Philip Bisse ca.1540-1613

From Book Owners Online

Philip BISSE ca.1540-1613

Biographical Note

Son of Richard Bisse of Stokeland, Somerset. BA, Oxford, 1560; fellow of Brasenose 1561, MA (Magdalen College, Oxford) 1564, BD 1569, DD 1580. Rector of Batcombe, Somerset (where he seems to have spent much of his life) 1564, and held various other livings in the west country; canon and Sub-Dean of Wells, 1571, Archdeacon of Taunton 1584-86 and 1588-1613. Retained contact with Oxford where his friends included John Rainolds of Corpus Christi and Thomas James, the first Bodleian Librarian; he gave £10 to the Bodleian in 1601. He was one of a group of west country clergymen of puritan inclination, patronised by Francis Hastings, younger brother of Henry, 3rd Earl of Huntingdon.


Bisse assembled a considerable library, much of which was given to the newly founded Wadham College, Oxford either by the terms of his will or through a deed of gift made in 1611. ca.2285 vols at Wadham are now identifiable as his; his original collection must have been larger, as his will refers to other books bequeathed to his family and associates. A set of the Eton Chrysostom, 1613 (STC 14629a) in Brasenose Library is also recorded as his gift, with a printed label dated 1614. About 95% of the collection is theological, including patristic and scholastic texts, and contemporary catholic/protestant debate; other subjects include law, classics and geography. Nearly all the books are in Latin and are continental imprints dating primarily from the period 1580-1613; only 8% are pre-1560, 2% are English imprints. Most are in straightforward blind-stamped bindings of their time and appear to have been acquired largely via London or Oxford. Examples: numerous in Wadham College.

Characteristic Markings

Bisse only rarely inscribed his name in books; many carry contemporary prices on their titlepages, which may be in his hand. Undated printed gift labels were placed in the books by Wadham College.


  • Foster, J. Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford 1500-1714/1715-1886, 8 vols, Oxford, 1891.
  • Lee, Early printed book labels, no.44.
  • Poole, W. Wadham College books in the age of John Wilkins, Oxford, 2014, 31-37.
  • Simpson, J. The collection of Philip Bisse, unpub MA thesis, Inst of English Studies, Univ of London, 1997.
  • Wadham's 17th century library.