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Midgley Reference Library

1,200 items in 221 volumes.

A substantial collection of Quaker literature, formed by James Midgley (1786–1852) of Rochdale and presented by his children to the Lancashire and Cheshire Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends in 1863. The collection was eventually transferred to the Library on permanent loan in 1955.

1,036 of the titles are tracts ranging in date from 1648 to 1841, but nearly 90 per cent of the works were published in the late 17th century, these representing about one sixth of all known Quaker publications of the period.

Many of the tracts are extremely rare and a few are unique. The collection contains works by all the outstanding Quaker writers of the 17th century. George Fox is represented by over 100 works, William Penn by 38 and Isaac Penington by 45 out of 78 titles recorded in Wing.

Among a group of Commonwealth tracts are several rare anti-Quaker items, such as George Emmot’s Northern Blast, or the spiritual Quaker converted (1655).

See also:

Finding aids

  • Recorded in general printed-book catalogue.
  • Published catalogue, Midgley Reference Library: Catalogue of books relating to the Society of Friends, the gift of the surviving children of James Midgley of Rochdale to Lancashire and Cheshire Quarterly Meeting (Manchester, 1866).
  • Note in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 37 (1954–5), p. 361.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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