West, James

, a gentleman of literary talents, and long known for his fine library and museum, was the son of Richard West, esq. of Alscott, in Warwickshire, said to be descended, according to family tradition, frona Leonard, a younger son of Thomas West, lord De la Warr, who died in 1525. He was educated at Baliol college, Oxford, where he took his degree of M. A. in 1726. He had an early attachment to the study of antiquities, and was elected F. S. A. in 1726, and was afterwards one of the vice-presidents. Of the Royal Society likewise he became a fellow in the same year, and was first treasurer, from Nov. 1736 to Nov. 1768, when he was elected president, and held that honourable office until his death, July 2, 1772. In 1741 he was chosen one of the representatives in parliament for St. Alban’s, and, being appointed one of the joint secretaries of the treasury, he continued in that office until 1762. His old patron, the duke of Newcastle, afterwards procured him a pension of 2000l. For what services so large a sum was granted, we are not told.

Mr. West married the daughter and heiress of sir Thomas Stephens, timber-merchant in Southwark, who brought | him a valuable estate in Rotherhithe; and by her he had a son, James, who was auditor of the land-tax for the counties of Lincoln, Nottingham, Chester, and Derby, and sometime member of parliament for Borouijhbridge in Yorkshire; and two daughters, one of whom, Sarah, married the late lord Archer, and died his widow a few years ago. The other is still living in London. Mr. West’s curious collection of Mss. were sold to the late marquis of Lansviowne, and were lately purchased by parliament, with the rest of his lordship’s collection, for the British Museum. Among them is much of his correspondence with the antiquaries of his time; and in the first volume of the “Restituta,” some curious extracts are given of letters to and from Hearne. His valuable library of printed books, including many with copious ms notes by bishop Kennet, was sold by auction, from an excellently digested catalogue by Sain. Paterson, in 1773; and the same year were disposed of, his prints, drawings, coins, pictures, &c. Mr. West’s catalogue is still in demand as one of the richest in literary curiosities. 1


Nichols’s Bowyer. Restitua, vol. I. Granger’s Letters, p. 3336.