George Edwards 1694-1773

From Book Owners Online

George EDWARDS 1694-1773

Edwards's bookplate (British Museum Franks Collection 9610)

Biographical Note

Born at Stratford, West Ham, to a family of Welsh descent. He was apprenticed to John Dod, a London merchant, but returned home in 1716 to live on his inheritance, and study natural history. He travelled for a time in Norway and France, and became a proficient ornithological artist. His drawings found a ready market in London, and patronage; in 1733 Hans Sloane appointed him as bedell to the Royal College of Physicians, which gave him responsibilities for the College Library (he called himself the College librarian). In 1743 he published A natural history of uncommon birds, illustrated with etchings; three more volumes were subsequently issued. He gained an international reputation as an ornithologist and published other works; in 1760 he retired and moved to Plaistow.


Edwards used an engraved armorial bookplate (Franks 9610). Much of his estate was bequeathed to his sisters; his library was auctioned in London by his friend the bookseller James Robson, beginning 27 January 1774, along with "the elegant and very valuable library of a person of high distinction" (unnamed). The whole catalogue was said to contain over 20,000 volumes, but we do not know the sizes of the component parts.


  • Alston, R. C., Inventory of sale catalogues ... 1676-1800, St Philip, 2010.
  • A catalogue of a very fine collection of books, London, 1774, ESTC 216226.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903-4.
  • Mason, A. Stuart. "Edwards, George (1694–1773), ornithologist and artist." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.