Thomas Gore 1632-1684

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Thomas GORE 1632-1684

Biographical Note

Born at Alderton, Wiltshire, son of Charles Gore. BA Magdalen College, Oxford 1650; admitted at Lincoln's Inn 1651. After the death of his father in 1649 he inherited an extensive estate to which he retired in the 1650s and spent the rest of his life concentrating on antiquarian and heraldic studies, although he was High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1681. He published some reference works on heraldry and geography, most notably a bibliography of heraldic books (Catalogus alphabetice digestus ... de re heraldica, 1668, expanded second edition 1674), though the comprehensiveness and accuracy of these was not highly rated. He knew or corresponded with numerous other antiquaries of the time though biographical notices of him tend to focus on his reputation as a pedant and (according to John Aubrey) "a fidling peevish fellow". His correspondence with Anthony Wood, who gave him extensive help in revising his Catalogus for the 1674 edition, survives among Wood's manuscripts and is documented in Nicholas Kiessling's 1999 article (see Bibliography).


Armorial stamp of Thomas Gore (British Armorial Bindings)

Gore assembled a significant library of manuscripts and printed books around his interests, although its extent is not now known. His lengthy will, which details many of his household goods, includes bequests to his daughter Mary of "my English Testament with the common prayer with curious cuts in it having a cover of crimson velvet laid over with plates of carved silver [and] my Bible covered with white satin wrought in divers coloured silks and embroidered with gold and silver, the work of my dear mother". The rest of his books and manuscripts, together with other "rolls plate goods and utensils" were left to his son Thomas, with numerous specifications and references to particular volumes. As well as various ancient pedigrees of the family, these included "my Greek Testament curiously bound up in black sealskin having silver clasps and plates of silver at the corners and one plate of silver of a lozenge form in the middle of the covers wherein is engraven my paternal coat together with my Latin Bible bound up in Turkey leather which was my dear fathers". His son was enjoined to maintain "a large manuscript in folio entited Syntagma Genealogeam ... of the family of the Gores", "to preserve and continue all his time in the same method as it is begun and so transmit it to posterity". The bequests to Thomas also included various engraved copper plates, and an armorial book stamp: "my paternal coat of arms environed with laurel engraven in brass and set in wood for a stamp to make an impression on the covers of books".

The library seems to have remained in the family for some generations thereafter, passing down the female line after the death of Gore's grandson Walter in 1712, before being dispersed in the early 19th century.

Characteristic Markings

Although Gore's will identifies the existence of an armorial binding stamp, only one surviving example is recorded in the armorials database, the manuscript Syntagma of the Gore family which is now CLE S7 in the National Art Library. This has a late 17th century binding of black goatskin with the armorial in gilt at the centres of the covers, and the bookplate of Thomas Hedges (1722-1762), one of the children of Gore's granddaughter Elizabeth. He also used several bookplates, described by Brian North Lee, who reproduces a large engraving of Gore's arms which was used both as a plate in the 1668 Catalogus ... de re heraldica, and at least once as a kind of bookplate.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Jackson, J. The last will of Thomas Gore, the antiquary, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. 14 (1873).
  • Kiessling, N. Anthony Wood, Thomas Gore and the use of manuscript material, The Library 6th ser 21 (1999), 108-123.
  • Lee, B. N. British bookplates, 1979, no.13/p.30.
  • McConnell, Anita. "Gore, Thomas (1632–1684), writer on heraldry." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Pratt, T. The manor of Alderton in Wiltshire, 2013.