His life was almost wholly devoted to the collecting of books and MSS, chiefly concerned with the classics and English history. The scale of his collecting led him into financial difficulties that saw the partial sale of his library during his lifetime. After his death, there were eleven further book auctions, the last in 1734, each generally extending over many days such was the size of his collection. It included more than 1,000 MSS and possibly as many as 50,000 printed books, including 25 Caxtons. Many of his books were bought by his brother R. Rawlinson. Opinions on his achievement as a collector varied. He was once dismissed as ‘Tom Folio’, but Dibdin acclaimed him as ‘the Leviathan of book-collectors’.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.