Humphrey Chetham

Last updated
Portrait of Humphrey Chetham, now in the library reading room Humphrey Chetham.jpg
Portrait of Humphrey Chetham, now in the library reading room

Humphrey Chetham (10 July 1580 – 1653) was an English textile merchant, financier and philanthropist, responsible for the creation of Chetham's Hospital and Chetham's Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. [1] [2]



The arms of the Chetham family as displayed above the door of the Chetham Arms pub in Chapeltown, Lancashire Chetham Arms carving.jpg
The arms of the Chetham family as displayed above the door of the Chetham Arms pub in Chapeltown, Lancashire

Chetham was born in Crumpsall, Lancashire, England, the son of Henry Chetham, a successful Manchester merchant who lived in Crumpsall Hall and his wife, Jane (c.1542–1616), the daughter of Robert Wroe of Heaton. [1] He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, and in 1597 was apprenticed to Samuel Tipping, a Manchester linen draper.

In 1605, he moved to London with his brother George and set up a partnership with him trading in various textiles. [3] The business was successful, since the fabric was bought in London and sold for a higher price in Manchester. He acquired Clayton Hall in Manchester as his home, and in 1628 was also able to buy Turton Tower from William Orrell.

In 1631, he was asked to be knighted after his huge wealth became known to the crown, but he declined the honour, and so was fined. [4] In 1635, he became the High Sheriff of Lancashire , [5] [6] a job he was unable to refuse, and in 1643 he was forced into the position of General Treasurer of Lancashire, which he found very difficult for his age.

He also began to obtain debts, and he feared that on his death parliament would take his money. He therefore donated money to form a blue coat school for forty poor boys, which later became Chetham's Hospital and then Chetham's School of Music. He also left money to establish Chetham's Library, including funds to pay for books. More libraries were constructed later on from this money.


After Chetham's death, in 1653,at Clayton Hall the school and library opened. Chetham's contribution is commemorated by a statue and a window in Manchester Cathedral and by a statue and mural in Manchester Town Hall. By prior arrangement, Clayton Hall was left to the surviving nephew, George.

Chetham is also remembered in the name of the Chetham Society, a text publication society concerned with the history of North West England, founded at a meeting at Chetham's Library in 1843.

Related Research Articles

Crumpsall Electoral ward in England

Crumpsall is a suburb and electoral ward of Manchester, England. The population at the 2011 census was 15,959. It is about 3 miles (5 km) north of Manchester city centre, adjacent to Cheetham Hill, Blackley, Harpurhey, Broughton and Prestwich.

Chethams School of Music Independent school in Manchester, Greater Manchester, England

Chetham's School of Music is an independent co-educational music school in Manchester, England. Chetham's educates students between the ages of 8 and 18, all of whom enter via musical auditions. Students receive a full academic education alongside specialist group and individual music tuition.

Chethams Library library in Manchester

Chetham's Library in Manchester, England, is the oldest free public reference library in the United Kingdom. Chetham's Hospital, which contains both the library and Chetham's School of Music, was established in 1653 under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580–1653), for the education of "the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents", and a library for the use of scholars. The library has been in continuous use since 1653. It operates as an independent charity, open to readers free of charge, Monday-Friday 09.00-12.30 and 13.30-16.30 by prior appointment. Tours of the Library for visitors are bookable online from 2 September 2019 via the Library website.

History of Manchester

The history of Manchester encompasses its change from a minor Lancastrian township into the pre-eminent industrial metropolis of the United Kingdom and the world. Manchester began expanding "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century as part of a process of unplanned urbanisation brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. The transformation took little more than a century.

Clayton, Manchester Human settlement in England

Clayton is an area of Manchester, England, 3 miles east of the city centre on Ashton New Road.

Turton, Lancashire area near Bolton and Blackburn, Lancashire

Turton is a historical area in the North West of England. It is divided between the ceremonial counties of Lancashire and Greater Manchester. The Turton area is located north of Bolton and south of Blackburn. The area historically formed a township in the ancient parish of Bolton le Moors. The principal village in the township is now known as Chapeltown.

Lytham Hall Grade I listed English country house in the United Kingdom

Lytham Hall is an 18th-century Georgian country house in Lytham, Lancashire, 1 mile (1.6 km) from the centre of the town, in 78 acres (32 ha) of wooded parkland. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, the only one in the Borough of Fylde.

Clayton Hall Grade II* listed country house in Manchester, UK

Clayton Hall is a 15th-century manor house on Ashton New Road, in Clayton, Manchester, England. It is hidden behind trees in a small park. The hall is a Grade II* listed building, the mound on which it is built is a scheduled ancient monument, and a rare example of a medieval moated site. The hall is surrounded by a moat, making an island 66 m by 74 m. Alterations were made to the hall in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was enlarged in the 18th century.

Turton Tower Grade I listed building in North Turton, Lancashire, UK

Turton Tower is a manor house in Chapeltown in North Turton, Borough of Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire, England. It is a scheduled ancient monument and a grade I listed building.

Thomas Jones was a Welsh librarian, who was librarian of Chetham's Library in Manchester from 1845 to 1875.

The Chetham Society "for the publication of remains historic and literary connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester" is a text publication society and registered charity established on 23 March 1843.

Lytham Priory human settlement in United Kingdom

Lytham Priory was an English Benedictine priory in Lytham, Lancashire. It was founded between 1189 and 1194 by Richard Fitz Roger as a cell of Durham Priory. It was dedicated to Saint Cuthbert and lasted until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1530s. In the 18th century, a manor house, Lytham Hall, was built on the site of the priory.

Cheetham Hill Road street in Manchester, United Kingdom

Cheetham Hill Road is a road in north Manchester, England, running from Corporation Street in Manchester city centre to Prestwich. In Crumpsall 53°30′44″N2°14′38″W, its name changes to Bury Old Road. It is lined with churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, as well as terraced houses.

Ketchum is a surname that originated in England. Not all people in America who descended from the Ketchu(a)m come from the same man. An example of English descent is Edward Ketcham. There are no known records of his parents, nor any siblings. Edward is not found on any passenger list, but he came to America during the Great Puritan Migration. He can be found with his family in Ipswich, Mass, in the 1630s. It is assumed Edward was born in about 1590, though no record of his birth has been located. As far as we currently know, there is not a connection between this Edward (Chetham) Ketcham/Ketchum who came to America and the Chetham family of Crumpsall, Lancashire, England from which Sir Humphrey Chetham is from, for whom the Chetham Library in Manchester England is named.

John Parsons Earwaker (1847–1895) was an English antiquary.

William Langton (banker) British banker and antiquarian

William Langton (1803–1881) was an English banker in Manchester, known also for antiquarian and philanthropic interests.

William Thompson Watkin was an English archaeologist, interested in Roman Britain, particularly of the north of England.

James Tait (1863–1944) was an English medieval historian. With Thomas Frederick Tout, he was the second major figure in the "Manchester School of History".

Timeline of Manchester history

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Manchester in north west England.

Thomas Heywood (1797–1866) was an English antiquarian. He was closely involved in the Chetham Society and its publications.



  1. 1 2 Crosby 2008.
  2. BBC - Radio 4 You and Yours - Chetham's Library , retrieved 6 January 2008
  3. Brazendale (1994), pp. 132–3
  4. Cotton Town - Humphrey Chetham 1628-1653, archived from the original on 10 November 2007, retrieved 6 January 2008
  5. Lancashire Illustrated page 79.
  6. Frangopulo (1977), p. 25