Thomas Lye 1621-1684

From Book Owners Online

Thomas LYE 1621-1684

Biographical Note

Born at Chard, Somerset, son of Thomas Leigh. BA Wadham College, Oxford 1641; moved to Emmanuel College, Cambridge (MA 1646). Headmaster of Bury St Edmunds School, 1647. Vicar of Chard 1648; his allegiance to the Commonwealth was briefly questioned but he was confirmed as sound, and appointed to the Somerset commission for ejecting scandalous ministers in 1654. In 1658 he accepted an invitation from the parishioners of All Hallows, Lombard Street, London, to take charge there. He was ejected in 1662 and after a brief spell in Scotland he established a school in Clapham, where he was licensed as a Presbyterian teacher in 1672.


Lye’s will suggests that his library was his most significant asset. His will shows that he left two unmarried daughters, to whom he had given some books before his death; he directed that the remainder be sold, under the supervision of his executors (Philip Lamb and Samuel Fairclough), who were to distribute the proceeds “amongst such poor and necessitous persons as they in their discretions shall think fit”, after paying a small legacy to Lye’s sister in law, and covering his funeral expenses. The residue of his household goods was divided between the daughters.

Lye’s library was sold by auction at Bridge’s Coffee-House in London, beginning 17 November 1684. The sale was a joint one, with the books of Thomas Jennings, and it is not possible to separate out the books of the two owners. The sale catalogue refers to Jennings’s “English library” as being “here exposed”, but it seems likely that the English and non-English sections each contain books from both sources. 3746 lots are listed, divided between Latin and other learned languages (1211), Latin medical (163) and English books (2372).

Characteristic Markings

None of Lye’s books have been identified.


  • Catalogus variorum librorum … Tho. Lye, 1684 (ESTC R214503).
  • Matthews, A. G. Calamy revised. Oxford, 1934.
  • Porter, Bertha, and Stephen Wright. "Lye [Leigh], Thomas (1621–1684), nonconformist minister." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.