Thomas James 1572/3-1629

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Thomas JAMES 1572/3-1629

Biographical Note

Born at Newport, Isle of Wight, son of Richard James. Fellow of New College, Oxford 1593, BA 1595, MA 1599. He was chosen by Thomas Bodley to be the first librarian of his newly refounded library for the University of Oxford, a post he held until 1620; he was a key figure in the organisation and building of the Bodleian Library in its early years, and in selecting material for acquisition. Much of his correspondence with Bodley survives, and has been edited; he compiled the first published catalogue of the Library, Catalogus universalis librorum in bibliotheca Bodleiana (1620). He was also an active theological author, publishing numerous doctrinal works vehemently opposing Roman Catholicism. After retiring from the Library, he became subdean of Wells.


James's probate inventory valued his books at £40, from a total estate valued at £219 1s 10d, but there is no list of titles and we do not know the extent of his library, or its means of dispersal.

Characteristic Markings

Books survive with his inscription and motto “Non quaero mihi utile est sed quod utilis”.