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Jaspar Gryffyth and his books

Richard Ovenden


THE great collectors of manuscripts in Britain during the century following the dissolution of the monasteries, men such as Parker, Dee, Cotton, and Lumley, were figures, by and large, of some standing in church or state, with the means and opportunity to amass large numbers of manuscript books and other documents from the medieval collections. Humbler persons could however establish collections of some importance, and they were often formed in the provinces, away from the major trading areas such as London, Oxford and Cambridge. A study of these individuals can supply valuable insights into the way in which larger collections were created. Likewise these modest collectors often engaged in antiquarian research and writing in a small but significant way. Jaspar Gryffyth was just such an individual. He lived at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: although very little evidence of his life has survived in contemporary records we do have his Commonplace Book and some correspondence, and can trace details of his book-collecting activities. Printed below in the Appendix are three lists. The first is of manuscripts which he ofFered to loan to, or perhaps exchange with. Sir Robert Cotton; the other two of manuscripts and printed books associated with him in some way and of his annotations in his copy of Bale. Before these lists are discussed, it is necessary to provide some account of his life and background.

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