William Blagrove

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William Blagrove was a bookseller, publisher and librarian in Boston, Massachusetts, in the early 19th century.[1][2] He ran the Union Circulating Library, a subscription library on School Street, from 1804 through 1811.[3][nb 1][nb 2] As a publisher, he issued "a chaste collection of amatory and miscellaneous songs, designed chiefly for the ladies" in 1808.[7]

In 1805 his uncle, William Pelham, published The Elements of Chess, "one of the earliest works upon chess published in the United States, and the first of its kind printed at Boston. The editor of this volume — (that the book was edited by some chessplayer at the time of its publication is apparent from an exceedingly interesting appendix, containing much new and original matter) — was undoubtedly a nephew of Mr. Pelham's, named William Blagrove, who is known to have been an enthusiast of chess, and a player of merit."[8]

Blagrove married Nancy Pelham; children included William Pelham (b. 1808).[9]


  1. ^ The "Union Circulating Library" was formerly "Pelham's Circulating Library," overseen by Blagrove's uncle, bookseller William Pelham, ca.1796-1804[4][5]
  2. ^ In April 1811 the Library was taken over by Samuel H. Parker[6]


  1. ^ Boston Directory, 1805 
  2. ^ "Blagrove, William", WorldCat 
  3. ^ Davies Project. "American Libraries before 1876". Princeton University. Retrieved August 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ Charles K. Bolton (February 1907), "Circulating Libraries in Boston, 1765-1865", Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 11 
  5. ^ Catalogue of Pelham's Circulating Library, no. 5 School-Street. Removed from no. 59 Cornhill, Boston: Munroe & Francis, printers, November 1804 
  6. ^ "Union Circulating Library", Columbian Centinel, April 27, 1811 . Cited in: William Arms Fisher (1918), Notes on music in old Boston, Boston: Oliver Ditson Company 
  7. ^ Monthly Anthology, April 1808, p. 228 
  8. ^ Willard Fiske (1859). The book of the first American chess congress: containing the proceedings of that celebrated assemblage held in New York in the year 1857 together with sketches of the history of chess in the old and new worlds. NY: Rudd & Carlton. pp. 367, 487. 
  9. ^ "Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, containing Boston births from A.D. 1700 to 1800", Records relating to the early history of Boston, Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, city printers, 24, p. 354, 1894 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Elements of Chess, a Treatise combining Theory with Practice, and comprising the whole of Philidor's Games and explanatory Notes, new modelled and arranged upon an original Plan, Boston: William Blagrove, 1805 . Possibly edited by Blagrove.
  • Catalogue of the Union Circulating Library, no. 5 School-Street, Boston: Munroe & Francis, printers, 1806 
  • The Nightingale; or, Polite amatory songster. A selection of delicate, pathetic, and elegant songs, designed chiefly for the ladies. To which is added an appendix, containing some of the most popular new songs, Boston: Wm. Blagrove, 1808 
  • Catalogue of the Union Circulating Library, No. 3, School-Street, Boston: W. Blagrove, 1810