James Clifford, The Divine Services and Anthems Usually Sung in His Majesties Chappell and in All Cathedrals and Collegiate Choires in England and Ireland (1664)


This copy of churchman James Clifford’s second edition of The Divine Services and Anthems Usually Sung in His Majesties Chappell bears the inscription of Ann Culliford. Like so many of our women owners on this website, Ann has not been definitively identified. A document now at the Dorset History Centre does contain a parish removal order for an Ann Culliford, wife of William Culliford. (More on removal orders here.) If this is the same Ann, then it is clear that she must have fallen on hard times during some point during her life.



In addition to the lyrics of hymns, Clifford’s book was also issued with a fold-out plate of music entitled “The Scale, or, Basis of Musick,” which tutored the reader in the rudiments of reading music.


Source: Book offered for sale by Keoghs Books, 4/4/19. Images used with permission.


John Bunyan, The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded (1701)

Bunyan, Law title copy

bunyan, law, sigsbunyan, law, board

By Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

In Law and Grace, one of his Bunyan’s most theologically technical works, he presents his view of covenant theology, which was probably influenced by his reading of Luther. This second edition is signed by a woman who was given the book by her father: “Mary Adams Her Book given by her father This book was given me by my father dear that I may sarve the Lord With Joy and fear and not to Look but understand the same that I may mount upon the wings of fame.”

Source: Allison Library, Regent College. Shelf mark BT 760 .B86 1701 JRA RARE. Photographs by Jenny-Lyn de Klerk.

Robert Bolton, Mr. Boltons Last and Learned Worke of the Foure Last Things, Death, Iudgement, Hell, and Heaven (1639)


Dated ownership inscriptions are always a delight to come across, since they indicate the time frame in which a woman book-owner acquired and / or inscribed a book. The above inscription, written on a front flyleaf in a 1639 edition of Robert Bolton’s Last and Learned Worke of the Foure Last Things, Death, Iudgement, Hell, and Heaven, reads: “Eliza: Blois her Booke giuen Me by my Aunt hodges In ye yeare: 1675.” Not only do we have a date for when the library entered Blois’s possession, but we also have a source: her aunt. Like most of our featured book owners so far, however, Elizabeth remains unidentified.


Source: Book offered for sale by Lyppard Books, 3/21/19. Images used with permission.

Jan David, Christeliicken Waer-seggher (Christian Truth-teller, 1603)

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By Joanna Rozendaal

This page features just a name: “Maria Elisabeth de Wale,” the ‘W’ written with a rather peculiar flourish. That is all information this eighteenth-century woman book owner inscribed in one of her books. Normally, the story would have ended there, but as it turns out, Maria Elisabeth de Wale is known to us still.

Maria Elisabeth de Wale (1691-1753) was the Lady of Ankeveen, a small Catholic enclave in the predominantly Protestant Dutch Republic. In her role as patroness of this village she made sure to protect and help her Catholic “flock,” among others by building almshouses for the local poor, supporting Catholic preachers, and providing local workers with ample employment. Works of Christian charity made up an important part of her life, it seems.[1]

Her strong sense of religiosity is reflected in her book ownership as well. Her book collection was brought to auction in 1755, two years after her death. It must have been quite an impressive library: the auction catalogue announcing the book sale is 234 pages long, offering well over 6,000 books. At first glance her library reflects an interest in a wide variety of subjects, but (practical) religious books comprise the most important part of her book collection.[2]

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The book discussed here, the Christeliicken Waer-seggher (The Christian Truth-teller), is a Catholic emblem book on religious life written by the Jesuit author Jan David and thus it fits well within De Wale’s large collection of religious, devotional books. It is one of the early publications in a relatively new genre of moral, religious literature in the Southern Netherlands: the Jesuit emblem book. Adorned with a hundred engravings by Antwerp engraver Theodoor Galle, this emblem book contains questions and answers on the principal truths of Catholic faith.[3]

This particular book is mentioned on page 39 of her sale’s catalogue and was sold to a new owner for either 1 guilder and 16 stuivers or 2 guilders (De Wale owned 2 copies of this particular edition). After the sale, the book disappeared from sight, but over a hundred years later it resurfaced when the book collection of the Flemish professor J.F. Heremans was gifted to the Ghent University Library, where it remains to this day.[4]


Source: David, J. Christeliicken waerseggher, de principale stucken van t’christen geloof en leuen int cort begrijpende. Met een rolle der devgtsaemheyt daer op dienende. Ende een Schild-wacht teghen de valsche waersegghers, tooueraers, etc., Antwerp, Plantijn, 1603. Copy: Ghent University Library, BIB.HER.000909. Photos reproduced with permission.


[1] Geheym-schryver van staat- en kerke der Vereenigde Nederlanden [..]. Utrecht, J.C. ten Bosch, 1759. Vol.1, pp. 376-77. Municipal Archives Gooi & Vechtstreek (SAGV). Registers van transporten, hypotheken en taxaties, 1648-1791. 155.1.3369 and 3370.

[2] Bibliotheca Ankeveniana. Sive Catalogus Exquisitissimorum & Rarissimorum Librorum. Latinorum, Gallicorum, Belgicorum &c. Amsterdam, H.W. van Welbergen, [1754]. Middlebrow Enlightenment: Disseminating Ideas, Authors, and Texts in Europe, 1665-1830 (MEDIATE) database. https://test.mediate-database.cls.ru.nl/dashboard/ (the public version of the MEDIATE database sandbox will be available in late 2019 or early 2020)

[3] Corbellini, S.; Hoogvliet, M.; Ramakers, B. (eds.). Discovering the Riches of the Word: Religious Reading in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Leiden, Brill, 2015. p. 342 and further.

[4] Van Duyse, Johan. Heremans, Jacob F.J. (1825-1884). UGentMemorie. Edited on 10.03.2015. www.ugentmemorie.be/personen/heremans-jacob-fj1825-1884




John Bunyan, The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate (1688)

bunyan, advocate, titlebunyan, advocate, first sigsbunyan, advocate, second sigsbunayn, advocate, second sigs zoomedbunyan, advocate, third sigsbunyan, advocate, fourth sigsbunyan advocate, fifth sigsbunyan, advocate, sixth sigsbunyan, advocate, board

By Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

Bunyan wrote this work to show that Christ’s role as advocate for believers, who, even though they are weak, are secure because Christ pleads for them before the Father. Bunyan believed this doctrine had not been communicated clearly enough in the church of his day and wanted to bring encouragement and comfort by explaining it. Though Bunyan’s genius for writing and communicating has been admired by many throughout history, he saw himself first and foremost as a pastor to those God had given him to teach and help, which mostly included those who were outcasts in society like the poor and uneducated.

This first edition of Christ as Advocate is flooded with signatures, several of which are from John Leakey who recorded information about Elizabeth Leakey. She “Was Born . . . 26 of January 1759 . . . half past 12 at mid Day and Christened the 11 of February 1759” as well as “married May 13th1787—Blessed are they that are called in this marriage Supper of the Lamb.” Her children’s birthdays are also recorded, as well as her death, to which is added “The day before she fell asleep in Christ the blessed Spirit most wonderfully & apparently form’d Christ in her Heart this Hope of love and made her powerfully feel the . . . need of his Blood & Righteousness. The book is also signed by “Molly Salsbury” and “Ann . . .”

Source: Allison Library, Regent College, shelf mark BT 255 .B86 1688 JRA RARE. Photographs by Jenny-Lyn de Klerk.

Christopher Love, Grace: The Truth and Growth and Different Degrees Thereof (1652)


Evaluating women’s book ownership in the early modern period from their ownership inscriptions alone is as complicated as it is essential. The conclusions we’re able to draw from one woman’s ownership of one book are, in many cases, limited. However, sometimes even the smallest additional details may take on larger importance.

Perhaps the most interesting element of early female owner Ann Clarke’s inscription in the above book is that she designates it “No: 14:.” While numbering was a common way to mark works within a Sammelband, it seems unlikely due to the book’s 238-page length that it would have been fourteenth in a single volume. Does “14” refer, then, to the order of acquisition? Was the book fourteenth on the shelves of Ann’s closet or in a storage chest? Was it the fourteenth work of theology in her collection? Or even the fourteenth work that she owned by Royalist minister Christopher Love?

Searching ESTC’s copy-specific notes (a strategy I discuss in my essay in the recent Women’s Bookscapes in Early Modern Britain: Reading, Ownership, Circulation) for “Ann Clarke” brings up seven results, one for a title published in 1588 and six for titles published between 1650 and 1691. All but six are theological in scope. While Ann Clark(e) was a common enough name, it may be worth exploring these seven books in the future to see if the handwriting is similar and, if so, whether they contain the same classification system.

Source: Book offered for sale on AbeBooks by James Cummins Booksellers, 12/18/18. Image used with permission.

Jeremiah Burroughs, The Saints Happiness (1660)

burroughs, titleburroughs, sigsburroughs, sigs zoomedburroughs, board

By Jenny-Lyn de Klerk

Burroughs’s irenic personality, noted by many who knew him, is clearly exemplified in his decision to exposit the Beatitudes (originally given in forty-one sermons and compiled into Saint’s Happiness) as found in Matthew 5, which extol meekness, mercy, and peacemaking. This copy, donated by Dr. J. I. Packer, has an interesting array of signatures: one from Sarah Allyson who seems to have been married twice (in the second instance becoming Sarah Metham, “now Wife to” Mr. Metham in “April 1725”) as well as a “Mary Allyson Brooke 1701.”

Source: Allison Library, Regent College, shelf mark HP Coll. BX 7233 .B87 G67 1660 JRA RARE. Photographs by Jenny-Lyn de Klerk.