Bagford, John

, an industrious antiquary and collector of literary curiosities, the son of John and Elizabeth Bagford, of the parish of St. Anne, Blackfriars, London, was born in October 1675, and bred to the humble occupation of shoemaker. He was early led, by whatever means, to inquiries respecting the antiquities of his own country, and its literary history, and in the course of his researches he acquired an extensive knowledge of old English books, prints, and rarities, dear to the heart of a collector, which he carefully picked up at low prices, and sold again for a moderate profit. In this mixture of study and trade he passed the greater part of his life, and with such zeal, that he more than once travelled abroad, with commissions from booksellers, and collectors, whom he amply satisfied by his skilful punctuality, and moderate charges. In the course of his labours, he made himself acquainted with the history of printing, and of the arts connected with it, and in 1707, published in the Philosophical Transactions, his “Proposals for a History of Printing, Printers, Illuminators, Chalcography, Paper-making, &c.” soliciting the humble price of one pound for a folio volume, to consist of two hundred sheets. These proposals, of which there are several copies in the British museum, are printed on a half-sheet, with a specimen on another, containing the life of Caxton, and a list of his books. The numerous manuscripts by him on this subject, now in the British museum, prove that he had at least provided ample materials for a work of this description, and was not upon the whole ill qualified to have written it, as far as a liberal education could have been dispensed with. He had probably no encouragement, however, and at his death, nine years afterwards, these ms collections were purchased by Mr. Humphrey Wanley, for lord Oxford’s library, and came in course with the Harleian Mss. into the British museum. The assertion, in the last edition of this dictionary, that a part of his collections were deposited in the public library at Cambridge, and never opened, has been contradicted on the authority of Dr. Farmer, the late learned master of Emanuel college.

It appears that Bagford practised the art of printing, although in an humble way. There are among his collections two whimsical cards, printed by him, on the Thames when it was frozen over, Jan. 18, 1715-16, with devices

and inscriptions alluding to the history of printing. His | curious letter to Hearne, in the first volume of the second edition of " LelancTs Collectanea^' p. 58, relative to London, and the antiquities in its vicinity^ is very creditable to his talents as an antiquary. He was much employed and respected by lord Oxford, Dr. John Moore bishop of Ely^ sir Hans Sloane, sir James Austins-, Mr. Clavel, &c; and it is said, that for having enriched bishop Moore’s library with many curiosities (which were purchased by George I. and given to the university of Cambridge), his lordship procured him an admission into the charter-house, as a pensioner on that foundation, in the cemetery of which he was buried. He died at Islington, May 15, 1716, aged sixty-five. In Mr. Dibdin’s Bibliomania, are many curious particulars respecting Bagford, and an estimate of his talents and usefulness founded on Mr. Dibdin’s very laborious inspection of his Mss. 1

1 Nichols’s Life of Bowyer. Tatler, 8vo edit, with notes, vol. III. . p. 511. Dibdin’s Bibliom. p, 430.