Frances Egerton 1583-1636

From Book Owners Online

Frances EGERTON Countess of Bridgewater 1583-1636

Biographical Note

Daughter of Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby. In 1601 she married her stepbrother John Egerton, son of the Lord Chancellor Thomas Egerton, who became the 1st Earl of Bridgewater after his father's death in 1617.


Frances was noted as patron of the arts and the list of her library made in 1627 and listing ca.240 books, which has been edited and analysed by Heidi Hackel, is a valuable insight into the kinds of books owned by an aristocratic lady of the time. Around half the contents were theological, with many works by contemporary popular devotional authors like William Perkins, Joseph Hall and Francis Rous, but she also had a wider range of literature, history, and accounts of foreign countries. The titles were almost all in English, and mostly acquired new (or not long after publication). The Egerton family library, which began to be established by Thomas Egerton, continued to be built up over succeeding generations and became known as the Bridgewater Library. It began to be dispersed in the 19th century and a significant portion of it (ca.4400 volumes) was purchased by Henry Huntington in 1917, and is now in the Huntington Library in California.

The Countess's inscription (cropped) from a copy of J. Donne, A sermon, 1622, Princeton University Library Americana 1622 Donne EXKA

Characteristic Markings

Surviving books from her library are commonly inscribed with her initials F B.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Erne, L., Shakespeare and the book trade, 2013, 202-6.
  • Hackel, H., Reading material in early modern England, Cambridge, 2005, 240-81.
  • Mendle, M., Preserving the ephemeral in J. Andersen (ed), Books and readers in early modern England, Philadelphia, 2002, 201-16.
  • O'Donnell, Mary Ann. '"Egerton [née Stanley, Frances, countess of Bridgewater (1583–1636), noblewoman."]. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Pargeter, S. A catalogue of the library at Tatton Park, 1977.
  • Tabor, S., The Bridgewater Library in W. Baker (ed), Pre-19th century British book collectors, Detroit, 1999, 40-50.
  • West, S., An architectural typology for the early modern country house library, 1660-1720, The Library 7th ser 14 (2013), 441-464, p.460.