Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland


In 1977 c. 2,000 books were transferred to the Library from Saltoun Manse and became a long-term deposit in 1986. The collection originated in 1657, when Norman Leslie, minister of Gordon, Berwickshire, bequeathed 139 books for the use of the minister of Saltoun, East Lothian. From 1665 to 1669 Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715), the historian and Bishop of Salisbury, was minister there, and on relinquishing the post he added 10 books to the library. Burnet also left a trust fund, which, after his death, was partly used for the maintenance of the Manse library. Saltoun is probably best known for its association with the Fletcher family who acquired the estate in 1643 - in particular with Andrew Fletcher (1653-1716), the ýPatriotý, and his namesake (1692-1766), who became the distinguished judge Lord Milton - and books with their inscriptions are included in the library. The holdings of the library cover biography, history, literature, theology, topography and travel. There are 467 printed volumes from before 1821, and the collection is particularly strong in the amount of contemporary material by and about Bishop Burnet, as well as manuscripts recording the growth of the Library.

Typescript inventory of the manuscripts (Acc.9270). ýExtracts from the Acts and Proceedings of the Presbytery of Haddington, relating to Dr Gilbert Burnet, and the Library of the Kirk of Salton, 1664-1669', The Bannatyne Miscellany, 3, Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1855, 389-402. W. Forbes Gray, ýAn East Lothian Library: Literary Treasures in the Manse of Saltouný, Life & Work, n.s. 1 (1930), 247-250.

Shelf: Saltoun.


Presented in 1988 by Dr Richard Savage, who had pursued a medical career in Nigeria, this collection consists of 249 books and pamphlets relating to West Africa; these items are mostly 19th- and 20th-century publications, but include 12 works published before 1801 and six maps of Guinea dating from the 17th and the 18th century. The collection contains works on the history and customs of the indigenous empires, descriptive accounts of the country, and journals of voyages of exploration and military expeditions.

The maps are held in the Map Library.

Shelf: Sav.


The collection originated in a small group of school prize books presented by Ian Grant of John Grant, Booksellers, in 1964 and later years. It has since been built up by donation and purchase and at present consists of 589 volumes. The schools are mainly, but not exclusively, Scottish, and the books were awarded as prizes mostly in the 19th century; additions continue to be made to the collection.

Shelf: SP.


A selection of 158 volumes and six medieval manuscripts was deposited on long-term loan between 1984 and 1991 by the Scottish Catholic Archives. The works date from the 15th to the 19th century, but are mostly continental works of Catholic theology and spirituality printed during the 16th and the 17th century, with some history and classical literature. An interesting item is a work from the Jesuit Chinese mission, the anonymously published Informatio pro Veritate contra Iniquiorem Famam Sparsam per Sinas cum Calumnia in PP. Soc. Jesu, & Detrimento Missionis (Peking, 1718), an example of xylographic printing on Chinese paper.

Typescript inventory of the manuscripts

Shelf: SCA.


This collection of 21 items largely reflects the Imperial duties performed by Sir Charles Elliot (1801-1875), and particularly the role he played during a period of strained Sino-Anglo relations. Sir Charles became Her Majesty's Chief Superintendent and Plenipotentiary in China in 1836, and remained the most important British presence there during the Opium War (1839-1842). Opium from India had been imported into China to help the British restore a balance of trade deficit, with the result that millions of Chinese became drug dependent, and the Chinese economy began to drain of its silver reserves. When the Chinese Commissioner at Canton imposed trade restrictions, the British navy intervened and enforced a treaty upon China. Two items in this collection give a particularly good account of the financial implications of the opium trade and the effects of the war. After China, Sir Charles continued to represent the British Empire in a number of other countries. His conduct as British Charge d'Affaires in Texas, 1842-1846, is reported favourably in an extract from a newspaper, and there is a copy of a valedictory address to the Legislative Council of Trinidad, where he was Governor, 1854-56. Sir Charles was also Governor of St. Helena, 1863-69, and there is an interesting report of an experiment to try and establish the Chinchona plant there. A monograph on financial grievances of civil and military officers in India, added to the collection after Sir Charles' death, together with a copy of an act to authorize the payment of pensions to colonial governors, 1865, portrays the economic aspects of a career in Imperial service. Other items added after the death of Sir Charles feature an address to the Archdeacon of Lucknow, an extract of the proceedings of the prosecution of a member of staff at Punjab University for the acceptance of bribes, and a picture book depicting the evils of alcoholism.

Related manuscript material is held by the Manuscripts Collections.

Shelf: HP5.203.0164


A deposited collection of approximately 800 volumes, received by the Library in 1993. It comprises the library of the Social Credit Secretariat, founded by Major Clifford Hugh Douglas (1879-1952), originator of the economic theory of Social Credit. The collection includes works on history, politics and economics, although it consists mainly of books and pamphlets relating to the theory of Social Credit, including Douglas’s own publications.

Awaiting cataloguing

Shelf: [to be assigned]


A collection of 619 items in 80 volumes from the archive of the civil engineering firm of Robert Stevenson, his three sons Alan, David and Thomas, and later generations of the family. It comprises important works, mainly of the 19th century, on aspects of engineering, navigation, transport and lighthouses and was purchased in 1993 from Quentin Stevenson, a descendant of the family along with the firm's archive. Map material from the Stevenson family is held in the Map Library. Acquired with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Awaiting cataloguing; typescript inventory of the manuscripts (an inventory of manuscript maps and a shelf-list of recent accessions of printed maps is available for consultation in the Map Library).

A complete list of the printed items(except maps, charts and plans) is available.

Inventories of the manuscript items are also available: Acc.10706: Inventory of the business records of Robert Stevenson & Sons (PDF: 40 pages) and Acc.4215: Inventory of the records of Robert Stevenson and Sons (PDF; 8 pages)

Shelf: Stev.


A selection of 57 items from the collection of the Rev. Dr John Stirton (1871-1944), CVO DD FSA (SCOT), minister of Crathie church, book collector and writer, the books were presented to the Library in 1943 as part of a series of donations by him to the Library (between 1936-44 he also presented nine pre-1501 books to the Library, which now form part of the separate collection of incunables). Dr Stirton also served as librarian at Balmoral Castle and domestic Chaplain to the King in Scotland, and donated items to the library at Holyroodhouse. The items in this collection range from pamphlets relating to events during his royal service to fine examples of early continental printings of Classical and Renaissance authors, including a copy of an Aldine Press copy of the works of Xenophon (1525) which contains the hand-coloured arms of a contemporary Italian nobleman on the title page; a two-volume set of Duns Scotus’ Super Sententias (Paris, 1513); and a copy of Erasmus’ Lucubrationes (Strasbourg, 1517) which contains fragments of apparently contemporary Latin legal documents of French origin on the inner covers. Manuscripts from Dr Stirton’s collection were also presented and bequeathed to the Library between 1938-44.

The manuscripts are described and indexed in Vol. II of the Library’s Catalogue of Manuscripts.

Shelf: Stirton.


A selection of 50 items, dating from the 15th to the 18th century, from the library of Sunderland Hall, which were deposited in 1986. The collection includes seven incunables in six volumes, including a copy of Dives and pauper from Wynkyn de Worde’s Westminster press (1496). There are also 15 STC (see p. 3) and three Wing (see p. 3) items, and a book, Gessner’s New Idylles (London, 1776), bound by James Scott of Edinburgh.

Shelf: Sund.


The books of James Sutherland (1638?-1719), first Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, came to the Advocates Library in two batches. The first in 1705, along with his collection of coins, represented his hobby and are mainly on the subject of numismatics. The second in 1707 related to his professional life and represent an excellent collection of early botanical books by some of the most important contemporary and classical authors. The collection consists of over 300 printed volumes, including two incunables, plus two manuscripts. There are many 16th-century books in the collection, which includes scholarly works on botany and physic, herbals, descriptions of local floras, works on gardening, and catalogues of the plants in contemporary physic gardens. There also exists a curiosity, a fine copy of the first Irish translation of the New Testament, printed in Dublin in 1602-03. Most of the volumes can be identified from the Advocates Library ex-libris on the front fly-leaf dated 1705 or 1707, and with the additional note: prius M. Jacobi Sutherland.

The manuscripts are described in the unpublished catalogue of Advocates Manuscripts.

Shelf: Suther.


The remnant of the library acquired by the family of Suttie of Balgone and Grant Suttie of Balgone and Prestongrange, was purchased in 1983. It comprises 284 volumes of which 153 were printed in Britain, chiefly in the 17th and the 18th century, but with a few from the 16th century. There is an edition of Virgil’s Poemata (Edinburgh: Gideon Lithgo, 1662), which is otherwise unrecorded. Classical literature is strongly represented, and there are books on Roman law, history, travel and topography, philosophy, devotional works, French, Italian and Latin grammars and English spelling books, and works on mathematics and husbandry. A number of the Latin grammars and classical texts show evidence of heavy use as school books.

Shelf: Sut.


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