Abbey, John Roland (1894 -1969)
John Roland Abbey was the eldest son of William Henry Abbey of Sedgwick Park, Horsham, Sussex and Florence daughter and coheir of Henry Belcher of Hove. He was educated privately with a small group of boys by a Mr Möens at Rottingdean. An officer in the Rifle Brigade during the First World War, he retired with the rank of Captain in 1920, but served again during the Second World War, retiring again in 1944 with the rank of Major. On 7 June 1921, he married Lady Ursula Helen Cairns, 2nd daughter of the 4th Earl Cairns. Abbey was an ardent and scholarly collector of books, whose interests were fine colour plate books, bookbindings and illuminated manuscripts; and the books published under his patronage on the first two of these subjects have become classic reference books in their fields. “The colour?plate collection in due course became uncomfortably bulky and passed to Mr Paul Mellon; and when Major Abbey gave up his country house the bindings were also sold by auction, together with most of his splendid reference library. The modern bindings and the medieval manuscripts were retained, and to the latter Major Abbey was making important additions up to his final illness.” The bookbindings were dispersed in a series of magnificent sales at Sotheby's, and the medieval manuscripts and modern bookbindings followed after Major Abbey's death. Major Abbey's topographical books were sold at Sotheby's on the 5 and 6 July 1954; his historical bookbindings and reference books in four sales 21 to 23 June 1965, 14 to 16 November 1966, 19 to 21 June 1967, and 6 November 1967; the modern bookbindings 2 June 1970 and 19 October 1970; and the illuminated manuscripts 4 June 1974, 25 March 1975 and 20 June 1978.