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)
Collection Level Description
The almost intact 18th century library of the author and antiquarian, Thomas Percy (1729-1811), Bishop of Dromore, Co. Down. Described at one time as the finest library in private hands in Ireland, the collection contains monographs, bound volumes of pamphlets and some manuscripts relating principally to English Literature (especially 16th and 17th century verse, Shakespearean controversies, ballad poetry), Gaelic and northern poetry and antiquities, and popular metrical and prose romances of Europe.
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.
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 www.qub.ac.uk/lib
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.
Literature, Philosophy & Theology
English, French, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish
Books - including pamphlets, Manuscripts
This collection is owned by Queen's University Belfast
Purchased at auction by Queen's University Belfast in 1969
PERCY, THOMAS, BISHOP OF DROMORE (1729-1811)