to see and buy, it being Mr. Cade’s, my stationer’s; but it is like to be so big that I shall not use it, it being too great to stir up and down without much trouble, which I shall not like nor do intend it for’ (8:237–8). Indeed, no copy is recorded in the Pepys Library catalogue.

Could the Dunedin copy of the 1660 Cambridge Bible be the very one mentioned in the diary, passed up by Pepys, but bought by Hewer? 

Hewer's bookplate, found on the verso of the title-page of the 1660
Book of Common Prayer (issued with the Bible; ESTC R31275)

It is impossible to know for certain without documentary evidence, but the idea is at least plausible. The large folio was expensive, possibly as much as £25 when published, even in sheets, which would have normally put the book out of reach for a clerk like Hewer earning £30 per annum.

Hewer, however, was not limited by his salary. According to Robert Latham, Hewer may have inherited money from his father, who died in 1665 (Diary, 10:183). His uncle, Robert Blackborne (d.1701), became secretary to the East India Company in December 1666 (ODNB), and Hewer amassed a large fortune built on trade as a result. His gift in January 1668 of a diamond necklace to Elisabeth Pepys worth £40 is evidence enough that the Bible was far from being beyond his means in 1667 (10:183).

Provenance Continued...
Hewer died in 1715. Much of his property, including the house and contents in Clapham Common, passed to his godson, who died without issue in 1728.

Hewer's books were sold in April 1730, along with the libraries of Thomas Hobart M.D. and the Reverend John Hancocke, prebendary of Canterbury. While the auction catalogue records a copy of the 1660 Cambridge Bible bound in three volumes with the capital letters illuminated (lot 1178), this description does not match the Dunedin copy, which is bound in two volumes with plain capital letters. It is presumed that the three-volume Bible belonged to either Hobart or Hancocke (the catalogue does not specify the former owners of each lot), and that the two-volume Hewer copy was sold or given as a gift before the sale.

Though the immediate owner after Hewer remains unknown, the Bible did not travel far from its Surrey home. Both volumes include the bookplate of William Brightwell Sumner (1728–1796), a member of the East India Company, who purchased Hatchlands Park, Surrey, from the literary hostess and member of the Bluestockings, Frances Boscawen (1719–1809) in 1770.

Further provenance evidence is sadly lacking until the twentieth century, when the Bible was acquired by Sir Alfred Reed and donated by him to the Dunedin Public Library in 1950. The date and source of acquisition have gone unrecorded. 


** Hewer's bookplate was only the second bookpile bookplate designed in 1699. The other was for Sir Philip Sydenham, 3rd Baronet (1676–1739), whose own plate was based on a 1698 bookpile bookplate designed by Pepys for Arthur Charlett, Master of University College, Oxford. See Brian North Lee's 'Gentlemen and Their Book-plates' in Property of a Gentleman: The Formation, Organisation and Dispersal of the Private Library 1620–1920 edited by Robin Myers and Michael Harris (Winchester, England: St. Paul Bibliographies; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1996): 42–76.

Robert Latham (gen. ed.). Catalogue of the Pepys Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge, 6 vols. (Cambridge, England: D. S. Brewer; Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1978–1987: 1:14–17 (Bibles).  

Robert Latham and William Matthews (eds.). The Diary of Samuel Pepys, 11 vols. (London: G. Bell and Sons Ltd, 1970–1983). 

Katherine S. Van Eerde. John Ogilby and the Taste of his Times (Folkenstone: Dawson, 1976). Cited in David Norton, The King James Bible (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 148.

David Norton. The King James Bible: A Short History from Tyndale to Today. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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