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Percy Collection

Collection Level Description

The collection also reflects Percy's membership of Samuel Johnson’s 'Literary Club' by including association or presentation copies from Johnson himself, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmond Malone, George Steevens, et al. Percy annotated his books extensively, one of the most interesting of which is a copy of the 3rd edition (1775) of his own work, 'The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry.' A unique item in the library is the earliest known English Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans), printed by Wynkyn de Worde during the early 16th century.


Early English Literture. 16th and 17th century verse. Shakepearean controversies. ballad poetry. Gaelic and Northern Poetry and antiquities. Popular metrical and prose romances of Europe.

Physical characteristics

Approx. 741 volumes and 1,225 pamphlets.

Description or Catalogue

The Thomas Percy Library is catalogued, items are identified by the prefix 'Percy/' or 'Percy Pamph.'. The Library catalogue is accessible at

Books removed from (and books added to the Library at) Dromore House, since the catalogue was made in 1802. (Ms list; paper watermarked 1810); Books at Dromore House, (Ms cat. Paper watermarked 1808, but probably compiled 1812); Pamphlets [at Dromore House]. Ms cat. 1812; The Library of Thomas Percy…now sold…by Sotheby and Co…23 June 1969, London, Sotheby 1969, 54p; illus (covers only about one-third of the collection); Shane Leslie, ‘The Percy Library,’ The Book-collector’s quarterly, 14 (1934), p11-24.

Collection Dates

Created: 1500-1811

Collection: 1750-1811

Coverage: 1590-1808

Additional Details


Literature, Philosophy &  Theology

Geographic Coverage

Britain, Ireland


English, French, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish

Material Types

Books - including pamphlets, Manuscripts

Custodial Information

Custodial History

Purchased at auction by Queen's University Belfast in 1969


Accrual Policy: Closed
Accrual Method: Purchas
Accrual Periodicity: Closed




English antiquarian, author/poet and churchman, b. Shropshire, 1729. Ed. Oxford and Cambridge. In 1782 he became Protestant bishop of Dromore (Ireland) after having served as vicar of Easton-Maudit, Northamptonshire from 1753. He achieved literary fame as the editor of the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (3 vol., 1765), a collection of 176 English and Scottish ballads, which sparked a revival in the study of earlier literary forms and exercised a great influence on the romantic poets in Germany as well as England. Percy was also well respected for his translations of Chinese and Icelandic verse, among other works. Percy's literary friends included Samuel Johnson and William Shenstone, and was related to Lord Percy, Duke of Northumberland. He died at his home in Dromore, Co. Down in 1811. Publications: Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765); Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, translated (1763); The Songs of Solomon, translated, with a Commentary (1764); Northern Antiquities (translation) (1770); The Hermit of Warkworth” (1771); A Key to the New Testament (1779); An Essay on the Origin of the English Stage (1793)

Antiquarian and Bishop