Andrew Cranston d.1708

From Book Owners Online

Andrew CRANSTON d.1708

Biographical Note

Born in Scotland; BA University of Edinburgh 1673. Vicar of Greenock, Renfrewshire 1681; not long thereafter he moved to England, where he became vicar of Shepton Mallet, Somerset in 1693, and of Reigate, Surrey (where he had already been living) in 1697.


A gift of 520 books to Edinburgh University Library in 1683 was revoked the following year, on Cranston's move south. He devised a scheme to establish a parish library for Reigate and its surrounding archdeaconry, by initially donating 70 of his own books and contacting a wide circle of potential donors to contribute also. The library formally opened in 1701, in a room above the vestry in the parish church. Cranston gave a further 108 books in 1703; by the time of his death, the library had grown to over 1500 volumes, with books given by 365 donors (listed in a benefactors' register), including John Evelyn, White Kennett and John Flamsteed. Shortly before his death, Cranston vested the library in a formally constituted body of trustees, including many Reigate townspeople, and it continued to grow; the trustees were reconstituted by the Charity Commission in 1950 and it continues to be housed in its original room today. There are a little over 2000 surviving books, with a strong emphasis on theology, but also including titles across the range of subjects that might be expected, including history, geography, classics, law, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and science.


  • The Cranston Library, Reigate.
  • Bibliotheca Reigatiana: catalogue of the public library at Reigate, Reigate, 1893.
  • Perkin, M., A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England, London, 2004, p.326-9.
  • Sherlock, Peter.'"Cranston, Andrew (d. 1708), creator of a public library."' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Thomas, A. and Ely, H., The Cranston Library, Reigate: the first three hundred years, Library and Information History 27 (2011), 246-54.