Cole, John (DNB00)
COLE, JOHN (1792–1848), bookseller and antiquary, of Northampton and Scarborough, was born on 3 Oct. 1792 at Weston Favell in Northamptonshire. He was apprenticed to Mr. W. Birdsall, a bookseller of Northampton, and began his literary career with a 'History of Northampton and its Vicinity' in 1815. About two years later he married Susanna, second daughter of James Marshall of Northampton, and in 1817 purchased for 1,000l. the stock and goodwill of a bookseller at Lincoln. He printed his first 'Catalogue of Old Books' at Lincoln in that year. He brought out a 'History of Lincoln' in 1818, and then seems to have gone to Hull and afterwards to Scarborough, where we find him in 1821 publishing 'An Ænigmatical Catalogue of Books of Merit, on an entirely new plan.' During the next ten years he issued most of his antiquarian and biographical works, many of which relate to Scarborough. He also helped Baker in his 'History of the County of Northampton.' As unfortunate at Scarborough as at his previous dwelling-places, Cole tried Northampton once more, and opened a shop in the market square some time after 1830. He added to his small income by giving lectures on natural philosophy, &c. 'The late Mr. Bean, a well-known scientific individual and conchologist, . . . says: "I have known Mr. John Cole and have attended many of his lectures on astronomy, the anatomy of costume, architecture, and natural history. These several subjects [were] discussed in a scientific, pleasing, and popular manner" ' (J. B. Baker, History of Scarborough, 1882, p. 457). He instituted the commemoration in honour of the Rev. James Hervey held at Weston Favell on 18 June 1833. He was forced to make a composition with his creditors at Northampton, and went to live at Wellingborough about 1835. 'There Cole opened a small school, and placed geological specimens, &c. [as well as such incongruous wares as apples, bacon, and ham] in his window for sale. He was a quiet man and regarded as very eccentric because he and his sons would go out all day, and return laden with wild plants, &c. . . . His industrious curiosity was never appreciated in Northamptonshire, where he dragged out a miserable existence. From Wellingborough he removed to Ringstead, or some village in its vicinity, where he ransacked every nook for relics of antiquity and natural curiosities' (Notes and Queries, 3rd series, i. 509). He tried again as a schoolmaster at Rushden in 1837, and successively lived at Polebrook, Huntingdon, and Woodford (near Thrapston), where he died in greatly reduced circumstances on 12 April 1848, aged 56. His wife died on 30 July 1832, at the age of thirty-six, and was buried in All Saints' churchyard at Northampton. Whether as bookseller, lecturer, 'general factor,' or school-master, Cole was invariably unsuccessful. A self-trained and industrious antiquary, he appears to have been utterly unsuited for the cares of a business life.
His literary activity was remarkable. His publications are over a hundred in number. The chief among them are mentioned below. They are usually of small size and tastefully printed and produced. The letterpress and illustrations appear over and over again under different titles. Cole generally printed but few copies of his books, and usually a few were on coloured paper. Both for their rarity and as containing much out-of-the-way information they are sought after by Yorkshire and Northamptonshire collectors. He was in the habit of binding up extra plates and additional manuscript matter in his private copies of his pieces. A silhouette portrait of Cole and facsimile of his handwriting are given in the 'Yorkshire Library' (1869, p. 206) of W. Boyne.
Cole's principal works are : 1. 'History of Northampton and its Vicinity,' Northampton, 1815 ; 2nd edition, 1821 ; 3rd edition, 1831, sm. 8vo. 2. ' History of Lincoln,' Lincoln, 1818, sm. 8vo. 3. ' Histrionic Topography,' London, 1818, sm. 8vo, 13 plates by Storer. 4. ' A Catalogue of Standard Books, made out on an entirely new plan,' sm. 8vo (the titles are drawn up in enigmas). 5. ' An Ænigmatical Catalogue of Books of Merit, on an entirely new plan,' Scarborough, 1821, sm. 8vo (2nd edition, enlarged, of No. 4). 6. ' A Key to Cole's Ænigmatical Catalogue of Books,' Scarborough, 1821, sm. 8vo. 7. ' Questions on Cooke's Topography of the County of York,' 1821, 1834. 8. 'Herveiana ; or graphic and literary Sketches illustrative of the Life and Writings of the Rev. James Hervey,' Scarborough, 1822-3-6, 3 pts. sm. 8vo. (pt. ii. includes some unpublished letters of Hervey). 9. ' Graphic and Historical Sketches of Scarborough,' Scarborough, 1822, sm. 8vo (with wood engravings by Mason). 10. ' A Biographical Sketch of the late Robert North, Esq., the founder of the Amicable Society, Scarborough,' Scarborough, 1823, sm. 8vo. 11. 'Picture of Scarborough for the year 1823,' Scarborough, 1823, sm. 8vo (this is a 2nd edition of No. 9, reprinted in 1824, 1825, 1829, and 1832 as the 'Scarborough Guide,' ed. by C.R. Todd, 1836 and 1841). 12. 'Bibliographical and Descriptive Tour from Scarborough to the Library of a Philobiblist [Archdeacon Wrangham],' Scarborough, 1824, sm. 8vo (a few supplementary pages were printed but not published). 13. 'Sketch of the History of Scarborough,' Scarborough, 1824, sm. 8vo. 14. 'The Scarborough Repository and Mirror of the Season, consisting of historical, biographical, and topographical subjects,' &c., Scarborough, 1824, 8vo, vol. i. (8 Nos.), all published. 15. 'Scarborough, Yorkshire [Letters] to the Editor of the Port-Folio,' Scarborough , sm. 8vo. 16. 'A Descriptive Catalogue of a select portion of the Stock of John Cole,' Scarborough, 1825, 8vo. 17. 'The Scarborough Album of History and Poetry,' Scarborough, 1825, sm. 8vo. 18. 'The History and Antiquities of Ecton, county of Northampton,' Scarborough, 1825, 8vo. 19. 'A Series of Cabinet Views of Scarborough,' Scarborough, 1825, sm. 8vo. 20. 'Extracts of Sermon on death of Thomas Hinderwell,' Scarborough, 1825. 21. 'Scarborough Worthies,' Scarborough, 1826, 8vo (little more than a life of Hinderwell). 22. 'Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Character of the late Thomas Hinderwell, Esq.,' Scarborough, 1826, 8vo. 23. ' Le petit Visiteur ; containing a Sketch of the History of Scarborough,' Scarborough, 1826, sm. 8vo. 24. 'A Tour round Scarborough, historically and bibliographically unfolded,' Scarborough, 1826, 8vo (the etchings are different in all copies). 25. 'Bookselling Spiritualised : Books and Articles of Stationery rendered Monitors of Religion,' Scarborough, 1826, 8vo. 26. 'The Antiquarian Trio,' Scarborough, 1826, 8vo. 27. 'The Fugitive Pieces of Thomas Hinderwell,' Scarborough, 1826. 28. 'The Casket of Poetry,' Scarborough, 1827, sm. 8vo. 29. 'Tribute to the Memory of Mr. Wm. Abbott,' Scarborough, 1827, 8vo. 30. 'An unique Bibliomaniac displayed in a Biographical Account of Mr. Wm. Abbott,' Scarborough, 1827, 8vo (with Catalogue of Books, the latter also issued with a separate title-page). 31. 'Dialogues in the Shades respecting the Cliff Bridge, Scarborough,' Scarborough., 1827, 8vo. 32. 'The History and Antiquities of Weston Favell in the county of Northampton,' Scarborough, 1827, 8vo. 33. ' The Scarborough Souvenir,' Scarborough, 1827, sm. 8vo. 34. 'The Scarborough Collector and Journal of the Olden Time,' Scarborough, 1828, 8vo (plates). 35. 'A pleasant and profitable Journey to London,' Scarborough, 1828, sm. 8vo. 36. 'The History and Antiquities of Filey in the county of York,' Scarborough, 1828, 8vo. 37. 'The Oldfieldian Cookery Book,' Scarborough, 1828, sm. 8vo (from the receipts of J. Oldfield). 38. 'Journal of the Entrance upon their Journey of Life of the Young Travellers, John [born 3 Oct. 1792] and Susanna [born 3 Aug. 1796] Cole,' Scarborough, 1828. 39. 'Select Remains of the Rev. John Mason, M. A.,' Scarborough, 1828, 8vo. 39*. ' Letter to John Tindal relating to the remains of an ancient village near Cloughton,' Scarborough, 1828, 8vo. 40. ' Historical Sketches of Scalby, Burniston, and Cloughton, with Descriptive Notices of Hayburn Wyke and Stainton Dale in the county of York,' Scarborough, 1829, 8vo. 41. 'The Antiquarian Bijou,' Scarborough, 1829, 8vo. 42. 'The Antiquarian Casket,' Scarborough, 1829, 8vo. 43. ' Bibliotheca Coleiana : a Catalogue of the Collection of Books the private property of John Cole,' Scarborough, printed for John Cole for the perusal of his friends and not for sale, 1829, 8vo. 44. 'Original Letters of the Rev. James Hervey,' Scarborough, 1829, 8vo. 45. 'The Curiosities of Scarborough described in Verse,' Scarborough, 1829, sm. 8vo. 46. 'A Month's Excursion,' Scarborough, 1829, sm. 8vo. 47. 'Scarborough Graphic Gems,' Scarborough, 1829, 16mo. 48. ' Biographical Account of Master Herbert,' Scarborough, 1830, 8vo. 49. 'A Critique on the performance of Master Herbert, the youthful Roscius,' Scarborough, 1830, sm. 8vo. 50. ' Scarborough Tales,' Scarborough, 1830. 51. ' Critique on the performance of Juliana by Miss Hilton,' Scarborough, 1831, sm. 8vo. 52. ' Biographical Account of the late Rev. S. Bottomley,' Scarborough, 1831, 8vo. 53. 'Critique on the performance of Othello by F. W. Keene Aldridge, the African Roscius,' Scarborough, 1831, 8vo. 54. 'An Account of the Proceedings at the Commemoration in Honour of Hervey at Weston Favell, 18 June, 1833,' Northampton, for private distribution, 1833, sm. 8vo. 55. 'Reminiscences tributary to the Memory of Thomas Allen,' Northampton, for private distribution, 1833, 8vo. 56. 'Cole's Graphic Cabinet,' Northampton, 1833, sm. 8vo. 57. 'Fifty original Hymns by James Edmeston,' Northampton, 1833, sm. 8vo. 58. 'Ten Minutes' Advice on Shaving,' London, 1834, sm. 8vo. 59. 'Historical Notices of Wellingborough,' Wellingborough, 1834, 12mo. 60. ' History and Antiquities of Wellingborough,' Wellingborough, 1837, sm. 8vo, and Northampton, 1865, sm. 8vo. 61. ' Conundrums conceived and arranged by John Cole during his residence at Wellingborough,' Wellingborough, 1837, sm. 8vo. 62. 'History and Antiquities of Higham Ferrers,' Wellingborough, 1838, sm. 8vo. 63. 'Annals of Rushden, Irthlingborough, and Knuston,' Wellingborough, 1838, sm. 8vo. 64. ' Memoirs of Mrs. Chapone,' London, 1839, 32mo. 65. 'Popular Biography of Northamptonshire,' Wellingborough, 1839, 32mo. 66. 'Buds of Poesy' [by W. L. Cole], London, 1839, 32mo. 67. 'The Calendar of everyday Reference for the County of Huntingdon,' Huntingdon, 1845, 2 (or more) parts, sm. 8vo. 68. 'The Real Romance of the Tombs at Great Addington,' Wellingborough, 1847, 8vo. 69. 'Northampton pictorially Illustrated,' Northampton, 1847, sm. 8vo. The following are undated : 70. ' The Talents of Edmund Kean delineated,' 8vo. 71. 'Scarborough Natural Historians,' 8vo. 72. 'Catalogue of Books on Sale by John Cole, Market Square, Northampton.' Nearly all of Cole's publications are in the British Museum ; the Northampton Free Library contains those relating to the county. Cole also issued a few other small pieces and single sheets, and left unpublished several local histories.
[Information obligingly contributed by Mr. J. Taylor of Northampton. Cole's own MS. Diary in 17 sm. 4to vols. is now in the possession of Mr. Edward Hailstone, F.S.A., of Walton Hall, Wakefield, to whom the writer is also indebted. For the bibliography of Cole's publications see J. Martin's Bibliographical Catalogue of Privately Printed Books, 2nd ed. 1854, 8vo; Catalogue of Works on the County of York, belonging to Edward Hailstone, 1858; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. i. 509-10, 6th ser. i. 301-2; Bibliotheca Northantonensis, catalogue of a unique collection of historical manuscripts, antiquarian and topographical publications of John Cole, collected by John Taylor, Northampton, 1883, 8vo.]