Bible dating from 1615 to go under the hammer in Belfast

Rare book was brought from Devon to what is now Massachusetts in 1633

A bible which dates back to 1615 is to go under the hammer in east Belfast.

The book travelled from Devon with its former owner Elizabeth Pole to what is now Massachusetts, in the US, on the Speedwell in 1633.

It is part of a sale at Bloomfield Auctions from a private collection.

The sale also includes antiques, fine art, bronzes and coins.


Bloomfield Auctions’ managing director Karl Bennett said he expects international interest in the bible.

“Our first sale of the year includes some absolutely superb pieces of antique furniture, really quality fine art, rarely seen on sale in Ireland,” he said.

“Because of the historic importance of the bible, we are expecting considerable interest not just from the UK but from the USA.”

The bible is valued at between £5,000 and £10,000.

The Geneva Bible has been described as one of the most historically significant translations of the bible.

It was the first mechanically printed, mass-produced bible available to the public and pre-dates the King James Bible by 50 years. Copies of it were carried by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to the New World.

The edition being sold by Bloomfield Auctions was owned by Ms Pole, who travelled with her brother on the Speedwell to the Plymouth Colony in 1633 and founded the town of Taunton, Massachusetts. She is believed to be the first woman to establish a town in North America.

It was printed in 1615 by Robert Barker, printer to Elizabeth I and James I.

The bible was presented to Sir William Pole, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his services to the Church and the poor of Devon. Sir William gave it to his son William and daughter Elizabeth on their journey to the New World, and upon Elizabeth’s death the bible was returned to her family in Devon.

It remained in the possession of the Pole-Carew family until the mid-20th century when it was sold to a collector from Northern Ireland.

Other items on sale from the same collection are two paintings by the renowned Victorian artist Thomas Sidney Cooper.

The paintings, a watercolour from 1853 and an oil from 1895, feature farm animals in a rural setting. The latter appeared in the Royal Academy exhibition of 1896. Cooper’s paintings, which rarely appear for sale in Ireland, can be found in the Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum and in collections across Britain. The oil painting has an estimated value of £10,000 to £20,000 and the watercolour is valued at £5,000 to £7,000.

The sale will take place on Monday.