Towneley Library downloads

Currently available downloads are

Library Catalogues

The manuscript catalogue Mun. A.2.67 in Chetham's Library, Manchester contains the earliest known catalogue of the Towneley Library. The first part records a shelf list for the library early in the reign of King James II. It covers 1378 books on 74 shelves containing between 8 and 35 books per shelf, the latest book being published in 1686.

The manuscript catalogue English MS375 in John Rylands University Library in Manchester is a later version with the latest book in the catalogue being published in 1707. It provides an alphabetic index of book titles and authors in the Towneley Library. The books are organised into seven categories - 'Scriptures, Fathers & Divines', 'Controvertists', 'Historians', 'Philosophers', 'Mathematicians', 'Lawyers' and 'Miscelanies and Poets'.

Auction Catalogues

The male line of the Towneley family ended in 1878 and the family library was sold at Sotheby's on 18-28 June 1883. The auction of the printed books took place over the first eight days when over 9,000 volumes were sold in 2815 lots and according to Bailey produced about £4,500. The main interest lay in the manuscripts which occupied the final two days of the sale in 241 lots and, again according to Bailey, made the family £4,054 6s. 6d. the richer in cash.


Richard Towneley (1566-1628), who in 1603 bound his books with the family coat of arms, was the first member of the family who appears to have taken a great interest in genealogy. His shield of eighteen quarterings was recorded by Richard St. George, Norroy King of Arms, in the Heralds' Visitation of Lancashire of 1613. Christopher Towneley (1604-1674), Richard Towneley's seventh son, was known as the transcriber. He made copies of early charters and church records from all over Lancashire and Yorkshire. We have Christopher to thank for the details of the early part of Towneley pedigree records.

A detailed pedigree of the family can be found in the following pdf file


In 1844, there were over 130 portraits at Towneley, including around 50 of the Widdrington family, brought around 1840 from Stella, near Newcastle. All the paintings were removed by 1902, but ten of them have now returned to Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum.

A detailed record of all the 130 portraits at Towneley in 1844 can be found in the following pdf file


"An Architectural History of Towneley Hall" by W. John and Kit Smith, published by Heritage Trust for the North West in 2004, provides a detailed description of the house. The much shorter "An Introduction to the Architectural History of Towneley Hall, Burnley" by Susan Bourne, published in 1979, provides a good overview. A pdf version of Susan Bourne's book can be downloaded here.