Christopher Towneley 1604-1674

From Book Owners Online

Christopher TOWNELEY 1604-1674

Armorial stamp of Christopher's father, Richard Towneley (British Armorial Bindings).

Biographical Note

Of Towneley Hall, Burnley, son of Richard Towneley and Jane Ashton. Towneley was interested in astronomy and local history, and was known for opening his library to his peers to facilitate learning. He also became known as the "indefatigable transcriber", on account of his "passion for collecting documentary evidence" (Willmoth).


The library at Towneley Hall began to be developed by Christopher’s grandfather John Towneley (c.1528-1608); it was enlarged by his father, Richard, who used an armorial stamp, and by his brother, Charles, and himself. Their collections were inherited by Christopher's nephews, Charles and his brother, Richard (1629-1707), who used an armorial bookplate dated 1702. Manuscript catalogues of the collection made ca.1702-07 (one in Chetham’s Library, one in Manchester University Library) show that the library then contained over 2000 books; his manuscripts were valued at 40s, and his printed books a further 80s. Books and manuscripts from the Towneley family were sold at Sotheby’s in 2 sales in June 1883.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903. 29653/*207.
  • Kitto, T. The Towneley family library, The Book Collector 59 (2010) 399-416.
  • Maggs Bros: 1272 (1999)/44.
  • Willmoth, Frances. "Towneley, Christopher (1604–1674), antiquary." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.