The Richard Baxter Collection
Six volumes of Baxter letters (621 separate items). 31 volumes of the Baxter ‘Treatises’, the first seven of which contain 274 separate items. Fourteen slighter volumes contain 86 items which take the total of items in the Baxter Treatises to 362. Many of the items are subdivided and some are physically bulky.
The Richard Baxter Collection comprises two major components: Correspondence and Treatises. Six volumes of Baxter letters (621 separate items). 31 volumes of the Baxter ‘Treatises’, the first seven of which contain 274 separate items. Fourteen slighter volumes contain 86 items which take the total of items in the Baxter Treatises to 362. Many of the items are subdivided and some are physically bulky. The collection documents the life and work of Richard Baxter (1615-91) was described by A G Matthews in Calamy Revised as “the outstanding figure among ejected ministers”. They also provide a valuable source for Although he was one of those ministers appointed chaplains to the King in 1660, and despite his attendance at and contribution to the negotiations held at the Savoy to decide on the shape and details of the restored Church of England, he was harassed and imprisoned in the reigns of both Charles II and James II. The biographical dictionary, accompanying the Entring Book of Roger Morrice (Woodbridge 2007), states that Baxter “retired from the Church of England on the passing of the Act of Uniformity”. The word retire may give a misleading impression of genteel withdrawal from public life, rather than the principled and self-denying choice which he and perhaps some 2000 nonconformist divines felt compelled to make. Yet, in spite of harsh treatment after 1662, Baxter consistently favoured the cause of ecclesiastical comprehension and did not actually leave the Church of England, although he was inhibited in the continuance of his ministry. In fact he sought to and did attend the parish church whenever he could, though that attendance also brought him some criticism. Neil Keeble has described Richard Baxter as “throughout his life a voluminous correspondent” and the volume of his correspondence is matched by that of his many other writings which demonstrate a consistent engagement with current affairs, with movements in theology and with the vicissitudes of everyday life. Dr Williams’s Library contains the great majority of the extant manuscripts which relate to Baxter, among which are numerous letters, the subject of Keeble and Nuttall’s two volumed Calendar of the Correspondence of Richard Baxter (1991). Certainly Baxter could not refrain from writing. This puritan minister who did not attend university lived as much through his writings as through any other medium. The annotated list of Baxter’s works, compiled by A G Matthews in 1932, contains 135 works written and published in his lifetime and 6 more published posthumously, including his autobiography the Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696). A further 37 contributions to other works were also listed by Matthews, to which Geoffrey Nuttall added another 17, in his own copy of Matthews’ list (now held at Dr Williams’s Library). That is, Baxter wrote or contributed to something like 195 published works.
As some materials described by previous custodians and editors of the collection are no longer present at the Dr. Williams' Library, discoveries may occur in related collections.
An appointment must be made at least one week in advance to view manuscripts.
See existing printed lists available at Dr. Williams's Library