Thomas Alston 1609?-1690

From Book Owners Online

Thomas ALSTON 1609?-1690

Biographical Note

Born in Suffolk, probably at Assington, son of Thomas Alston. BA Queens’ College, Cambridge 1630, MA 1633; called to the Bar at the Inner Temple, 1639. It is possible, but not certain, that he was vicar of Assington.


Under the terms of his will, Alston founded a parish library at Assington, to be kept in the vicarage for the use of the incumbent and his successors. The books intended to be thus given were listed by Alston in a handwritten catalogue, and internally marked or stamped “TA” on the binding. He anticipated later additions to the library, and stipulated that on his death the books should be signed by the then Vicar; he also left instructions for his heirs to inspect the library whenever the Vicar changed, to ensure that nothing was missing. The remainder of his books and manuscripts, not given to the parish, were bequeathed to Edward Alston, Rector of Newton, Suffolk (d.1722).

Alston’s ms catalogue (now Suffolk Record Office FL/521/11/2; there is also a copy in Lambeth Palace Library, ms 3221 fo 13ff) lists ca. 280 volumes of which ca. 190 survive (now in the Suffolk Record Office). The contents are largely theological, with a noticeable percentage of early English printed material.

Characteristic Markings

Alston’s books in the Assington parish library are typically inscribed with his name and have “TA” gilt-stamped on front and back covers, as specified in his will. Many of the books are annotated by him, sometimes comparing his copies with other editions in the Bodleian or the library of Queens’ College.


  • Suffolk parochial libraries: a catalogue, 1977.
  • Foster, J., Alumni Oxonienses, Oxford, 1891.
  • Perkin, M. A directory of the parochial libraries of the Church of England, London, 2004.