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Roscoe (William and Jane Griffies) Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Content
  • Publication Rights
  • Digitized Materials
  • Related Materials at the Clark Library

  • Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: William Roscoe and Jane Griffies Roscoe Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.2008.023
    Physical Description: 2.5 Linear Feet 3 boxes and 4 bound volumes
    Date (inclusive): 1774-1974
    Abstract: Contains correspondence to and from William Roscoe and commonplace books compiled by his wife Jane Griffies Roscoe, as well as portrait engravings and ephemera, dating 1774-1887.
    Physical Location: Clark Library
    Language of Material: English .


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Professor David H. Weinglass and Marilyn Carbonell, 2008.


    William Roscoe was born in 1753 in Liverpool. Although he trained to become an attorney and worked in that capacity for 20 years, his true passion was literature and the arts, particularly the study of Italy. In 1781, he married Jane Griffies, the daughter of linen draper William Griffies and his wife Ann Lace. Jane was also born in Liverpool in 1757 and was an amateur poet whose original work is collected in some of the commonplace books described in this collection. William and Jane had 10 children together between 1782 and 1800.
    Beginning when he was around 16, William had published and circulated some poetry that was well-received by the critics, but it was the Life of Lorenzo published in 1796 that earned him his reputation as a writer and historian. This was followed by a Life of Leo X in 1805, which was not as well-received. He retired from his career in the law soon after the publication of the Life of Lorenzo and dedicated his time to writing and the arts, as well as farming, abolition and politics. In 1816, a bank in which he was a partner failed and he was forced to sell his home, Allerton Hall, as well as his sizeable collections of books, paintings and manuscripts.
    Though William continued working as a writer and as an advocate for culture in Liverpool, his family moved often because of financial worries. Jane Griffies Roscoe died in 1824 and William Roscoe himself died at 78, in 1831.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], William Roscoe and Jane Griffies Roscoe Collection, MS.2008.023, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Scope and Content

    The William Roscoe and Jane Griffies Roscoe collection, dating 1774-1887, consists primarily of correspondence between William Roscoe, his family circle and various friends, booksellers and professional colleagues. The other major component of this collection are the 4 volumes of commonplace books compiled by his wife, Jane Griffies Roscoe.
    The majority of the correspondence collected here consists of outgoing letters written by Roscoe to his sons and to colleagues and friends in the worlds of publishing, art and politics, as do incoming letters sent to Roscoe and to others. Some letters are brief notes regarding social engagements, while others contain more substantive discussions of topics ranging from slavery to bookselling and art collecting. Frequent correspondents include sons Robert, Richard, Thomas and Henry as well as booksellers Cadell & Davies and artist Martin Archer Shee.
    The four volumes of commonplace books, dating 1774-1790, compiled by Jane Griffies Roscoe contain autograph contributions by William Roscoe, as well as works by him written in Jane's hand. The volumes also contain what appear to be Jane's original compositions in addition to works by poets such as William Collins, Thomas Gray, Phillis Wheatley and Anna Laetitia Barbauld.
    Ephemera and images, dating 1805-1853 and undated, include portrait engravings of William and of his residence at Allerton Hall, as well as related newspapers and other clippings. A medal issued on his centenary in 1853 by Joseph Mayer, Liverpool arts patron and possible former owner of parts of this collection, is also included.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence, 1796-1833, 1887
    • Series 2. Poetical commonplace book, 1774-1790. 4 volumes
    • Series 3. Images, ephemera and Roscoeiana, 1805-1974.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Digitized Materials

    Digitized surrogates of the commonplace books of Jane Griffies Roscoe are accessible via Calisphere .

    Related Materials at the Clark Library

    Additional books by or related to William Roscoe from the collection of David Weinglass are cataloged as a part of the Clark Library's print collections. To find these books, search the UC Library Search catalog for "William Roscoe Collection of D.H. Weinglass & M. Carbonell."

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Ephemera -- England -- 19th century
    Letters -- England -- 19th century
    Commonplace books -- England -- 19th century
    Authors, English -- 18th century -- Archives
    Engravings (prints)