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THE BRIDGEWATER HOUSE LIBRARY
HEN it became known that Mr. Henry E. Huntington had pur' chased the Bridgewater House Library, it was not generally real' iz,ed what a precious addition he had made to his already unrivalled collection of early English literature. Although Payne Collier had catalogued it and Carew Hazlitt had ranked it with the Britwell and Huth collections in quality and importance, the feme of the Bridgewater Library had been in the shadow for some years. References to it in the literature of collecting and bibliophily are strangely sparse and fragmentary, and tantalizing in their incompleteness. A full, dc scriptive account of the Library as a whole is greatly to be desired, and it is to be hoped that some one with access to the sources will eventually prepare such an account. Meantime, some of the scattered facts available to everyone are here brought together as a partial answer to the ques' tions: What is the Bridgewater collection? Who formed it? and Where is it now?—questions which have been of frequent occurrence lately.
The collection derives its name from the titles borne by its original owners, members of the Egerton family, who, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were successively Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater. Early in the nineteenth century these titles lapsed, and much of the vast Bridgewater property, including the library, passed to a branch of the family whose chief representa' tive was created Earl of Ellesmere,in 1846. Bridge water House, a beautiful structure designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect of the present Houses of Parliament, is the London residence of the Earls of Ellesmere and is situated in Cleveland Row, near the Green Park, to the south of Piccadilly.
The founder of the Bridgewater Library was Sir Thomas Egerton (1540?-! 617), a natural son of Sir Richard Egerton of Ridley, in Cheshire, by one Alice Sparke. Educated at Oxford, he prepared for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and in the course of his long and honorable career he attained the highest