2021 Friends AGM


14 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0AR


Professor J. C. G. Binfield


Professor David Bebbington, Mr John Creasey, Professor Anne Dunan-Page, Professor Mark Goldie, Professor Ann Hughes, Professor N. H. Keeble, the Rev. G. E. H. Roper, Professor David Thompson, Professor N. R. Tyacke, Mr Paul Wilkins


on Thursday 11th November 2021 at 4pm

1. Apologies:

2. Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2020

3. Matters Arising (not covered elsewhere)

4. Committee’s Report for 2020-21

a. Membership of the Committee

Retire Oct. 2021: Rev. Dr A. Argent

Retire Oct. 2022:

Retire Oct. 2023: Miss E Danbury

together with the Chair of the Library Committee and the Director of DWT

Honorary Secretary: Miss Lesley Dean Honorary Treasurer: Mr Simon Purvis

b. FDWL Membership

c. Friends support of the Library for the cataloguing project, £5,000

5. Report of the Editorial Sub-Committee

6. Statement of Accounts for 2020-21

7. Elections

a. Officers:

Hon. Secretary: Miss Lesley Dean

Hon. Treasurer: Mr Simon Purvis

b. Committee

Elect till October 2024: Rev. Dr A. Argent

c. Independent Examiner of Accounts: Mr William Featherstone

8. Director’s report on the Library

9. Friends’ Lectures and Events

16th November 2021 5pm on Zoom Professor Alec Ryrie

October 2022 Professor Anne Dunan-Page

10. Any other business

Minutes of the 2020 AGM

The Annual Meeting of THE FRIENDS OF DR WILLIAMS’S LIBRARY was held on Zoom on Thursday 22nd October 2020 at 5.00pm. The Chair was taken by the President, Professor Clyde Binfield, and 18 Friends attended

The President began the meeting by remembering Mrs Joy Rowe who had died on 9th September.


Apologies were received from Professor Neil Keeble, Professor Grayson Ditchfield, Ms Alice Ford-Smith, Rev Ashley Hills, Rev Dr Peter Jupp.


The minutes of the Annual Meeting held on 17th October 2019 had been circulated. They were agreed and will be signed when physically possible.


The Chair of the Committee, Ms Elizabeth Danbury gave a report. (See appendix)

Professor Binfield expressed the appreciation of FDWL for Elizabeth Danbury’s work as Chair of the Executive Committee. Dr Diana Jones proposed giving a grant of £5,000 to DWL for the work of the special cataloguer. This was seconded by Mr Derek McAuley and agreed nem con.

Members expressed concern about the large drop in membership. Ms Danbury said it was important to keep in touch with Friends during the library closure. Lesley Dean, Honorary Secretary, added that the figures suggested this was a long-standing problem. Professor Binfield and Mr Alan Ruston hoped that the situation would improve when the library reopened. Dr Alan Argent pointed out that the DWL website was very important in the current situation. The meeting was informed that Professor Ann Hughes and Miss Jane Giscombe would be editing a book about the treasures of the library during the closure. This and the publication of Dr Argent’s history of the DWL Trust by Boydell and Brewer should bring constructive publicity.

The President thanked the Committee for its work.


Professor Anne Dunan-Page reported that all went well with the publication of Alexandra Walsham’s 2019 FDWL lecture. Professor Bob Owens would be retiring from the Sub-Committee and Professor Ann Hughes would be joining Professor Neil Keeble and Professor Dunan-Page. The Sub-Committee had recommended postponing the 2020 lecture.

The Sub-Committee was keen to make it possible for past FDWL lectures to be obtained digitally. Payment could be made through PayPal. It was important to make clear on the website how copies could be acquired online. On behalf of the Executive Committee, Dr Philip March agreed to look at the situation. Professor Dunan-Page said that lectures from 2014 onwards were available in an appropriate form and there were PDFs of lectures back to 1998. The Sub-Committee had suggested possible future lecturers.

It was noted that all three members of the Sub-Committee were now Vice-Presidents of FDWL and Dr Argent thanked them for their work.

5. ACCOUNTS FOR 2019-20

Copies of the accounts had been distributed and the Director presented them to the meeting. The income of FDWL was down, partly due to uncollected subscriptions. Lecture sales had also decreased and bank interest was extremely low. Dr Philip March pointed out that this had been happening for at least the last three years. He was grateful that Katie Cargill-Thompson was working to keep on top of the situation as funds could be depleted quite quickly. In addition he suggested that the Special Cataloguer who is substantially funded by the Friends should have the title Friends of Dr Williams’s Library Special Cataloguer to recognise this.

Professor Hughes suggested life members could be contacted to see whether they were willing to make an extra donation. Mr Peter Young recommended members paying by standing order. The meeting was informed that some members had now paid their subscription after receiving a reminder. A query was made about Gift Aid which is collected on subscriptions where members have agreed.

Miss Elizabeth Danbury proposed that the accounts be accepted and this was seconded by Mrs Meg Kirk. The proposal was agreed unanimously.



There were no nominations made.


The Honorary Secretary, Miss Lesley Dean, and Honorary Treasurer, Mr Simon Purvis, were nominated from the Chair and re-elected nem con.


Miss Elizabeth Danbury was unanimously elected to the Executive Committee for a period of three years but was stepping down as Chair. Dr Philip March would take over this role.

Independent Examiner

It was agreed that Mr William Featherstone should be re-elected as independent examiner.

All of the above were thanked by the President.


Dr David Wykes gave his final report to the Friends as Director of the library as he was retiring in March.

First he spoke about the changes that were to be made at the library in order to increase its financial liquidity and improve the facilities. Books, manuscripts and paintings were being moved to storage and in the scheme a book store with good environmental conditions was planned. Free space would be created to be let as offices and the north wing would contain the library. As a charity DWL would be able to borrow money for the work at a good rate. The project was dependent on planning permission which had been delayed. An answer to the second application was expected at the end of November.

When the lockdown began in March 2020 plans had already been made for the closed period. The Glasgow M.Th. was running online and the space at Trinity Chapel, Brixton, would be available to readers. Plans were being made for the Congregational Library card catalogue. Dr Wendy Lewis had retired and Ching Yuet Tang, an experienced rare book cataloguer, had been appointed. The Director informed the meeting about the work staff members were currently doing, some from home and some at the library or in Brixton. He praised the efforts made by Jane Giscombe, the conservator, to organise and take part in the clearing of the library. Volunteers and research fellows were thanked.

Unfortunately a book launch for Reliquiae Baxterianae had been one of the first victims of the pandemic. Protestant Dissent and Philanthropy in Britain, 1660-1914, edited by Dr Wykes, Professoe Clyde Binfield and Professor Grayson Ditchfield, had been published.

Dr Wykes explained he had wanted to retire on 25th March 2020 but had agreed to stay a further year. Before leaving the library he hoped to finalise planning, finance and tenders for the upcoming works. In retirement he intended to write three books. He spoke about the struggle with economics at DWL and paid tribute to the trust treasurer, Simon Purvis, who had ensured the library managed to stay solvent. DWL was now a research library and held seminars and Saturday conferences. Conservation had also developed thanks to Jane Giscombe and her willingness to research the best approach.

Finally Dr Wykes spoke about FDWL and its contribution to the library. He mentioned his favourite Friends’ lectures and thanked officers past and present for their contributions.

Following the report the President thanked the Director for his work and asked for the report to be circulated to the Friends with the minutes if possible. It was hoped the Director’s retirement could be marked in an appropriate way at some point.


It was agreed that this item had been covered elsewhere.

10. A.O.B.

There was no other business.


The President commented that this AGM had been livelier than those held in the library. The meeting was then closed.


Friends of DWL Library, Executive Committee Annual Report 2019-20

Two meetings of the Executive Committee of the Friends of Dr. Williams’s Library have been held in

2020. Owing to the spread of Coronavirus, both meetings were held online, via Zoom.


During the course of the June meeting, the Honorary Treasurer, Simon Purvis, recorded that the

accounts for 2019-20 showed a £1,000 deficit from the previous year. In addition, 15 members of

the Friends had chosen not to renew their membership while the library was closed. It was agreed

that the subscribers’ list needed to be carefully reconciled to the membership total in order to

obtain an accurate number of the Friends of Dr. Williams’s Library. Between June and September,

this work was done. Arrangements were made to ensure that the published 2019 Lecture was or

would be circulated to all those who had paid a subscription during the past two years. However, the

names of members who had not contributed a subscription or had not been in touch for between

four to five years or more were removed from the FDWL database. On 15 September 2020 the

membership was counted as 187 (including 40 life members), a decrease from 2019 of 49 members.

Everyone agreed on the importance of encouraging the Friends of the Library and the absolute

necessity of keeping all supporters, Friends and users of the Library in touch with developments.

The DWL website was obviously proving one excellent source of information, though it was noted

that not all Friends knew about it and that some Friends did not have computer access at home. It

was proposed by Dr. Philip March that a Friends Membership Secretary should be appointed: Katie

Cargill Thompson kindly agreed to take on this new, interesting and important role.

The issue of encouraging Life Membership of the Friends was raised. At the meetings it was thought

that Life membership cost £250.00: after research, it was discovered that the current cost is

£600.00. The issue of the cost of Life Membership needs more discussion.

A £5,000 grant towards the work of the Special Cataloguer was made in 2019 and the Committee

unanimously agreed to propose to the AGM that an award of the same sum should be made in 2020.

In spite of severe financial constraints, it was thought essential to support the work of the

cataloguer, which ensures that the contents of the Library are made available to scholars for study

and research. The Committee also supported the suggestion that the title Friends of Dr. Williams’s

Library Cataloguer be given to the current cataloguer, Ching Yuet Tang, as most of her salary is covered by

this grant. Her excellent work has been much appreciated: she has also contributed an informative

article to the DWL website.

Friends’ Annual Lecture

The 2019 Annual Lecture, delivered on 17th October by Professor Alexandra Walsham: ‘Archives of

Dissent: Family, Memory and the English Nonconformist Tradition’ was published and circulated. The

thanks of the Friends Committee were returned both to the members of the Editorial Committee

and to those who have circulated the 2019 lecture to Friends. Sadly, owing to the Coronavirus

pandemic, it proved necessary to postpone the 74th Annual Lecture, to be given by Professor Alec

Ryrie of Durham University, until October 2021 (the date and venue are still to be determined). The

subject of the 2020-1 Lecture will be based on aspects of the work and witness of 17th and 18thcentury

Protestant missionaries. Professor Ryrie has kindly agreed to provide a 5-minute film

‘taster’ for his 2021 lecture, which will, it is planned, be available to be put onto the DWL website by

the end of November 2020. He has been put in touch with Nicholas Garner, webmaster of Codesign:

this firm is currently developing the DWL website in association with DWL library and conservation


Nominations were solicited for a scholar to be approached to deliver the 2022 Annual Lecture. This

process is in hand.

Library and staff

The staff of DWL were thanked for all their work both during the period of the Library’s closure and

during lockdown. The amount of hard and unremitting labour undertaken by the staff to ensure the

continued safety, security and well-being of the Library’s collections is fully appreciated. Although

particular thanks are due to Alan Argent and Jane Giscombe, who have provided a base for both a

temporary researchroom, the conservation department – and for many books – at Trinity ChapeL,

Brixton, all the library staff have worked with meticulous care and professionalism to safeguard the

contents of DWL.

AGM Friends Meeting

The Secretary to the Friends, Lesley Dean, had asked for Friends’ opinions about holding the AGM on

Zoom, as it seemed unlikely that it would be possible for Friends and Committee Members to attend

any meeting in person. Her suggestion was approved and Professor Clyde Binfield agreed to chair

the meeting, to be held on Thursday 22 October at 5.00 p.m.

Any other business

Elizabeth Danbury announced her intention of standing down as Chairman of the Friends. She will

be succeeded by Dr. Philip March.