George Davenport d.1677

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George DAVENPORT d.1677

Biographical Note

Born at Great Wigston, Leicestershire. BA Emmanuel College, Cambridge 1650 (where he may have been taught by William Sancroft, who became a close friend); MA 1653. Spent much of the interregnum living with the Gayer family in south-east England; visited Paris, 1656-7. Ordained priest by Ralph Brownrigg, the ejected Bishop of Exeter, 1655. Rector of St Peter’s, Cheapside, London 1661-65; chaplain to John Cosin, Bishop of Durham 1662; Rector of Houghton-le-Spring, co. Durham 1664-77.


Davenport acquired an appreciable collection of printed books and manuscripts, whose ultimate extent is unknown; his books were valued at £100 in his probate inventory, from a total estate valued at £435, but not listed. Gave ca.70 manuscripts to Cosin’s Library, Durham in 1670, along with a small number of printed books; the manuscripts, many of which were acquired during the 1660s from a range of sources, are mostly English in origin, from various monastic houses, 11th-16th centuries. Most of these manuscripts are included in a list in Davenport’s hand, now in Bodleian ms Tanner 88 (transcribed and edited in the Surtees Society edition of Davenport’s correspondence, appendix 1). He also gave some printed books to Kepier School, Houghton-le-Spring. It seems likely that his library was dispersed soon after his death; his books are not mentioned in his will, and would have passed with the rest of his “estate real and personal” to his nephew John Davenport.

An extensive series of letters from Davenport to Sancroft survives, dating from 1651 to 1677, spread across several manuscript collections; these have been edited and published bythe Surtees Society . The letters include numerous references to books, mostly commenting on newly published books which were in preparation, and also on Davenport’s work in organising and cataloguing Cosin’s books. Examples: manuscripts in Cosin’s Library, Durham; Newcastle UL K492.43 BUX, PI492.4 PAG.

Characteristic markings

Davenport typically inscribed titlepages with his name, and sometimes the price and date of acquisition.


  • Doyle, A. I., The Cosin manuscripts and George Davenport, The Book Collector 53 (2004).
  • Pask, B. and M. Harvey (eds), The letters of George Davenport 1651-1677, Surtees Society Publications 215, 2011.