Our historic collections of printed books are fully catalogued and are searchable via the Learning Resources Centre catalogue in the usual way.

A brief history of each of our named historic collections and an indication of their content is available by clicking the names below.

Burgess Collection

Bishop Thomas Burgess (1756-1837) bequeathed to St David's College, Lampeter his personal library of some 9.000 volumes. Primarily a working collection gathered during a lifetime devoted to the study of Classics, literature, history, antiquities, and theology, many of the works are annotated by Burgess and therefore offer an insight into his scholarly and theological preoccupations.

Classical Works

Burgess was a precocious Classical scholar who maintained interest in classical literature throughout his lifetime. Symbolic of his particular interests are two volumes printed at Venice in the fifteenth century, Aristotle's Rhetorica, printed in 1481, and Theodore Beza's Introductivae grammaticis, printed some fourteen years later.


At Oxford University Burgess was taken up by the classicist and first scientific editor of Chaucer, Thomas Tyrwhitt. Such was the academic standing of Burgess that before leaving Oxford for Durham Cathedral, he saw through the press Tyrwhitt's emendation of the De Poetica, printed in 1794. Tyrwhitt bequeathed to Burgess a 1536 Aldine edition of De Poetica. The gift is recorded by Burgess in the book and dated December 7, 1797. This volume has the added attraction of a contemporary Italian binding, a vellum backing and boards covered with an embossed red paper of floral motifs and vases. The signature of a previous owner, W. Carte, is also present, and both the Latin and Greek texts have been annotated by various hands.

Several other interesting titles add distinction to Burgess's collection of Aristotle, including two folios of the Casaubon edition of 1605 stamped 'Westminster Abbey', and ten quarto volumes in Greek of the complete Frankfurt edition of 1577-87, characterised by fine decorative initials and occassional illustrations. Further Aristotelian tracts appear in such composite volumes as the Aldine Rhetores in hoc volumine, printed in 1508.

Greek Grammars and Anthologies

Gaza's Greek grammar is supplemented by the ten folio volumes of Stephanus's Thesaurus grecae linguae (London, 1816-1822) and several editions of Greek Anthology, notably the Lepzig edition of 1794-1814 by Brunck.

Burgess was sufficiently interested in the study of Homer to produce his own critical edition entitled Initia Homerica (1788). The Burgess copy contains frequent textual corrections and appropriate proof marks made by Burgess himself, perhaps indictating intended future editions.Other Homeric works include the three folio volumes of Eustathius's commentary on the Illiad and Odyssey published by Froben at Basel in 1559.

Further notable works in the collection include the twelve quarto volumes of Fabricius's Bibliotheca Graeca (1790), and the great folios: Tertullianus (Paris, 1675), Strabo (1807) in the fine Clarendon Press edition, Aristophanes (Leipzig, 1710), Diodorus Siculus (Amsterdam, 1746), Photius (Rouen, 1653), and Herodotus (Amsterdam, 1763).


One of Burgess's publishing interests was the editing of several Hebrew grammars and primers. He constantly stressed that the study of Hebrew had both intellectual and moral implications. It was certainly a focus for Scriptural studies. Browsing through the catalogue of his collection is a salutary reminder of Burgess's linguistic interests. Present are Richardson's Grammar of the Arabic language (1801) and Levi's Lingua sacra (1803), Moises' Persian Interpreter (1792) and Schaaf's Lexicon Syriacum (1717). The eight volume Onomasticon literarium of Christopher Saxe catches the eye, as do the two folio volumes of Edward Lye's Dictionarium Saxonico et Gothico-Latinum-Biblicum (1765).

Burgess does not seem to have been interested in the archaeology of the ancient world. He did however own Lechavalier's Description of the Plain of Troy (1791), a work critical of Wood's map of the plain, but this was a gift from the work's translator, Andrew Dalzel.

Religious Controversy

Burgess was active in contemporary religious debate. His library is a rich resource for the study of the numerous religious controversies of his day. One example must suffice. The criticism provoked by Gibbon's views on the growth of Christianity is reflected in Burgess's possession of five volumes, by Davis, Chilsum, Apthorp, Eyre, and Loftus, all published in 1778, two years after the publication of the first volume of the History. It was the year of Burgess's graduation at the age of twenty-two.


Burgess possessed two magnificent Vulgate Bibles, one manuscript, one printed. Scribal labours of more than three years went into the making of the manuscipt Vulgate, completed in 1279 by Geoffrey of Frecamp, and probably financed by James, abbot of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, near Liseaux, Calvados. Although having a varied provenance, the manuscript probably reached England through Carthusian channels in the 15th or 16th century. The beautiful minatures and script of this 13th century Norman Vulgate are matched by the immaculate printing in rotunda face and classic margins of Nicholas Jenson’s 1476 Venetian Bible with its ownership inscription of ‘Collegij Paris. Societ. Jesu.’. Burgess owned one other notable incunable, the de Worde Golden Legend of 1498.

Neverthless, possession of several outstanding printed Greek New Testaments was perhaps the hallmark of the collection as a whole. He owned the New Testament volume of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible prepared by Cardinal Ximenes at Alcala, which possessed the finest Greek type ever designed. Matching the Spanish grace of the Complutensian was the 3rd edition (1522) of Erasmus’s Greek New Testament printed in Basel by Froben, with its heavier but majestic decorative surrounds designed by Urs Graf. That printed by Simon de Colines (Paris, 1534) has the famous ‘Tempus’ device and rich-gauffered edges, while a folio New Testament printed in Frankfurt (1601) has the Stephanus text. Complementing these are several 18th century Testaments, notably a magnificent folio of 1710.

Syriac New Testaments also caught Burgess’s attention. He owned the 3rd edition of Guy Lefèvre de la Boderie (Paris, 1584) in Hebrew characters with inter-linear Latin translation in smaller font. The binding of this two-volume work is reminiscent of the great Roger Payne’s earlier Eton work, but Burgess appears not to have been drawn into this sphere of the book arts. A Syriac New Testament edited by Adler (Hafniae, 1789) has etched special plates of manuscript codices.

Church Fathers

Burgess owned a fine collection of the great folios of the early Church fathers: the four volumes of Origen (Paris, 1733-1759); the thirteen volumes of Chrysostom edited by Montfaucon (Paris, 1718-1738) with its manuscript ascription to ‘Bibliotheca Bellorepariensis’; the six volumes of Cyril (Paris, 1638); The Cyprian (Amsterdam, 1700). There are also Eusebius’s Thesaurus Temporum, edited by Scaliger (Amsterdam, 1658), and Photius’s Bibliotheca Librorum (Rothomagi, 1653), a summary review of 280 works read by Photius, many of which are now lost.

Ecclesiastical History

Ecclesiastical History is represented by equally great works and commentators: Hooker’s Laws (1666); the fine Cambridge edition of Bede (1722); Laud’s Relation (1639); Spelman’s Concilia (1639); the contentious De Doctrina Christiana of Milton, whose authorship Burgess never failed to refute; the voluminous labours of Dupin in Parisian, London, and Dublin editions. There are also Morland’s History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont (1658), and Basnage de Beauval’s Histoire des Juifs (1716) and Bower’s History of the Popes (1748-66).


The purely philosophical fields held little interest for Burgess. The only Locke he possessed was the Reasonableness of Christianity (1748); and Shaftesbury’s Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1727) is one of the few works of note. It is possible otherwise only to note such general surveys as Gesner’s Primae Lineae Isagoges in Erudition Universalem (Lipsae, 1774-75) which includes a bold scribbled note in his hand proclaiming that ‘An introduction to Universal Erudition should begin with the History of Learning for the same reason that an introduction to philosophy should begin with a History of Philosophy‘.

Natural Philosophy and Natural History

Newton’s Opera (1779-85) was edited by Samuel Horsley, Burgess’s predecessor as Bishop of St David’s, and it is this connection which probably best explains its presence in the collection. Among the earliest of the volumes of science is Proclus’s commentary on Euclid (1560); among the latest is the inaugural address of Oxford’s first reader in geology, William Buckland. Also present is Buckland’s Reliquae Diluvia … attesting the action of an universal deluge (1823), a gift to Burgess from the author. Buckland and Burgess were Wykehamists and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Buckland went on to become Dean of Westminster and President of the Geological Society, paralleling Burgess’s prelacy and Presidency of the Royal Society for Literature.

The few works of natural history in the collection are those of an interested layman. Gilbert White’s Naturalist’s Calendar (1795) is present, possibly bought as an act of piety towards a fellow Hampshire man (Burgess was born in Odiham), and so too is Thomas Martyn’s Flora Rustica (1792) with attractive hand-coloured etched plates. Also in the collection are two medical works, Benjamin Hutchinson’s Biographia Medica (1799), and the first great concordance to the works of Hippocrates, the Oeconomia (Frankfurt, 1588), probably bought for linguistic reasons.

The nucleus of the Roderic Bowen Library and Archive Tract Collection is the Bowdler Tract Collection of over 9,000 pamphlets which came to Lampeter soon after the death of Dr Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), better known as the expurgator or 'bowdleriser' of Shakespeare (1818). Dr Thomas Bowdler was not himself the collector of the "Bowdler" pamphlets. But he was the last owner of a family collection which stretched back through three earlier generations of Bowdler collectors to the eve of the Civil War (about 1638) and about 150 years of further accumulations which ended in 1785 with the death of Thomas Bowdler III (1706-85), of Ashley, near Bath.

Exactly how the Bowdler pamphlets reached Lampeter some time before 1836 is still uncertain. But it is clear that Thomas Bowdler IV, who had moved in 1811 to the Rhyddings in Swansea (then in the diocese of St David's), was well acquainted with Burgess and shared the same circle of pious friends including William Wilberforce, Hannah More, and other members of the Clapham Sect. In fact, Bowdler and his sister, Henrietta Maria (editor of the first edition of The Family Shakespeare (1807) were both early contributors to Burgess' building fund for the future college. Furthermore, Dr Bowdler presented Burgess with copies of a number of his publications (and those of others) which are still extant in the Roderic Bowen Library and Archives, and in the year before he died, he had addressed the Royal Society of Literature, founded by its long-serving President, Thomas Burgess. Burgess' known book-collecting interests may have served as the final stimulus in encouraging the gift of the pamphlet collection to Lampeter.

The main collector, however, was Thomas Bowdler II (1661-1738) who was sent to London from Dublin as a boy to be brought up by his uncle, a city merchant, who had started the family tradition of collecting pamphlets. As a young man, Thomas entered the Navy Office under Samuel Pepys (himself a major collector of tracts) and in the Revolution of 1689 he followed Pepys' example in resigning, rather than take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary. He remained a staunch Jacobite and devout Nonjuror to the end, a fact which is reflected in the 539 pamphlets in his collection which relate to that communion.

Thomas had begun collecting in his youth, but a further spur to this interest came when he inherited the pamphlet collection of his uncle, Thomas Bowdler I (fl.1638-1700), in 1701 and he began collecting in earnest, acquiring ready-made collections such as those of the deposed Bishop of Ely, Francis Turner (eighteen volumes), the family collection of John Gauden (1605-1662), Bishop of Worcester, and a number of items which had belonged to the Nonjuror and Anglo-saxon scholar, George Hickes (1642-1715) in his capacity as Hickes' executor. 

By the year 1709, Thomas Bowdler II's hobby had grown into an obsession. He was purchasing any item that came his way, frequently noting (at the bottom edge of the title page) the exact date of purchase and the book-agent, and detailing each item (tied up in bundles) in a handwritten catalogue which survives to this day. Thomas II made few purchases after 1720, but he bequeathed the pamphlet collection to his elder son, Thomas Bowdler III, who made more modest, though still significant additions to the family collection before it passed to Dr Thomas Bowdler IV.

Scope of the Bowdler Collection

The Nonjuror outlook of Thomas Bowdler II imposed no restriction of subject matter on the collection which was as wide ranging as pamphleteering itself, ranging from the high-minded to political satire, the scurrilous and the bawdy. Predictably, issues of religion and politics abound, reflecting the preoccupations of this most turbulent period of eighty years, or so, following the outbreak of the Civil War in 1640.

In addition to a major collection of 539 Nonjuror pamphlets (including thirty-five out of the forty items known to relate to the Usages controversy), issues of church and state, religion, politics and the freedom of the press are well represented: from the years of the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, through the reign of James II and the Revolution to the Convocation Controversy, Occasional Conformity, the impeachment of Sacheverell and the Bangorian Controversy early in the eighteenth century. While the sympathies of the Bowdlers lay with the High-Church Tories in these disputes, the opposing publications of Catholics, Low Churchmen and Dissenters abound in the collection, including those of the Quakers. The Dissenter, Daniel Defoe is the writer most frequently encountered in the collection.

But there are also many pamphlets relating to Irish affairs, the Navy, foreign trade and the colonies, as well as literary, philosophical, economic, scientific and medical subjects, some interspersed with manuscript items including complete pamphlets, letters, poems and ballads. There is also evidence of considerable interest in contemporary theatre, including music theatre. Among the numerous ephemera are accounts of contemporary scandals, trials and public executions, piracy and witchcraft, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, strange occurrences and supernatural portents, and whatever at the time happened to occupy the public attention. It isprecisely this diversity that makes the Bowdler collection so fascinating for the modern reader and such a rich resource for the student of social and cultural history. 

Further reading

B. Ll. James (Ed.), 1975. A Catalogue of the Tract Collection of Saint David's University College, Lampeter. London: Mansell.

L. J. Harris and B. Ll. James, 1974. 'The tract collection at St. David's UniversityCollege, Lampeter' in Trivium, 9, pp100-109. 

James David Smith, 1997. 'The Bowdler Collection as a Resource for the Study of the Nonjurors' in The Founders' Library University of Wales, Lampeter' in Bibliographical and Contextual Studies, Essays in Memory of Robin Rider, edited by William Marx. Trivium 29 and 30 ,pp.155-167.

Provenance of the volumes in the Bowdler Collection

Thomas Bowdler I (fl. 1638-1700) 

Tract Volumes 61, 86, 118, 122-124, 126-130, 174, 176-178, 182-183, 287, 309, 313,317, 504 and 508

Thomas Bowdler II (1661-1738) 

Tract Volumes 1-23, 25-40, 42, 45, 47-51, 53, 55, 57-60, 62-85, 87-92, 94-96,101-116, 119-121, 125, 131-142, 144-171, 173, 175, 180-181, 184-185, 190-209,211-213, 215-234, 236, 238-275, 278-283, 285, 289-308, 310, 312, 314, 316,318-338, 342-344, 347-348, 350-351, 355, 358, 360-367, 369-375, 377-383, 385,387-418, 439-444, 446-449, 452, 455-459, 461-463, 465-475, 482, 487, 489-498,500-503, 505-507, 510-528, 546-551, 565, 801.

Thomas Bowdler III (1706-1785)

Tract Volumes 24, 41, 43-44, 46, 52, 97-100, 143, 189, 237, 359, 368, 421-438, 476,483-486, 509, 539-543, 554-559, 626-678, 774

Other early donations 

Most of the remaining pamphlets in the Tract Collection came with the Foundation Collection assembled by Thomas Burgess following his appeal for gifts and books in 1807, before the foundation of St David's College, Lampeter, in 1822. Among these is a set of seventeen numbered volumes labelled 'miscellanies', of the later seventeenth and early eighteenth century, with the ownership inscriptions of Alexander and Thomas Scott, however, the actual donor is not recorded. A substantial number of tracts were also given by the library's other great benefactor, Thomas Phillips.

Tract Volumes 56, 187, 249, 276, 284, 286, 339-341, 345-346, 349, 352, 354, 356, 386,450, 453-454, 464, 477-481, 535, 544, 579-580, 583-585, 600, 602, 617, 622,682, 689-690, 711, 729, 740, 742, 747, 752-754, 762-763, 770, 772, 787, 789,795, 798, 805

The Cenarth collection comprises almost a thousand items collected by David Henry Davies (1828-1910), vicar of Cenarth, and was acquired in 1904. It consists of Welsh religious literature, history and antiquities, Bibles, Prayer Books, hymns, ballads, sermons, catechisms, pamphlets and translations of religious classics. Perhaps the highlight of the collection is the four volumes of printed ballads in pamphlet form. They cover a variety of subjects, including criminal offences, especially murders; hangings; accidents, including coal mining disasters; shipwrecks; religion and various revivals; love; the arrival of the railways in Wales, and local events, such as the Rebecca Riots. The ballads relate mostly to Wales, and some were written by famous Welsh poets such as Tegid and Eben Fardd. Also among the treasures of the collection is a first edition of Casgliad o Hymnau by Ann Griffiths. The poems and letters of this farmer’s daughter from mid-Wales, who died in 1805 at the age of 29, are considered among the highlights of Welsh literature.

The Cenarth collection was assembled by David Henry Davies, who was vicar at the village of Cenarth from 1877. He was born in New Quay, Cardiganshire, in 1828, the son of Daniel Owen Davies, surgeon, and his wife Margaret. Davies was educated at New Quay and Cardigan, before entering St. David's College, Lampeter in 1862. He was ordained a curate in 1864, and was made a priest in 1867. From 1864 to 1865 he acted as curate in the parish of Llanboidy, Carmarthenshire, and then spent three years as a curate at Oystermouth, Glamorganshire. In 1868 he became vicar of Llannon, Carmarthenshire, leaving in 1877 to take up the post of vicar of Cenarth. Davies was known for his excellent library, which he probably inherited, and later added to. He also wrote a number of ballads, including 'I fechgyn yr Ysgol Rammadegol, Emlyn' (1909).

The Ellis collection comprises around four thousand, mainly nineteenth century, theological and philosophical books, assembled by Calvinist Minister and author, Griffith Ellis (1844-1913). The collection was presented to the Theological College at Aberystwyth, in 1914.

On the closure of the College in 2002, much of its library was transferred to Lampeter, including not only the Ellis Collection but also material from the Colleges of the Presbyterian Church of Wales at Bala and Trefeca. About forty pre-1800 volumes are on deposit in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Griffith Ellis (1844-1913) began preaching in his late teens. At the age of twenty he went to study at Bala College. Six years later he entered Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1876 (M.A. 1879) with a third class in Lit. Humanities. Before leaving Oxford, Ellis had been called to the pastorate of Stanley Road Christian Methodist Church, Bootle. He preached at the opening of the new chapel there in December 1876 and he occupied the post until his retirement.

Ellis became moderator of the North Wales Christian Methodist Association in 1900 and of the General Assembly in 1896. He delivered the first ‘Davies lecture’ in 1894, published in 1895 under the title Y Syched am Dduw. His other books were Hanes Methodistiaeth Corris a'r Amgylchoedd (1885) and Welsh biographies of William Carey (1897), W. E. Gladstone (1898) and Edward Morgan of Dyffryn (1906). He also wrote many articles for periodicals.

Richard Brinkley (1942-2000) was for many years a scholar librarian in the Humanities in the Aberystwyth University Library. He was an avid bibliophile and a lay preacher whose bequest to Lampeter consists of a range of material in ecclesiastical history and religion.

The Isaac Williams Collection contains 215 volumes which date to between 1633 and 1865. The personal library of the poet and Tractarian theologian Isaac Williams (1802-65), the collection was presented to St David's College Lampeter by members of his family in 1957 and 1970.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865), cleric, poet, and theologian was born 12th December 1802 at Cwmcynfelyn, near Aberystwyth. As his father's professional duties kept him in London for the greater part of each year, Williams spent his early childhood in Southampton Street, Bloomsbury, London. In 1817 he went to  Harrow, where he became conspicuous for his skill in Latin verse. In 1882 he entered Trinity College, Oxford, and it was while spending that summer's vacation at Cwmcynfelyn that he met John Keble at Aberystwyth. Williams and Keble did not, however, become very friendly until the following year when Williams won the chancellor's prize for a Latin poem on the subject ‘Ars Geologica’. He suffered a serious illness because of over-work and was obliged to content himself with a pass degree, which he obtained on 25 May 1826; proceeding M.A. in 1831, and B.D. in 1839. In December 1829  he was ordained deacon and licensed to the curacy of Windrush-cum-Sherborne, Gloucestershire.

In 1831 Williams obtained a Fellowship at Trinity College and the following year went into residence as a tutor in philosophy. In 1833 he was made Dean of the college. He was rhetoric lecturer from 1834 to 1840 and Vice-President of his college in 1841-2. Soon after his return to Trinity College he became curate to John Henry Newman at St. Mary's, Oxford. They became firm friends and when the Oxford Movement threatened the unity of the Church, Isaac Williams quickly proved himself to be one of the Movement's most able leaders. With the publication of his tract Reserve in Communicating Religious Knowledge (no. 80 in series Tracts for the Times ), he made a number of enemies. He wrote a good deal of verse and translated a few poems for a volume entitled Lyra Apostolica (Derby, 1836) which he published jointly with Froude, Newman, and Keble. When Keble retired from the chair of poetry at Oxford in 1841, Williams was generally considered his likely successor. However, after much bitter wrangling he decided to withdraw and James Garbett was appointed. Much embittered by the defection of some of his friends he withdrew from Oxford and from public life.

On 22 June 1842 he married Caroline , third daughter of Arthur Champernowne of Dartington House, and settled in Dartington as curate to Thomas Keble. There he remained until 1848 when he removed to Stinchcombe near Dursley where he died on 1st May 1865 . He was buried there in the churchyard where a monument was erected to his memory. A further memorial in the form of a stained glass window was placed in Trinity College Chapel, paid for by public subscription.

Isaac Williams published about thirty-seven works including Thoughts in Past Years, 1838; A Sermon on Revelations xxi, 2-3 preached at the consecration of the Church of Llangorwen , 1841; The Gospel Narrative of Our Lord's Ministry, 1848, 1849; A Harmony of the Four Evangelists, 1850; Plain Sermons on the Latter Part of the Catechism, 1851; The Apocalypse, with notes, 1852; Female characters of Holy Scripture, 1859; The Beginning of the Book of Genesis, with notes, 1861; The Characters of the Old Testament, 1869; Devotional Commentary on the Gospel Narrative, 1870.


Sir G. Prevost (Ed.), 1892. The Autobiography of Isaac Williams …throwing further light on the history of the Oxford Movement. (With "A Sermon of Thomas Keble's, sent by Isaac Williams to J. H. Newman, no doubt on the occasion of the death of Newman's mother"). London/New York.

The Welsh Outlook: Monthly Journal of National Social Progress, 1914-1933.

Author: Dr David Jenkins, C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt., (1912-2002), Penrhyn-coch, Aberystwyth.

Works and Biographies avalable at: http://anglicanhistory.org/williams/index.html

The Ystrad Meurig Collection comprises about six hundred items from the former parochial and school library of St John's College (1757-1974) founded by Edward Richard (1714-77) of whose library about 320 books survive. The Collection covers a wide range of subjects in the humanities and theology, predominantly in Latin and English, from the 17th to 19th centuries. Highlights of the Collection include Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, Pierre Bayle's Dictionary, and Thomas Hobbes Leviathan.  

School History

Ystrad Meurig School was established c.1734 by Edward Richard of Ystrad Meurig, who had begun by teaching local boys in the parish church. Edward Richard was distinguished as a profound scholar and critic, an antiquary, and a Welsh poet, and was the author of some pastorals, which, for elegance of composition and purity of style, are said to be unrivalled by any writings in the Welsh language. He is thought to have been born in the year 1714, but his name does not appear among the baptisms in the register.

By 1759 Edward Richard was teaching over fifty pupils and in 1757, the school was legally established and endowed as a grammar school. In 1774 the school was declared open to boys from Cardiganshire, offering a free education in Latin and the principles of the Church of England. Following the death of Edward Richard in 1777, the Reverend John Williams took over as headmaster. Under Williams, Ystrad Meurig School established and maintained a reputation for classical scholarship. By 1812 a separate school building had been erected in the parish churchyard and between 1803 and 1827 Ystrad Meurig became the main institution for the training of ordinands in the St. David's diocese. At one point during this period the school was attended by 150 pupils and though most pupils went on to become clergy of the Church of England within Wales, distinguished alumni include Dr David Davis, physician to William IV and Queen Victoria, and John Williams, first warden of Llandovery College. Numbers at Ystrad Meurig School fell after the opening of St. David's College at nearby Lampeter in 1827. The curriculum became more like that of a secondary school, and it developed into a preparatory institution for pupils who wished to go on to study at St. David's College, or at the University of Wales. The school continued to provide education for local boys and accepted men whose education had been disrupted by both of the world wars, prior to their advancement to university. From the 1950s the school gradually declined. By this time it was called St. John's College, though the exact date of, and reasons for this change are unknown. Its main role became the provision of O-level and A-level courses for potential students of theology at Lampeter. The last headmaster resigned in 1973. The school library has since been moved to St David's College, Lampeter, and the school itself is now used as a village hall.

Archival Material

Scope and content: The archive contains correspondence relating to entry to Ystrad Meurig School, and from Ystrad Meurig School to St. David's College, Lampeter; financial papers; photographs of the college; copies of the college magazine and other miscellaneous items.

The Harford Collection comprises upwards of two hundred volumes and includes 17th to early 19th century theology and church history from the library of the Harford family of Blaise Castle, near Bristol. The collection was presented to St Davids College by Sir George Arthur Harford, Visitor of the College, in 1951 and 1962.

In 1807 it was announced that any contributions towards the new college of St David's would be greatfully received.

The first books were donated in 1809 by various friends of the new college and were stored at the Bishops Palace at Abergwil until 1827 when the library room was ready. There appears to have been some four thousand volumes. The first catalogue of the holdings was printed in 1836.

The Roderic Bowen Library and Archives Tract Collection includes 169 volumes of pamphlets from the donation of Thomas Phillips (1760-1851).

Although born in London, Phillips was a Radnorshire man who became a surgeon employed by the East India Company, accumulating a substantial fortune after many years' service in India. Retiring to London in 1817, he devoted the rest of his life to furthering education in Wales.

Phillips had already begun to establish small libraries in India with the aim of enhancing the minds and moral character of serving soldiers and, after retiring to Brunswick Square, he started to make substantial gifts of money, books and curiosities to many individuals and institutions in London, the Welsh Borders and South Wales. St David's College, Lampeter was one of these beneficiaries, and during the years 1834 to 1851 he dispatched 22,500 volumes to the library in fifty-nine consignments, as well as endowing scholarships and a Chair of Natural Science. Although it seems likely that some of these books had belonged to his own personal collection, most had been acquired in London sale-rooms and book shops for despatch to Lampeter, and many contain provenance evidence and annotations of former owners, including some notable collectors of the eighteenth century.


B. Ll. James (Compiler), 1975. A Catalogue of the Tract Collection of Saint David's University College, Lampeter. London:Mansell.

D. T. W.Price, 1997. 'Thomas Phillips of Brunswick Square' in The Founders' Library University of Wales, Lampeter in: Bibliographical and Contextual Studies. Essays in Memory of Robin Rider, edited by William Marx. Trivium 29 and 30, pp.169-176.

Pamphlet volumes of Phillips' provenance:

Tract volumes 93, 172, 179, 186, 188, 235, 277, 311, 315, 357, 376, 419-420, 451, 488,529-534, 536-537, 545, 552, 560-564, 566-575, 577, 581-582, 586-599, 601,604-616, 618, 620-621, 624-625, 680-681, 683-688, 692-703, 705-710, 715-718,722-728, 730, 732-737, 739, 741, 744-746, 748-751, 755-757, 764-766, 769, 771,773, 775-776, 778-781, 783-784, 790, 792, 784, 797, 799, 803, 807-813, 815,817, 819-820, 822-823, 825-828.

The Tract Collection includes fifty-one pamphlets from the library of Thomas Burgess, Bishop of St Davids (1803-25), later Bishop of Salisbury (1825-37), and Founder of St David's College, Lampeter (1822).

In addition to being its Founder, Burgess was one of the principal founders of its library. Even before Lampeter was chosen as the location for his new foundation, he had secured gifts of about four thousand books from friends and well-wishers following an appeal in 1807. In addition to donations during his lifetime, he bequeathed the whole of his library to Lampeter in 1837.

Burgess' library was primarily a working collection, built up over a lifetime devoted to the study of Classics, literature, history, antiquities, and above all theology. Many of his books are annotated, particularly classical texts and theological polemic. He had been a formidably gifted student of Greek at Winchester and Oxford and maintained a life-long interest in erudite points of text-criticism and philology. Beside biblical studies and patristics, his theological preoccupations centred on his controversies with Rome, especially the issues of Catholic Emancipation and Unitarianism - a 'problem' (as he saw it) rife in his own diocese of St Davids.

His pamphlets are mainly of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, though there are two volumes from the period of the Popish Plot and others of the reign of James II. Most of the pamphlets take the form of sermons and theological polemics, while learned controversies (such as that between Richard Bentley and Conyers Middleton) are also representeed.


B. Ll. James (Compiler), 1975. A Catalogue of the Tract Collection of Saint David's University College, Lampeter. London:Mansell.

Gwyn Walters, 1994. 'The Library of Thomas Burgess (1756-1837)' in The Book Collector, Vol. 43.3, pp351-375.

Pamphlet volumes of Burgess provenance:

Tract volumes 54, 117, 210, 214, 288, 353, 384, 460, 499, 538, 553, 576, 578, 603,619, 623, 679, 691, 704, 712-714, 719-721, 731, 738, 743, 758-761, 767-768,777, 782, 785-786, 788, 791, 793, 796, 800, 802, 804, 806, 814, 816, 818, 821,824.

The Welsh Library was constituted in 1904 and contained over two thousand works in Welsh and English of relevance to Wales. The collection was catalogued by William Davies, Manciple of St David's College. The catalogues were printed in Lampeter at the Welsh Church Press in 1904. Books from the former Welsh Library are searchable via the Learning Resources Centre catalogue. 

William Davies, 1904. List of books in the Welsh library. Lampeter:Welsh Church Press.

William Davies, 1904. A second list of books in the Welsh library. Lampeter:Welsh Church Press.