Detail View: Sion College manuscripts:

Register recording the gifts of benefactors to Sion College Library, written for the most part by successive Librarians of the College. The Book of Benefactors primarily records gifts of printed books and manuscripts, but also gifts and bequests of money, paintings and other objects. The volume was given by John Simson, founder of Sion College Library. The Book of Benefactors provides an extremely important account of gifts and bequests to Sion College Library, but not a complete record. Even the diligent Librarian John Spencer failed to enter over 30 gifts between 1657 and 1666 (although he noted them elsewhere, in Sion L40.2/E60). After the death of John Spencer in 1680, there was a period during which no entries at all were made by his successors. In April 1688 the Court of Sion College ordered that a book should be purchased to record the will of Samuel Brewer and accounts of the estate which he had bequeathed to the College, as well as gifts to Sion College; in October 1688 it ordered that benefactors in the year 1687 should be registered in it separately from the Brewer estate accounts (London Metropolitan Archives, Sion College, Court minute book A, 1631-1716, pp. 416, 422). In 1710 William Reading, Librarian of Sion College, was given £3 for writing up the Benefactors' Book retrospectively from 1678 to 1710. Reading thereafter made regular entries in the Benefactors Book, but also maintained a 'lesser register' (recording at least books received from Stationers' Hall under the College's copyright privilege); this 'lesser register' had disappeared by 1762 (see Book of Benefactors p. 124). Reading failed to enter at least one notable gift in the Book of Benefactors, namely the printed books and manuscripts given by Thomas Bray on 20 Feb1729/30; Reading listed these in Sion L40.2/E 96 at ff. 210-3. When Willliam Clements took office as Librarian in December 1762 he complained that his predecessor William Brakenridge had made no entries in the Book of Benefactors since 1759; Clements left blank pages in the vain hope that the record might be completed subsequently (see pp. 262-265). Clements himself failed to enter important accessions in the Book of Benefactors; his lists of the Greek manuscripts given by Edward Payne on 3 Jan 1777, and the papers of Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, are found elsewhere, in Sion L40.2/E96 at f. 214v. From 1840 to 1851 no entries were made and blank space was left (pp. 393 col 2 to 397 col 2). After 1889 the Book of Benefactors ceased to be used, although a number of notable gifts 1839-1982 were entered retrospectively in a single italic hand in the late 20th century (pp. 393-4 and 425-30). The titles of books received from Stationers' Hall under the copyright privilege were only recorded in the Book of Benefactors between 1742 and 1789. On the recording of these books at other times, see the description of Sion L40.2/E61.
p. 40. 1644. 'Henry Holland, citizen and stationer of London, now aged 62 yeares ... th'onely surviving sonn of Dr. Philemon Holland...'. Gift of printed books and manuscripts. p. 40. 1644. 'I.S.B.C.S.D.' [Ioannes Spencer, Bibliothecarius Collegii Sionensis...]. Eleventh gift of books from John Spencer.