Adopted Works

Read about the following works which have been adopted by individual friends of DWL and the Congregational Library.

 Thank you for your support. 



Isaac Watts 1674 - 1748

Artist unknown

76.2cm x 63.4cm Oil on canvas

Condition: The surface is damaged with two deep scratches and the painting needs to be cleaned repaired and reglazed.

Treatment required: See Dr Williams’s Library website

Adopted by: Prof. Donald A Cress

Prof Donald Cress raised the majority of the funding for the conservation of this painting.

Prof. Donald A Cress



Divine Songs Attempted in Easy Language for the Use of Children by Isaac Watts

London 1715

155 x 95 x 10mm Red Sheepskin

Condition: Both boards are detached and the endpapers are damaged

Treatment required: Reback, attached boards and repair endpapers

Adopted by: Prof David Thompson



The Psalms of David, Imitated in the Language of the New Testament by Isaac Watts

John Wilton Rix

150 x 90 x 24mm Blue goatskin

Condition: The front board is detached and the head caps are damaged.

Treatment required: Re-attach front board and repair the head caps

Adopted by: Dr John Thompson



Henry Crabb Robinson

Half bound: calf and marbled paper

Condition: Fragile

Treatment required: Reback and reattach the boards.

Adopted by: Dr James Vigus

Der Brief Pauli an die Römer, erläutert von Wilhelm Benecke (Heidelberg. In der Universitäts-Buchhandlung von C.F. Winter, 1831)

The first item I have chosen to adopt from the Henry Crabb Robinson collection is Wilhelm Benecke’s commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans. Robinson, formally a Unitarian but long a ‘seeker’ in religion, met the marine insurance specialist and unorthodox theologian Benecke (1776-1837) on 29 August 1819, as his Diary records. The friendship that now developed with Benecke (and his family) helped to rekindle Robinson’s spirit of religious enquiry. Robinson himself embarked on a translation of Benecke’s introduction, but did not complete it, and it was Benecke’s son who would publish an English translation of the whole work (An Exposition of St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 1854). Benecke’s system was based upon the doctrines of the pre-existence of all souls before birth, and of a ‘fall of spirits’ that preceded the fall of man. Robinson read the work in German with great care and took his ‘marked copy’ when he visited Benecke in Heidelberg in 1834 (as he promised in a letter of 26 January 1834). This is the copy now at Dr Williams’s Library. It contains significant marginalia in pencil. Most of this has proved possible to reconstruct, but some was partially destroyed when Robinson had the book bound together with several other German works on related topics. This may suggest that Robinson over-modestly placed little value on his own responses to Benecke’s work.

 Dr James Vigus (

Friedrich Perthes Leben. Nach dessen schriftlichen und mündlichen Mittheilungen aufgezeichnet von Clemens Theodor Perthes, 3 vols (Gotha: F.A. Perthes, 1848-1855) 

These three volumes on the life of the bookseller Friedrich Perthes (1772-1843) are in a fragile condition. Robinson visited Perthes’s shop in Hamburg in September 1805; he said that he preferred Perthes himself to his rather expensive books. The two men met again frequently in 1807 and the acquaintance bore fruit: Robinson published an important essay on William Blake in Perthes’s patriotic, anti-Napoleonic journal the Vaterländisches Museum in 1811. The third volume of Robinson’s copy of the biography of Perthes is bound together with other items including this issue of the Vaterländisches Museum. Notably learned in philosophy and theology, Perthes led a fascinating life – which we can discover in the abridged English translation of these volumes – promoting important young authors, introducing many innovations into the German booktrade, and helping to direct the Bible Society of Hamburg and Altona before he moved to Gotha in 1822.

 Dr James Vigus (


Dr James Vigus



Mrs Ann Newbery November 23rd 1689.

200mm x 165mm x 5mm Brown cover, cream writing Paper and thread

Condition: Good structural condition but the writing paper is badly foxed.

Treatment required: Clean and make a bespoke enclosure.

Adopted by: Tessa Whitehouse



Divine and Moral Songs by Isaac Watts, London 1834.

150mm x 90mm x 3mm Paper covered book in boards.

Condition: Poor

Treatment required: Repair spine with Japanese paper and make a bespoke marble wrapper.

Adopted by: Tessa Whitehouse



Nicholas Byfield, 1578/9 - 1622

Given to Dr Williams’s Library by John Simco, bookseller 1815

400cm x 200cm x 2cm oil on wooden panel

Condition: The panel is cracked and the painting sits loosely in its frame.

Treatment required: The painting needs to be cleaned and refitted into the original frame.

Adopted by: Dr Alan Argent

The portrait of Nicholas Byfield in the possession of Dr Williams’s Library is an obvious attraction to anyone interested in the church history of late Elizabethan and Jacobean England. Although he was a clergyman he never rose above being a mere parish incumbent. He wrote on religious topics and was the father of important Puritan clerics of the civil war generation. He came close to becoming a separatist but somehow remained in the Church of England. However his portrait shows him in apparent repose, a clear open face looking out unafraid at his viewers. Yet he died in Isleworth where he had been vicar since 1615, as the victim of a huge “torturing stone” in his bladder which had caused him pain for 15 years. This stone (removed from his body after death) is shown in the portrait at the lower right hand corner. The portrait deserves to be restored.

Dr Alan Argent