Trained as a shoemaker, Bagford was active as a bookseller from 1686. He served some of the greatest collectors of the day—including Pepys, the Harleys, Sloane, and Moore—and earned the respect of such distinguished antiquaries and bibliographers as Hearne and Wanley. He is chiefly remembered for his collections (now in the British Library) of English Restoration ballads, and of fragments of early printed books and medieval MSS. The latter collections were intended to support his bibliographical research, particularly his account of the history of printing—an undertaking that was never fully published. He was vilified in the 19th century as a biblioclast, but is now better understood as a pioneering preserver of binding fragments, both MS and printed, that would otherwise have been lost.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.