Thomas Ken, A Manual of Prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester Colledge (1686)

Folger Library 269114

It may seem unusual for a woman to mark her ownership in a book designed for a boy’s college, but here we have Elizabeth Legh noting the gift from her father, Richard Legh, on May 22, 1687. The book, now in the Folger Library, had only been published the year before and was also directed to “all other Devout Christians,” as noted on the title page.

269114 sig detail

Elizabeth’s father, Richard Legh died only three months after the gift, on August 31, 1687. He was a longtime Member of Parliament for Cheshire, the site of their home, Lyme Park, now under the National Trust. There is no indication that he was educated at Winchester, but the book could be used as a devotional guide by anyone.

Richard Legh by Peter Lely, 1664. Lyme Park. National Trust Photo

The book is bound in rich red morocco leather with Elizabeth’s initials on the front and back covers; perhaps her father had this done or perhaps she paid for the special work. Someone at a later time pasted a note to the binding which helpfully identifies the owners but rather spoils the appearance!

269114 binding

It is unusual to know so much about a woman book owner and her family, unless she herself was an author or collector. Elizabeth’s portrait is at Lyme Park with her father’s.

Elizabeth Legh, Lady Master. British School, 1700-1714. Lyme Park. The Legh Collection. National Trust Photo

In September 1690, at the age of 24, Elizabeth became the second wife of Sir Streynsham Master, who was 50 at the time.

Sir Streynsham Master, attrib. Charles D’Agar, 1714. National Portrait Gallery, NPG 6107

Sir Streynsham had had a long career as an administrator for the East India Company and founded the first Anglican church in India in Madras. By the time he and Elizabeth married, he was back in England, and they lived in Holborn, London with houses in Derbyshire. He was knighted by King William, while a director of the new East India Company. He and Elizabeth had three children, but she died in 1714; he survived her for ten more years.

Source: Folger Library 269114. Photographs of book by Georgianna Ziegler. Reproduced with permission.

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