Richard Burton (pseud. Nathaniel Crouch), Historical Remarques and Observations (1681)

By Daniel Woolf

Nathaniel Crouch (c. 1640–1725) was a prolific publisher and writer, with a specialty in epitomes and digests taken from other works. He published other writers, including many nonconformists, as the article on him by Jason McElligott (2004) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography indicates. His own epitomes and compendia largely appeared in smaller formats and mainly under the pseudonyms Robert or Richard Burton. (Mayer 1994: 391 asserts the name “Robert Burton” to have been used principally for Crouch-authored books published after Crouch’s own death).

Crouch was familiar with a number of intellectual figures from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries including Anthony Wood, Robert Plot, and John Dunton, who praised him in his own Life and Errors. Dunton wrote of Crouch, “I think I have given you the very Soul of his Character, when I have told you that his Talent lies at Collection. He has melted down the best of our English Histories into Twelve-Penny-Books, which are fill’d with Wonders, rarities and Curiosities.” (Life and Errors, 1.206). Crouch had apprentices, including a woman named Elizabeth Guard.

Crouch carried a significant stock as the advertisements in his books indicate, and as McElligott indicates, the location of his shop in London changed several times during his career.

This particular book is fairly typical of Crouch/Burton’s output. It is in a small format (duodecimo) and collates as follows:
[4], 116; [2], 116, [2] p., [6] leaves of plates : ill. ; 15 cm. (12mo)
Signatures: A-E¹² Aa-Ee¹². This is the same collation as the specimen in the Houghton Library at Harvard University (Wing C7329), but must be a separate issue from that volume in which the author’s name appears only as “R.B.”

While there are no annotations to the text, the front flyleaf has written upon it, twice, the following: “Sarah Duffeild Her Booke.”

The script is a late seventeenth-century or early eighteenth-century italic hand, and the repetition of the ownership inscription suggests that the owner, Sarah Duffeild, may have been a child or young woman, perhaps practicing her writing. There appears to be some further text below the second, finer, inscription of her name but it has been scrawled out.

The book came into my hands in 2015 from the antiquarian book dealer Unsworth’s. The sheepskin binding appears to be original and is in relatively poor shape with boards somewhat loose though the text block is mainly intact. The volume is destined eventually to join the Schulich-Woolf Rare Book collection in the W.D. Jordan Special Collections Library at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Source: Book currently in private ownership. Photos by Daniel Woolf, reproduced with permission.

Further Reading

J. McElligott, “Crouch, Nathaniel [pseud. Robert Burton] (c. 1640–1725?)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.

R. Mayer, “Nathaniel Crouch, Bookseller and Historian: Popular Historiography and Cultural Power in Late Seventeenth-Century England,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 27.3 (1994): 391-419.


4 thoughts on “Richard Burton (pseud. Nathaniel Crouch), Historical Remarques and Observations (1681)

  1. Margaret Willmer

    I have a copy of this book in terrible condition including a missing frontispiece and title page and the last page. There are also some pages with missing text. I intend to repair it as I am an amateur bookbinder.
    In your collation you to refer to 6 leaves of plates – are these in addition to the illustrations on the numbered pages.84 – 95 inclusive?. I have a plate opposite page 99 (and the plate is numbered 99) in the first section and plates opposite pages 47, 70 and 99 in the second section so in total 4 plates, the frontispiece would make the 5th.
    I haven’t found a digital copy of this edition so I will need to get some photographs of my missing pages so that I can insert them as facsimiles. I am not good enough to do a forgery and anyway I wouldn’t want to!


  2. Thanks for your comment/query. There is one point that I should have clarified re the book: the volume is divided into two separately paginated parts, as indicated in the collation. The plate you describe as opposite p 99 and numbered “99” is in the 2nd part of the volume.

    There are illustrations as follows:
    pt 1
    1. Facing title page: London in flames, London in glory.
    2. Interleaved between pp 20-21 (and with a handwritten note ‘pa 38′ at top right), 3 images from reign of Richard II
    3. Sequence of images from pp 84 to 95, principally heraldic (12 pp total)

    pt 2
    1. facing p 47 and itself numbered 47, 3 illustrations starting with “Jews crucifie a Child in England’
    2. Interleaved between pp 70 and 71 and not itself given a page number, 3 illustrations beginning with murder of Henry VI
    3. facing p 99 and numbered 99, the plate you note in your comment, 3 illustrations starting with ‘The Kings Restoration 1660’.
    4. Interleaved between pp 114 and 115 and not paginated (though someone has handwritten, in same hand as item 1.2 above) ‘pa 115’: trial and execution of the ‘L Stafford’ (sic)

    So discounting item 1.3 (the heraldic sequence), and counting the frontispiece (1.1) I think that’s the 6 ‘plates’.

    I hope that helps!


  3. Margaret Willmer

    Thank you very much for this clear reply and for clarifying what I should have. I have checked my book again and find that I had made an error and the plate numbered 99 is in the second section. I am missing the last plate and the last page (and the frontispiece and the title page). I also have some loss to other pages.

    I found this webpage on a google search for the book so that I have no idea where you or the book are! Do you by any chance know if there is a digital copy that I have failed to find?

    With best wishes


    1. Hello–glad this was useful. I am located in Canada and work at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. I’m afraid I’ve never searched for a digital copy of the book. However if you would like to email me direct ( perhaps I can assist in providing a scan or photo of your missing pages. Cheers.


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