An Extensive Musical Library: Mrs Clarinda Webster, LRAM

Brio electronic archive for IAML(UK & Ireland) members

My latest article is on the IAML(UK & Ireland) website; it’s in the members’ area, but paper copies will be in the post soon. It’s about a strong and determined Victorian music teacher, who survived domestic abuse and made a remarkable career for herself – and I reveal her survey of music in Victorian public libraries, that I discovered literally by digging around online. (I’m rather pleased with this one!)


Brio vol.59 no.1, pp.29-42

Georgian lady borrowers at the University of St Andrews

I have just contributed a blogpost to a research project blog that is hosted by the University and Stirling. The project is called, Books and Borrowing 1750-1830: an Analysis of Scottish Borrowing Records. There are a large number of participating partners – visit this page to find out more.

I revisited Miss Elizabeth Lambert (later Mrs Williams), Mrs Bertram and her daughters, and Principal Playfair’s daughter, Janet. Here’s the blogpost:-

7 Pieces of Music to be Arranged: Women Borrowers and the First Female Cataloguer of the St Andrews Copyright Music Collection

A Labour of Love for Miss Lambert

The story of a very early female music cataloguer at the University of St Andrews

by Dr Karen E McAulay, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland


Prior to her marriage to George Williams, Elizabeth Lambert (1789-1875) produced a handwritten catalogue of the University of St Andrews legal deposit music collection, which was accumulated by legal entitlement from the 1790s to 1836. Elizabeth was paid a nominal sum (one shilling) for producing the first catalogue volume in 1826, and continued adding to it, commencing a second volume which someone else presumably completed after she married and moved to London in 1832. [1]  This youthful involvement with the University of St Andrews’ Library music collection is more significant, and had a more far-reaching effect, than has hitherto been recognised, for her catalogue would have significantly contributed to the use and enjoyment of the University Library’s music collection.  Her subsequent married life in London is minimally documented.

This article would have been added to the Wikipedia Wiki Project, Women in Red, which is promoting entries about women to redress the current male/female balance; however, since the present narrative is based on new research – and there are no books with biographical details of Miss Lambert – it does not fit into the remit of that admirable project.


Born in 1789, the year of the French Revolution, Elizabeth Lambert was the firstborn child of clergyman, Revd. Josias Lambert and Dorothea Lambert (née Rotherham).  She was christened in St Mary’s Parish Church in Lancaster (Lancashire) on 13 June 1789. [2]  Two brothers and two sisters followed in close succession, the youngest being born a few months after their father’s death in 1799.  Their widowed mother sold their Yorkshire home, Badger Hall in Burneston, to Col. W R L Serjeantson that year, [3]  and relocated the family to St Andrews in Scotland.  There, they lived with her brother, Professor John Rotherham, until he died in 1804.

House in South Court, South Street, St Andrews [2016-08-31]
House in South Court, South Street, St Andrews
Elizabeth’s mother originally hailed from Northumbria, but remained living in a house at South Court, South Street in St Andrews until her death in 1839. [4]  Both of Elizabeth’s sisters died at St Andrews in childhood.

1849 South Street House formerly belonging to Miss Lambert for sale by public roup, Fife Herald

Teens and young adulthood

South Court from South Street, St Andrews
South Court from South Street, St Andrews

Elizabeth’s brothers attended the University, making use of the library facilities, but Elizabeth and her mother were also able to borrow from the library through the good offices of professorial friends. Elizabeth borrowed widely:- books on conchology, botany and horticulture, divinity and travel, as well as novels and music, and she continued to borrow on a visit to Scotland after her marriage. [5]

She borrowed sacred and secular vocal music – returning to borrow Mozart’s Masses more than once, and also enjoying operatic arias, and Irish, Scottish and Welsh songs – as well as piano music and piano duets.  Instrumental music seems to have attracted her – one such book that she borrowed contained concertos, harp and guitar music as well a piano instructor by Cramer, and this wasn’t the only instrumental volume to have appealed to her. She also enjoyed a music journal called The Harmonicon, which enjoyed a brief but very popular run from 1823-33, and borrowed a book about Haydn and Mozart.

Elizabeth’s interest in conchology went beyond reading about the subject, for she was cited in several textbooks for having identified a particular shell (Patella elongata) in Professor John Fleming’s cabinet collection in 1814. [6]

Elizabeth built up a shell collection of her own, giving her collection of British and foreign shells to the Natural History Society of Northumbria in 1873 (foreign shells) and 1874 (British and foreign shells).  The Society still has a record of her donation, although the collection has been integrated into their own larger collection and can no longer be identified. [7]

Involvement with the University of St Andrews Library

Elizabeth’s uncle John Rotherham had taken responsibility for organising an earlier book catalogue in the library, though it is unlikely that he would have done the cataloguing himself.  Nonetheless, his interest, added to Elizabeth’s interest in conchology, does suggest a family disposition towards organising and codifying things!

Sederunt Dr Buist Rector, Principal Haldane, Drs Hunter, J. Hunter, Jackson and Briggs. University Library 29th August 1826. “There was laid upon the Table by the Rector a Manuscript Catalogue of the Music belonging to the Library made out by Miss Lambert.  The Rector was requested to convey to her the thanks of the University for the great pains she had been at in making it out.   [signed] Geo. Buist Rector. [8]

It is probably worth noting, as an aside, that 1826 was also the year in which the University of St Andrews published a proper catalogue of the entire library holdings – excluding the music, that is!  See their Catalogus librorum in Bibliotheca Universitatis Andreanae, secundum literarum ordinem dispositus online via the Wellcome Collection website.  (I noticed that the library had the 1788-93 edition of Linnaeus’ Systema naturae, a book which would have enabled Elizabeth to identify that sea-shell in Professor Fleming’s cabinet: “Patella Elongata”, aka “Ansates Pellucida” is none other than a special kind of limpet …)

Although Elizabeth was paid for cataloguing the St Andrews University copyright (legal deposit) music in 1826, the second catalogue book continued to be added to, presumably by someone else and with rather less care after she had married and moved away, until a change in legislation meant that the Library ceased to claim legal deposit books in 1836, instead being awarded a book budget, in common with the other Scottish universities.

Entries in the borrowing registers for 16 October 1827 and 22 May 1828 record Elizabeth taking music ‘to be arranged’, which can be interpreted as an involvement in assembling the music into usable volumes which would then be bound by a commercial bindery. [9]  Different volumes were compiled for instrumental music, piano music, songs, harp music and so on.


Elizabeth married George Williams in Islington in 1832, where they lived with his mother and brothers. [10] They had no children. George died in Halton Street Islington in 1853. [11]   Elizabeth Williams died at 18 Well-Walk Hampstead, Middlesex, 23 years later on 16 February, 1875. [12]   There is very little documentation of her life after her marriage.

Significance of Elizabeth’s Music Catalogue

Elizabeth was clearly not a University employee, but was nonetheless entrusted with the task of compiling this catalogue of the music, listing the contents of each numbered bound volume.  This is very early documented evidence indeed, of a woman being involved in any way with the organisation of a university library sub-collection. Contributing factors are likely to have been the fact that she was a niece of a deceased professor who, himself, had taken an interest in the library, and also the fact that families and friends were entitled to borrow from the entire collection through association with the professors.  Her reading matter shows her to have been an educated woman, and the library’s borrowing records [13] provide ample evidence of both unmarried and married women making use of the music collection – a category in which some of the other legal deposit libraries seemingly took little enough interest for much of the nineteenth century.

Elizabeth’s catalogue was hardly a detailed bibliography, generally listing only composer and title, and sometimes conflating several linked separate publications into one entry. There are occasional spelling errors, which led researcher Elizabeth Ann Frame to suggest that Miss Lambert was dictating entries to another individual.  [14]. This cannot be conclusively proven either way.  Nonetheless, it would have been very difficult for readers to select music with any degree of precision until the catalogue was written, presumably instead reliant on serendipity, or searching out the latest bound volumes back from the bindery.

Indeed, in this context Miss Lambert’s catalogue represents a kind of endorsement of the University of the value that they attributed to their music collection, since the catalogue facilitated the use of the entire music collection by professors, a few quite young male undergraduates, and friends and family of the professors.  There is evidence of the catalogue itself being borrowed by a few keen male borrowers, whether for their own perusal or for consultation by their family or friends, and the music collection was heavily borrowed during the first four decades of the nineteenth century.

  • The present website is that of the British AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) funded postdoctoral network, Claimed From Stationers Hall, which supported further research into legal deposit music collections across Georgian Britain.  This research followed on from the present author’s research at the University of St Andrews Library, which has excellent archival documentation to support a well-organised collection.
  • If you have enjoyed this posting, you might also like to read about another Library reader from St Andrews – Professor Playfair and his family.   He appears in another article about the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network, on the Library’s Echoes From the Vault website.
  • And there’s more!  A boarding school proprietress, and her three teacher daughters, also made use of the library.  You can read about Mrs Bertram on another network blog, this time curated by EAERN (Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network): Mrs Bertram’s Music Borrowing: Reading Between the Lines.
  1. University of St Andrews Library Muniments UYLY108/1 – Music Catalogue, 1826
  2. See
  3. British History Online 
  4. Dorothea’s obituary appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine and the Perthshire Courier.  She was described as the widow of the late Rev Josias Lambert, M.A., of Camp-hill Yorkshire.  South Court, her address off South Street in St Andrews, is now passed by visitors to the famous Byre Theatre.
  5. University of St Andrews Muniments UYLY 206/8 (1821-1832)
  6. Professor John Fleming was a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was later cited by Darwin (not in connection with shells). ArchivesHub describes him as Scotland’s first zoologist. An ordained minister, he was also appointed as a professor at Aberdeen in 1834.  Edinburgh University holds his papers.
  7. Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle upon Tyne. Vol.5 p.368. [List of donations], A collection of British and Foreign Shells. Mrs Elizabeth Williams, Well Walk Hampstead. 
  8. Senate Minutes, University of St Andrews Muniments UY452/14/145 University Library 29 August 1826.
  9. University of St Andrews Muniments UYLY 206/8 (1821-1832)
  10. 13 September 1832: ‘George Williams, of the Parish of St Mary, Islington, married by Rev Dr Haldane, Principal of St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews’. Old Parochial Register, St Andrews and St Leonards, via Scotland’s People
  11. 25 February 1853. British Newspapers Online at  NB Halton Street became Halton Road in 1863/65.  See Eric A. Willats, Streets with a Story1986, digital version 2018.
  12. Probate. Effects under £6000.  The Will with a Codicil of Elizabeth Williams late of 18 Well-walk Hampstead in the County of Middlesex Widow who died 16 February 1875 at 18 Well-walk was proved at the Principal Registry by Henry Cardew a Major in the Royal Artillery stationed with his Battery at Newhaven and Thomas Francis Leadbitter of 158 Leadenhall-Street in the City of London Gentlemen the Executors. Ancestry England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995.
  13. University of St Andrews Muniments UYLY206/5 (1801-16), UYLY 206/6 (1814-19), UYLY 206/7 (1817-21), UYLY 206/8 (1821-1832)
  14. Elizabeth Ann Frame, ‘The Copyright Collection of Music in the University Library, St Andrews: a brief account’, in Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions, Vol.5, issue 4 (1985), pp.1-9


Facility, Steadiness and Precision: Mlle Merelle published a harp tutor

On this day, 10th October 1799, Broderip and Wilkinson registered Mademoiselle Merelle’s harp tutor at Stationers’ Hall.  In two volumes, her New and Complete Instructions for the Pedal Harp … Containing all the necessary rules, with exercises, preludes, etc, calculated for acquiring facility, steadiness and precision on the instrument was a mere 50 pages in total, but it took the beginner from ignorance to an astonishing level of dexterity by the end of the second book!  It was dedicated to her pupils, whom one would imagine must have taken quite some time to master the exercises until they could play the exotic flourishes that brought the tutor to its triumphant conclusion.

A Seattle website called Harp Spectrum  (2002-2014) contains an article by Mike Parker, in which he says that Mlle Merelle was a London harp teacher.(1)  Whether she was the first woman to publish a harp tutor, is not something I’m in a position to comment upon at the moment.  Hers does seem to be the first one authored by a woman and registered at Stationers’ Hall in London, but that’s no guarantee that others weren’t published elsewhere in the world – or published in the UK but not registered at Stationers’ Hall.

There are very few copies surviving.  It was therefore with a small cry of triumph that I discovered a digitised copy in Denmark!  You can look for yourself, here:-

New and Complete Instructions for the Pedal Harp. In two books.

There are lots of arpeggios and broken chords – and (at first glance) no national melodies, which is markedly different to piano tutors of the same era!  I am rather pleased to note that Mrs Bertram and her daughters appear to have borrowed a book containing this work, from the University Library at St Andrews.  They ran a girls’ boarding school – who knows who actually played from this book!

Mlle Merelle also published Les Folies d’Espagne, avec des nouvelles variations pour la harpe, registered  by Broderip & Wilkinson on 13 June 1799, and a book of harp tunes, Petites Pieces pour le Harpe, registered by the same publishers at Stationers’ Hall on 24 March 1803.  Again, few copies survive.  The first is also in digital format at the British Library, but I believe only on-site.


(1) The Eighth Pedal – Fact or Fiction?
by Mike Parker

Networking with Other Networks: Women’s Book History

Mrs Bertram by David Octavius Hill
A CFSH subject herself, Mrs Bertram by David Octavius Hill

How I’ve managed to get through this networking project to date without encountering this group is beyond me, but now I’ve found them on Twitter, I want to share their details with other Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network members:-





“Bibliography of sources on women’s writing and labor. We tweet CFPs, conferences, etc. in gender and #bookhistory#dh & textual studies.”

Pomona, CA

So there you are – introductions performed!  I look forward to following the twitter feed and shall keep an interested eye on the website!


Networking with Other Networks: Women in the Arts in the Long 18th Century


Another invitation: I’m also part of the EAERN Network (Eighteenth-Century Arts Education Research Network), and EAERN members have just been notified of an event taking place in Sheffield. Perhaps it might interest a few members of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall music research network, too?


Registration is now open for ‘Women and the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century’. EAERN members would be very welcome to join us at the University of Sheffield for this event on Friday 8th March. Further details available via the registration link below:…/…/english/women-and-the-arts

Mind-Maps? Not This Time!

Stepping  Back to View The Big Picture

Last night, I thought I’d try to devise a mind-map to demonstrate the many directions the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall research has taken me – and could, indeed, take us further as a network.  After twenty minutes spent manipulating triangles in a Word document, I realised the error of my ways.  Never mind the mind-map – I could just list the topics.  So, here goes:-

The whole corpus of legal deposit music in the late 18th and early 19th centuries:-

  • Where it went
  • How it got there
  • What was retained
  • Who was involved in its immediate and subsequent curation
  • Whether it was used
  • What about the materials not retained?
  • The approach to this material in different institutions
  • Women composing music
  • Women performing music
  • Women teaching music
  • Music composed in response to war
  • Music in cultural history – what was popular, when, with whom?
  • Music for dance
  • Music pedagogy prior to the mid-19th century
  • Music for particular instruments (eg harp) or ensembles
  • Musical arrangements, music re-purposed in some way (and copyright issues)
  • National music – privileged in terms of retention?
  • Religious music – I haven’t separated out any strands here yet
  • Hymn books – published with and without music. Another strand I have yet to explore
  • Documentation, cataloguing
  • Big data (when more collections are catalogued online)
  • Comparison of retention patterns between different libraries
  • Digitisation
  • Performance possibilities
  • Finally, last and by no means least – The big picture.  Even acknowledging the contribution of the European great masters to music of this era, have we underestimated the importance of contemporary British music? Some is good, admittedly some is bad, and some is indifferent – but much of it is significant in revealing cultural trends at the time.  This, I believe, is the true importance of the Georgian legal deposit music corpus.

Women In Music – Forgotten Female Composers

Looking at the historical copyright music collections, certain categories do leap out … theatrical music, single songs, instructional material, instrumental music, Napoleonic-era music … and music by women.  Now, there are various websites detailing women composers, and it would be rash (indeed, unnecessary) to create another one, but for the purposes of the Claimed From Stationers’ Hall network, what we need is a list of the women composers represented in and around the Georgian era – say, from 1760-1840.

I found all the women’s names in the “Authors” index of Michael Kassler’s Music Entries at Stationers’ Hall, 1710-1818 (Routledge, 2004), and then added in some extra names that appeared in St Andrews’ University Library Copyright Music Collection – specifically, in the volumes that have been catalogued online, from Vol.130 to Vol.385.  (Kassler also lists writers of lyrics, performers, and dedicatees, in separate indices – I have not included these.)  The resultant list can be found here:- Women Composers of the Georgian Era. (List compiled by Karen E McAulay, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 07/2018).

A WORD OF CAUTION! Researchers should cross-refer between Kassler and Copac, to ensure that works post-1818 are also represented, and to eliminate any names which may have other than strictly authorial responsibility for the works cited.

Kassler’s book is one I consult almost daily.  It’s available in a number of university libraries, both as hardback and e-book.  Recommended!

I tweeted about this earlier today, and I’ll reiterate it here – please do share any links to Pastoral scene ladiesuseful lists of historical names!  If your list has both “ancient and modern”, I’ll still be happy to include the link.  However, to keep it relevant, let’s not add lists of women composers from the 20th century onwards.  The Claimed from Stationers’ Hall network is about predominantly Georgian music, published in Britain and legally deposited in British libraries – that’s the network’s remit, and that’s what the research funding is enabling!

Useful Books