Friday, 7 August 2015

John Cresswell Brigham of Darlington

I often wondered what happened to the Brigham family of Rudby.  Now, thanks to an email from their descendant Jonathan Taylor at last I know!

The son of George Brigham (1790-1841) was also called George.  He was a clerk for Backhouse's Bank in Darlington, rising to chief accountant.  His son was the noted antiquarian bookseller, historian & collector, John Cresswell Brigham.  This is from the online catalogue for Durham County Record Office:

Brigham Collection (Ref: D/XD 16/1-18a)
This collection, including many books which are now part of the Local History Collection, was bought by Darlington Library on the death of the antiquarian bookseller, John Cresswell Brigham, in 1936.  It was then described as three collections, one relating to Darlington, one to Durham and one to Yorkshire. Those archive items which have been identified as part of the Brigham Collection are listed here, but it is likely that many of the items without provenance which are listed as the Darlington Library Collection (D/DL), came from the Brigham Collection originally. 
John Cresswell Brigham owned a book shop at 26 Coniscliffe Road and also set up a private museum in Northumberland Street. He was a Quaker and married Eleanor Lingford of Bishop Auckland. He was a well known figure in the town and his son has donated some notes about his life to the library. 
J. C. Brigham's father was George Brigham, who was chief accountant for Backhouse's Bank till his death in 1892. The family came from Rudby where George Brigham was a land agent and valuer, coroner for Cleveland and chief constable for the west division of Langbaurgh.
He was quite a collector.  A 1935 newspaper article relates that eleven railway wagons were needed to transport the items bought from J C Brigham's executors by a purchaser in the Lake District.  They included books, manuscripts, pictures and curios.  There were 500,000 books!  These treasures included:-

  • an early edition of the Douai Bible (first published in 1582)
  • a Rembrandt etching dated 1641
  • signed copies of Dickens' works
  • first editions of works by Voltaire, Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott
  • a number of Saxton's C16 maps
  • the little satchel carried by Wordsworth on his mountain tramps in the Lake District.
And I notice from a quick search that it was John Cresswell Brigham who photographed the interior of St Cuthbert's Church, Darlington, just before the galleries that had been erected in 1730 were taken down in the major structural works of 1862.  Unsurprisingly for the time, it's not a very clear photo, but you can see it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment