Walter Snell

From Book Owners Online

Walter SNELL d.1677

Biographical Note

Chaplain and private tutor to the family of John Robartes, 2nd Baron Robartes (later 1st Earl of Radnor) at Lanhydrock House, Cornwall; his background and education are not known. Robartes appointed him prebendary of Marnay at the collegiate church of St Endellion in 1663. He also undertook various business transactions for Robartes. His life was closely bound up with the Lanhydrock estate and many of the bequests in his will were to members of the Robartes family. A number of fragments of business letters in Snell's hand, evidently removed from Lanhydrock bindings in the 19th century, survive in Bodleian Library MS Lat.misc.b.17.


Many of the ca.350 books at Lanhydrock which belonged to Hannibal Gamon also have Snell's inscription and it seems plausible (as suggested by Mark Purcell) that Snell acquired Gamon's library when he died in 1651. There are also books at Lanhydrock inscribed by Snell only, sometimes with purchase prices, indicating independent acquisition. As well as the theological books from Gamon, Snell's books also include some schoolbooks which presumably reflect his tutoring activities. Most of the books with his inscription date from before 1640.

In his will, Snell left specific books to two of John Robartes's daughters: William Perkins' works in 3 volumes to Olympia Robartes, and Edward Elton's Exposition on Colossians to Amarintha Robartes. All the rest of his books, "save Durandus on the Sentences given to Mr Travers", (possibly Thomas Travers) were bequeathed to Robartes's son Francis. Examples: Lanhydrock D.5.15, D.11.3, D.14.23, and numerous others there.

Characteristic Markings

Snell typically inscribed his titlepages "Walter (or Gualterus) Snell", sometimes adding a purchase price. He did not usually annotate his books.


  • Purcell, M., The Library at Lanhydrock, The Book Collector 54 (2005), 195-230.