Humphrey Oldfield 1657-1690

From Book Owners Online

Humphrey OLDFIELD 1657-1690

Biographical Note

Born in Salford, Lancashire, son of John Oldfield, woollen draper. We have little other biographical information on his education or activities; the family was a relatively prosperous one and both Oldfield and his father feature in Manchester administrative records as minor office holders (Humphrey was a Bylawman for Deansgate in 1680, and named in the jury list for the Michaelmas 1681 Court Leet).


Oldfield founded a parish library for Salford by bequeathing £20 to be spent on “practical books of divinity”, together with “soe many bookes of my owne … as shall be thought fit”. The books were to be placed in “a desk or cubboard to be made for that purpose” and be available for public use on Sundays. Oldfield also left money to buy communion plate for Salford, and to establish a charity for the poor, as well as disposing of property and money amongst members of his family. Mordecai Moxon of Manchester, stationer, was one of several people left money to buy mourning rings.

The size of Oldfield’s personal collection is not known; in the 19th century, ca.70 volumes survived in Salford church and these were transferred to Salford Public Library. Their content is almost entirely theological, including works by many mainstream 17th-century Anglican writers. It is thought likely that some books were lost between the 17th and 19th centuries but Oldfield’s original collection did not perhaps run to many more than 100 books, if that. That would nevertheless show a significant increase in the family holding of books over a couple of generations, as Oldfield’s grandfather’s inventory (1636) lists no books at all, while his grandmother’s (1642) mentions only a Bible and an almanac.


  • Christie, R. The old church and school libraries of Lancashire, 1885.
  • Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England. London, 2004.
  • Tallent-Bateman, C. ‘Humphrey Oldfield, a Salford benefactor, and his family’, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society 26 (1908), 100-113.