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Special Collections

Description of Special Collection

Collection Level Description: Bishop Cosin's Library
University Library

Collection Level Description: Bishop Cosin's Library

Collection name: Bishop Cosin's Library
Collection code: Cosin
Date range: 15th-19th century
Extent: ca. 5,000 titles
Language: English; Latin; French
Created by: John Cosin (1595-1672) and his successors
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections

The printed stock contains over 5000 titles, including 9 incunabula, over 600 foreign 16th century titles, 541 STC, and 841 Wing items. The collection is strongest in theology, liturgy and canon law, with a good representation of other subjects such as literature, travel and science. Notable treasures are a Book of Common Prayer 1619, annotated with Cosin's proposals for the 1662 revision, and a 1662 Book of Common Prayer and companion Bible bound by Samuel Mearne for Charles II. There are c.600 items in French, mostly pamphlets of religious controversy from the period of Cosin's exile in Paris, 1644-60, a considerable number not in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
About the creator:
Also sometimes known as Bibliotheca Episcopalis Dunelmensis, it was founded in 1669 by John Cosin (1595-1672) as an endowed public library for local clergy and people of scholarly interests, and is still housed in its original specially erected building. It contains predominantly Cosin's personal collection, but also includes gifts from other benefactors, especially medieval manuscripts from George Davenport (d.1677), printed books from Bishop Richard Trevor (1707-71) and post-medieval manuscripts from Bishop Shute Barrington (1734-1826).
In 2005 the Library was in the first group of libraries and archives awarded Designated status under the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council Designation Scheme.
The University utilized the building from 1834 and became trustee of the library in 1937. No significant additions have been made since the early 19th century.
Open for consultation.
Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.
The collection is in the main catalogue. To restrict the search to this collection, use the following URL
C.E. Whiting, "Cosin's Library", Trans. Architectural and Archaeol. Soc. of Durham and Northumberland 9, i (1939), 18-32.
A.I. Doyle, "Hugh Hutchinson, bookbinder of Durham, c.1662 or 1665-95", The Book Collector 24 (1975), 25-32.
A.I. Doyle, "John Cosin (1595-1672) as a Library Maker", The Book Collector 40 (1991), 335-57.
Doyle, A.I., "John Cosin" in Pre-nineteenth-century British book collectors and bibliographers, ed. Baker, William and Womack, Kenneth (Detroit: Gale Group, 1999), p.51-56.
E. Dubois, "La Bibliothèque de l'evêque Cosin à Durham et sa collection de livres Français de théologie et de spiritualité protestantes des XVIe et XVIIe Siècles", Bulletin de la Soc. de l'Histoire du Protestantisme Français, (1982), 175-88.
D.G. Ramage, "Cosin's French Books", The Durham Philobiblon, 2 (1955-69), 57-62, 65.
D. Pearson, "Cambridge Bindings in Cosin's Library, Durham" in P. Isaac (ed), Six Centuries of the Provincial Book Trade in Britain, (Winchester, St Paul's Bibliographies, 1990), pp.41-60.

Index terms

Cosin, John, 1594-1672.
Davenport, George, d. 1677.
Trevor, Richard, 1707-1771.
Bishop Cosin's Library (Durham)
Libraries -- England -- History -- 17th century.

Date last modified: 21 January 2009