Skip to main content

Archive of Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, and his descendants


  • How to

The archive comprises: collections for Camden's Britannia; correspondence and papers; drafts, commentaries, annotations and miscellaneous collecitons; financial papers; and miscellaneous papers.

A list of the collection as reclaimed from St. Paul's in 1896, together with the known locations in 1960, is MS. Eng. c. 3202, fols. 69-112.


  • Creation: 1388-1797


7.45 Linear metres (23 Shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. b. 2042, fols. 1-2].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. Eng. b. 2042-2044, c. 3190-3202, d. 2405-2411

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 9155


Papers of Edmund Gibson (1669-1748), Bishop of London, with papers of his descendants, 1388-1797.

Biographical / Historical

Edmund Gibson (1669-1748) was one of the foremost churchmen of his age, important both as an ecclesiastical statesman and as a bishop. He was elevated to the episcopate as Bishop of Lincoln in 1716, and translated in 1723 to the see of London, where he remained until his death. He was not only the author of numerous devotional and pastoral works, but also published two monumental volumes on ecclesiastical law, Synodus Anglicana (1702) and Codex Juris Ecclesiae Anglicanae (1713), and made a major contribution to antiquarian studies with his new English edition of William Camden's Britannia (1695).

All these aspects of Gibson's life and work are represented in this collection of his papers. They were used by Norman Sykes for his biography Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London (London, 1926), where they are described on pp. xxi-xxii. When first deposited in the Bodleian, the papers were catalogued by M.J. Sommerlad as Dep. c. 225-246.

Custodial History

Gibson's papers did not survive as a single collection and their history is a complicated one. A substantial collection of 'Codices Gibsoniani' is preserved at Lambeth Palace Library. These include many papers given by Archbishop Tenison to Gibson, then his chaplain and librarian at Lambeth. On Gibson's instructions, his executors deposited them in Lambeth Palace Library with many more papers which Gibson had collected himself. This collection is described in A Catalogue of the Archiepiscopal Manuscripts in the Library at Lambeth Palace (1812) and more fully in a separate unpublished catalogue available only in Lambeth Palace Library. A microfilm of the collection is available in the Bodleian as MSS. Film 285-292.

The papers now in the Bodleian formed part of a collection which was apparently retained in the hands of Gibson's immediate descendants for some years after his death, and eventually offered for sale in 1889 by a Mr. George Collis, to whose father they had been given. The papers were bought by the Revd. Dr. W.J. Sparrow Simpson, Librarian of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, who estimated that they comprised about ninety volumes. They were handed over to the Dean and Chapter for retention in the Cathedral Library, where some were bound. (See Simpson's article in Archaeologia, Vol. 53, pp. 155-160, and MS. Eng. c. 3202, fols. 66-67).

In 1896 a successful claim to the papers was made by three of Gibson's descendants, but certain items considered to be church property and some manuscripts relating to Charles I, once part of MS. Eng. d. 2406, were retained at St. Paul's (see MS. Eng. c. 3202, fol. 67v). The remainder were divided between the claimants, Mr. C.J. Hill, Captain E. Poore, and Colonel J.C. Dalton. It is the latter portion which is represented by the Bodleian's holdings. Many of the volumes still bear the bookplates and reference numbers of St. Paul's Cathedral Library, the pencil numbers apparently given them (by Colonel Dalton?) at the time of the division of the collection, and the bookplates of Colonel Dalton.

The greater part of Mr. Hill's portion of the collection is preserved in the library of the University of St. Andrews (for a list of these, see MS. Eng. c. 3202, fols. 113-17), but three volumes formerly in his possession were bought by Lambeth Palace Library in 1960. They are described in E.G.W. Bill, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library (1972), pp. 225-234, as Nos. 1741-1743.

Part at least of Captain Poore's portion was sold by Hodgson & Co. on 19 October 1928 (catalogue no. 1, 1928-1929, lot 763), having been in the possession of Dr. H.G. Rosedale. This would appear to be the collection now in the Huntington Library, California, contained in several bound volumes and boxes known as the "Edmund Gibson Papers" (information supplied by a researcher, August 2009). There is a brief description of the contents in Guide to British Historical Manuscripts in the Huntington Library (San Marino, Calif.: 1982), pp. 302-303.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited in the Bodleian in 1960 by Gibson's descendant Major-General Sir Charles J.G. Dalton, from whom they were purchased in 1988.

Related Materials

Many printed pamphlets collected by Gibson are in the library of Sion College, London.

Catalogue of the archive of Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, and his descendants, 1388-1797
Finding aid prepared by Ruth Burchnall
1993, EAD version 2000
Language of description
Script of description
Conversion to EAD supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom