William Oldys
William Oldys was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient objects of art or science, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts...

 and bibliographer.

The illegitimate son of Dr William Oldys, chancellor of Lincoln, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 was probably his place of birth. His father had held the office of advocate of the admiralty, but lost it in 1693 because he would not prosecute as traitors and pirates the sailors who had served against England under James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

. William Oldys, the younger, lost part of his small patrimony in the South Sea Bubble, and in 1724 went to Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, spending the greater part of the next six years as the guest of the Earl of Malton.

On his return to London he found that his landlord had disposed of the books and papers left in his charge. Among these was an annotated copy of Gerard Langbaine
Gerard Langbaine
Gerard Langbaine was an English dramatic biographer and critic, best known for his An Account of the English Dramatic Poets , the earliest work to give biographical and critical information on the playwrights of English Renaissance theatre...

's Dramatick Poets. The book came into the hands of Thomas Coxeter
Thomas Coxeter
-Life:Born at Lechlade in Gloucestershire on 20 September 1689, he was educated at Coxwell, Berkshire, and at Magdalen School in Oxford. On 7 July 1705 he was entered a commoner of Trinity College, Oxford...

, and subsequently into those of Theophilus Cibber
Theophilus Cibber
Theophilus Cibber was an English actor, playwright, author, and son of the actor-manager Colley Cibber.He began acting at an early age, and followed his father into theatrical management. In 1727, Alexander Pope satirized Theophilus Cibber in his Dunciad as a youth who "thrusts his person full...

, furnishing the basis of the Lives of the Poets (1753) published with Cibber's name on the title page (though most of it was written by Robert Shiels
Robert Shiels
-Life:He was born in Roxburghshire around the end of the seventeenth century, and came to London as a journeyman printer. Samuel Johnson approved of him as a Jacobite, and gave him a place on the team of six helpers he used on his Dictionary....


In 1731 Oldys sold his collections to Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer
Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer
Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer , styled Lord Harley between 1711 and 1724, was a British politician, bibliophile, collector and patron of the arts.-Background:...

, who appointed him his literary secretary in 1738. Three years later Harley died, and from that time Oldys worked for the booksellers. His habits were irregular, and in 1751 his debts drove him to the Fleet prison
Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison was a notorious London prison by the side of the Fleet River in London. The prison was built in 1197 and was in use until 1844. It was demolished in 1846.- History :...

. After two years' imprisonment he was released through the kindness of friends who paid his debts, and in April 1755 he was appointed Norfolk Herald Extraordinary
Norfolk Herald Extraordinary
Norfolk Herald of Arms Extraordinary is an officer of arms in England. As an officer extraordinary, Norfolk is a royal herald, though not a member of the corporation of the College of Arms in London. Beginning in 1539 this officer was a herald to the dukes of Norfolk, though the first holder,...

 and then Norroy King of Arms by the Duke of Norfolk
Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk
Edward Howard, 9th Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal was a British peer. The son of Lord Thomas Howard and Mary Elizabeth Savile, he succeeded as Duke of Norfolk in 1732, after the death of his brother, Thomas Howard, 8th Duke of Norfolk.He married Mary Blount , daughter of Edward Blount and Anne...


Dr. William Oldys c. 22 October 1636 was the son of Rev. William Oldys b.1591 who was murdered in Adderbury, Oxford by Parliamentarian soldiers. The account of his murder tells of how he was hunted all day due to his support of the monarchy and even though he threw down money to distract the closing pack, he was run through with a sword and died. The church bell in Adderbury still bears his name and on the wall of the vestry is a plaque written in Latin describing that dreadful day 15 September 1645. His wife Margaret née Sacheverell died 7 May 1705. She was the daughter of Ambrose Sacheverell, the Reverend at Tadmarton in 1617.

Rev. William Oldys was the son of John Oldys b. 13 July 1563 who was son of John Oldys b.1520 who was son of John Oldys, Bishop of Clanmacknoise, Ireland in 1444 who was son of Richard Oldys b. 1366.
The details of this can be found in the British Library Addit 4240. Diary of Birch. MJA
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