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Midgley Reference Library

Date range: 17th-19th centuries

Medium: Printed

Number of items: 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. 1,036 of the titles are tracts ranging in date from 1648 to 1841 but the vast majority of the collection was published in the late 17th century. 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; for example over 100 works by George Fox, 38 by William Penn, and 45 by Isaac Penington (of 78 titles recorded). This represents around one-sixth of all known Quaker publications of the period. 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).

The collection was transferred to the Library on permanent loan in 1955.

See also:

Further information:

  • Recorded in Library Search.
  • 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.


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