Samuel Cromleholme 1618-1672

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Samuel CROMLEHOLME 1618-1672

Biographical Note

Born in Wiltshire, son of Richard Cromleholme; his mother’s name is unknown. Probably educated at King’s School, Gloucester. Admitted to Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 1635; BA 1639, MA 1642. Noted for his accomplishment in languages, his first post was as second master at King’s School, Gloucester, followed by Mercers Chapel School, London. In 1647 he was appointed surmaster of St Paul’s School, London, in 1651 headmaster of the Dorchester Free School, and in 1657 he returned to St Paul's as its high master, a post he held until his death. During the period when the the great fire forced the latter to close, he opened a school in Wandsworth. Married Mary Bury, who survived him.


The loss of Cromleholme’s books in the 1666 fire of London was lamented by his most famous former pupil Samuel Pepys: ‘all his books and household stuff burned’. Pepys had liaised with Cromleholme about donations of money to St Paul’s for buying books and putting ‘golden letters’ on them, and the copy of ‘Lillys grammar of a very old impression’ that Cromleholme gave him as a gift in 1665 ‘which I shall much set by’ is probably the one preserved in his own library (Magdalene College, Cambridge PL 424(5)).) (Cromleholme also donated manuscripts to the Bodleian.) Another former pupil, the historian John Strype, noted that he ‘lost an incomparable Library, for he was very curious in books’, and according to William Bagford, his ‘rayer collection’, notable for fine editions of classics, was ‘neatly bound and perhaps at that time of day was of the best for a privet in or about London. And the losse of these books I verily believe shortened his dayes for he was a grate lover of his books and spared for no cost for the procuring them from all parts of Europe’.

At least the fire did not put paid to his making new acquisitions: a tantalising item in his probate inventory is ‘a study of books priced by [?Walter Kettleby] a bookseller worth 100 – 00-00’.

A book presented to Cromleholme in 1668 was later acquired by John Byrom: Chetham’s Library 3.E.1.25.