Montfort Trimble Collection

Donated in 1929 by Montfort Trimble, this collection comprises 100 works printed between 1518 and 1925, mostly in Italian, dealing with European politics from the 14th to the 17th centuries. It is part of the Turnbull Named Collections.

A short title list of the collection was published in 1939 as The M. Trimble Collection, presented to the Alexander Turnbull Library, 1929 (Wellington, 1939), (Bibliographical List no. 2). A file of papers relating to the donation is held in the Manuscripts and Archives section of the Turnbull Library.

The pre-1800 imprints are now housed in the Rare Books Collections and may be accessed from there. The remainder of the collection, mostly 19th century imprints, includes many volumes still in their original paper covers, and some with marginalia or other annotations, mostly in Italian.

Cover of Tommaso Persico's Gli Scrittori Politici Napoletani.
Tommaso Persico, Gli scrittori politici napoletani dal ‘400 al ‘700, 1912. Record page

About Montfort Trimble

Montfort Trimble (1862-1940) was a county solicitor of Masterton, who died in May 1940 at the age of 77. In his obituary in the Wairarapa Times Age of 22 May 1940, Trimble was described as well read in Italian as well as a noted Maori scholar.

Montfort was the third son of Colonel Robert Trimble (1824-1899) and his wife Jane (nee Heywood). Robert Trimble was also a book collector and the residue of his library, some 1,200 volumes which included works he had published on the slavery issue, were donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1942 by his daughters.

See the Robert Trimble Collection

Montfort's birth was registered in Lancashire, England, in the last quarter of 1862. He arrived in New Zealand with his parents who settled at Inglewood, Taranaki in 1875. Montfort was educated in New Plymouth and went on to study law, graduating with a Bachelor of Law in March 1891 from Victoria University College. He married Anne Martin Monckton of Featherston in 1906 but the marriage was childless, and in 1918 he became Masterton County Council solicitor.

His name is sometimes recorded as Mountfort Trimble and this spelling occurs in the New Zealand marriage and death indices and in the list of graduands published in the Evening Post (28 February 1861, p4). Trimble was a quiet private man, with intellectual interests, and he was a significant New Zealand collector. It is said that though his house was cold and uncomfortable, it was filled with a magnificent library of books.

Visit the site of the Montfort Trimble Foundation

Title page of Jeremy Bentham's An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation.
Jeremy Bentham, An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation, 1879. Record page

Acquisition of the collection

Preparations for the arrival of the 1929 donation began on 15 February 1929 when Johannes Andersen, the Alexander Turnbull Librarian, informed the Undersecretary for Internal Affairs of the donation, enclosing a list of 183 works, some in several volumes, amounting to some 220 books in all. When recommending that a special case be made to house them, he wrote: "This would be convenient as the books would not then be shifted about and it would cost no more than about £20 as the books occupy about 28ft of shelving" (MS-Papers-0006-02).

The Undersecretary asked the accountant on 29 February if this sum could be met out of the Turnbull Library vote. He was told two days later that although there were no funds available, provision could be made in the forthcoming estimates and expenditure was approved in the meantime.

On 26 April six cases of books arrived. Andersen advised the Undersecretary on 13 May that 220 volumes had been received, and asked that a formal letter of thanks be sent to the donor. Two days later this letter was quoted, almost in full, in the Dominion (15 May 1929), as "Turnbull Library: Windfall from Masterton".

Access items in this collection

Original items in this collection can be requested through the Library’s catalogue and consulted in the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room.

This collection is catalogued online and may be called up as a list on the National Library catalogue by searching ‘Mntfrt’ using the ‘in call number’ search option in the NLNZ catalogue advanced search.