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Henry Power and MS Sloane 1346: The Life and Library of a 17th-Century Northcountry Doctor

February 11, 2013

Guest post by Stanton J. Linden

Folio 1 of MS Sloane 1346 in the British Library opens with these words by Henry Power:  “A Catalogue of all my Bookes taken this 1st of September 1664 just before my removeall [from Halifax] to Wakefield.”  On the fifteen folios that follow, Power copied out in “hasty hand,” the contents of his personal library, supplying brief entries, usually only the author’s last name and an abbreviated title for each of the 543 books. Within the Catalogue, books are organized in sections only by size and the language in which they were written.  There is no classification by subject or alphabetical listing by author. Since this is a physician’s collection, medical books in Latin—often by foreign authors and published abroad—are predominant.  Clearly, this is a text intended for private use, not posterity.  The fact that it was hidden away in manuscript and that Power himself—at least later in life—might be said to have been “hidden away” in remote Yorkshire also contributed to the fact that his achievements have often been overlooked.

With focus on my transcription of Power’s Catalogue and related study and annotation, I hope my study will reveal the importance of this previously unknown text to our understanding of early modern medical education and practice, the book trade, especially in rural England, as well as the role that his library played in the life of this rural doctor. Note: I have added the following “modern” subject classification scheme to the transcription to facilitate study and conversation.  Those interested in the topic might give it a swift perusal since I will be referring to several of these subject classes, but have neither time nor interest in making this a statistical presentation.

Subject Classification: Henry Power’s Catalogue

 

 

Number of books

% of  total

AHIS

Ancient History

18

3.3

ALCH

Alchemy

22

4.0

AST

Astrology and Astronomy

19

3.5

BIB

Bibles

13

2.4

BOT

Botany, including Herbals

16

2.9

CLIT

Classical Literature: all genres

28

5.1

CMED

Classical Medicine and Science

10

1.8

CONT

Controversies

12

2.2

EDUC

Education, Practical Arts, Invention

15

2.7

EMH

Early Modern History, incl. Heraldry

11

2.0

EML

Early Modern Literature: all genres and Rhetoric

36

6.6

EMM

Early Modern Medicine, Anatomy and Surgery

97

17.8

EMSC

Early Modern Science and Natural Philosophy

33

6.0

FRN

Books written in French

9

1.6

GEOG

Geography, Travel, Exploration

21

3.8

LAW

Law and Legal Affairs

13

2.4

MATH

Mathematics

11

2.0

MISC

Miscellaneous Identified References, e.g. Music

7

1.2

OCLT

Occult, Magic

9

1.6

PHIL

Philosophy and Logic

40

7.3

PHRM

Paracelsus, Iatrochemistry, Pharmacy

15

2.7

POL

Politics and Government

10

1.8

REF

Dictionaries, Lexicons, Grammars, etc.

21

3.8

REL

Religion, Theology

33

6.0

XX

Unidentified References

24

4.4

 

Total number of books

543

 

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