This small octavo copy of Jeremy Taylor’s The Worthy Communicant is, at first glance, unremarkable. After a query about its catalogue entry, however, we discovered that Jesus College’s copy has not one, but two title-pages. What is more, the book contains evidence of female ownership or use.
The first title-page states that the 1701 edition was originally published by Richard Wellington, but a second title-page has been bound in front listing the publishers as Richard Chiswell, George Sawbridge and E[lizabeth] Rumbald.
The use of cancel (replacement) title-pages was fairly common, suggesting that the ownership rights to The Worthy Communicant had changed hands. This fits with what is known about Chiswell, who was a renowned book wholesaler. However, it is less common to see the first and the replacement title-page together, as the first was usually removed by booksellers. Its presence in Jesus College’s copy is a fascinating reminder of the intricacies of the book trade in eighteenth century Britain.
This particular copy is also interesting in terms of its provenance. The first leaf is signed “Mrs Sary hirst[?] her Book”, which has been crossed out subsequently. This suggests female ownership or use before it came into the library of Jesus College’s all-male community, although nothing is known at present about this woman’s connection with the college.
Emma Jones (Graduate Library Trainee, 2013-14)
Sources and further reading:
- Catalogue record for the Wellington edition on SOLO
- Catalogue record for the Chiswell et al. edition on SOLO
- Amory, Hugh, ‘Chiswell, Richard, the elder (1640–1711)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2007 (subscription required)