Christopher Merrett 1614-1695

From Book Owners Online

Christopher MERRETT 1614-1695

Biographical Note

Born at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, son of Christopher Merrett. BA Oriel College, Oxford 1635, MB from Gloucester Hall 1636, MD 1643. Moved to London and set up in practice as a physician; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians 1651, Goulstonian lecturer 1654, appointed librarian of the College in the same year to oversee the collection given by William Harvey. He was a founder member of the Royal Society in 1660, and active during the 1660s with scientific research and publication. He increasingly fell out of favour with the College, who abolished his post as librarian after the Great Fire destroyed the books, and after much legal dispute he was deprived of his fellowship in 1681. In 1685 he was expelled from the Royal Society for arrears of subscriptions.


As librarian of the Royal College of Physicians, Merrett was actively involved in organising it following the significant donation of books by William Harvey, and he compiled and published a library catalogue in 1660 (Catalogus librorum ... in musaeum Harveiano, (ESTC R180545). There is no reference to books in his will – the residue of his estate, after monetary and property bequests to his family, went to his grandchildren – but his library was sold in London by Christopher Bateman, beginning 20 September 1695. No catalogue survives but the sale was advertised as including "a curious collection of philological, historical and mathematical books". At least a dozen of his books were acquired by Hans Sloane, and are now among the Sloane books in the British Library. Examples: British Library 441.i.6, 777.k.9, 1138.a.9.

Characteristic Markings

Many of the Merrett books in the British Library have extensive annotations, and possibly shelfmarks, in his hand.