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Thomas Percy correspondence

Call Number: OSB MSS 39

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Percy Correspondence consists almost entirely of letters to Thomas Percy. The papers span the dates 1770-1809 and have been organized into one series, Letters, which is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Almost all of the letters are accompanied by typed transcripts.

The majority of the letters, including those by Nicholas Boscawen, Zachary Brook, John Cleaver, Thomas Francklin, and Andrew Wood, date from Percy's service as Chaplain-in-Ordinary to King George III and concern the scheduling of sermons before the court at St. James and of times for "waiting on the King."

The only letter by Percy in the collection is addressed to Thomas Wilkinson and congratulates him on enjoying an "independent Competency" without the "Splendid slavery" of a public position.

The letters of Henry Meen, classical scholar and rector of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, are located in folders 9-17. Subjects include Meen's proposed edition of the works of Lycophron and his articles for the European Magazine; corrections to proofs for Percy, including one on blank verse before Milton which was destroyed in a fire at the publishers; and other literary and antiquarian topics.

Folder 25 contains a transcript of an announcement of Percy's translation of the Song of Solomon and an unidentified bibliographical note on a Latin ode.


  • 1770-1807


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Thomas Percy Correspondence is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Cleanth Brooks in 1979.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, mainly concerning Percy's duties as a Court preacher, including the scheduling of sermons with various other clergymen. Almost every letter is accompanied by a typed transcription. There is also correspondence from Henry Meen about literature; Meen's work on translations from Greek; and his correction of proofs for Percy.

THOMAS PERCY, 1729-1811

Thomas Percy, the son of a grocer, was born in Bridgnorth, Shropshire on April 13, 1729. Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, Percy was ordained in the Church of England in 1753 and held the livings of Easton Maudit and Wilby; served as chaplain to the Duke of Northumberland and chaplain-in-ordinary to King George III; and became Dean of Carlisle in 1778 and Bishop of Dromore (Ireland) in 1782.

Percy published a number of literary and antiquarian works, including the narrative poem The Hermit of Warkworth (1770); translations and adaptations from Chinese, Icelandic, Hebrew, and Spanish; and an edition of the "household book" of the Earl of Northumberland for 1513. He is best known, however, for Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, a three-volume collection of early English and Scottish ballad texts which included the first publication of "Sir Patrick Spens" and "Edward, Edward," among others. Reliques inspired two generations of antiquarians and poets both to preserve and study early ballads and to compose original poems in the form.

Percy married Anne Gutteridge in 1759. The couple had six children, of whom only two daughters survived. Thomas Percy died in Dromore on September 30, 1811, and is buried in Dromore Cathedral.

For further biographical information on Thomas Percy, see the Dictionary of National Biography, Volume XV; and the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 104.

Processing Information

This finding aid was produced from a previously existing card set in the Manuscripts Catalog, or from another inventory. All pertinent bibliographical information has been retained.

Guide to the Thomas Percy Correspondence
Under Revision
by Diane J. Ducharme
October 2003
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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