Tuesday 25th October, 2016










Friends of DWL Annual Lectures


The Lecture Hall, Dr Williams's Library, 14 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0AR


Dr Williams's Library 1729-1793 - "a good library, under the direction of the dissenters".


January 2016 marks the tercentenary of the death of Dr Daniel Williams, the founder of the library and trust that still bear his name. To commemorate this landmark Dr Alan Argent, the Dr Williams's Research Fellow, is writing a history of the Dr Williams's Trust and Library. This is based largely on the original manuscripts retained at the library which include quarterly minute books, books of benefactions, account books etc. In addition the memories of many long term friends have been a valued source.

In October 2016 the annual lecture of the Friends of Dr Williams's Library is entitled "Dr Williams's Library 1729-1793 'a good library, under the direction of the dissenters'". It will be given by Dr Alan Argent.

Some among its first supporters maintained that Dr William's Library could become " the compleatest Library in Britain" and encouraged dissenters and "liberal-minded persons" to donate books and money for its development.  Yet by the 1790s the trustees were frustrated that their hopes had not been fully realised. How far was the vision of Daniel Williams for his library, a vision shared and enhanced by the founding trustees and their successors, fulfilled?  Was the library's appeal too narrow? This paper will examine the successes and failures of the library and its backers in the 18th century. 


Dr Alan Argent, Research Fellow, Dr Williams's Library

Dr Alan Argent

Alan Argent has a BSc (Econ) from the London School of Economics, an MTh from King's College, London, and a PhD in London History (1640-49) from University College, London.  He taught church history for Birkbeck College for many years.  He has in preparation a catalogue of the Treatises of Richard Baxter (1615-91) and a history of Dr Williams's Trust and Library.  He is currently the minister of Trinity Congregational Church, Brixton, and is Research Fellow at Dr Williams's Library, London.

Selected publications

  • Elsie Chamberlain: The Independent Life of a Woman Minister (2012)
  • The Transformation of Congregationalism 1900-2000 (2013)
  • The Angels" Voice: A Magazine for Young Men in Brixton, London 1910-1913 ( 2016) London Record Society


Additional Information

Tea served in the Library at 5.00pm