Northern Ireland news

Bible dating back to 1615 sold at auction in Belfast for £20,000

Printed in 1615, the copy of the Geneva Bible went under the hammer at Bloomfield Auctions. Picture by Hugh Russell
Suzanne McGonagle

A BIBLE dating back to 1615 has been sold at auction in east Belfast for £20,000.

The copy of the Geneva Bible went under the hammer at Bloomfield Auctions today. Part of a sale from a private collection in a gentleman's residence, it had been valued at between £5,000-10,000.

Due to its historic importance, there was understood to have been considerable interest from the UK and the USA. The name of the buyer was not disclosed.

The edition was owned by Elizabeth Pole, who travelled with her brother on the Speedwell to what is now Massachusetts, in the United States, in 1633.

Originally from Devon, she went on to found the town of Taunton in Massachusetts and is believed to be the first woman to establish a town in North America.

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 was owned by Elizabeth Pole. Picture by Hugh Russell


The copy sold today was printed in 1615 by Robert Barker, printer to Elizabeth I and James I.

It 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.

Karl Bennett from Bloomfield Auctions described the sale of the bible as "one of the highlights of the show" yesterday.

He said it was their first sale of the year with "some absolutely superb pieces of antique furniture, really quality fine art, rarely seen on sale in Ireland".

A rare historic copy of the Bible has sold for £20,000 at auction in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

Northern Ireland news