Edward Davenant 1596-1680

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Edward DAVENANT 1596-1680

Biographical Note

Son of Edward Davenant 1569-; born in his father's house in Croydon, and went to Queens' College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA 1613, MA 1617, BD 1624, DD 1629 (fellow, 1615-25). Through the patronage of his uncle (John Davenant) he became vicar of Gillingham, Dorset in 1626, archdeacon of Berkshire in 1630, and Treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral in 1634. Summoned before the Dorset County Committee in the 1640s he was required to compound for his estate (£100) but was not ejected from his living. He died in Gillingham, with a considerable financial estate derived from his ecclesiastical preferments ("the churchmen of Sarum say, that he gained more by this Church than ever any man did by the Church since the reformation" – Aubrey).


We do not know how many books he took from Salisbury, but there is no reason to doubt that it was an appreciable collection. It was further augmented by Edward the younger, who according to Aubrey "had a noble library, which was the aggregate of his father's, the bishop's, and his own". Both father and son were noted as mathematicians; the son wrote (but did not publish) numerous mathematical manuscripts, some of which are now in Exeter College (MSS 73-5) and Worcester College, Oxford (MS 5.5), and invented a trigonometrical problem which bears his name. In his will, he directed that none of his books should be sold, but that they should be disposed of according to instructions left in writing in the desk of his study; we do not know what these were, but probably involved distribution amongst his family in the most part.

Davenant's inscription, from British Library Ames 2/783, J. Davenant, Expositio D. Pauli ad Colossenses, 1627

Characteristic Markings

None of the Davenants' books have been identified, beyond the few mentioned here.