Provenance of the Huntington Collections

The three collections at the Huntington--the Bindley, Bridgewater, and Britwell--have very different histories.

The Bindley collection was originally compiled by Narcissus Luttrell in the seventeenth century; Luttrell is primarily remembered as a Parliamentary chronicler, and the ballads he collected reflect his interest in politics.

The Bridgewater collection originated with Sir Thomas Egerton (c. 1541-1617), and was passed down through the Egerton family into the 20th century. For more detail, see the PDF detailing its owners and their relationships, provided by Stephen Tabor, Curator of Early Printed Books at the Huntington Library.

For more detail, see Tabor's "The Bridgewater Library" in Pre-Nineteenth-Century British Book Collectors and Bibliographers. Ed. William Baker and Kenneth Womack. Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman/Gale Group, 1999. 40-50. Print.

The provenance of the Britwell collection is complex, as its early history is intertwined with that of the Huth collection, which is now at the British Library. The Britwell collection has also been known as the Heber collection, after one of its owners in the 1830s. The drawing below, which accompanies the collection in the Huntington Library, details the conjoined histories of the Britwell/Heber and Huth collections:

Provenance of the Britwell Collection

As the drawing shows, the ballads comprising both the Britwell/Heber and Huth collections were initially owned by William Fitch, and all sold to George Daniel in 1830. The collections became separated when Daniel gave the ballads that now comprise the Britwell collection to Thomas Thorpe. (Meanwhile, Henry Huth eventually acquired the remaining ballads, and bequeathed them to the British Library). From Thorpe, the Britwell collection passed to R. Heber. In 1834, the collection was purchased by the Christie-Miller family of Britwell Court, from which the collection takes its present name. The Huntington Library acquired the collection from the Britwell Court library sale in 1919.