Henry Oxinden 1609-1670

From Book Owners Online

Henry OXINDEN 1609-1670

Biographical Note

Born in Canterbury, son of Richard Oxinden, gentleman, of Great Maydekin, Barham, Kent. BA Corpus Christi College, Oxford 1627; the death of his father in 1629 cut short his Oxford career, and he returned to Kent to take over the family estate. He was admitted at Gray’s Inn in 1632. His sympathies during the Civil War appear to have wavered between both sides, when he seems to have been motivated largely by a wish to avoid direct involvement, but to provide support for friends and family members (on both sides) when needed. Costly law suits, which absorbed much of his energy and resources during the 1650s, left him in reduced circumstances during the 1660s, when he had to sell much of his estate and move into a smaller house. Between 1647 and 1660 he published, at his own expense, four small volumes of verses.


Surviving letters and papers, and part of his library, testify to Oxinden’s lifelong interest in books. When he died, intestate, his books were valued at only £3 although he is thought to have had well over 200 volumes; the collection passed via his widow and daughter into the Warly family of Elham, Kent, and in the 18th century became part of the library of the Canterbury attorney Lee Warly (1715-1807), who bequeathed his books as a parish library for Elham. Oxinden’s commonplace book (now in the Folger Library) lists a collection of 103 Elizabethan and Jacobean plays originally in his possession. His memoranda books and letters testify to his having loaned books and obtained them for others. Although there are volumes with identifiable Oxinden provenance in the Elham collection today (now deposited in Canterbury Cathedral Library), it is clear that this is only part of the original whole; the surviving books include works on theology, history, law, husbandry, medicine, literature, classics and Civil War tracts. Examples: numerous in the Canterbury Cathedral Library Elham collection.

Characteristic Markings

Oxinden regularly inscribed his name in his books, and also regularly annotated them.


  • Dawson, G. ‘An early list of Elizabethan plays’, The Library 4th ser 14 (1934), 445-56.
  • Erne, L. Shakespeare and the book trade, 2013, 199.
  • Gardiner, D. (ed), The Oxinden letters 1607-1642, 1933, and The Oxinden and Peyton letters, 1642-1670, 1937.
  • Hingley, Sheila. "Oxinden [Oxenden], Henry (1609–1670), gentleman and letter-writer." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Hingley, S. ‘Elham parish library’ in P. Isaac and B. McKay (eds), The reach of print, 1998, 175-90.
  • Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England. London, 2004.
  • Sheila Hingley, "'Quaere who hath Coriats Travels?' Henry Oxinden's Book Loans, 1647–1658", in: Kentish Book Culture: Writers, Archives, Libraries and Sociability c.1400–1660, edited by Claire Bartram, Peter Lang, 2020, pp. 117–153