Richard Busby 1606-1695

From Book Owners Online

Richard BUSBY 1606-1695

Armorial stamp of Richard Busby (British Armorial Bindings)
Armorial stamp of Richard Busby (British Armorial Bindings)

Biographical Note

Born at Lutton, Lincolnshire, son of Richard Busby, churchwarden. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1628, MA 1631, after which he remained at Christ Church as a tutor before moving to be head master at Westminster School (where he had been a pupil) in 1638. He remained head master there until he died, acquiring a significant reputation for himself and the School, based on discipline, high standards, and effective teaching. He was a prebendary of Wells from 1639 (ejected, retored 1660, when he also became a canon of Westminster, and a DD). He gave or bequeathed significant endowments to Westminster Abbey and School, Wells, and Oxford University.


Busby bequeathed ca.450 vols to Westminster School, of which ca.350 remain today. He also bequeathed books to establish parish libraries in Willen, Buckinghamshire, and Cudworth, Somerset; the former was destroyed in 1946 and the latter was dispersed. He made extensive donations to Wells Cathedral Library, giving over £300 towards the costs of its re-establishment after the Restoration, as well as books.

Characteristic Marking

Books given to Wells were sometimes decorated with an armorial stamp.


  • British Armorial Bindings.
  • Barker, G. Memoir of Richard Busby, 1895.
  • Church, C. Notes on the … Library of the Dean and Chapter … of Wells, Archaeologia 57 (1901), 201-228.
  • Knighton, C. S. "Busby, Richard (1606–1695), schoolmaster." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England. London, 2004.
  • Wells, Elizabeth, 'All my best bookes': the libraries of Dr Richard Busby and Dr John Pell, in Adams, R. and Glomski, J (eds), Seventeenth-century libraries, Leiden, 2023, 215-32.