Humphrey Chetham

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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]

Merchant businessperson who trades in commodities that were produced by others

A merchant is a person who trades in commodities produced by other people. Historically, a merchant is anyone who is involved in business or trade. Merchants have operated for as long as industry, commerce, and trade have existed. In 16th-century Europe, two different terms for merchants emerged: meerseniers referred to local traders and koopman (Dutch: koopman referred to merchants who operated on a global stage, importing and exporting goods over vast distances and offering added-value services such as credit and finance.

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 and visitors free of charge. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm, 11am and 2pm being full tours. Visitors are picked up from the entrance by staff at the beginning of each hour. Anyone can access the library, however readers and researchers must make an appointment at least one business day in advance.

Public library Library that is accessible by the public

A public library is a library that is accessible by the general public and is usually funded from public sources, such as taxes. It is operated by librarians and library paraprofessionals, who are also civil servants.



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.

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.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

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.

Clayton Hall

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 architectural structure in the United Kingdom

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.

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.

High Sheriff of Lancashire

The High Sheriff of Lancashire is an ancient officer, now largely ceremonial, granted to Lancashire, a county in North West England. High Shrievalties are the oldest secular titles under the Crown, in England and Wales. The High Sheriff of Lancashire is the representative of the monarch in the county, and is the "Keeper of The Queen's Peace" in the county, executing judgements of the High Court through an Under Sheriff.

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.

Charity school School supported as charity

Charity schools, sometimes called blue coat schools, or simply the Blue School, were significant in the history of education in England. They were built and maintained in various parishes by the voluntary contributions of the inhabitants to teach poor children to read and write, and for other necessary parts of education. They were usually maintained by religious organisations, which provided clothing and education to students freely or at little charge. In most charity schools, children were put out to trades, services, etc., by the same charitable foundation. Some schools were more ambitious than this and sent a few pupils on to university, as depicted in the illustration.

Chethams School of Music school in Manchester, UK

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.


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.

Manchester Cathedral Church in Manchester, England

Manchester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George, in Manchester, England, is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Manchester, seat of the Bishop of Manchester and the city's parish church. It is on Victoria Street in Manchester city centre.

Manchester Town Hall municipal building in Manchester, England

Manchester Town Hall is a Victorian, Neo-gothic municipal building in Manchester, England. It is the ceremonial headquarters of Manchester City Council and houses a number of local government departments. The building faces Albert Square to the north and St Peter's Square to the south, with Manchester Cenotaph facing its southern entrance.

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

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 suburb of the city of Manchester, in North West England

Clayton is a suburb of the city of Manchester in North West England. Historically in Lancashire, it is about 3 miles east of the city centre on Ashton New Road. Clayton takes its name from the Clayton family who owned large parts of land around the area, including Clayton Vale, through which the River Medlock flows. Clayton was under the township of Droylsden until around 1890 when alterations to the Manchester boundary took place. Other towns added to Manchester around this time were Blackley, Crumpsall, Moston, Openshaw and Gorton.

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, a mile from the centre of the town in 78 acres of wooded parkland. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated 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.

John Clayton (1709–1773) was an English clergyman, an early Methodist, and Jacobite supporter.

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".

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