Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Towneley, Christopher

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TOWNELEY, CHRISTOPHER (1604–1674), antiquary, called ‘the Transscriber,’ son of Richard Towneley of Towneley Hall, Lancashire, was born there on 9 Jan. 1603–1604. He was an attorney, but probably did not long follow his profession (he was indeed disabled by being a recusant), the greater part of his long and leisured life being occupied in scientific and antiquarian pursuits. Among his friends and correspondents were Jeremiah Horrox, William Crabtree, William Gascoyne, Sir Jonas Moore, Jeremiah Shakerley, and Flamsteed, astronomers and mathematicians; Roger Dodsworth, Sir William Dugdale, and Hopkinson, antiquaries, and Sir Edward Sherburne, poet. In conjunction with Dr. Richard Kuerden [q. v.] he projected, but never finished, a history of Lancashire. Many years were spent by him in transcribing ‘in a fair but singular hand’ public records, chartularies, and other evidences relating chiefly to Lancashire and Yorkshire. These transcripts were drawn upon by friends during his lifetime, and have since proved a valuable storehouse of materials for county historians and genealogists. The best description of them is given in the fourth report of the historical manuscripts commission (1874, pp. 406, 613). The collections, after remaining at Towneley for over two centuries, were dispersed by auction at Sotheby's on 18–28 June 1883.

Towneley married, in 1640, Alice, daughter of John Braddyll of Portfield, near Whalley, and widow of Richard Towneley of Carr Hall, near Burnley. He had previously lived at Hapton Tower, near Burnley, now destroyed. On his marriage he removed to Carr, and on his wife's death in 1657 he changed his residence to Moorhiles in Pendle Forest, near Colne. He died in August 1674, and was buried at Burnley. In the inventory of his goods, taken after his death, his manuscripts, the labour of a life, were valued at 11s. Towneley Hall contains a good portrait of Towneley. Of this portrait a small woodcut appears in the ‘Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society’ (x. 86).

[Sherburne's Sphere of M. Manilius, 1674; Whitaker's Whalley, 4th edit.; Raines's Notes in N. Assheton's Journal (Chetham Soc.), p. 26; St. George's Visitation of Lancashire (Chetham Soc.); Dugdale's Visitation of Lancashire (Chetham Soc.); Palatine Notebook, iii. 188, iv. 136; Correspondence of Scientific Men (Rigaud), 1841, vol. ii.; Cat. of Ashmolean MSS.; communications from Mr. William Waddington of Burnley.]

C. W. S.