Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Books from the Ecclesiastical Collection of Joseph Mendham

A selection of ecclesiastical books from the collection of clergyman and controversialist, Joseph Mendham, will be sold by Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ on Thursday 20th March 2014.

Born in London, Joseph Mendham was educated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating BA in 1792, and MA in 1795. It was here that he was heavily influenced by evangelicalism under its vice-principal, Isaac Crouch. In 1793 he was ordained deacon and priest the following year, but resigned his curacy in 1826 to use his private income and devote his time to book collecting, and authorship of various works on Reformation and post-Reformation controversies. Mendham collected a wide variety of material by 16th – 17th century Catholic and Protestant writers much of which he used in his writings as a strong advocate on the protestant side. In 1836 Mendham was appointed perpetual curate of Hill, near Sutton Coldfield but soon retired due to ill health.

His most important work was An Account of the Indexes, Prohibitory and Expurgatory, of the Church of Rome, published in 1826, highlighting his opinion of the repressive nature of the Catholic Church. Mendham was concerned that the emancipation laws of his own day would increase Roman Catholicism in the British Isles. His most academic work was Memoirs of the Council of Trent (1834 and supplement 1836), in which he used a wide variety of sources, many of which are being offered in this sale.

First published by Pope Gregory XIII, The Holy Bull, And Crusado of Rome (1588), pictured above, uses direct comparisons with the Holy Scriptures to criticise the papacy, and the Spanish, for their justification of the Anglo-Spanish war. The rarest of the books offered in this sale, it includes a fascinating account of the Armada which notes the provisions that the fleet carried “nine hundred thousand kintals of Biscuit… two and thirty thousand peeces of Wine…

forty thousand Arrobes of Cheese: euery Arrobe is eight & twenty pounds waight: two & thirty thousand Barrells of fish called Tonny fish… Moreover, foure and twenty Arrobes of oyle of Andolosia, with five thousand and foure hundred Arrobes of Wine vinagre, for to coole the Ordinance… fifty thousand bunches of Andalosia Garlick.” Bound together with two other works relating to Papal bulls the book is estimated to sell for £4,000 – 6,000. [Lot 122]

A copy of Catechismus brevis christianae disciplinae summam continens (1552), attributed to English protestant churchman, and controversial writer, John Ponet, carries notes and inscriptions from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. This remarkable book was sold in the first ever public auction of books in England, and belonged to the clergyman Dr Lazarus Seaman (d. 1675) and Michael Lort (1724/5-90), clergyman, antiquary and librarian to the archbishop of Canterbury.

Written in Latin, this copy of the book was sold as lot 1079 for £5 5s in the Heber sale, an auction that lasted a staggering 216 days and saw the 105,000 volumes that comprised the library of the prolific book-collector Richard Heber, go under the hammer. In his book, Certamen Epistolare (1692), Heylin writes: “this Catechism is so hard to come by, that scarce one scholar in 500 hath ever heard of it; and hardly one in a 1000 hath ever seen it.’ This exceedingly rare copy is estimated to sell for £1,000 – 1,500. [Lot 278]

A bound volume of three works by the Italian Carmelite reformer, humanist, and poet, Baptista Mantuanus, contains a copy of De calamitatibus temporum(1514). Mantuanus was a prolific writer but became known throughout the Renaissance for his poetry. De calamitatibus temporum is a three part work which criticises the rebellious culture of the age through poetry. The book includes one of the earliest accounts of syphilis with an introductory verse by Ulsenius, the first German physician to publish an exact description of that disease in 1496. In addition, a passage on Papal corruption was used by Protestant reformist, Martin Luther in Against the Roman Papacy, An Institution of the Devil (1545). The other works in this bound copy are Carmen de Fortuna quo illustrem ac bellicosum principem Franciscum (1515) and De certissimis sphaeraru[m] astrorum q[ue] legibus motionibus q[ue] in Robertu[m] Seuerinatem carmine Panegyrico (1514) and it is estimated to sell for £600-800. [Lot 25]

Elsewhere, a fascinating copy of the Battle of Lepanto.- Relatione della giornata delle Scorciolare fra
l’amata Turchesca and Christiana alli sette d’Ottobre (1571), is estimated to sell for £1,000 – 1,500. The book is a contemporaneous account of the events leading to the celebrated battle in which a coalition of Mediterranean states, partly under the command of Mathurin Romegas, defeated the Turkish fleet off Lepanto in October 1571. [Lot 31]

This auction will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions London saleroom in the heart of Mayfair, with viewing from Tuesday 18th – Thursday 20th March. The catalogue and details of online bidding with no additional fee can be found at