Henry Aldrich 1648-1710

From Book Owners Online

Henry ALDRICH 1648-1710

Biographical Note

Born at Westminster, son of Henry Aldrich, clerk to John, 1st Baron Berkeley. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1666, MA 1669, BD and DD 1682; spent his entire career based at Christ Church, where he became a tutor until appointed to a canonry in 1682, and Dean in 1689. Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, 1692-95. He was active in ecclesiastical politics as a member of the lower house of Convocation.

Aldrich was a skilled musician who composed numerous catches and service settings, and he organised weekly music meetings in his rooms. He experimented with music printing in the 1690s. He also practised architecture, and designed a number of Oxford buildings including Peckwater Quad in Christ Church, and All Saints Church. His Artis logicae compendium (1691) became a standard textbook in Oxford until the 19th century; he published a number of other small works and contributions to theological debate.


Aldrich bequeathed his library and other collections to Christ Church (ca. 3000 books, 8000 pieces of music, and 2000 engravings), with duplicates not wanted by the College given to his nephew Charles. A new room was built at one end of the college library in 1712 to accommodate them. The books include significant holdings in theology, classics, literature and poetry, architecture, drawing and perspective, travel and geography, and a number of Quaker and Civil War. He acquired material from the collections of Christopher Hatton, 1st Baron Hatton ca.1670, including important musical scores. His engravings, held in 30 portfolios and assembled ca.1680-1700, constitute one of the earliest surviving English collections in this field. Most of his letters and personal papers were destroyed after his death, following his instructions, so little archival evidence on the formation of the library survives.

Characteristic Markings

Ca. 100 volumes of Aldrich’s music are more or less uniformly bound and stamped with a monogram. A handwritten HA monogram is found in at least one of his music books. A number of his books (ca. 50?) are in noticeably fine contemporary gold-tooled red goatskin bindings, evidently commissioned by Aldrich.


  • Baker, Christopher, The Aldrich prints: a late seventeenth-century collection, in E. Cheney (ed), The evolution of English collecting, New Haven & London, 2003, 396-426.
  • Handley, Stuart. "Aldrich, Henry (1648–1710), dean of Christ Church, Oxford." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Hiscock, W. ‘Henry Aldrich, book-collector, musician, architect’ and ‘The Aldrich engravings’ in his A Christ Church miscellany, 1946, 17-30, 31-37.
  • Hiscock, W. Henry Aldrich of Christ Church, 1960.
  • Suttle, E. ‘Henry Aldrich, Dean of Christ Church’, Oxoniensia 5 (1940), 115-39.