Margaret Heath 1578-1647

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Lady Margaret HEATH 1578-1647

Biographical Note

Married to Sir Robert Heath (1575-1649); mother of Edward (1612-1669) and Francis Heath (1622-1683).


Evidence of the ownership of books by various members of the Heath family survives in the Heath papers in the British Library, now part of the Egerton MSS. Of particular interest – being less common, a list of books owned by a woman – is "An inventory of bookes in the Lady Heaths closet" in MS Egerton 2983, fo.79, which appears to be a list of books left by Margaret when she died in 1647. This comprises 82 titles, all in English, in a mixture of formats; many of the books are devotional/theological but there are also some household and medical books, botanical ones (Gerard's Herbal and Parkinson]]'s Garden of all sorts of pleasant flowers), and a copy of Herbert's poems. The same manuscript volume also includes (fo.28) two lists of books bequeathed to Edward Heath by his father-in-law Paul Ambrose Croke (d.1631, bencher of the Inner Temple), one of books from his study in the Inner Temple, the other from his study in his house at Cottesmore. The first of these lists 94 titles in Latin, Greek, English and Hebrew, arranged by format, covering the usual mixture of subjects including Bibles and patristics, theology, classics, dictionaries, law and geography; the second list is similar but shorter (ca.40 titles), and at the end has a list of 6 "English books taken out of his study at that time for my wife". At fos. 157-60 there is "a catalogue of Dr Francis Heaths books left in his lodging when he died", containing ca.130 titles, again comprising a typical selection of material. A "Catalogus librorum" of "Mr Heaths books" just preceding that (fos. 155-6), of mid to late 17th c in date, is inscribed "for Mr Francis Heath from Phillip Barrow" and is presumably a list of books belonging to another family member which passed to Francis; it includes an entry for "Shakespears playes", in quarto.

Sir Robert gave a small group of books to St John's College, Cambridge in 1630, all relating to Councils of the Catholic Church; these were marked with an armorial stamp, and a printed gift label. The extent and whereabouts of his personal library are not known; Kopperman, in his biography, speculates that he may not have had an extensive collection, and that a list of books owned by "Mr Heath of the Temple", seized by the Committee for Sequestrations in 1643, belonged to Edward. Francis Heath's will has no mention of books, bequeathing his property around various members of his family.

Characteristic Markings

No books belonging personally to members of the family have been identified.