Sylvius Elwes 1576-1638

From Book Owners Online

Sylvius or Silvester ELWES 1576-1638

Armorial stamp of Sylvius Elwes (British Armorial Bindings)

Biographical Note

Son of Geoffrey Elwes, of Woodford, Essex. BA Trinity College, Cambridge 1597, MA 1600, chaplain 1601, a post he held for the rest of his life.


Elwes gave 184 books to Trinity in 1626-30, chosen (according to the note in the donors’ book) on the grounds of usefulness or as likely to be difficult to find; we do not know what proportion of his entire collection this represented. The contents were largely theological, with a mixture of other subjects, including history. The only mention of books in his will (which is largely concerned with monetary bequests) was a dispensation to Thomas Comber (Master of Trinity, d.1654) to keep those books of Elwes which he had; the residue of goods and chattels was left to his brother Jeremy. Books with Elwes’ armorial are found in various libraries outside Trinity. Examples: Trinity College D.15.25, K.17.6; Lincoln College, Oxford N.1.13; Chetham’s Library G.7.26; Durham Cathedral Library E.III.34; NAL Clements P9; Maggs 1156 (1993)/42.

Characteristic markings

Elwes used two armorial stamps. They are found on many of the books given to Trinity College, sometimes with part of the armorial hand-painted.