Brian Walton

From Book Owners Online

Brian WALTON 1600-1661

Biographical Note

Born at or near Hilton, North Yorkshire. Matriculated at Magdalene College, Cambridge 1616, moved to Peterhouse 1618; BA 1620, MA 1623, DD 1639. Rector of St Martin Orgar, London, 1628 (having previously been an assistant to Richard Stock, rector of All Hallows, Bread Street). Actively involved during the 1630s in a campaign by London clergy to address the underpayment of tithes. Rector of St Giles in the Fields, London, and Sandon, Essex, 1636; prebendary of St Paul’s, 1639. Sequestered from his benefices, 1643. Moved to the Royalist headquarters in Oxford shortly afterwards, where he remained for several years before returning to London, where he lived with William Fuller, ejected Rector of St Giles Cripplegate.

During his time in Oxford, Walton conceived his project to produce an English-printed polyglot Bible, with the involvement of other noted orientalists and Biblical experts like Edmund Castell and Abraham Whelock. With some state support, the work was completed during the early 1650s and printed in six folio volumes 1654-57 (Biblia sacra polyglotta … edidit Brianus Waltonus). It was long admired as a scholarly achievement and was commercially successful, having been published by subscription.

Walton was restored to his benefices in 1660 and made Bishop of Chester. He became a member of the 1661 Savoy Conference but died later that year.


When compounding for his estate in Oxford in 1646, he claimed that his library, and other goods to the value of £1000, had been sold. The library he subsequently formed was sold by auction by Samuel Carr in London, 22 years after his death, on 30 April 1683. The sale catalogue lists 1396 lots plus 82 pamphlet volumes and 19 bundles of stitched pamphlets, divided into Latin theology (402), Latin miscellaneous (266, plus a further 124 in small format, which include some theology), English books (435) and books in oriental languages (124); there was also a section of 53 oriental manuscripts (though a small handful of these appear to have been printed). The pamphlet volumes constituted a large collection of Civil War/Interregnum tracts.

In his will, which divided his estate principally between his wife and son, he bequeathed a copy of the polyglot Bible to his son to pass on down the family.

Characteristic Markings

None of Walton’s books have been identified.