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St George’s Chapel Archives holds three registers relating to books borrowed from the Chapter Library by the Dean and Canons of Windsor from 1720 to 1889 [SGC M.895].

The first volume was begun in 1720 and continued until 1760. It begins with a list of “Orders of the Chapter about the Library” which includes rules such as:

“That every one who shall borrow any Books out of the Library, do enter the name of the Book with his own name subscribed, in a Paper Book lying on the Green Desk together with the date of the year & day of the month in which the Book was borrowed.”

Despite the rules, details were entered somewhat haphazardly and untidily until 1727 when a clearer and neater tabulated system for borrowing was introduced. This may have been due to the appointment of a Minor Canon, Henry Boughton, as the first formal Canon Librarian. The system introduced during Boughton’s tenure concisely recorded the name of borrower, the shelf mark of the book and the dates on which it was borrowed and returned. This list shows that the library had several regular borrowers, including the Dean, William Derham, who was a published amateur scientist and is widely credited with being the first man to accurately measure the speed of sound.

Also included in these records was a note of volumes which had been sent away for binding, thereby ensuring that the list of “Bookes Suppos’d to be lost” had no further opportunity for expansion.

Kelda Roe (Archives Assistant)

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.