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Barbara Isted collection of Thomas Percy

Call Number: GEN MSS 465

Scope and Contents

The collection contains papers of and concerning Thomas Percy preserved by his daughter Barbara Isted. The papers span the years 1754-1812, and consist primarily of family correspondence, but also include writings of Thomas Percy, copies of his will, obituaries, poems by other writers, and a few other papers. Notes in Barbara Isted's hand accompany many of the papers. The collection is organized into three series: Correspondence, Writings, and Other Papers.

Series I, Correspondence , contains letters to and from Thomas Percy, and a few other family letters. Percy's outgoing correspondence includes letters to his wife, his daughter Barbara, and his son-in-law Samuel Isted, and part of a letter to a Mr. Binnel discussing Percy's translation of the Song of Solomon and describing his work collecting old songs for what would become Ancient Reliques of English Poetry. Incoming correspondence consists chiefly of letters from his daughters concerning the Isted children. Other Correspondence includes a letter from Elizabeth (Percy) Meade describing her father's death, a detailed description of the child Anne Isted's funeral, and various letters of condolence.

Series II, Writings , contains manuscripts of two poems Percy wrote to his wife Anne, clippings from his diary, and notes on the Northamptonshire dialect. The manuscript of the poem beginning "Oh Nannie wilt thou gang wi' me" is titled "A Song in Imitation of ye Scotch Mann[e]r;" with it is a related clipping from his diary and the first page of a musical setting of the poem by, according to Isted, the Reverend Robert Shenton, a college friend of Percy's. Also present is a manuscript copy, in Anne Percy's hand, of a poem titled "Verses on Leaving Wolverhampton in a very Tempest[u]ous Night," also known as "To Annie I must go." The clippings from the diary document events significant to Percy's family during the years 1782-1801, including itemized descriptions of his daughters' inheritances.

Series III, Other Papers , contains copies of his will, obituaries, genealogical notes, a copy of a letter from Lord Raby to Lord Hallifax titled by Percy "A Character of Charles XII King of Sweden," and manuscript copies of poems by various authors, including Swift, Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, Lord Cornwallis, and Lady Winchelsea.


  • 1754-1812


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Barbara Isted Collection of Thomas Percy 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

Purchased from Hoffman and Freeman with funds from the Edwin J. Beinecke legacy, December 1987.


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, writings, and other papers of and about Thomas Percy, preserved by his daughter Barbara Isted and mainly concerning Percy and Isted family matters, such as inheritances and the death of Barbara Isted's infant daughter. Includes manuscripts of "Oh Nanny wilt thou gang wi' me" and another poem written to his wife, as well as obituaries, copies of his will, genealogies, and copies of poems by other writers.


Thomas Percy (1729-1811), English clergyman and poet, was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and became vicar of Easton-Maudit, Northamptonshire, in 1753. While at Easton-Maudit he served in several other ecclesiastic roles, including chaplain to the King. In 1782 he was made Bishop of Dromore, in County Down, Ireland, a position he held until his death.

Percy married Anne Gutteridge in 1759. Of their six children, only two, Barbara and Elizabeth, survived into adulthood. Barbara married Colonel Samuel Isted of Ecton, Northamptonshire, in 1795, and had two children: Ambrose, born February 15, 1797, and Anne, who died in 1801. Elizabeth Percy married Pierce Meade, Archdeacon of Dromore, in 1801. Anne (Gutteridge) Percy died at Dromore in 1807.

Percy was well respected in his time for his own writing as well as for his translations of Chinese and Icelandic verse, among other works. He is best known for editing a collection of poems titled Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, published in 1765, and for a popular song known as "Oh Nanny wilt thou gang wi' me," first published in Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems in 1758 under the title "A Song" and said to be written for his future wife. Percy's literary friends included Samuel Johnson and William Shenstone, and he was related to Lord Percy, Duke of Northumberland.

Guide to the Barbara Isted Collection of Thomas Percy
Under Revision
by Ellen Doon
January 2000
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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Access Information

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