Sir Edward Brotherton (1856 – 1930) became a collector of manuscripts and fine books toward the end of his life, in the 1920s.
His collection of medieval manuscripts was particularly rich in books of hours. This may not be surprising, as the period between 1875 and 1925 marked their greatest emergence and sale.
Lord Brotherton acquired a batch of twelve illuminated books of hours and prayer books from the London bookseller Charles James Sawyer. Among these were examples of the finest late medieval painting from France, the Low Countries, Italy and Germany.
By the time the collection was presented to the newly finished Brotherton Library in 1936, it contained 27 medieval manuscripts, many finely illuminated. Unfortunately no documentation survives to show whether Brotherton, or his librarian, J. A. Symington, had any rationale for the medieval collection. Symington destroyed all paperwork relating to the acquisitions following his disgrace and dismissal.