Libraries for All
Early modern parish libraries, frequently established for the benefit of the general public, were often deliberately inaccessible.
When the Manchester merchant and financier Humphrey Chetham bequeathed five parish libraries for the use of the common people in 1653, he was neither the first to do so, nor the last. He was, however, one of only a handful of people to establish public access parish libraries that the public could actually access. Others had the intention of being used by the common people but gave the distinct impression that not all commoners were made equal.