The 'Kelly’ Bible

24 January 2024


The Honorary Chaplain, the Rev Simon Springett, very generously donated a ‘Kelly’ Bible to the Company at our recent Court Meeting. Thomas Kelly was Master of the Company in 1831 and his picture hangs in our Great Hall.

In Simon's words: "It is my pleasure to present this Kelly Bible to allow the livery to burnish the memory of the remarkable Thomas Kelly: Plaisterer, bookseller, Christian, Lord Mayor of London, and all-round a generous and loyal friend. 

Thomas Kelly took a transformative and unconventional business approach, selling books in instalments - this not only fuelled his business growth but also democratized book ownership.

The "Kelly Bible," was the epitome of his work, making the sacred text more accessible to the poor and less well-educated individuals – and an illustrated Bible because he knew that a well-crafted image could convey more than a sermon. He was not anticlerical, but he knew the limits to what clergy could do.

Beyond his entrepreneurial endeavours, Kelly's generosity and loyalty extended to supporting a school in his home village and aiding fellow businessmen in challenging times. His judicious generosity, coupled with a discerning ability to say no when necessary, showcased a man of both compassion and prudence.

Yet, above all, his enduring legacy lies in the establishment - driven by his Christian faith - of brotherly love as a fundamental part of his character. No one knows why he became a Plaisterer rather than a member of the Stationers - he surely believed their motto, “the Word of God is eternal” - but perhaps it was amongst us, “Let brotherly love continue", where he found acceptance, friendship and fellowship."

An enormous thanks from all at the Plaisterers Company to Simon for his kindness.