Thomas Sydserff 1581-1663

From Book Owners Online

Thomas SYDSERFF or SYDSERF 1581-1663

Biographical Note

The eldest son of James Sydserff, an Edinburgh merchant. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1602, and was enrolled in the University of Heidelberg in 1609. He married Rachel Byers in 1614. He was minister at St Giles, Edinburgh between 1611 and 1626, and was afterwards at Trinity College Church, Edinburgh. In 1634, he was made Dean of Edinburgh, before quickly being promoted to Bishop of Brechin in 1634, on the recommendation of Archbishop William Laud. In August 1635 he was appointed to the see of Galloway by Charles I.

Sydserff was a supporter of Charles I and the introduction of 1637 service book, and was thus a target for mob violence. He was deposed in 1638, and retired to England, and later the continent, including Paris. He was a friend of Bishop William Forbes (1584-1634), and edited a posthumous edition of Forbes' treatise Considerationes Modestae, printed in London in 1658. At the restoration Sydserff was appointed Bishop of Orkney (1661), though he lived in Edinburgh until his death in 1663.


The full extent and disposition of Sydserff's library is unknown. At least three works belonging to him have been identified:

A Roman Missal, printed in Paris in 1521, known to have belonged previously to Alexander Mylne, abbot of Cambuskenneth (Durkan and Ross, p.133)

Erasmus' edition of St Jerome Omnes quae extant D. Hieronymi Stridonensis lucubrationes : una cum pseudepigraphis, & alienis admixtis, in nouem digestae tomos (Basil, 1537) (RB.l.18), which belonged to Adam Bothwell (1527-1593), Bishop of Orkney.

William of Ockham's Quaestiones et decisiones in quatuor libros sententiarum cum centilogio theologico (Lyon, 1495) (Inc 208) which previously belonged to Henry Sinclair 1507/8-1565, and was out of Sydserff's library by 1635.

Characteristic Markings

An example of Sydserff's book is inscribed "Liber Magistri Thomae Sidserfe 16 VIIbris 1624" (NLS RB.l.18)

Inscription of Thomas Sydserff (NLS RB.l.18)