Michael Honywood 1596-1681

From Book Owners Online

Michael HONYWOOD 1596-1681

Biographical Note

Sixth son of Robert Honywood of Charing, Kent. BA Christ’s College, Cambridge 1615, MA and fellow 1618, BD 1636, DD 1661. Rector of Kegworth (a college living) 1639, which he held while continuing to reside in Cambridge (deprived 1649, restored 1660). Moved to the Netherlands in 1643, in the light of growing unrest in Cambridge, and spent the next 17 years in Leiden and Utrecht. Returned to England 1660 and made Dean of Lincoln, where he was based until his death; he pursued a number of initiatives to restore the damage done during the Interregnum, most notably building a new library on the site of the ruined north cloister walk, at his own expense, to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren (1674-76). Described by Samuel Pepys as having “a good nature, but a very weak man”; his character was summarised more recently by Clive Hurst as “a retiring, scholarly man, devoted to his church and his books, preferring peaceful exile to active engagement in the controversies of his age”.


An active bookbuyer all his life, whose personal library was noted by his Cambridge contemporaries as a “vast storehouse”. He had to leave his books behind when he left Cambridge (they were seized but bought back for him by his brother) but a notebook records 1006 books purchased during his time in the Netherlands 1643-60 (Lincoln ms 276). He continued throughout his Lincoln years (there is extant correspondence with London booksellers from the 1670s). He bequeathed all his books to Lincoln Cathedral, to be kept in the newly constructed library, subject to allowing "such as are thought to be superfluous" to be sold with the proceeds reinvested in other books, to be "kept in the same catalogue". Most of the books remain today at Lincoln, despite some small 19th century dispersals of valuable material. Honywood’s collecting was wide-ranging across many subject fields. Examples: at Lincoln Cathedral.

Characteristic Markings

Usually inscribed an “MH” monogram on titlepages; sometimes wrote his name and other details of acquisition.


  • Bennett, Nicholas. "Honywood, Michael (1596–1681), dean of Lincoln." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Fenlon, I. Michael Honywood’s music books in C. Banks et al (eds), Sundry sorts of music books, 1993, 183-200.
  • Griffiths, D. Lincoln Cathedral Library, The Book Collector 19 (1970).
  • Hurst, C. Catalogue of the Wren Library of Lincoln Cathedral, 1982.
  • Linnell, N. Michael Honywood and Lincoln Cathedral Library, The Library 6th ser 5 (1983), 126-139.
  • Srawley, J. Michael Honywood, Lincoln, 1981.