Ralph Bankes 1631?-1677
Ralph BANKES 1631?-1677
Member of the Bankes family and son of Sir John Bankes and Mary Bankes, Ralph travelled on the continent with his brother John Bankes in 1646-1648. MP for Corfe Castle 1659-77; after the Restoration he was knighted and built a new family seat, Kingston Hall. This was subsequently expanded in the 19th century to become the house now known as Kingston Lacy.
Only a few books now at Kingston Lacy can be traced back to Sir John’s time, although he is likely to have had a collection. Some high quality late 16th century bindings are thought to have come from his original library at Corfe Castle. John (the son), Ralph and Mary were all active book purchasers throughout the middle decades of the 17th century and their books form the foundation of the present library at Kingston Lacy. Their books cover a range of subjects and languages and are predominantly contemporary 17th century publications (i.e. they appear not to have acquired many 16th century books), in fairly plain bindings of the period, with a few exceptions of more upmarket work. The collection seems to have gone through a period of little growth between the late 17th and late 18th centuries (i.e. after Ralph’s death), and books were certainly dispersed after 1677. Examples: primarily at Kingston Lacy.
John and Ralph regularly inscribed their names on titlepages, sometimes with prices and other acquisition details; endleaves were commonly used for notes which may be in the language of the text (e.g. Italian notes, and Italian forms of name, in Italian books). Some books are marked as belonging to Mary.
- Barker, N. Treasures from the libraries of National Trust country houses, 1999.
- Lewis, Y. Sir Ralph Bankes (?1631-1677) and the origins of the library at Kingston Lacy, Library History 18 (2002), 215-23.
- Mitchell, A. Kingston Lacy, Dorset, 1994.
- Purcell, M. The country house library. New Haven & London, 2017, 62, 95.