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Mendham Collection

The Mendham Collection file is an electronic version of records for books printed up to the year 1830 from the following publication: Catalogue of the Law Society's Mendham Collection, lent to the University of Kent at Canterbury and housed in Canterbury Cathedral Library. Completed and edited by Sheila Hingley and David Shaw from the catalogue of Helen Carron and others. The Law Society, London, 1994. cliv, 500p.

Access the Mendham Collection Catalogue dataset within the HPB (login required)

Historical note

The Reverend Joseph Mendham (1769–1856) is described in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as ‘Church of England clergyman and religious controversialist’. Mendham was also a considerable book collector, particularly in support of his fervent opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and its renascence in England in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Mendham lived in the Midlands where he held the office of ‘perpetual curate’ in the town of Sutton Coldfield. Following his death in 1856, his library of over 5,000 volumes passed to his son and subsequently to his nephew, John Mendham, whose widow bequeathed a selection from it to the Law Society of London in 1869.

Since the 1980s the collection has been on loan at Canterbury Cathedral Library. A modern printed catalogue was published by the Law Society in 1994, with introductory essays on Mendham and aspects of his library (Catalogue of the Law Society's Mendham Collection, lent to the University of Kent at Canterbury and housed in Canterbury Cathedral Library. Completed and edited by Sheila Hingley and David Shaw from the catalogue of Helen Carron and others. The Law Society, London, 1994. cliv, 500p.)

The computer files for the printed catalogue were converted so that the records could be consulted electronically. They have been loaded on to the HPB database and also on to the OPAC of the University of Kent where they can be consulted together with the records for the other collections of Canterbury Cathedral.

In 2012 the Law Society announced its intention to sell the Mendham Collection. In July 2012, Sotheby's took away 300 of the most valuable books to sell at auction. Attempts were made to prevent the sale but an appeal to the Charity Commission was unsuccessful and following further unsuccessful legal steps, the first tranche of the sale took place on 5 June 2013. The future of the remaining volumes in the collection is currently uncertain. CERL intends to retain the file of the Mendham Collection on the HPB database as a record of a historic collection which has now been partly dispersed.

Name and coverage of file

3976 records ranging in date from 1470 to 1830.

Mendham is the abbreviation used for the Mendham Collection Catalogue. The records on the HPB database represent the entries for books printed up to the year 1830 to be found in the Catalogue of the Law Society's Mendham Collection, lent to the University of Kent at Canterbury and housed in Canterbury Cathedral Library. Completed and edited by Sheila Hingley and David Shaw from the catalogue of Helen Carron and others, published by The Law Society, London, 1994 (ISBN 1 85328 265 0)

The on-line file mirrors the original closely, although a few modifications have been made, notably in the transcription of some special characters.

The scope of the file is those books from the collection of Joseph Mendham which were donated to the Law Society of London in 1869, together with a small number of books in related subject areas added to the collection at the time by the Law Society. The books represent Joseph Mendham’s interests in the development of the European Reformation and his opposition to the Roman Catholic Church and its revival in Great Britain in the early nineteenth century.

The geographical coverage (in terms of modern states) is United Kingdom 45%, Germany 14%, Italy 12%, France 11%, Netherlands 9.5%, Switzerland 4%, Ireland 1.5% and Spain 1%. Other countries, which make up less than 1% each, include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden.

The Mendham Catalogue records 84 incunables (2% of the total records), 20% of the entries are 16th-century, 41% are 17th-century, 25% are 18th-century and 12% are 19th-century.

The linguistic coverage is predominantly English (42.9%) and Latin (42.4%). Other languages are French 7.2%, Italian 3%, classical and liturgical Greek 2.5%, Spanish 0.7%, German 0.6%, Dutch 0.2%, Hebrew 0.2%. There are one or two books each in Irish, Welsh and Portuguese.

Mode of cataloguing


Author headings tend to follow the practice of the Bodleian and British Museum pre-war rules with some amendments and simplifications. The cataloguers were often faced with the need to choose between a vernacular and a Latin form of name, preferring whichever form is in general use and keeping Latin forms for writers who were Renaissance humanists who consistently used a Latinised name or where it was not possible to establish a secure vernacular form. Anonymous works are entered directly under title with the exception of Bible and Liturgies (entered under Church of England; Roman Catholic Church; Greek Orthodox Church). Uniform titles are given for the original title of translations, for categories such as Works, or genres such as Letters, or Bible commentaries for some authors such as Calvin.

Bibliographic description

The catalogue entries seek to offer a reliable title (and imprint) transcription in terms of orthography and punctuation. Lowercase consonantal and vocalic u/v and i/j have been transcribed as found. Greek words which were represented in the printed catalogue have been transliterated by software into the roman alphabet.

Where the original is ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS, the transcription attempts to produce a normalised form in upper and lower case according to the conventions of the book in question. The printed catalogue was able to represent many of the contractions and abbreviations of early printed books. Where these cannot be represented in the MARC character set, an appropriate expansion has been attempted in square brackets, e.g. ‘[con]traction’; where this has been impossible to do without editorial intervention, e.g. for the many ‘q’-contractions, a form such as ‘[q]’ has been used. Some character combinations which are allowed in MARC (especially characters with a macron) were coded but cannot at present be represented on output, giving apparently oddly spelled words.

Present/Absent fields

The transcribed fields include the title, statement(s) of responsibility, edition and imprint. Authors’ names are normally included in the title transcription. Normalised places of publication, names of printers, etc., are recorded in separately indexed fields. Names of editors, translators, printers and publishers can be searched separately, as “other authors”. Roman dates are represented as dates in Arabic numerals, with the original form being retained where it is ambiguous.

Headings for both personal and corporate authors follow the Bodleian Library and the British Library’s mid-20th-century practice, with some simplification: they will in many cases differ from the form prescribed by the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. Note that dates of birth and death are generally not added to personal names, authors of the same name being distinguished by epithets. The records include searchable codes for language and country of publication. Full pagination information is given for all records but signature collations are not normally recorded.

Former owners are recorded (including Joseph Mendham himself when there is an appropriate provenance indication in the book).

Treatment of multi-volume works

These are treated in single records, with appropriate notes. The number of parts, and the pagination of each, is given in the physical description when available.

Recommendations for searching

Personal names follow older British rules: do not expect them to conform to current Anglo-American standards. They rarely have dates, but similar names are frequently qualified by titles and epithets, (e.g. “the Younger”, “D. D.”, “Dean of Canterbury”). There is no on-line authority file for Mendham. Author, title, edition and imprint are all coded as separate fields and so can be searched separately.

Place names may appear under anglicised, Latin and vernacular forms (e.g. Rheims, Remis, Reims) in different contexts: search for all. Titles are more easily searched by individual title words; title phrase searching is difficult unless the exact form is known.

Imprint place in normalised form can be searched directly (PUB) and also used to restrict searches. The imprint year can always be searched as a normalised publication year with Arabic numerals.

Provenance names are tagged as “former owner” and can be searched as provenance name (PRN), former personal owner (FMO) and former corporate owner (FOC).

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 resources/hpb/content/mendham_collection.txt · Last modified: 2013/08/25 14:37 by shaw



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