Frances Wolfreston 1607-1677

From Book Owners Online

Frances WOLFRESTON 1607-1677

Biographical Note

Born at King’s Norton, near Birmingham, eldest child of George Middlemore of Hazelwell. Married (1631) Francis Wolfreston (d.1666), who owned and lived at the manor of Statfold, near Tamworth.


Noteworthy as one of the few seventeenth-century women from whose library many inscribed books survive today. Over 200 books with her inscription have been traced, although her original collection is likely to have been appreciably larger. Bequeathed her books to her son Stanford (Vicar of Wootton Wawen, d.1698); most of the collection remained together in family ownership at Statfold until 1856, when a large proportion was sold at Sotheby’s. Other books had been alienated earlier, and there was a further dispersal in the 1930s. Surviving books are all English language, with a striking proportion of poems and plays. Examples: see the website listed below, "Frances Wolfreston Hor Bouks"; Forum Auctions, 31.3.2022, lot 421.

Ownership inscription from Sion College collections (Lambeth Palace Library A56.0/P93)

Characteristic Markings

Typically inscribed titlepages “frances wolfreston hor bouk” (sometimes “her book”); sometimes, but rarely, added further annotations.


  • Frances Wolfreston Hor Bouks.
  • Erne, L. Shakespeare and the book trade, 2013, 212-13.
  • Gerritsen, J. Venus preserved: some notes on Frances Wolfreston, in O. Arngart et al (eds), English studies presented to R. W. Zandvoort, 1964, 271-4.
  • Hunt, A. Libraries in the archives, in G. Mandelbrote and B. Taylor (eds), Libraries within the library, 2009, 363-84, pp. 372ff.
  • Lindenbaum, S. Hiding in plain sight, in L. Knight et al (eds), Women’s bookscapes in early modern Britain, Ann Arbor, 2018, 193-213.
  • Morgan, P. Frances Wolfreston and ‘Hor bouks’: a seventeenth-century woman book-collector, The Library 6th ser 11 (1989), 197-219.
  • Newcomb, L., Frances Wolfreston's annotations as labours of love, in Wayne, V. (ed), Women's labour and the history of the book, 2020, pp.243-66.