This collection was initially formed when Rev. John Gray (1646-1717), the former minister of Aberlady, bequeathed his private library to his native town of Haddington. Additions were made to the collection down the years, although inevitably some losses of books occurred. In 1961 the collection, which had grown to some 1,500 books along with 37 manuscripts, was deposited in the National Library by the Town Council of Haddington and the Gray Library Committee. The deposit was subsequently converted into a gift by East Lothian District Council in 1983. The subject content is largely theological and classical, containing books in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, mostly of the 16th and the 17th century, as well as three incunables. Continental imprints predominate, but there are over 30 volumes of British political and ecclesiastical pamphlets of the second half of the 17th century. The manuscripts include Gray?s lecture notes and sermons, written in his hand, minute-books of the Trustees of the Gray Library, and, of outstanding interest, the loan register for borrowers of books, covering the years 1732-96 and 1805-16, one of the earliest loan registers to have survived in Scotland.
The manuscripts are described and indexed in Vol. XI (unpublished) of the Library?s Catalogue of Manuscripts. W.J. Couper, The Gray Library, Haddington, Haddington, 1916. J. Forbes Gray, Catalogue of the Library of John Gray, Haddington, Haddington, 1929. Paul Kaufman, ?The Rise of Community Libraries in Scotland?, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 59 (1965), 233-94.