The son of a bookseller (Thomas), he was apprenticed to Thomas Payne of Charing Cross. Taking over James Edwards's shop in Pall Mall (1812), he undertook library auctions, producing catalogues preserved in the British Library. His first sale was the library of John Ker, 3rd duke of Roxburghe. Joined by sons Thomas and Charles, he went bankrupt in the economic troubles of 1846, but resumed business some three years later. He has been confused with his namesake (1784–1821), the author of books commonly attributed to the auctioneer.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.