William Branthwaite 1563-1619

From Book Owners Online

William BRANTHWAITE 1563-1619

Biographical Note

Born at Norwich, the son of John Branthwaite, a member of a propertied Norfolk family. BA Clare Hall, Cambridge 1583, MA Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1586, BD 1593, DD 1598; fellow of Emmanuel, 1585-1607. Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge 1607 by royal mandate (he was imposed against the wishes of the fellowship, as a sound and moderate puritan); Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge 1618-19. He was one of the translators of the Apocrypha for the authorised Version of the Bible, for which he was qualified by his skills in Biblical Greek.


Directed that “all [his books] that are any way fit for a library” should be bequeathed to Gonville and Caius, apart from 17 volumes (mostly Church fathers) left to Emmanuel. Caius acquired ca.1750 volumes, including some manuscripts, said to be worth £230. A contemporary manuscript list of the books received is in Caius ms 648. Branthwaite specified that the leaf edges of the books should be “cast into one convenient colour”, an instruction which was carried out with red dye. Most of the books survive today in Caius, many in contemporary plain/blind tooled calf bindings. Examples: many in Gonville and Caius, particularly in pressmark F.

Branthwaite's inscription, from a copy of J. Calvin, Institutio Christianae religionis, London, 1576, Gonville & Caius Library F.27.1

Characteristic Markings

Branthwaite did not generally inscribe or annotate his books, and they are usually most immediately recognisable in Caius today from the later printed donation labels which were added to the volumes. There are a few books in which his name is found, often written Branthwayt, as in the example here.


  • "Branthwaite, William (1563–1619)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Brooke, C. A history of Gonville and Caius College, 1985.
  • Bush, S. and C. Rasmussen, The library of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1584-1637, 1986.
  • Jayne, S. Library catalogues of the English renaissance. Godalming, 1983.
  • Stubbings, F. Forty-nine lives, 1983, no.4.