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Savile Collection


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Manuscript collections from the Savilian Library, consisting of:

  1. Scientific Papers including copies of works relating to astronomy, astrology and mathematics
  2. Papers of Rigaud, including biographical notebooks, relating to James Pound, James Bradley, and Edmond Halley, notebooks on scientific subjects and letters, 1770-1839


  • Creation: 12th-19th century


11.08 Linear metres (108 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English
  • Latin
  • Greek, Ancient (to 1453)
  • French
  • Portuguese

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Savile 53].

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

Full range of shelfmarks:

Savile G. 18, G. 20; MSS. Rigaud 3-33, 33A, 34-51, 53-57, 60-68; MSS. Savile 53-60, 63-73, 74a, 74b, 75-95, 97-105, e. 10

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 16119


Manuscript collections from the Savilian Library, 12th-19th century

Biographical / Historical

The Savilian Library was the library set up by Sir Henry Savile (see the Dictionary of National Biography) to serve the Savilian Chairs of Astronomy and Geometry at Oxford. They were for the private use of these professors, and were kept in the the gate tower of the Schools Quadrangle, which was used as an observatory. The library was handed over to the Bodleian in 1884.

Stephen Peter Rigaud (1774-1839), astronomer, was Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University, 1810-1839, and also Radcliffe Observer from 1827. He came of a French Protestant family, and was the son of Stephen Rigaud, Observer at Kew. He was educated at Richmond and Exeter College, Oxford (matriculated 15 April 1791, BA 1797, MA 1799, Fellow of the College, 1794-1810). He was especially interested in the historical side of science, and is best known for his editions of Miscellaneous works and correspondence of the Rev. James Bradley (Oxford, 1832) and of Correspondence of Scientific Men of the Seventeenth Century, a posthumous work (Oxford, 1841). Further details are given in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Other Finding Aids

Falconer Madan, et al., A summary catalogue of western manuscripts in the Bodleian Library at Oxford which have not hitherto been catalogued in the Quarto series (7 vols. in 8 [vol. II in 2 parts], Oxford, 1895-1953; reprinted, with corrections in vols. I and VII, Munich, 1980), vol. V, nos. 26121-26173, 26183, 26203-26267.

Custodial History

After Rigaud's death his astronomical books were purchased for the Radcliffe Observatory, and his miscellaneous library was sold, but his other scientific and literary collections devolved ultimately to his sons John and Gibbes Rigaud, who jointly presented them in 1874 to the Savile Library.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The manuscripts were transferred to the custody of the Bodleian in 1884.

Related Materials

See also Savile Manuscripts (MSS. Savile 1-52).

See also Papers of Stephen Peter Rigaud (MSS. Eng. misc. c. 807-8, e. 1366-8) and Rigaud Manuscripts (MSS. Rigaud 69-89).

Separated Materials

The following material was transferred to Oxford University Archives on 21st November 1936:

  1. MSS. Savile e. 1-9: Account books of the Savilian foundation, 1797-1839, registers of papers, correspondence and incidents relating to the Savilian Foundation, 1814-1834 by S. P. Rigaud Presented by prof. Baden Powell to the Savilian Library in A.D. 1839 and 1841 (SC nos. 26174-26182)
  2. MSS. Savile a. 1-17, c. 1-2: Estate Papers bound and referenced in 1899, consisting of papers relating to the Savilian Foundation estates, including property in Northamptonshire, Kent, Essex and Gloucestershire, 12th-19th century (SC nos. 26184-26202).
Savile Collection
Collection Level Description by Emily Tarrant; EAD version 2020 by Alice Whichelow
EAD version 2020
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom