‘I found this valuable book fast falling in pieces…’

by Olivia Lardner, Bolton Cataloguer

Despite being a collection amassed by two Irish men across the four provinces of this island, Irish printing accounts for just 13%1 of the Bolton Library. Here, however, in Cambrensis eversvs ([St. Malo?] : [s.n.], 1662), we have an item which might go some way to addressing this situation.


Title page of Insert image Bolton Library H.4.22
Cambrensis eversvs ([St. Malo?] : [s.n.], 1662)


Printed in 1662, the item’s place of imprint is disputed – St. Omer or St. Malo, the latter being somewhat favoured – and its printer remains unknown, despite the employment of a substantial device2 which this cataloguer hopes can one day be traced3. What is known is that its author, like this cataloguer a Co. Galway native, produced the item while in exile in France.


Catholics in exile

John Lynch (approximately 1599–approximately 1673) was one of a number of Roman Catholic priests and clergy forced into exile during the repression of the Cromwellian period in Ireland, and it is understandable that he would choose an area with which he already had a degree of familiarity, having studied there as a young man prior to ordination; Lynch left the archdiocese of Tuam4 for Brittany in the 1650s after the siege of Galway by Cromwellian forces, and it is primarily his work as a historian which has led to the existence of invaluable resources on the Irish clergy who settled there during this period.5 Indeed, he is described in a memorandum from the 1660s as ‘a writer of Irish history, a learned and good-living man’.6


Cambrensis eversvs (1662)

Lynch, writing here under the pseudonym Gratianus Lucius,7 has issued in Cambrensis Eversus a critique of the image of the barbaric Irish presented in the Topographia Hibernica (1188) by Giraldus Cambrensis (1146?–1223?), and is an effort to circulate a truer depiction of his people among an increasing readership across Europe.

The item is dedicated to Charles II of England, perhaps a more palatable prospect than the repressive Cromwell. Note the absence of the term ‘King of France’ in the monarch’s title,


The dedication to Principi Carolo II appearing in Bolton Library H.4.22
“Principi Carolo II”


an omission corrected in the item’s errata, something which goes to underline the item’s French imprint.


Errata appearing in Bolton Library H.4.22
“… adde Franciæ.”


 Markings in various hands

We find copious annotations throughout by a previous reader in the Irish language, along with others in different hands in English and Latin. The Irish annotator is possibly Redmond Burke, whose signature we see here on the title page and inside on p 108.



 A well-judged rescue

The Bolton Library copy was rescued by one of the collection’s most famous and longest serving librarians, Henry Cotton (1789–1879)8:


I found this valuable book fast falling in pieces and almost destroyed by damp. I got it rebound and repaired as well as I could.



It proved to a fortunate rescue indeed, as it is believed that most copies of this work were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666,9 rendering it a rare title even in the author’s own lifetime. Fewer than a dozen copies are known to survive today.



  1. Figure correct as of September 2023.[]
  2. A mark appearing on title-page/ colophon created by/ for printers to protect against forgery and piracy.[]
  3. Start exploring the devices of the Bolton Library here.[]
  4. Discover another Tuam link in A good eye.[]
  5. Ambrières, R., & Ciosáin, É. (2003). ‘John Lynch of Galway (C.1599-1677): his career, exile and writing’, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 55, pp. 50-63. Available here.[]
  6. Millett, B. (1988). Calendar of Volume 14 of the Fondo di Vienna in Propaganda Archives: Part 2, ff 132-283. Collectanea Hibernica, (30), 26-54. Available here.[]
  7. Library of Congress Authorities, Library of Congress.[]
  8. Read about Henry Cotton in Archdeacon Henry Cotton (1789-1879).[]
  9. Ambrières, R., & Ciosáin, É. (2003). Ibid, p. 56. Available here.[]