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William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (1580 – 1630)

The Oxford King: William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke

Guarding the entrance to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Guarding the entrance to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.


William Herbert´s statue can be found in the courtyard of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

He had an almost lifelong connection to the University of Oxford, starting in 1593, when he matriculated at New College at the age of 13. He returned in his later life as the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, between 1617 and 1630.

He has been known as a patron of art, supporting writers, architects, musicians, and painters and as an advocate of education. In his time as the Chancellor, he acquired and donated around 250 Greek manuscripts and financially supported the construction of the Library.

Broadgates Hall honoured him in 1624 him for his endeavours in supporting education by changing its name to Pembroke College.

The Bodleian Library exists in this place since the end of the 15th century. It saw a decline in the next 100 years, when books and furniture were almost sold completely.  The library’s current namesake comes from Sir Thomas Bodley, who re-founded it when the library re-opened in 1602.

It is one of five legal deposit libraries in the UK, which means that a copy of every UK print publication will be stored here.

In its more than 400 years of existence, the Bodleian Library has seen generations of famous scholars from kings, Nobel Prize winners, Prime Ministers to writers like Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien.