About the Catalogue of St. Edmunds
The development of the library of St. Edmund's, Paris, 1615-1713

As was mentioned above, the early years of the English Benedictine Community in Paris were difficult because of the many moves the Community was forced to make until the monks settled in the Rue Saint-Jacques in 1632. It is likely that what library the Community possessed up until that date travelled with them from one place to another. No catalogue or inventory survives from these early years but the Council Book for the 1620s has evidence of gifts of books to the library and purchase of books for students. The proximity of the University of the Sorbonne to the monastery meant that book collecting for the monks' library was given a high priority. From 1621, the Community's patron was St Edmund, King and Martyr (martyred in 870), and the majority of library books from that time carry the manuscript provenance 'Ex Bibliotheca Benedictinorum Anglorum Sancti Edmundi apud Parisiis' (from the library of the English Benedictine monks of Saint Edmund in Paris). At the Visitation of the monastery in 1629, the monks were ordered to compile a library catalogue, which has not survived, and regulations were drawn up which included entering the provenance on every book and also rules for borrowing books. As a result of this Visitation, the first official librarian seems to have been appointed. As the library expanded, so individual monks availed themselves of the resource to carry out personal research which led to publication of their work. When the priory of La Celle-sur-Morin became dependent on the monastery in Paris in 1633, books which had been owned by English monks at La Celle were transferred to Paris. The original library at La Celle, inherited by the English monks, had been, according to Dom Benet Weldon, merely a tiny collection of books. The 1702 catalogue indicates that St Edmund's, Paris, became responsible for building up the library at La Celle once a small lay alumnate had been established there during the seventeenth century. Evidence for the growth of the library at Paris in the seventeenth century is patchy. A number of gifts are recorded by Weldon, especially from Benedictine missioners in England, and he also states that around 1650, Anne of Austria obtained a grant from the Chancellor of France that St Edmund's was to be allowed a copy of every book printed in Paris. When the new church and conventual buildings were begun in 1674 and completed in 1676, provision was made for a library on the first floor which continued as such until the French Revolution. At the 1692 Visitation, a new catalogue of the library was ordered, and this survives, in an incomplete form, in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris, having been taken from the monks' library during the French Revolution. The works listed in this catalogue are also to be mostly found in Weldon's catalogue of 1702.

The monastic librarian at St Edmund's, Paris, was not a major official in the monastery and it may have been the case that there were times when the office was vacant. The following list of librarians is derived from what evidence is available. It is necessarily incomplete.

Richard Wolstan Ingham alias Walmesley (1633)
Thomas Swinburne (1644)
William Benet Nelson (1642)
Richard Bede Houghton alias Farnaby (1645)
Ralph Benet Weldon (1702-1713)
Philip Jefferson (1753)
Benedict Harsnep (1753-1760)
James Bernard Compton (1775-1778)
John Turner (c.1786-1793)

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