The contents of Shaftesbury’s library are documented in the three manuscript catalogues drawn up by Paul Crell, the Earl’s “Library Keeper”. The earliest of these (1708) lists the Greek and Latin books kept at Little Chelsea. Another — it dates from the year 1709 — provides a combined inventory of the Greek and Latin texts at Little Chelsea and St Giles’s House, and the third catalogue (also 1709) shows the English, French, Italian, and other modern works in both collections.
The manuscripts (now part of the Shaftesbury Papers at The National Archives, Kew):
TNA:PRO 30/24/23/10: Catalogus Bibliothecæ Chelseyanæ Comitis de Shaftesbury. Londini annô 1708.
TNA:PRO 30/24/23/11: Catalogus Librorum Græcorum, & Latinorum utriusque Bibliothecæ vizt Ægidianæ, & Chelseyanæ Comitis de Shaftesbury. Ægidiis Anno Aeræ Christianæ 1709.
TNA:PRO 30/24/23/12: Catalogus Librorum Anglicorum, Gallicorum, Italicorum, &c. utriusque Bibliothecæ vizt Ægidianæ, & Chelseyanæ Comitis de Shaftesbury. Ægidiis Anno Aeræ Christianæ 1709.
Crell numbered the leaves in all three notebooks and assigned four folios to each letter of the alphabet (with ‘I’ and ‘J’ together), plus four to “NN.” texts. The individual rectos were superscribed “A. In Folio./A. In Quarto./A. In Octavo./A. In Duodecimo/B. In Folio.”, etc. Each recto was divided into one broad and one narrow column, the former for the main entry, the latter for the year of publication. The titles were numbered with roman numerals; where an author was represented with more than one work, Crell used additional, arabic figures (I (1), (2), etc.).
The main entries for each letter/book size show varying combinations of author, title, printer, place of publication, and number of volumes. They do not appear in alphabetical order; the details given are often brief, sometimes a little garbled (in many cases, for example, the printer is named as author).
Our alphabetical lists shows streamlined (and occasionally emended) versions of Crell’s entries. In a few cases we offer additional information from manuscript sources; we hope to present more details of this kind over time. All corrections and suggestions are welcome.