Anne Conway 1631-1679

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Anne CONWAY or FINCH, Viscountess Conway and Killultagh 1631-1679

Biographical Note

Daughter of Sir Heneage Finch, Speaker of the House of Commons. She was brought up at home in London, and her early interest in learning led to Henry More being hired as her tutor; he inculcated interests in philosophy which she pursued through the rest of her life, and they remained friends. In 1651 she married Edward Conway, who became 3rd Viscount Conway in 1655. Their life was largely divided between London and Ragley Hall, Warwickshire. She suffered from chronic pain all her life, increasingly severe as she aged. This led her to seek medical advice from many leading physicians of the time, and also encouraged her to study philosophy and religion; a treatise on philosophy left in manuscript at her death was published in 1692. She converted to Quakerism shortly before her death.


Although it suffered some depredations during the 1640s, the Conways inherited much of the library of the 2nd Viscount, one of the largest private libraries of the day. Although little is known of the extent of Anne's personal library, and how many books she acquired herself, it is certain that she did maintain a closet of her own, and a letter to her in 1651 refers to her companion Sarah Bennet as her "library keeper". Four books inscribed by her have been identified in Jesus College, Cambridge; it seems that her books were probably dispersed after her death. Her will has no specific mention of books.

Characteristic Markings

The books in Jesus have Conway's signature written on the front flyleaf.


  • Edwards, Michael, The lost library of Anne Conway, The Seventeenth Century 36 (2021), 119-47.
  • Hutton, Sarah. "Conway [née Finch, Anne, Viscountess Conway and Killultagh (1631–1679), philosopher."] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.