Carlisle Cathedral – library and early German imprints

by Dr W. Kelly

Address: The Cathedral, 7 The Abbey, CARLISLE CA3 8TZ

Telephone: (+44 0) 01228 548151

Fax: (+44 0) 01228 547 049



Governing body or responsible institution: Dean and Chapter

Functions: Library for the use of members of the cathedral chapter and the clergy of the diocese. Bona fide members are admitted on written application to the Librarian.

Access: The Cathedral is within easy walking distance of the railway and bus stations.


Brief history of the institution


Henry I founded the Augustinian Priory of St. Mary at Carlisle in 1122 as part of his policy to consolidate the Border region. He went on on to found the Diocese of Carlisle in 1133 to resolve issues of ecclesiastical administration in the region. This was the last diocese to be founded in medieval England and the only cathedral served by Augustinian Canons in that period; other monastic cathedrals in England were served by Benedictines. The priory church became the cathedral of the new diocese. Of the original Romanesque cruciform church only the crossing, south transept and two bays of the nave survive. The choir was extended in the thirteenth century and after a fire in 1292 was rebuilt during the fourteenth century. The tower fell in 1380 and was rebuilt in the early fifteenth century. The priory was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540, and the cathedral re-founded by him the following year with the new dedication to the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Five bays of the nave were lost in 1650 during the Commonwealth period. Many of the monastic buildings were lost during the Civil War and Commonwealth periods. Of these only the refectory, the Prior’s Tower, Prior Slee’s Gatehouse and tithe barn survive. The main restoration of the cathedral occurred during the period, 1553-1856, with Archibald Campbell Tait as Dean and Ewan Christian as architect.


Secondary literature: A. Clifton-Taylor, The cathedrals of England (London, 1967); D. Weston, Carlisle Cathedral: history (Carlisle, 2000); T. Tatton-Brown, The English cathedral (London, 2002).


Brief history of the library


Carlisle Cathedral has a fine collection of early printed books dating from the late fifteenth century onwards. The cathedral’s medieval library was lost during the destruction of the Commonwealth period. However the library was re-founded in 1691 by the donation of the library of the scholarly Canon Henry Hutton which was strong in patristic works. He had died in 1655 during the Commonwealth but his works were donated to the cathedral by Canon Arthur Savage. A second collection came to the cathedral library in 1702 on the death of the bibliophile, Thomas Smith, who had been successively Dean and Bishop of Carlisle. His library was particularly strong in seventeenth century works published in England. Smaller collections were subsequently added, such as those of Joseph Nicholson and Tullie Joseph Cornthwaite. The subjects covered by the library are mainly theological, but there are also classical authors of Greek and Latin antiquity, geography, history, law, philology, philosophy and science. The cathedral library’s muniments have been transferred to the Cumbria Record Office.

This repository is very largely unknown and certainly unused. For most practical purposes the material can be found in a shelflist arranged in a series of binders. Given its unfamiliarity and lack of use, it seems not only desirable but also essential to list the contents in greater detail than one would require in other circumstances. There are a little more sixteenth than seventeenth century German imprints in the book stock, with only a mere handful of eighteenth century ones. I have not bothered to note any from the nineteenth century. The volumes of theological content from the sixteenth century fall roughly into three categories, Church Fathers, church history and commentaries (by both Roman Catholic and Reformed authors) on parts of the Bible as well as dogmatic theology. Among the first category are St. Ambrose, Omnia quotquot extant … opera. Ed. J. Coster (Basle, 1567), St. Athanasius, Opera (Basle, 1564), Clemens Alexandrinus, Omnia … opera. Ed. G. Hervetus (Basle, 1566), Epiphanius, Opera (Basle, 1560), Hilarius Pictaviensis, Lucubrationes aliquot extant. Ed. M. Lypsiujm (Basle, 1576), St. Jerome, Omnium operum … tomus primus [-nonus]. 9v. (Basle, 1516), St. John Damascene, Opera omnia quae quidem extant (Basle, 1575) and C. Lactantius, Opera omnia (Basle, 1563). Among the second are Autores historiae ecclesiasticae (Basle, 1523; Basle, 1524), N. Callistus, Ecclesiasticae historiae libri decem et octo. Ed. J. Long (Frankfurt/Main, 1588) and Eusebius, Historiae ecclesiasticae scriptores Graeci. Ed. S. Petrus (Cologne, 1581), and among the third M. Bucer, Scripta Anglicana (Basle, 1577), H. Bullinger, De origine erroris libri duo (Zurich, 1539) and Dispositio et perioche historiae Euangelicae per IIII. Euangelistas contextae (Zurich, 1553), F.M. Cano, Locorum theologicorum libri duodecim (Cologne, 1574), D. Erasmus, Christiani matrimonii institutio (Basle, 1526), In Euangelium Lucae paraphrasis (Basle, 1534), Paraphrases … in aliquot Pauli apostoli epistolas (Basle, 1523), Paraphrases in Epistolas Pauli ad Timotheum duas, ad Titum unum & ad Philemonem unum (Strassburg, 1523) and Paraphraseon … in Novum Testamentum volumina. 2v. (Basle, 1534), J. Faber, Commentarii in Epistolas catholicas, Iacobi I. Petri II. Ioannis III. Judae I (Basle, 1527), J. Ferus, In totam Genesin. Tertia aeditio (Cologne, 1572) and Iobi historiae docta et catholica explicatio (Cologne, 1574), M. Flacius Illyricus, De sectis dissensionibus, contradictionibus et confusionibus doctrinae, religionis, scriptorum & doctorum Pontificiorum (Basle, 1565), A. Gerardus, Commentarii … in Epistolas d. Pauli ad Galatas & Ephesios (Zurich, 1582), Commentarii … in Epistolam ad Romanos, et utramque ad Corinthios. Ed. J. Mylius (Zurich, 1583), Commentarii in Epistolas d. Pauli ad Philippenses, Colossenses, ac Thessalonicas ambas (Zurich, 1582) and Commentarii in Epistolas d. Pauli ad Timotheum, Titum, Philemonem & cl. Iudae. Ed. J. Mylius (Zurich, 1582). R. Gualther, In Acta Apostolorum per divum Lucam descripta homiliae CLXXV (Zurich, 1569), In d. Pauli Apostoli Epistolam ad Galatas homiliae LXI (Zurich, 1576), In Euangelium secundum Ioannem homiliae CLXXX (Zurich, 1575), In priorem D. Pauli ad Corinthios epistolas homiliae (Zurich, 1572) and In Euangelium secundum Marcum homiliae CXXXIX (Zurich, 1570), R. Holkot, Super librum Sapientiae (Basle, 1566), A. Hyperius, Methodus theologiae … libri tres (Basle, 1574), L. Loss, Annotationes scholasticae in Epistolas Dominicales, et eas quae in festis … leguntur in ecclesia, per totum annum (Leipzig, 1560), P. Martyr, Defensio doctrinae veteris & apostolicae de sacrosancto Eucharistiae sacramento (Basle, 1562), In duos libros Samuelis prophetae qui vulgo priores libri Regum appellantur … commentarii (Zurich, 1575), In primum librum Mosis, qui vulgo Genesis dicitur commentarii (Zurich, 1569) and In selectissimam d. Pauli priorem ad Corinthios epistolam … commentarii. Editio secunda (Zurich, 1572), P. Melanchthon, Loci communes theologici (Basle, 1562) and Operum omnium … pars prima [-quarta]. 4v. (Wittenberg, 1577-1601), W. Musculus, In diui Ioannis apostoli Euangelium … commentarii in tres heptadas digesti (Basle, 1580), Loci communes theologicae sacrae. Editio vltima (Basle, 1599), In Epistolas apostoli Pauli, ad Galatas & Ephesios, commentarii (Basle, 1569), In Esaiam prophetam commentarii (Basle, 1570), In ambas Apostoli Pauli ad Corinthios epistolas commentarii (Basle, 1566), In Euangelistam Matthaeum commentarii (Basle, 1578) and In sacrosanctum Dauidis Psalterum commentarii (Basle, 1556) and F. de Ribera, In librum duodecim Prophetarum commentarii (Cologne, 1593).

The seventeenth century material contimues the earlier pattern of editions of works by early Christian writers such as St. Anselm, Opera omnia. 4v. (Cologne, 1612), St. Bonaventura, Opera. 7v. (Mainz, 1609), St. Cyprian, Opera. Ed. J. Pamelius. Editio ultima prioribus emendatior (Cologne, 1617), St. Isidore, Opera omnia quae extant. Ed. J. Du Breul. Editio postrema auctior & correctior (Cologne, 1617) and Prosper of Aquitaine, Opera (Cologne, 1630). To these can be added works by Roman Catholic and Reformed theologians. Of the former there are R. Bellarmino’s De ascensione mentis in Deum per scalas rerum creatarum opusculum (Cologne, 1634), De controversiis Christianae fidei,aduersus huius temporis haereticos. 7v. (Cologne, 1615-1617), De gemitu columbae sive de bono lacrymarum, libri tres (Cologne, 1634) and De septem verbis a Christo in cruce prolatis libri duo (Cologne, 1634) and Ludovicus Granatensis, Opera. Ed. A. Scotti. 3v. (Cologne, 1626-1628) and of the latter C.E. Brochmond, Systema universae theologiae. 3v. (Leipzig, 1638), M. Chemnitz, Loci theologici. Editio nova, emaculata (Wittenberg, 1623) and De duabus naturis in Christo … de hypostatica earum unione (Wittenberg, 1610), J. Gerhard, Aphorismi sacri praecipua theologiae practicae complectentes (Jena, 1616), J. Hesselbein, Discursus theologicus … quaestiones aliquot, de adoratione religios a carnis Christi, de merito Christi, de praedestinatione sanctorum, etc. (Giessen, 1613), M. Luther, Tomus primus [-quartus] omnium operum. 2v. (Jena, 1600-1612), B. Meisner, Meditationes in Evangelia (Wittenberg, 1630) and Meditationes sacrae in Evangelia dominicalia (Wittenberg, 1629).

In addition to these there is a small, but interesting group of subject and biographical dictionaries on a variety of topics. Prominent among the biographical materials in the work of the prolific seventeenth century writer, Melchior Adami, e.g. Decades duae continentes vitas theologorum exterorum principum, etc. (Frankfurt/Main, 1618), Vitae Germanorum jureconsultorum et politicorum (Heidel-berg, 1620), Vitae Germanorum medicorum (Heidelberg, 1620), Vitae Germanorum superiori et, quod excurrit, seculo philosophicis et humanioribus literis clarorum (Frankfurt/Main, 1615) and Vitae Germanorum theologorum (Heidelberg, 1620). Also present are A. Calepinus, Dictionarium (Basle, 1616), J. Calvinus, Lexicon iuridicum. Editio tertia (Hanau, 1619), P. Ferrarius, Novum lexicon geo-graphicum. 2v. (Eisenach, 1677), G. Francus, Lexicon sanctum (Hanau, 1634), J. Leunclavius, ΛΕΧΙΚΟΝ … dictionarium Graecolatinum (Basle, 1568), M. Martini, Lexicon philologicum (Frankfurt/Main, 1655), V. Schindler, Lexicon pentaglotton, Hebraicum, Chaldaicum, Syriacum, Talmudico-Rabbinicum, & Arabicum (Frankfurt/Main, 1653), J. Scapula, Lexicon Graeco-Latinum novum. Editio ultima (Basle, 1628) and J.L. Walther, Lexicon diplomaticum (Ulm, 1756).

Also worthy of mention is a small section on the natural sciences, e.g. C. Ens, Thaumaturgus mathematicus (Cologne, 1651), Euclid, Elementorum libri XV (Cologne, 1580), J. Fernel, Universa medicina. Editio postrema (Frankfurt/Main, 1577), C. Galenus, De usu partium corporis humani libri XVII. Ed. N. Calaber (Basle, 1533), J. Gorraeus, Definitionum medicarum libri XXIII. (Frankfurt, 1601), E. Leichner, De cordis et sanguinis motu hypomnemata septem (Jena, 1653) and N. Piso, De cognoscendis et curandis praecipue internis humani corporis morbis libri tres (Frankfurt/Main, 1585).

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