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Visitor Vignettes: Adam White

Welcome back to our Visitor Vignette series, today focusing on Adam White (1817-1878), Zoological Assistant at the British Museum.

‘Portrait of Adam White, aged 42, three-quarter length standing to left, in evening dress, with book in his right; in arch. 1858.’
Photographed by Maull & Polyblank, 55, Gracechurch Street, and 187a, Piccadilly, London.
“Adam White æt. 42. 7. Oct. 1858” © The Trustees of the British Museum.

While the vast majority of entries in the Innerpeffray visitors’ books are purely factual (with limited details such as the date, visitors’ names, their places of residence and occasionally their occupations), there are a few extended entries which provide additional information and so enable exact identification of their author. The portrait above shows naturalist Adam White, aged 42, likely taken as part of photography firm Maull and Polyblank’s ‘Literary and Scientific Portrait Club’ series, which was issued in forty monthly parts from 1856-1859.[i] Although the book title is too faint to decipher, I imagine that White is holding either one of his own publications or another influential zoological text.

Seven years after this portrait was taken, on Tuesday 26th September 1865, Adam White visited the Library of Innerpeffray and inscribed a rare extended entry in its visitors’ book. In addition to his name and the date of his visit, White includes his past occupation, current address, and details about his visit to the library, revealing that he “spent many hours” there.

Visitors’ Book Volume 1, f.10v

His entry, pictured above, reads: “Adam White, for 27 years an assistant in the Zoological Department, British Museum, spent many hours this day in the Library at Innerpeffray.” In the margin, underneath the date, he also adds, “& now resident 11. N. Melville Place, Edinburgh.” Had White only written a standard entry, with the date, his (fairly commonplace) name, and perhaps ‘Edinburgh’ as his location, it would likely have been much harder, if not impossible, to identify and discover more about him. But since we do have the extra information from his entry, we can actually find out quite a lot about Adam White – including details of a second visit to Innerpeffray within one of his written publications.

Although there is no trace of a second entry by him in the visitors’ book, we know that White visited the Library of Innerpeffray on at least two occasions. Published in the monthly periodical Good Words, White’s article on ‘Spiders’ reads:

“Come with me to that well-known point in Strathearn, called Whitehill, on an autumn morning. The sun is breaking through the mist, which conceals the lovely prospect all around. The view of the country, from the Ochils to the Grampians, from “fair” Perth to the woods of Strathallan and Drummond Castle, is spread out before you, but hidden. […] I was on my way to examine for a second time, the curious library of Lord Maderty at Innerpeffray, where are many books that belonged to the great Marquis of Montrose.”

Adam White, ‘Spiders’, Good Words, 7 (1866), 212-16 (p. 213).

Born in Edinburgh on 29th April 1817 to Mary Ann (née Gellatly) and Thomas White and educated at Edinburgh’s Royal High School, our young Zoologist started work at the British Museum in London in 1835, at the age of 18. Working alongside influential naturalists such as John George Children (1777-1852), John Edward Gray (1800-1875), and Edward Doubleday (1810-1849), White was mainly involved in identifying, naming and cataloguing arachnids, beetles, insects, and crustaceans. A prolific writer, White published a multitude of books and papers about his zoological findings, with biographer Ann Datta estimating that he produced “more than sixty scientific papers” in the twenty-eight years between 1839 and 1867.[ii] White also wrote on non-scientific matters, and between 1847 and 1851 he spearheaded the campaign for the creation of a National Museum of Scotland, penning many letters to politicians and members of the Edinburgh press.[iii]

Despite working in the Zoological Department for 27 years, White never rose above the position of Zoological Assistant – a snub which his biographers claim was “due to real or imagined difficulties with his superior,” John Edward Grey. Nevertheless, White had an excellent reputation as “an active and effective curator” and was a candidate for various professorial jobs in Edinburgh before and after he retired from the British Museum due to ill health in 1863. Indeed, two years after leaving the British Museum and in the same year as his first visit to Innerpeffray, he printed a pamphlet filled with testimonials for future employers. One of these letters of recommendation was written by no less than Charles Darwin, for whom White had catalogued some of the arachnids collected during his journey on the H.M.S. Beagle. Darwin’s letter, written at his home in Kent on the 26th December 1851, reads:

My Dear Sir,

I have much pleasure in expressing my high opinion of your Zoological attainments; and your great zeal for every branch of Natural History must strike all who are acquainted with you.

Your papers in the scientific journals show how successfully you have worked out original materials. I have often had occasion to visit the working department in the British Museum, and I have invariably found you, permit me to add, most zealous and obliging in your endeavours to aid me in every possible way, and in giving me all the information in your power.

You are at full liberty to show this letter to any one; and I beg to remain, my dear Sir,

Yours sincerely,

Charles Darwin, Esq.

Charles Darwin to Adam White, ‘Letter No. 1466’, 26 December 1851, Darwin Correspondence Project

White did not only correspond with Darwin, and the letter above is just one example of correspondence with notable nineteenth-century figures. In May 1907, O. J. Stevenson wrote an article for The Canadian Magazine, on ‘The Eccentricities of Genius,’ with extracts from a series of letters from White’s archive, then in the possession of a relative in Toronto.[iv] The article reveals that in 1847, White took it on himself to promote a proposed memorial of English poet William Cowper in Westminster Abbey by writing to individuals including Charles Dickens and William Wordsworth to ask for their support. (While Dickens refused “point blank to sympathise with [the] proposal”, Wordsworth was exceedingly supportive and “even offered to increase the amount of his contribution should it be found necessary.”)[v] Stevenson also includes a letter from Wordsworth to White in 1844, wherein Wordsworth agreed to be quoted in a future publication: “I should deem it an honour to have any extracts from my poems inserted in such a book, as I have no doubt yours will prove.”

Mr. Adam White, from an 1846 pencil sketch by Scottish artist Norman Macbeth,
as featured in ‘The Canadian Magazine’, May 1907, p. 7.

In 1865-66, White wrote letters to both Alfred Tennyson and Coventry Patmore enquiring “as to their opinion of the value of natural history as a subject of the school course”. Patmore’s personal response infers that he had crossed paths with White while they both worked at the British Museum – White having retired a few years prior and Patmore a few weeks away from retiring from his Assistant Librarian position.

British Museum, Dec. 4, 1865.

My Dear White, —I  and my children have been delighted with your lucubrations in natural history. I entirely think with you as to the utility of obtaining, if possible, a place for natural history in the ordinary educational course. It is a study of which even a smattering is an advantage. Almost everything one learns concerning our fellow creatures of the field and air increases our friendship for them and our pleasure in their society. Some day you must come and see my bird cage; it contains fifty-four little fellows from all parts of the world, living together on excellent terms.

Yours most truly,

Coventry Patmore.

As featured in O. J. Stevenson, ‘The Eccentricities of Genius’, The Canadian Magazine, May 1907, pp. 7-8.

‘Adam White, when old, half-length to left, with large beard and bald pate.’
“British Museum Print Room, care of Mr Reid from Adam White, in the Museum from Nov 1835 to April 1862…”
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

When Adam White died in Glasgow on 30th December 1878, he was a highly regarded curator and writer with an admirable scientific reputation. He had authored a library’s worth of papers, articles, and books; enjoyed membership of exclusive groups such as the Linnean Society, the Entomological Society of London, and the Botanical Society of London; had corresponded with men such as Darwin, Dickens, Wordsworth, and Tennyson; and had personally furthered the scientific field of Natural History. Finally, in addition to himself naming numerous species of insects and arachnids, he was appropriately memorialised by John Obadiah Westwood, who named the ‘Taphroderes whitii’ in his honour:

I am indebted to A. White, Esq., the author of numerous valuable papers on Entomological subjects, for directing my attention to this very interesting insect in the Cabinet of the British Museum placed under his charge, and whose name I have much pleasure in associating with so curious a species.

J. O. Westwood, ‘The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology’, (London: William Smith, 1848), p. 32.
Taphroderes Whitii, as illustrated in J. O. Westwood, The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology (London: William Smith, 1848), p.32.

If you would like to read more about the Library of Innerpeffray visitors’ books, my first ever published article is now available open access (free to read!) in Studies in Travel Writing: ‘Visitors Visiting Books: visitors’ books at the Library of Innerpeffray’ <>. I also briefly mentioned Adam White in my first ever PhD blog back in October 2020, which you can find here if you missed it:

Isla Macfarlane, PhD Student

[i] ‘Maull’, The British Museum <> [accessed 28 June 2022].

[ii] Ann Datta, ‘White, Adam (1817-1878), Naturalist’, in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by H. C. G. Matthew and B. Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

[iii] E. G. Hancock, ‘Adam White’, in The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, ed. by Bernard Lightman (London: Bloomsbury, 2004), iv, 2147–48.

[iv] O. J. Stevenson, ‘The Eccentricities of Genius’, The Canadian Magazine, May 1907, pp. 1–9.

[v] It appears that White’s appeal was not successful as, although there is a stained glass window in Westminster Abbey commemorating William Cowper, it was “Given by George William Childs, American citizen, 1876” – thirty years after White’s correspondence with prospective sponsors. (‘William Cowper’, Westminster Abbey Commemorations).

Works Cited:

‘Adam White’, The British Museum <> [accessed 29 June 2022]

Darwin, Charles. Letter to Adam White, ‘Letter No. 1466’, 26 December 1851, Darwin Correspondence Project <> [accessed 23 June 2022]

Datta, Ann, ‘White, Adam (1817-1878), Naturalist’, in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by H. C. G. Matthew and B. Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) <> [accessed 22 June 2022]

Hancock, E. G., ‘Adam White’, in The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, ed. by Bernard Lightman (London: Bloomsbury, 2004), iv, 2147–48

‘Innerpeffray Library Visitors’ Book Volume 1’ (Innerpeffray: Library of Innerpeffray, 1859-1897)

‘Literary and Scientific Portrait Club: Photographs by Maull & Polyblank, circa 1855’, National Portrait Gallery <> [accessed 29 June 2022]

‘Maull’, The British Museum <> [accessed 28 June 2022]

Stevenson, O. J., ‘The Eccentricities of Genius’, The Canadian Magazine, May 1907, 1–9, Toronto Public Library <> [accessed 29 June 2022]

Westwood, J. O., The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology (London: William Smith, 1848), Biodiversity Heritage Library <> [accessed 25 June 2022]

White, Adam, ‘Spiders’, Good Words, March 1866, 212–16, ProQuest British Periodicals <> [accessed 01/02/2021]

‘William Cowper’, Westminster Abbey Commemorations <> [accessed 28 June 2022]

White, Adam, A Popular History of Birds, Comprising a Familiar Account of their Classification and Habits. (London: Lovell Reeve, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, 1855), Wellesley College Library <> [accessed 27 June 2022]

White, Adam, A Popular History of British Crustacea; Comprising a Familiar Account of Their Classification and Habits (London: Lovell Reeve, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden., 1857), Smithsonian Libraries <> [accessed 30 June 2022]

White, Adam, Heads and Tales; or, Anecdotes and Stories of Quadrupeds and Other Beasts, Chiefly Connected with Incidents in the Histories of More or Less Distinguished Men, (London: James Nisbet & Co., 21 Berners Street., 1870), University of California Libraries <> [accessed 30 June 2022]

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Visitor Vignettes: Héloïse Russell-Fergusson

Héloïse Russell-Fergusson (1896-1970) with a Clàrsach (Gaelic Harp), painted by Cathleen Mann (1896-1959), © The Mitchell Library, Glasgow

Hello and welcome to the first blog post in a new series: Visitor Vignettes! These bite-sized blog posts will explore past visitors to Innerpeffray who were recorded in the library’s collection of visitors’ books.

Visitors’ Books Volumes 1-12, covering 1859-1982

The visitors’ books contain signatures and details of visitors to the library from 1859 to the present day – with each modern visitor adding to the living archive. By digitising and investigating the information within the visitors’ books, it is possible to discover more about what kind of people were visiting the Library of Innerpeffray – and this is one of the research goals of my PhD.

Visitors’ Book Volume 2, f.10r

Today’s spotlighted visitor is Héloïse Russell-Fergusson (1896-1970), who visited the Library of Innerpeffray on Friday 30th July 1897. Born in Glasgow the previous year, it appears that Russell-Fergusson was brought to Innerpeffray as a babe in arms, accompanied by some of her mothers’ relatives, including Agnes and Jessie Russell, from Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, and William Russell, from Glasgow.[1]

Visitors’ Book Volume 2, f.10r

Although Héloïse’s mother, Hélène Russell-Fergusson (1873-1952) is not recorded as being present with her daughter on 30th July, her signature does appear in the Innerpeffray visitors’ books just over a week later, on Monday 9th August 1897, where she indicates that she lives in the Scotstounhill area of Glasgow. Perhaps Hélène was unable to join her family on 30th July and simply had to plan her own visit after they all came home singing the praises of the library!

Visitors’ Book Volume 2, f.11r

Héloïse Russell-Fergusson was an influential musician, teacher, and composer, who travelled the world playing the clarsach and piano. Growing up between Glasgow and Argyll, as a young adult she studied piano, song and harmony at the Royal Academy of Music in London and subsequently taught piano at an American girls’ school in Washington D.C. In fact, it was in America that Héloïse first discovered the clarsach, an instrument which shaped her future life and career.

September 1923 Outward Passenger List for the S.S. Paris, from Plymouth to New York

June 1926 Incoming Passenger List for the T.S.S. Caledonia, from New York to Glasgow

While the outward passenger list for her 1923 journey to New York lists her occupation as “Pianist”, and the incoming passenger list for her return to Glasgow in June 1926 lists her occupation as “Teacher” (as we know, she worked as a piano teacher during this time), the outward passenger list for a December 1935 trip to New Zealand lists her occupation as “Musician”. Héloïse continued to travel as a performing musician throughout the 1930s, giving recitals across the Americas, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

December 1935 Outward Passenger List for the R.M.S. Remuera, from London to New Zealand

Héloïse composed and published numerous pieces of music, most of which are part of a collection of almost 2000 items she donated to Glasgow’s Mitchell Library in the 1960s. She was also interested in ethnography, and her nineteen-volume collection of photographs and cuttings about harps and harp-like instruments, titled the Russell-Fergusson Collection of Harps, is also held at the Mitchell Library.

While researching Héloïse for this blog, I was delighted to find that some of her musical recordings are available to listen to online! The following song was recorded at the Kintore Rooms, 74 Queen Street, Edinburgh on Tuesday 26th September 1933.

Héloïse Russell-Fergusson, Scottish harpist and singer, 1933.

For more information about both Héloïse and her archive in the Mitchell Library, Hélène Witcher (Héloïse’s niece) has published a book about her aunt: Madame Scotia, Madam Scrap: The Story of Héloïse Russell-Fergusson, 1896-1970.

The following website, Rare Tunes, is also full of information about Héloïse and contains further recordings of her music:

Isla Macfarlane, PhD Student

[1] The 1891 census shows two sisters, Agnes Russell (born around 1835) and Jessie Russell (born around 1833), living in Rothesay, who may be Héloïse’s Great-Aunts, but I have not been able to confirm this.

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A Talk by Jean Ann Scott Miller – blog by Sophie Wood

On 13th April 2022, the Library of Innerpeffray hosted a talk in its schoolroom about the foundation of our fundraising and support society: Friends of Innerpeffray Library (FOIL). The talk was given by one of FOIL’s founding members, Jean Ann Scott Miller, who continues to volunteer and lend her support to the library frequently.

Pamphlet, approximate date 2002: Seven Good Reasons to join FOIL including joining costs and membership form to post to the LIbrary.

Jean Ann started the talk with a contextual outline of the library – beginning with Friends of old.

David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie

Anyone familiar with the library knows the story of our founder, David Drummond, Lord Madertie. “The first and greatest” friend of the library, his incredible generosity in opening his personal library to the public in 1680 led to a centuries long story of education and enterprise. From a small room in the chapel to what it is today, we have Lord Madertie to thank.

William Drummond of Hawthornden.

Jean Ann lamented the fact that we do not have any portraits of Lord Madertie, only examples of his signature in his books, as seen above. However, we do have a number of portraits of his “slightly older cousin, the poet and historian, William Drummond of Hawthornden from which I think we can deduce the general style and manner of Madertie’s appearance.”

William Drummond

In a similar vein, Jean Ann introduced the audience to William Drummond, the younger brother of Lord Madertie. While he was sadly uninvolved with the library’s foundation, due to his passing away, his portrait is proudly displayed in the library, and he provides a potential glimpse into the features of our founding father.

Robert Hay Drummond

An exceptionally important Friend of the library, “He was born Robert Hay, a grandson of the 7th Earl of Kinnoull, and added Drummond to his patronym when he inherited the Innerpeffray estate from his great-grandfather, William Drummond, 1st Viscount Strathallan. His distinguished career culminated in his appointment as Archbishop of York in 1761, and he is hugely important for us because it was he who financed the building of the Library, begun in the 1740s and completed in 1762. He also donated and bequeathed a number of his own books to the Library, and even more important, made provision for the purchase of new books, the foundation of our outstanding collection of 18th century titles.

Arthur Hay Drummond

Next, Jean Ann introduced the audience to Arthur Hay Drummond, a man “generally credited with setting the Library’s affairs in order by updating the Mortification Trust… in 1853 at a time when the Library was in considerable difficulty.” While the majority of the work to establish the administrative change to the Library was conducted by Arthur’s older brother, yet another Robert Hay Drummond.

Portrait of Arthur Hay Drummond, 1879

it is Arthur who is credited. This comes as a result of Robert’s untimely death at the age of 24, after succumbing to mortal injuries on his journey home from the Crimean War.

Having established the long history of the people whose investment and friendship towards the Library of Innerpeffray sustained the institution for centuries, Jean Ann brought us into much more recent times, with Friends from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Janet Saint Germain

Another familiar name for those already versed in the Library’s history, Janet Saint Germain is one of our most important recent patrons. “Janet’s amazing gift of her collection of Scottish first editions, including the earliest books in the Library – a 1476 edition of the works of John Duns Scotus, the 13th century Scots theologian and philosopher – and extending to the 20th century renaissance of Scottish literature has given new life and lustre to the Library.” Janet Saint Germain’s bequeathment of these books in 2013 introduced a wealth of resources to the Library and allowed for the renovation of the downstairs of the building – leading to a beautiful set of shelves being added to house the collection. Janet sadly passed away in 2018, but her legacy and unfathomable generosity lives on in the Library.

Bobby Wallace

Mr Wallace, a long-standing Friend of Innerpeffray Library played a large part in finding and securing funding for the Library throughout his time with us, and it was his “single-minded determination [which] secured the redevelopment of the lower part of the building to house [Janet Saint Germain’s] collection.”

It remained clear throughout the talk that there have always been people who have been devoted to the Library of Innerpeffray and whose time and efforts have kept the Library going since 1680.

L_R Mrs Christine Wallace, Mrs Janet St Germain, Dr Alistair Kennedy (Innerpeffray Governor) and Robert ‘Bobby’ Wallace (Chair of Governors)

Jean Ann continued:

“We’ve almost arrived at FOIL, but again we must first understand a little about the Library’s instrument of governance, the Mortification Trust. Lord Madertie very plainly wanted the Library to continue after his death. He left it a considerable sum – 5000 Scots merks – in his Will, and also endowed land in its favour – possibly the present graveyard… but Lara [Haggerty] suggests… that it may have been a parcel of land from the estate which could have provided regular income. In any case, shortly after Madertie’s death in 1692, his surviving family established the Mortification Trust to ensure the Library’s continuation, and in the interests of that continuity, it was determined that there should be an enduring connection between the Library, the Haldanes of Gleneagles, and the holder of the Innerpeffray estate.” Over time this connection has adapted, and remained intact until 2019. At present, “the Mortification continues to fulfil its original purpose – to retain the collection in its historic setting to make it generally available to the public.”

With the library ceasing to lend in 1968, due to evidently fluctuating use of the lending system between the 18th and early 20th centuries, it was unclear what would come next. The Library became a Book Museum, however “Matters came to a crisis point in the early 1980s.”

In 1983 there were discussions of transferring much of the collection to the National Library in Edinburgh, and potentially to hand the Library building over to the Department of the Environment – the latter suggestion being rebuffed by the Minister, Lord James Douglas Hamilton and eventually fruitless.

1988 brought a new lease of life to the Library with the appointment of Librarian Ted Powell, and the appointment of Frank Thomson as a Governor. Following swiftly, in 1992 Frank Thomson’s wife Lucie – an Independent on the Perth and Kinross District Council – became a representative on the Library’s Board of Trustees. The team of Ted and Lucie was joined by Logan Mitchell, and together the three became the first official Friends of Innerpeffray Library.

This move was not initially supported by the Governors, something that is all the more confusing when taking into account a letter included in the Mortification file from 25th February 1953, suggesting the foundation of a “Friends of Innerpeffray Library”.

Recounting her memory of the early days of FOIL, Jean Ann stated “Our first members were mostly recruited by Lucie calling on her many friends with an application form at the ready and the genial instruction ‘You do want to be a Friend of Innerpeffray Library, don’t you.’”

“A programme of monthly talks was quickly established. To begin with, most of the speakers came from the membership, and the talks tended to have a strong local or Perthshire interest. The pool of speakers gradually widened, as did their subject matter. We learned about cheese, and chocolate, and bees. About the men who built the Hydro dams and tunnels. About the Scots translation of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. About the Enlightenment – two very different views some years apart, one from Magnus Linklater… and the other from David Purdie… Other prominente joined our speaker’s list:… Willie Prosser, then Lord President of the Court of Session. He was followed, in no particular order by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny…; Lord Elgin; the Duke of Montrose; Sue Black; James Robertson; Jim Naughtie; Sandy McCall Smith; and most recently, Donald Findlay and Val McDermid.” Here, “Sandy McCall Smith” may be more well-known to readers as Alexander McCall Smith.

“Tony Murray adapted a fascinating Jacobite correspondence from the Dollerie archive into a dramatic reading. We heard about the construction of the V&A in Dundee; about Dundee’s mediaeval importance as one of the Baltic ports; about the Gask Ridge excavations; the Stone of Destiny; Tacitus’ life of his father-in-law Agricola; and on one exceptionally lengthy evening the branch railway lines of Upper Strathearn.” Jean Ann proceeded to outline the FOIL talks’ history of hospitality – with wine and nibbles being a foundational pre-talk tradition continued to this day, often due to the generosity of FOIL members.

“A FOIL newsletter was also quickly established, initially edited – and largely written – by Logan Mitchell… Under Maureen Nicholson’s later editorship, it continued to give the members a lively view of our activities, with the occasional submitted article.”

Musical and dramatic events have also been a staple of FOIL activities throughout the years. “A group from Kirriemuir… gave us a recital of Lady Nairne’s Jacobite songs. Peter Davenport brought his jazz band. The Really Terrible Orchestra came from Edinburgh. Crieff Drama Group performed excerpts from Shakespeare. Jess Smith gave us an evening of songs and stories. We had recitals From Chansons and from the Roseneath Singers. And in 2000, the first Carols at Innerpeffray started a Crieff Christmas tradition, with the Innerpeffray Singers under their founder and conductor Joan Taylor.”

Carols in Innerpeffray Chapel

Jean Ann also detailed the various trips that FOIL undertook, including visits to Monzie Castle, Gleneagles, Arniston House, Balcarres, Newton Castle, Ardvorlich, and Drummond Castle to name a few.

Most importantly, the charity achieved its chief aim: raising money for the Library. In the six years between 2007 and 2013, FOIL gave £68,150 – through a mixture of direct donation and also money spent on projects for the Library. Improvements have been made to the Schoolhouse connected to the Library, which houses many events and is a modern manifestation of the school that was also built by David Drummond, Lord Madertie. Three state-of-the art exhibition cases now sit in the ground floor of the Library, costing £13,211 and partly funded “by a very generous bequest from Irene McKechnie – she and her husband Ken were founder members of FOIL…”

“Another even more generous bequest from Dr Vera Coutts has since funded the improvement and extension of the car park and the installation of the external lights between the car park and the Library.”

“The very first of our projects was actually carried out free of charge. My husband [Jack Scott Miller] provided a second-hand Zip water heater for the Library loo, and Ray Baird fitted it.”

Throughout the talk, it was evidently clear that the passion, dedication, kindness and generosity of the members of FOIL over the past thirty years has not only kept the Library in incredible condition, but has also allowed the Library to adapt to the leaps and bounds of modernisation, keeping the books protected with the latest technology and allowing Lord Madertie’s vision to remain by preserving these incredible resources to be handled by visitors and volunteers alike.

Jean Ann concluded with the following:

“And that, Friends, is the answer to the question ‘Why FOIL?’ I hope this canter through most of our first 29 years of life will encourage all FOIL members here tonight to renew their subscriptions on time, to support the Committee by attending talks, events, and outings, to bring visitors to the Library and to encourage membership, and that any non-members will pick up a membership form and join. It is not over-egging the pudding to say that without FOIL, the Library could well have been lost. FOIL still has a vital role.

There’s something to add – “Being a Friend of Innerpeffray Library” means something else. It means using the Library as Lord Madertie meant it to be used. It means going to the Library and learning about the books and from the books. There are several ways to start this process. You can step through the door, turn yourself three times in a clockwise circle, point at the nearest book, and see what hares is starts running.”

Throughout the talk, Jean Ann highlighted a number of incredible books that hide away in the vast shelves of the building; their secrets bound in brown and beige leather, while their weathered pages call out to be touched and turned, the black swirls of countless different fonts enticing visitors to dive into infinite realms of discovery. A bibliography has been compiled at the end of this blog for the interest of readers, should you seek a place to begin with your visit.

Special thanks go to Frank Thomson and Louise Powell for providing photographs. John Hughes provided the figures regarding funding. Lara Haggerty, Keeper of the Books; Naomi Harvey, Assistant Keeper of the Books; and volunteer Gillean Ford provided a number of supportive facts. Sophie Wood compiled the presentation and provided technical support on the night of the talk.

Most of all, thanks go out to the audience members who attended the talk, members of FOIL whose continued support sustains the Library of Innerpeffray, and to you, the reader, who even in reading through our history and engaging with our website provides another layer to our story and allows us to reach an even wider audience.

Having had the privilege of working alongside Jean Ann Scott Miller and all of the Library staff, I have learned so much about the foundation of the Library of Innerpeffray, and the Friends of Innerpeffray Library Charity. At the end of this talk, the question that stayed with me was not “Why FOIL?” The question now remains: “Why not?”

For more information on how to become a Friend of Innerpeffray Library, please visit:


Seven Good Reasons to join FOIL, Pamphlet, 2002-03

Portrait of William Drummond of Hawthorndern, in his The history of Scotland, from the year 1423. until the year 1542…, 1655.

William Drummond, Portrait

Some helpes to stirre up to christian duties, Henry Whitfield, 1634

Good thoughts in bad times. Together with good thoughts in worse times, Thomas Fuller, 1657

A vindication of the authority, constitution, and laws of the church and state of Scotland, Gilbert Burnet, 1673

The vvorkes of the most high and mightie prince, Iames by the grace of God, King of Great Britaine, France and Ireland, defender of the faith, James I, King of England, 1616

The history of this iron age: : vvherein is set dovvn the true state of Europe as it was in the year 1500, Jean-Nicolas de Parival, 1656

Medulla Historiae Anglicanae…, William Howell, 1681

Narrenschiff, Sebastian Brant, 1570

All the vvorkes of Iohn Taylor the water-poet: Being sixty and three in number, Elizabeth Allde, 1630

The pleasant history of Lazarillo de Tormes a Spaniard…, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, 1639

The noble art of venerie or hunting, George Gascoigne, 1611

Kriegskunst zu Fuß…, Johann Jacobi von Wallhausen, 1620

An institution of general history, or The history of the ecclesiastical affairs of the world…, William Howell, 1685

La cosmographie universelle de tout le monde…, Sebastian Munster, 1575

Les CL. Pseaumes de David, Bible, 1567

Speculum Mundi…, John Swan, 1635

Robert Hay Drummond, Portrait

South Exterior of the Library, Sophie Wood, 8th April 2022

Arthur Hay Drummond, Portrait

Christine Wallace, Janet Saint Germaine, Dr Alistair Kennedy, Robert Wallace, Photograph from Album

Questiones in quattuor libros Sententiarum, John Duns Scotus, 1476

A Man in My Position, Norman MacCaig, 1969

Innerpeffray Library register of borrowers, 1904

Mortification of Library of Innerpeffray, 1953

FOIL Facts, Newsletter, April 2000

New Artzney Buch, Christof Wirsung, 1617

Scotorum Historiae, Hector Boece, 1527

Scotorum Historiae, Translated by John Bellenden, 1540

The firste volume of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, Raphael Holinshed, 1577

The lives and characters of the most eminent writers of the Scots nation…, George Mackenzie, 1708-22

The history of the affairs of church and state in Scotland…, Robert Keith, 1734

The history of Scotland : during the reigns of Queen Mary and of King James VI. till his accession to the crown of England, William Robertson, 1761

The history of the reign of the Emperor Charles V, William Robertson, 1769

A collection of voyages and travels, some now first printed from original manuscripts, Compiled by Awnsham Churchill and John Churchill, 1704

A collection of photographs provided by Jean Ann Scott Miller, Frank Thomson, Louise Powell and the Innerpeffray Library Archive

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J. Cuthbert Hadden: “Master of the Song”

“In short, in regard to music, our great writers have been just like other people—some have been passionately fond of music, some have liked it in a mild kind of way, and some have been absolutely indifferent to it.”[1]

Black and white photograph of James Cuthbert Hadden in a suit and bowtie.
Portrait of the author J. Cuthbert Hadden in one of the last
books he published before his death in May 1914.[2]

James Cuthbert Hadden (1859-1914) was a Scottish litterateur and “Master of the Song”[3] who balanced his twin loves of music and literature throughout his life, publishing a myriad of articles, biographies and books while working as an organist in Aberdeen, Crieff, and Edinburgh.[4] Hadden was born in Banchory-Ternan, near Aberdeen, on the 5th September 1859, and by the age of 14 was working with Aberdonian booksellers A. & R. Milne and singing in his local choir. In 1878, at the age of 18, Hadden moved to London to work at the Routledge publishing house, spending his workdays in the literary world and his evenings and weekends practising his skills with the piano and organ. Returning to Scotland due to illness after only three years in London, Hadden “thought no more of bookselling” and “determined to be a musician,” taking up work as an organist first in Aberdeen and then Crieff.[5] He stayed at Mannofield Parish Church for only a few months before moving south to work as organist and choirmaster under the Reverend Dr. Cunningham at St. Michael’s Parish Church, Crieff, where he remained for the next ten years.

Red Crieff Heritage Trail plaque for St Michael's Church Hall - 1786.
Crieff Heritage Trail Plaque, St. Michael’s Parish Church, Crieff[6]

While in Crieff, Hadden met and married his future wife, Elizabeth Couper Gordon (1863-1929), and led a busy life both musical and literary. Particularly interesting given my research on the Innerpeffray visitors’ books, Hadden was very concerned about the musical reputation of Crieff to its summer visitors and tourists. In 1890, the last year he spent in Crieff before moving to Edinburgh, he praised the “vigorous and flourishing” Perthshire Choir Union, which had held its annual festival in St. Michael’s.[7] He also wrote a rebuttal to a gentleman who had visited Crieff during the summer and found its music scene wanting:

“Mr. J. Spencer Curwen has thrown a bomb-shell into the Scottish organists’ camp. […] I feel sore, because he has not come to judge our work at the right season. A summer visit creates a false impression, for our choirs are then deprived of many of their best singers, most of our organists have deputies on their stools, and there are of course no rehearsals for the preparation of the Sunday music. The winter is the time to find us at our best.”[8]

Somewhat opposing what he wrote in October 1890, Hadden’s 1910 biography in The Musical Journal suggests that, at least in St. Michael’s, Hadden kept his choir rehearsing throughout the entire year:

“There was an excellent musical service, for the best voices in the town were heard in that choir, and Mr. Hadden had a free hand under the broad-minded minister. Crieff being a resort for holiday makers, special attention was given to the music during the summer, so the weekly choir practice was kept going all the year round. Frequent organ recitals were given, and words of appreciation were often heard from the visitors.”[9]

It is true that the 1910 biography of Hadden is far from objective, written many years after Hadden worked in Crieff, with his full cooperation and by someone who “highly value[d] his friendship” and would not have wanted to risk insulting his subject.[10] Nevertheless, whether Hadden did or did not keep his choir rehearsing all year, it is certainly interesting to think about the musical experience that visitors to Innerpeffray may have had if they stayed in Crieff during their travels.

Handwrittten signature
‘J. Cuthbert Hadden, organist Crieff’ Library of Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.77r

Crucially, while living and working in Crieff between 1881 and 1891, Hadden visited the Library of Innerpeffray on five occasions! The first record of his signature in the Innerpeffray visitors’ book is from Saturday 24th September 1887, when he visited with his wife, ‘Mrs Hadden’. Two additional visitors are recorded as having been to Innerpeffray that day, ‘R. C. Kay’ and ‘Miss Black’, but due to the lack of information provided (no locations or occupations; only initials and/or title rather than full names) I have not been able to ascertain if they were all part of one visiting party or simply all visiting the library on a Saturday.

Three signatures of visitors to Innerpeffray Library
Library of Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.75v

Hadden’s second visit to Innerpeffray, the following year, was as part of a larger group of visitors from Crieff, with two additional visitors normally resident in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire but perhaps staying in Crieff for a holiday. As opposed to the example above, it is evident that at least the first six named visitors were all travelling together – the first three names are clearly written in the same hand and the signatures of Annie and Mary McCormick are bracketed by those of Mrs. Hadden, above, and Mr. Hadden, below. What is less clear from this page is whether the two signatures following Hadden were part of the same travelling party. It appears as though the first seven entries on the page were all entered on Saturday 26th May, with the following signature, that of Albert Lister Peace – Glasgow, entered on Thursday 14th June.

Signatures in the Innerpeffray Library visitors' book - May 26th-June 14th 1888
Visitors to the Library of Innerpeffray, 26th May – 14th June 1888
Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.77r

Were this any other signature, I would have accepted this as fact and continued on without making any comment. However, Dr. Albert Lister Peace (1844-1912) was also an organist – and quite a famous one! Peace reportedly started learning how to play the pianoforte at the age of six and only three years later, at nine years old, became the resident organist of his local church in Huddersfield. Between 1865 and 1897, he worked as the organist for the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Hall (now the Mitchell Library). Throughout his career, Peace performed at numerous renowned venues around the United Kingdom, including the Crystal Palace in London (1882), Canterbury Cathedral (1886), Liverpool World’s Fair (1886), and Westminster Abbey (1909).[11]

Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that Hadden and Peace knew each other. In the September 1890 edition of his monthly column, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, Hadden indicated that he had learned the following news from Peace and that he had seen him perform more than once:

“A new organ, built by Forster & Andrews, to the specification of Dr. Peace, has been opened in Bothwell Parish Church, near Glasgow. Dr. Peace inaugurated the instrument, playing brilliantly as usual.”[13]

Indeed, I think it is fair to say that Hadden held great respect for both his fellow organist and their chosen instrument – in December 1897, he described another performance:

“I have heard Dr. Peace take the great D major fugue of Bach on a large organ with a full and quick-speaking pedal at what could only be called a terrific rate. The effect was positively electrifying.”[14]

With all of this in mind, it seems fairly unlikely, or at least curious, that Peace would have visited Innerpeffray separately from Hadden, and too big of a coincidence to have his signature two entries below Hadden’s, despite the date indicating that it is two weeks later. At the top of the page, it is clear that there had already been some confusion with the date, with ‘August’ crossed out and ‘May’ written above it. Perhaps there was indeed some misunderstanding with what the date was, and Peace did accompany the Haddens. Perhaps it was just happenstance and Peace visited Innerpeffray separately, only to realise that Hadden had visited two weeks ago. It may also be possible that Hadden visited with the initial travelling group on the 26th May, and when he returned to Innerpeffray with Peace two weeks later, on the 14th June, didn’t want to repeat his signature on the same page. There are countless situations which could have led to these entries in the visitors’ book – and I will probably never find out what actually happened. But the story doesn’t end there, because it happened again a month later!

Signatures of three visitors to the Library of Innerpeffray
Visitors to the Library of Innerpeffray, 11th-12th July 1888
Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.77v

On Wednesday 11th July 1888, Hadden visited the Library of Innerpeffray for a third time, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth, and his father, James Hadden (1838-1892).[15] And again, another organist signed their name in the visitors’ book – in this instance, apparently a day later. Though John William Davis Pillow (1851-1902), from Landport. Portsmouth, Hants, was not as famous or well-travelled as Albert Lister Peace, it is possible to discover that he was an English organist and conductor who worked primarily in and around the south coast of England. In his youth, Pillow sang in the choir at Chichester Cathedral, where he was taught by resident organist Edward H. Thorne before moving onto his own post at St. Pancras Church, Chichester. In 1889, he served as the director of the Portsmouth Musical Association and in October of that year, he inaugurated the new organ at St. Mary’s Church, Portsea, where he remained as resident organist until 1901.[16] As with the example above, there could be numerous reasons why J. W. D. Pillow visited the Library of Innerpeffray the day after the Hadden family, rather than with them. I could not find any documents suggesting that Pillow and Hadden necessarily knew each other, so perhaps it really is a coincidence. Maybe the ‘12’ next to Pillow’s name was incorrectly placed, meaning to refer to the entry below. In all probability, I will never know the answer – perhaps the contiguous visits were simply serendipitous. But it’s weird that it happened twice.

Signatures of visitors to the Library of Innerpeffray
Library of Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.78v

Later in the summer, on Saturday 4th August 1888, the Haddens again visited the Library of Innerpeffray and brought along additional visitors. Although thus far I have not been able to track down Miss H. N. Bell from Crieff or Mr and Mrs John Garrett from Hamilton, Canada, I cannot rule out the possibility that they, too, were organists!

Signatures of visitors to the Library of Innerpeffray
Library of Innerpeffray Visitors’ Book Vol. 1, f.82r

Finally, on Saturday 20th April 1889, J. Cuthbert Hadden visited the Library of Innerpeffray for the last time, accompanied by two of his fellow gentlemen from Crieff (who do not appear to be organists). In the summer of 1889, the couple moved to 4 Argyle Park Terrace, Edinburgh, where Hadden took up post as organist at St. John’s Parish Church, staying there for twelve years before he is said to have “abandoned music in favour of literature”.[17] In fact, Hadden had been increasingly engaged in “pen work” since 1885, while still in Crieff – he regularly contributed to the Dictionary of National Biography (writing more than 120 entries); wrote a monthly column for The Musical Journal, edited the Scottish Musical Monthly for two years, and published seven books before the turn of the century.[18] By the time Hadden died on the 2nd May 1914, only 54 years old, he had written a further twenty books and was regularly struck by a “great hunger” to perform again.[19]

Although it is not possible for us to hear J. Cuthbert Hadden play the organ, we can read his writing – the Library of Innerpeffray holds a copy of one of Hadden’s books, Thomas Campbell, part of the Famous Scots series and dedicated to his wife.[20]

And in closing, here are two of my favourite anecdotes from his monthly columns. A flying Bible and a sleeping chorister:

“In a Kirriemuir (Forfar) Church the other Sunday a woman is said to have hurled her Bible from the gallery where she was sitting at one of the male members of the choir who had fallen asleep!”[21]

And tales of shock and outrage in Crieff (more research required!):

“One clergyman at Crieff, as he ascended the pulpit-stairs, peremptorily ordered a lady sitting in the choir pew to leave the church. The lady left as requested, and a considerable number of the congregation with her; the precentor sent in his resignation; and now the minister has been sued for £50 damages and a public apology. I trust the law will give the lady both the money and the apology.”[22]

Isla Macfarlane, PhD Student

[1] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘R. L. S. and Music’, Glasgow Herald, 21 April 1900, p. 9.

[2] J. Cuthbert Hadden, Modern Musicians: A Book for Players, Singers and Listeners (Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1914).

[3] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal, 5.58 (1892), 151–52 (p. 151).

[4] Hadden’s date of birth is much contested and appears incorrectly in a variety of locations and formats, with some websites listing his year of birth as 1816 and (perhaps optimistically?) adding 43 years to his life. Based on his entry in the 1564-1950 Scottish Births and Baptisms register (accessed through Ancestry), James Cuthbert Hadden was born on 5th September 1859. This birthdate is backed up by census entries in the following years, where he was recorded as being one in the April 1861 census and eleven years old in the census of 1871. Additionally, a biography of Hadden which appeared in The Musical Journal in 1910 (plainly written up after an interview and with his full cooperation, given phrases such as “Mr. Hadden tells me” (p.227)) further confirms this birthdate, telling us that “[w]hen he went to London in 1878,” he was “a lad of 18”. Furthermore, several contemporary obituaries published after Hadden’s death in 1914 also note that he died “aged 54”, further confirming his year of birth as 1859.

[5] Broad Nib, ‘Mr. J. Cuthbert Hadden.’, The Musical Journal, 23.274 (1910), 225–27 (p. 226).

[6] Colin Mayall, ‘St Michael’s Church Yard 1972 Survey of Gravestones’, PerthshireCrieffStrathearn Local History, 2015 <> [accessed 15 February 2022].

[7] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal, 3.32 (August 1890), 124–25 (p. 125).

[8] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal,3.34 (October 1890), 156–57 (p. 156).

[9] Nib, p. 226.

[10] Nib, p. 227.

[11] ‘Peace, Albert Lister, (26 Jan. 1844–14 March 1912), MusDoc Oxon’, in Who’s Who & Who Was Who (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) <> [accessed 7 December 2021].

[12] St. Andrew’s Halls (Glasgow: Wilson Advertising Company, 1907), Mitchell Library, Theatre Collection; Glasgow City Council.

[13] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal, 3.33 (September 1890), 132–33 (p.133).

[14] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Passing Notes’, The Nonconformist Musical Journal, 10.120 (December 1897), 184–85 (p. 185).

[15] On the 11th July 1888, James Hadden (senior) listed his place of residence as Aberdeen and was clearly in Crieff visiting his son and daughter-in-law, but just twenty days later, on the 31st July 1888, he was admitted to the Dundee Royal Asylum. Over the next four years he moved between the Old Machar Poorhouse and Aberdeen Royal Asylum, where he died of TB on 14th July 1892. ‘General Register of Lunatics in Asylums: Dundee Royal Asylum, Angus’, (Edinburgh: NRS Mental Health Records, 1888), p. 460 <> [accessed 16 February 2022]; NRS Reference MC7/6.

[16] W. B. Henshaw, ‘John William Davis Pillow’, Biographical Dictionary of the Organ; ‘History of the Organ’, The Organ Project.

[17] ‘Hadden, J. Cuthbert, Litterateur.’, in Who’s Who & Who Was Who (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[18] Nib, p. 227.

[19] Nib, p. 227.

[20] J. Cuthbert Hadden, Thomas Campbell, Famous Scots (London: Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, 1899).

[21] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal, 4.41 (May 1891), 68–69 (p. 69).

[22] J. Cuthbert Hadden, ‘Music in the Scottish Churches’, The Non-Conformist Musical Journal, 4.37 (January 1891), 4–5 (p. 5).

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Beatrix Potter at Innerpeffray

As it is the 155th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth on the 28th July 2021, we are celebrating by exploring some of the links between Beatrix Potter and the Library of Innerpeffray.

Helen Beatrix Potter Heelis (1866-1943) is remembered today as a respected mycology expert, one of the most popular children’s authors of the Victorian period, and the creator of unforgettable fictional characters including Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Squirrel Nutkin, and many more. Perhaps her most well-known book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was first conceived of while Beatrix was staying near Dunkeld in 1893. Writing a letter to the son of one of her former governesses, she came up with a story about “four little rabbits whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter.” Little did she know then that Peter Rabbit would one day become a household name!

Beatrix Potter Letter to Noel Moore 1893 c. National Trust

It is a well-known fact that Beatrix Potter and her family spent many summer holidays in Perthshire, with her father, Rupert Potter, renting Dalguise House near Dunkeld every summer between 1871 and 1881.[1] Interested in the sport and freedom of Scotland, with its plentiful shooting, fishing and beautiful opportunities for walking and photography, the extended Potter family often travelled away from London between May and October.[2] Before becoming regular guests at Dalguise, we know that the Potters stayed with Edmund Potter near Alness in Easter Ross, and in Tulliemet House in 1870.[3] Excitingly, we now have evidence from the Innerpeffray Library visitors’ books that the Potters also stayed in Scotland in 1868 and 1869.

On the 26th August 1868, a month after Beatrix’s second birthday, the following signatures were entered into the visitors’ book:

Innerpeffray Visitor Books Vol 1, f15r

Rupert Potter and Mrs. R Potter, Kippen, and Mrs. Leech and daughter, London.

Rupert Potter (1832-1914), Beatrix’s father, was a barrister and successful amateur photographer who married Beatrix’s mother, Helen Leech (1839-1932) on the 8th August 1863. The Potters were visiting with Helen’s mother, Beatrix’s maternal grandmother, Jane Ashton (1806-1884) and one of her daughters, Beatrix’s aunt – most likely the eldest daughter of Mrs Leech, Jane (1833-1876), who never married and remained close to home. Although Mrs Leech and her daughter write their location as London, Rupert and Helen write that they were staying at Kippen Estate while visiting Scotland, rather than their usual London address. Although there is a village called Kippen in Stirlingshire, as below where the Potters wrote ‘Garvock’ to refer to Garvock House in Dunning, it seems more likely that they were referring to Kippen House, also in Dunning, which was built in the 1840s.

Postcard showing Kippen House, Dunning

The following year, on the 13th August 1869, we find the Potters returning to Innerpeffray for a second time, this time accompanied by Reverend William Gaskell as well as Mrs and Miss Leech:

Innerpeffray Visitors’ Books Vol 1, f.16v

Mrs and Miss Leech, London; Revd. W. Gaskell, Manchester; and Mr and Mrs Rupert Potter, Garvock and London.

In the summer of 1869, the Potter family was again holidaying with Beatrix’s maternal grandmother and aunt, as well as Unitarian minister and close friend of the family William Gaskell (1805-1884). It was common for the Victorian middle classes to “invite friends to join them on holiday,” and the Potters frequently invited friends and family to join them in Scotland – “especially those who liked to fish and who would endure Rupert’s endless photography sessions.”[4] Gaskell was a close friend and teacher of Rupert Potter’s, having known Rupert’s father Edmund since his university days. Indeed, Jenny Uglow, biographer of William’s wife Elizabeth, states that William often joined the Potters on their annual summer holidays but never invited his wife to accompany him – she emphasizes that he “needed escape, less, one sometimes feels, from the city than from his growing family.”[5] It appears that he preferred spending his leisure time with the Potters rather than his own family.

Photograph of Reverend William Gaskell and Beatrix Potter, taken during one of “Rupert’s endless photography sessions” in the grounds of Dalguise House

On this visit to Innerpeffray, the Potters recorded their location as both Garvock and London, indicating that their long-term residence was in London but at the present time they were staying in Garvock House while in Scotland.

Postcard showing Garvock House Dunning

The following month, the Potters visit Innerpeffray Library for the third time on the 6th September 1869. Their entries in the visitors’ book reveal that although the Leeches were not present, the Potters were joined by Beatrix’s paternal grandfather, Edmund Potter (1802-1883), who writes his place of residence as his Hertfordshire home, Camfield Place:

Innerpeffray Visitor Book Vol 1, f17r

Mr Edmund Potter M.P., Camfield, Hatfield, Herts; Mr. and Miss Potter, also from Camfield; and Mr and Mrs R Potter, Garvock.

It is clear from their three separate visits that Rupert and Helen Potter enjoyed their trips to Innerpeffray – dedicating time from two summer holidays to visit and on each occasion bringing a different visitor to see the library. Innerpeffray was an accessible tourist destination from both Garvock and Kippen by carriage, train or even bicycle – it would take around three hours to walk or one hour to cycle to the library from either location on modern roads. Although Innerpeffray was still easily accessible by train from Dalguise House, they must have considered it too long a journey, as the Potters do not appear again in the visitors’ books.

Map showing the locations of the Potters’ Scottish holiday residences in relation to Innerpeffray Library: Garvock, Kippen, and Dalguise House

Noticeably absent from all of these visitors’ book entries is Beatrix Potter herself! Aged two and three years old at the time of the respective visits, Beatrix may have been left at home with her nurse rather than joining her parents and grandparents at Innerpeffray Library. It is true that Beatrix often spoke of her lonely childhood, where she spent little time with her parents while in London, cared for instead by her nurses and governesses. However, Beatrix also wrote that her “happiest moments” were those spent in Scotland, where “she got extra attention from her father.”[6] Perhaps, away from the stricter rules of London society, “where every activity was carefully regimented and supervised,” the Potters brought their daughter with them while touring Scotland.[7]

Bookplate of Edmund Potter, Camfield Place.

From an early age, Beatrix was an intelligent young girl who was encouraged by friends and family to love stories and books. Reverend William Gaskell, who was a regular holiday companion and visited Innerpeffray with the Potters in August 1869, was chairman of the Portico Library in Manchester from 1849 to 1884 and was recorded as having borrowed more than 700 books between 1850 and 1859.[8] Her grandfather Edmund Potter, who accompanied the Potters to Innerpeffray in September of that same year, had “built a reading room and library which was kept well stocked with books and newspapers.”[9] Although her paternal grandmother, Jessy Crompton Potter, did not accompany her husband Edmund on his trip to Innerpeffray, Beatrix often wrote that she remembered “the stories told by her adoring grandmother” in the library of Camfield Place.[10] With these bibliophile friends and relatives knowing the importance of books on young, impressionable minds, perhaps Beatrix was indeed brought to see the Library of Innerpeffray. Without her name written in the visitors’ books, we can only guess – but I for one would like to think so.

Isla Macfarlane, PhD Student

[1] Barbara Brill and Alan Shelston, ‘Manchester: “A Behindhand Place for Books”: The Gaskells and the Portico Library’, The Gaskell Society Journal, 5 (1991), 27–36 (pp. 27–28) <>.

[2] Lear, p. 12.

[3] Lear, p. 10.

[4] Lear, p. 28.

[5] Lear, p. 29.

[6] Lear, pp. 22; 28.

[7] Jenny Uglow, Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, (London: Faber and Faber, 2010), p. 103.

[8] Linda Lear, Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2007), p. 27.

[9] ‘Beatrix Potter Exhibition Garden’, Birnam Arts Visitor Attractions <>.

[10] Lear, p. 27.

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18th and 19th Century Gardeners

Meet The Borrower – 18th and 19th Century ‘Gardners/Gardeners’

As I sit at home looking out across the garden and going through our seed box to see what is leftover from last year, and what we still need to acquire for this gardening year, my thoughts are drawn towards the many ‘Gardners’ who borrowed books from Innerpeffray. Their working lives outdoors would have been governed by the weather and they would have been busy planning and preparing for the months ahead, as well as working under cover in the greenhouses and conservatories. Weather and outdoor ground conditions permitting they would have been preparing the soil ready for sowing and planting, sorting what seeds would be required for the coming year and when to sow them, when to plant out seedlings or new plants purchased for the gardens, and pruning fruit trees and bushes.

John Rutter, The Modern Eden: or the Gardener’s Universal Guide, 1769

All of the estates around Innerpeffray would have employed a Head Gardener and a varying number of other gardeners to work under his instruction. Most of them would have been provided with accommodation, in what was referred to as the ‘gardeners bothy’. Or there may have been a “Gardener’s Lodging-Room” as noted in “The Modern Eden: or the Gardener’s Universal Guide” by John Rutter and Daniel Carter, published in 1769 (above).

John Reid, The Scots Gardner, 1683

The first ‘Gardner’ mentioned in the Borrowers Register is on the 12th May, 1753, and he was John Allan, Gardner at Innerpeffray. He borrowed “The Saints Highway To Happiness” by Thomas Taylor. His next visit was in February 1854, when he borrowed “Silva, or a discourse on forest-trees and the Propagation of Timber” by John Evelyn, 1706. He borrowed again in April 1764, in March 1766, when his choices were religious texts, and then we don’t see his name again until 28th November, 1776, when he borrows John Reid’s “The Scots Gard’ner”, 1683 (above).

Then on 25th December he borrows “Every Man His Own Gardener” by Thomas Mawe, 1771. There is no further mention of him until July 1807, when he is still recorded as ‘Gardner at Innerpeffray’, Crieff, and he borrows Daniel Hume’s “Essays”. This is the last time we see his name.

Thomas Mawe, Every Man His Own Gardner, 1771

There were two other ‘Gardner’ entries in the 18th Century, each one borrowing on only one occasion. On 18th January, 1755, John Maxton, Gardner, borrowed John Evelyn’s “Silva”, and on 7th July, 1780, James Smith, Gardner, Colquhalzie, also borrowed “Silva” and Mawe’s “Every Man his own Gardener”.

John Evelyn, Silva, A discourse of Forest Trees, 1706

There may have been other gardeners borrowing but no more were recorded as such until 25th July, 1859, when we find John Barnet, Gardner, Inchbrakie. From that year onwards the numbers increase, with some only borrowing once or twice, whilst others visited the library more frequently.
A succession of gardeners came from the Millearn, Abercairney, Dollarie, Colquhalzie and Inchbrakie Estates. Millearn Estate seems almost to have encouraged their staff to come to the library and ‘Duncan Connacker, Gardner, Millearn’, borrows on numerous occasions between December 1859 and January 1861. ‘Fraser McFarlan, Gardner, Millearn’, often comes on the same day as Duncan, and there are other ‘Gardners’ from Millearn – Dugald Taylor, Robert Ferguson, John Drummond and James McInnes – whose names appear occasionally alongside the other two.

Neither Duncan nor Fraser borrowed books on gardening! Duncan obviously enjoyed reading Robert Burns “Life and Works”, which he borrowed three times, and the novels of Sir Walter Scott. He also borrowed The Scots Magazine and his final book, returned on 3rd February, 1861, was “Five years of a hunter’s life in the far interior of South Africa” by Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming, 1850. Robert Ferguson was the only one of these Millearn ‘Gardners’ who borrowed anything relating to his work and the book was “Rudiments of Vegetable Physiology” by William Chambers, 1844.
On the 1861 Census, living in the Gardeners Bothy, Millearn, are Duncan (18), Dugald (23) and Robert (14), all recorded as ‘Journeyman Gard’ner’, and George Anderson (55), ‘Gardner’, his wife and children. Duncan appears to have left Millearn in the 1860s and moved to Rannoch Lodge, where we find him recorded in 1871 as ‘Gamekeeper’. By 1881 he is both ‘Gardener and Gamekeeper’ at Glenalmond House but then continues to move around Perthshire, employed as a mix of ‘Gardener, Coachman and Gamekeeper’.
There were many other ‘gardener’ borrowers in the 19th century, including Donald McOmish, Charles Campbell, John Robertson, George Stewart, George Durward, James Drummond, James McNab and David Smeaton, to name just a few.
However, in this ‘Meet the Borrower’, I want to concentrate on Donald McOmish. Donald was born in 1835, to parents Donald McOmish, a Sawyer by trade, and Elizabeth (McEwan). We first find him on the 1841 Census, living with his mother and siblings John, 9, and Margaret, 8, on High Street, Crieff. There is no trace of him on the 1851 Census, but by then he would have been serving his apprenticeship and may have been missed when information was gathered. Information discovered, suggests that he may have served most of his apprenticeship under Roderick MacDonald at Drummond Castle, and he may also have spent time at Cromlix. His name first appears in the Borrowers Register on 17th November, 1857, and indicates that he was working at Dollarie. Two of the first books he borrowed were about lives of Nelson and the Wellington, indicating an interest in history.
By March 1859, his borrowing record shows that he is at Shearerston, Innerpeffray. On the three occasions he visits the library that year he borrows volumes of “Travels in the East” by Alphonse de Lamartine, 1850. The next entry for him is in March 1861, when he is recorded as “Gardener, Inchbrakie”, and he borrows Philip Miller’s “The Gardeners Dictionary”, 1768.

Philip Miller, The Gardeners Dictionary, 1768

However, by the 1861 Census, taken on 7th April, he is living with his mother at Belview, Crieff, although his occupation is still listed as ‘Gardener’. He borrows again in 1862, “The Wisdome of the Ancients” by Francis Bacon,1681, and Thomas May’s “The history of the Parliament of England”, 1647. Then in February 1863, he borrows “The Scots Gard’ner” by John Reid, and “The Modern Gardener – selected from the Diary Manuscript of the late Thomas Hitt, by James Meade. In November 1863, he borrows the “Plays of William Shakespeare”. This was the last time he borrowed until 1897.

On the 1st November 1864, in Crieff, Donald married Ann Graham. By 1865 he had established his first Nursery, at Currachreen, Perth Road, Crieff. On the 1871 Census, we see that he and Ann have a daughter, Jessie, 5, and a son, Donald, 3, and are living on Perth Road. Donald is recorded as a “Nursery and Seedsman”. His mother has moved to East High Street, Crieff, and is recorded as an “Outdoor Worker” and so was almost certainly helping her son at his Nursery. After the death of Robert Faikney, Nurseryman at Laiker Farm, Crieff, it would seem that Donald took over the tenancy of that land and may well have purchased the whole stock of “Forest Trees, Ornamental Trees and Shrubs and other plants” which were advertised for sale in the Perth Advertiser “ one lot by Private Bargain”. The Nursery went from strength to strength and in the December of 1878 he is advertising The Crieff Nurseries in the Strathearn Herald:

“50,000 Larch.
All sorts of Forest, Fruit and Ornamental Trees and Shrubs.”

During his lifetime he specialised in the growing of timber and was responsible for planting Larches at various estates in Upper Strathearn.
By 1881, Donald was working nine and a half acres and employing three men, three women and a boy. The family had grown with the births of John, Malcolm, Elizabeth, Margaret and very new baby, Robert. Another son, George, would be born in 1883, but sadly, daughter Jessie died the same year, aged just seventeen. At one point, Donald’s nurseries covered ninety acres, at Currochreen and Laiker Farm, at Croftnappoch and Milnab. Once his sons left school they all worked with their father as Nurserymen. Son Donald died in September 1897, having been ill for over a year. It is interesting that it was in October 1897, when the family were now living at Croftnappock House, Ramsay Street, Crieff, that Donald senior, after a gap of thirty four years, returned to Innerpeffray to borrow a book.
Another son, Robert, borrowed a book for the first time in November 1897, “Ferns: British and Foreign” by John Smith, 1879, and then visited again in January 1898, when George also borrowed a book on the same day. Robert worked in the nurseries and then he served in the First World War, having first joined for duty in March 1916, when he was 35 years old. He was injured twice, from gun shot wounds, and survived to be discharged from the Royal Artillery in 1919.
Whether he ever returned to live in Crieff we are not sure, but by 1924 he is living in Hertford, England, and is listed in the local trades directory as a fruiterer. Perhaps he had his own small nursery growing fruit, because when he married, aged 47, in 1927, his occupation is recorded as Nurseryman.
Another of Donald’s sons, Malcolm, also a nurseryman, borrowed from Innerpeffray for the first time in March 1898, and the book was “Oceana, Or England and Her Colonies” by James Anthony Froude, 1886. Perhaps reading this book gave him the idea of emigrating to Australia, for that is what he did in the early 1900s. He went to Queensland, where he had a sugar plantation, before moving to Melbourne. He became a Missioner and an Evangelist Open Air Campaigner, often described as a ‘virile speaker’, and his ‘gospel motorcar’ became well known. His son, Donald, retired as the Chief Inspector of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and was also heavily involved with the Salvation Army. Jokingly, or otherwise, Donald described himself as “… as a hard drinker of whisky – half a bottle of Glenturret a day!” At some point Malcolm was joined in Australia by his sister Margaret, who was living with him in Queensland when he died in 1949. Margaret was staying with her nephew, Donald, in Melbourne, when she died in 1967, aged 90. Donald’s Nurseries had gone from strength to strength, supplying trees and plants all over the country, and further afield, and were visited by many. He died in 1905 and for fifteen years following his death the estate was administered by Trustees. Daughter Elizabeth married Arthur Grimwood in 1907.
On 7th December 1907, D. McOmish, The Nurseries Crieff, were advertising in the Strathearn Herald:

ROSES for all types.
6,000 Roses have been sent from my Nurseries
during the past three weeks to all parts of Great Britain.

Roses were the speciality of son John and plants were exported all over the world. On 17th October 1908, again in the Strathearn Herald:

First Annual
Sale of Nursery Stock
At D. McOmish’s Currachreen Nurseries, Crieff.
Fruit trees, Gooseberry, Shrubs, Hedging, Conifers, Flowering Shrubs, Laurels.
1,000,000 Transplanted Forest Trees – Scots Fir, Larch, Spruce & Douglas Fir
200,000 2yr seedling Larch
100,000 seedling Scots Fir.

At the onset of the First World War, the land use had to be changed to food production and the family uprooted and burnt half a million young trees, for which they could not claim any compensation. In 1920 the business was divided into separate firms under the ownership of two of Donald’s sons, John and George. Both brothers would go on to make a name for themselves in their specialist areas of horticulture.
John, the only one of Donald’s sons who is not recorded as a borrower, became the proprietor of D. McOmish, Currachreen Nurseries, which occupied a site of twenty acres on the Perth Road. The site easily attracted passing customers who stopped to admire the colourful displays and even King George V is supposed to have visited and ordered specimen scented Poplars for Balmoral.
Under John’s ownership the nursery became noted for Roses, Phloxes, Herbaceous Plants and Dahlias. It produced over five thousand Phloxes annually from cuttings, as well as propagating numerous new varieties, such as ‘Gleneagles Glory’ which became popular throughout Europe. It was later grown extensively in the Netherlands. Over the years the Nurseries won numerous awards, nine gold medals and a silver cup for their plants and flowers, as well as the National Sweetpea Society’s supreme award for their display of Sweetpeas.
On the 16th September 1933, John advertised in the Strathearn Herald:

Come and See the
Dahlias, Roses etc.
only address
D. McOmish, Currachreen Nursery, Crieff

Currachreen Nurseries continued to advertise throughout the 1940s and into the early 1950s They grew a huge variety of flowering and vegetable plants and were posting these all over the country. Mail Order is nothing new! John died in 1955.
The Croft Nurseries, established by his father in 1869, was taken over by son George and in 1920 became known as George McOmish Ltd.. He also owned a shop on West High Street, Crieff, where the seed department was based. George’s lifelong interest was landscape gardening and he specialised in Alpines. A keen member of the Scottish Alpine Club (for those interested in Alpine flora rather than mountaineering!), plants would regularly arrive at his nursery from France, Switzerland, Bavaria and even the Himalaya. The nursery maintained a stock of over twenty thousand Alpine plants and one of the main attractions was the Rock Garden, where the plants could be grown and displayed in more ‘natural’ surroundings.
In 1934 George was advertising in the Perthshire Advertiser:

Croft Nurseries, Crieff
Rock garden plants.
Alpine, Himalayan, Chinese & all from nearly every country
Dwarf shrubs for rock landscape.
On 26th May 1937 in the Perthshire Advertiser:
Croft Nurseries, Pitenzie Road, Crieff
Seed Dept. 10 West High Street

Largest & most select stock for years.

Another of George’s special collections was that of his Scotch ‘Carnation Pinks’, which he
cultivated to be more suitable for growing in a northern climate. His nursery also grew flowering and ornamental shrubs, more than a hundred varieties of heather and a collection of Hybrid Primulas. Croft Nursery was still advertising

“…alpines and rock garden dwarf shrubs, dwarf
rockery, rhododendrons , azaleas and conifers” and “….weeping cherries, Clematis, Camellias, Magnolias..”

and other choice plants and flowering trees and shrubs, right up until 1972. George died in 1974.


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A Library In Lockdown

Looking back over a year of lockdown, our Keeper of Books shares thoughts on libraries’ ability to adapt.

The Library of Innerpeffray was Scotland’s first free, public lending library, founded in 1680 by local nobleman and landowner David Drummond, third Lord Madertie.  The library is located in Perthshire in central Scotland where the Lowlands and the Highlands meet in a fertile river valley or strath called Strathearn.  This is not perhaps the first place you would expect to find such a landmark institution: the Library’s location is a source of constant wonder to visitors today, explained by the proximity of the founder’s home and its original site in the Chapel of St Mary of Innerpeffray.  After the Reformation of the Scottish church, Innerpeffray Chapel was a convenient empty building – and perhaps one that inspired a suitable level of awe and respect – beside a busy crossing place of the River Earn.

The Library moved slightly (5 metres to the west) 82 years later and now is housed in an elegant neoclassical two-storey building, purpose-built at the instruction of Robert Hay Drummond.  Hay Drummond inherited the Innerpeffray estate in 1739 and was keen to bring it up to date, buying new books and commissioning the architect Charles Freebairn.  Hay Drummond went on to become Archbishop of York, but this busy and influential man still took the time to care for a small, local institution on his family estate in Scotland.

Madertie’s Will, written in 1680, and revised in 1694, states the purpose of the Library to be for the benefit of young students and he charges his successors to maintain a stock of books ‘for time coming’ and to be ‘provided with a Keeper’.  The Library is still run by the Innerpeffray Mortification, a charitable trust set up in 1696 after his death, and today combines the role of museum, reference library and visitor experience, caring for a significant collection and sharing the story of this very small but special national treasure.  I am the thirty-second person to hold the post of Keeper of Books in Innerpeffray’s 340 year history.

Innerpeffray opens for the visitor season on 1st March; and last year it was a scant four weeks later that, faced with growing anxiety from our volunteer team and a torrent of confusing media messages, our Trustees closed the doors again: lockdown in Scotland had begun.

The question that faced us here at Innerpeffray was – when your purpose is to be open, what do you do when you close? It helps when your Library is in the middle of nowhere.  For many libraries, closed is closed: no staff, no services, no behind the scenes catch-up with cataloguing, but at Innerpeffray the Keeper lives on site and going in every day was not just possible but desirable. Checking a historic building is just one function of this role; unlike many colleagues I was able to visit regularly, ensuring the conditions were suitable for our rare books collection and that there was no damage from wind and weather.

Initially, it felt busier than ever.  With a flurry of telephone calls and learning the new video conferencing options our Trustees confirmed the Keeper should stay working.  Email brought a series of cancellations.  We had spent years building up regular stops from tour operators, guides and cultivating visits from tourists to the area and interest group outings; recognised last year with a Visit Scotland Thistle Award for Best Regional Heritage Experience.  One by one these disappeared from our calendar.  The tourism sector in Scotland is worth £10 million to the Scottish economy and there are committed individuals and organisations in the industry who were galvanised into extremely positive action and advocacy.  Locally and nationally we started receiving updates on support schemes and advice from the heritage and museums sector, from the visitor attraction community and from colleagues in public and special collection libraries.

The next phase of lockdown was sifting through the advice to determine what suited our particular case, applying for funding that was available and, for the Trustees, looking at the financial position.  At least half of our income comes from visitors – tickets for entry, donations on site and a series of fundraising events, like concerts, all of which looked more and more doubtful as the month of April progressed. Reading the guidance, which changed on a weekly basis, became a trial.

With the immediate crisis stabilised, our thoughts turned to what we could do to keep in touch with our audience and our all-important volunteer team.  We are fortunate to have a wide circle of Friends of the Library and past visitors.  We felt it was important to let them know the Library was still here, even if they couldn’t visit, and also to try to engage new visitors for the future.  I wrestled with the conflicting ideas that a hands-on visit at Innerpeffray was the most special part of the experience versus the need to communicate digitally. Thus Tours with the Keeper were born.  I wrote and filmed a trial piece where I took books in the Library on a theme and gave the virtual equivalent of a guided tour.  A steep learning curve around the technology coupled with the practical difficulties of making a quality product single-handed certainly kept the Keeper busy, but it was also a joy to be working with the collection again, and doing what we do best, opening the books and sharing them.

We were missing our volunteer team: crucial to the running of the Library today, we have an enthusiastic and committed group of people who give up their time to help us share the collection as guides.  Mainly of retired age, the team is therefore made up of those who are more vulnerable and included people who were shielding.  There was a slow realisation that the sudden and dramatic disruption of the pandemic was not just a short-term issue, the longer-term operation was in jeopardy.  During the lockdown, and making use of the Zoom platform, we instituted a virtual elevenses (bring your own tea or coffee), to keep in touch, allowing me to update the team and most importantly to maintain a social contact amongst the group. Professional bodies and umbrella groups began to offer seminars and social gatherings on virtual platforms as well and I felt extremely fortunate that I was not one of those furloughed from their jobs, isolated from their institutions and collections and unable to work.  Maintaining contact with my team also meant that when restrictions were lifted enough to permit re-opening most of the staff were relatively informed.  Some of our team will not be back this year, but we have been staying in touch.  We developed a new protocol for visitors by the simple expedient of walking the customer journey ourselves, several times, with different people, risk assessment in hand.  By a series of reviews and tests we added all the hygiene and distancing measures, including creating an external ‘waiting room’ in a gazebo outside our front door.  We instituted visits by appointment, using an online calendar but also wanted to be flexible, giving the option to telephone; and because we know many people find Innerpeffray by accident, offering slots to those who just drop by.

As I write this, the Library has re-opened and been welcoming visitors again for the past three weeks.  We have had to restrict the number of visitors, which has the bonus of having our lovely little library all to yourself for a private visit; and restrict access to our books, which we are finding harder to accept as this is such an integral part of our identity.  Our exhibitions for the year: Extreme Weather; Scottish Royalty and a new display on Plague and Pestilence have all been popular, however we have had less than a quarter of our usual visitors.  Reduced visitors means less income, though this has been mitigated somewhat by an Appeal that attracted many generous donations and the success of our new online shop.  The shop was a new venture for us, started in March to assist with event ticketing: with all events cancelled or postponed the merchandise side flourished, and our Keeper of Books badges caused a minor sensation on Twitter. 

As Innerpeffray looks to the future it is reassuring to feel that we have a library that moves with the times; whether that is the dawn of the 18th century or the 21st.  A change in operations is nothing new: our business model will adapt, we will find a new approach to raising funds for the future  and the digital development provides new pathways for us to connect with a global audience.  And still the books remain on the shelves inspiring us to pass on their stories, to share them and their wonders.  Which puts me in mind of the words of Czech poet Czeslaw Milosz:

“Yet the books will be there on the shelves, well born,
Derived from people, but also from radiance, heights.”     

This article originally appears in Alexandria, a journal of national and international library issues.  1. Haggerty L. Libraries in lockdown. Alexandria. January 2021. doi:10.1177/0955749020985161

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Tour of the Tops – Episode 6 “A Shameless Catch-Penny Jobb”

Welcome to the sixth, and last for 2020, in this series of blogs that have been appearing every now and then to pique the interest of the wonderful followers of the life of Innerpeffray Library. For those of you lucky enough to have visited the Library, you will have noticed that the shelves really do go from floor to ceiling and, as a result, there are some shelves that really do not get the attention that they perhaps deserve. This series aims to remedy this injustice by dragging out the ladder and going for a quick Tour of the Tops to see what gems there are awaiting true recognition! Unusually for the series, this ‘Episode’ sticks rigidly to one type of book, but, despite this limitation, I can still offer a variety of books! Interest piqued? Well, this ‘Episode’ looks at a selection of late 18th Century book reviews, so we shall read contemporary reviews of books in the Library collection, dive into the cut-and-thrust literary debate around the American War of Independence and have a good chuckle at some of the shorter book reviews presented (whence the inspiration for the title of this ‘Episode’ came!).

Before I begin, I know I normally include the frontispiece of the books that I am looking at, but as I was dipping in and out of a number of different books for this, I thought it would get somewhat boring to be looking at multiple very similar frontispieces, so instead, here is a photo of the Library’s large selection of “Monthly Reviews” and “Critical Reviews”.

I don’t actually know whether the Library had a subscription to these reviews, or if they were part of a bulk donation in later years, but I find it really interesting that there were two subscription changes; firstly from the Critical Review to the Monthly Review in 1772 and then back again in 1781. Both magazines were in publication well into the 19th Century, so it’s not as if one had stopped for a time. The Monthly Review was the older, being founded in 1749, and the Critical Review was set up as a rival in 1756. Being a frugal Yorkshireman, I wonder if the prices went up for one and not the other and this prompted a subscription swap, but I have no evidence with which to back this up!

With so many reviews to explore, I decided to start by trying to find books in the Library collection that may have been reviewed in the magazines, and I was fortunate to quickly stumble upon a review of Pennant’s Tour in Scotland. Thomas Pennant was a naturalist who, well, went on a Tour of Scotland in the late 1760s and his account of the trip was very highly regarded. It was therefore very exciting to read a contemporary review of the book that highlights just how well received it was. Scotland at this time was, well, shall we say, not seen in the best light by many Englishman, and the review highlights this point with this quite fabulous pair of paragraphs…

The “acrimonious Churchill” was Charles Churchill, an 18th-Century satirist
Clearly one of the readers was Samuel Johnson, who made his own tour a few years later!

The extremely positive tone continues throughout the review. Interestingly, the review quotes extensively from the book and is as much a summary of the book’s contents as it is an actual review of the content. Given the novelty of this work, it is perhaps possible that the reviewer felt the need to give a large amount of detail as to the topics covered to his audience in order to help them better understand its purpose. As an example, see the section to the right that covers Strathearn. (NB frequent readers of the Innerpeffray blog may be wondering why I’ve not chosen the passage that covers Innerpeffray – this is because Pennant’s original tour was such a success that he went BACK a few years later and wrote a follow-up that also included the Hebrides. Innerpeffray was only visited on that second visit.)

Whilst looking in another volume of the Monthly Review for reviews of books concerning the American War of Independence, I came across a review for another of the Library’s books; Coryat’s Crudities, featured in Episode 2 of the Tour of the Tops.

Having read Coryat’s Crudities, I think this is one of the most superb reviews one could have of the book. I love the description of him as an “odd, half-witted, half learned rambling fellow” and a “well-meaning, intelligent, kind of buffoon”. If you, dear reader, have words as kind as these for me, then I would feel that I have done my job well in these tours! As this is a reprint, it is also a chance to see a bit of historiography in action – seeing the early 17th Century from the viewpoint of the late 18th. I have to agree with the querying as to whether the books were read for amusement or as serious sources of information on travel – one suspects the former overruled the latter in Coryat’s case! It is also interesting to note the reference to books of travels being more plentiful in the late 18th Century than in Coryat’s day; evidence already of the impact that Pennant’s Tour had had even within a few years of its publication.

We move on now to look at the American War of Independence. One of the most popular books in the Library is the Scots Magazine of 1776, which contains a most entertaining rebuttal of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the full text of the Declaration itself. I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of books were being published on the matter around this time, as well as seeing how they were being received in the world of the book critic. Fortunately for me, it was clear that it was as headline-dominating then as you might imagine, as there were dedicated sections to the “American Controversy” in each month of the Review (noting that the books in the Library each contain six months’ worth of book reviews). Going into each and every book would take far too long, so this is very much a curated selection to give a flavour of what was going on in late 1776.

What becomes immediately apparent on looking through each month’s section on the “American Controversy” is that a certain Dr. Price seems to be the focus of interest for a large number of books, both for and against his work. On the left is a good example of a review of one of those books that seeks to discredit Dr. Price. Intriguingly, the author of the review seems to be somewhat disparaging towards this book and only grudgingly concedes that its author makes “some remarks that seem to merit the attention”.

The impression that the reviewers are pro-American is absolutely reinforced by the approach taken to other books reviewed throughout this period. Authors who dare to disagree with Dr. Price and the cause of American liberty are often ridiculed and concessions to their ability to dismantle aspects of Dr. Price’s work are only very reluctantly conceded. Authors found in agreement are easily praised. It is fascinating to me that there was such a body happy to stand in diametric opposition to the British Government at the time on this highly critical matter. The work of the Monthly Review appears to be to act as Dr. Price’s standard bearer and to defend his work against all who opposed it. Given that the reviewers were anonymous, I almost wonder if Dr. Price was among them! Before moving on to other reviews, I want to quickly show you the original review of Dr. Price’s work. However, ‘quickly’ may be somewhat difficult, as it takes about a dozen pages across two separate months of the Monthly Review. Below is a small selection of quotes taken from the review to give you a flavour.

The thrusts of Dr. Price’s arguments appear to be twofold: Firstly, there is no justification for Great Britain to force the American colonialists to submit to their will – instead, citizens of both are “fellow-subjects”. Secondly, that Great Britain is in no position to finance and support the war that would be necessary to subjugate the colonies. The review is gushing in its praise for Dr. Price, and quotes liberally from his works to support their case. It is, therefore, perhaps no surprise that the reviewers spend such time defending a work that they praise so highly.

On the left, we have an extract from the review of “An Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress” and I include it here for interest as it epitomises the tone and approach taken by the reviewers when faced with books with which they completely disagree. One notes that, in the midst of the flurry of rhetorical questions, the main argument against the author is that he uses some nasty words for the Americans. I have to say that there are some choice phrases in this paragraph – my personal favourite being “tongue-doughty scolding-bout” – so I hope you enjoy reading through it!

The review to the right I have selected because of its direct connections to Scotland and (almost!) the same part of the country as the Library. It is about the work of Dr. John Witherspoon, a Scotsman who was one of the first Presidents of the College at New Jersey, now Princeton University, one of the USA’s foremost seats of learning. Dr. Witherspoon had a quite adventurous life, being captured by Jacobites during the 1745/6 rebellion and imprisoned in Doune Castle for a time before escaping. He had moved to Princeton in 1768 and was a firm believer in the American Independence – to the extent that he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1776. The review of his sermon is, unsurprisingly, extremely positive as a result. It is interesting that he includes a justification for why American independence would actually be a good thing for Britain, although I am not overly sure that his sums are correct in suggesting that “for every shilling gained by taxes, we should lose ten in the way of trade”! There is also a slightly prophetic note in the final point – America’s “influence in peopling and enriching that great continent”.

Having seen how the reviewers carefully write to favour one side of the “American controversy” over the other, I thought it appropriate to end with this short section. I find it somewhat ironic that such clearly biased reviewers actually had the nerve to include this sentence in a review. It is, however, something that still resonates today as we are so good at putting ourselves into little bubbles where it is all to easy to block out dissenting voices and decide how credible an account is solely based on the opinions of its author.

I want to close out the final Tour of the Tops for 2020 with something a little more light-hearted than colonial discontent, so I present a small selection of humorous book reviews that I came across. The first few are, I’m afraid, still connected to American independence, but not in such great detail as the above extracts.

We start with this review in full. I have cropped nothing. One can only imagine the effort put into the work and the dismay of the author on receiving such a curt and somewhat harsh review as reward for their efforts!

Another short review, but again cutting in its analysis of this work! A small note – there seems to have a movement at this time to associate the concept of Liberty with that of Licentiousness, hence the title. The thrust of this was that with unfettered liberty, people would inevitably end up participating in all sorts of activities. I leave the reader to come to their own conclusion as to whether this is a fair point!

This final American-Revolution-related review (I promise!) is written in such a way that just makes you imagine the author reading it out loud as they wrote it with THE most sarcastic tone of voice! I will certainly be stealing the line “so illegible that the devil himself could not make out the meaning” given the quality of some work emails I get from time to time…

It’s amazing what people write about – perhaps almost more amazing is the fact that it was considered worthy of a review! I do enjoy the slight towards poets in general, as it is a habit that we still see today whenever millionaires are praised for charity work and donations that probably barely impact their fortunes! Still, this poem was so successful, it spawned a follow-up…

It is reassuring to see that the idea of a poem called “The Duchess of Devonshire’s Cow” was as ridiculous then as it sounds now. I should also reassure my reader that I was not looking here for obscenity! For that, well…

Yes, a poem dedicated to the greatest ***** in her Majesty’s Dominions – written by a Woman of Fashion! I refuse to make a guess as to the missing word in such a place, but it does rather shock me that a piece called “The Temple of Prostitution” would merit a mention in a book review periodical. Although, having said that, they do review some other works in a similar vein…

And so we come full circle with the “shameless catch-penny jobb” that I used for the title of this Tour. I don’t think that this book stood the test of time based on this review! The disdainful tone of the reviewer is most amusing.

So ends the sixth ‘episode’ of the Tour of the Tops with amusing snippets from book reviews! I hope that you have enjoyed the range of reviews on offer from the hardest to reach shelves of Innerpeffray! As the Library has now descended into hibernation for the winter, the “Tours” will be taking a break until March. With these reviews, we have finished the first six cases of the Library and so 2021 will see us take a 90 degree turn and head along the back wall. I look forwards to sharing more finds with you then!

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Meet the Borrowers: Innerpeffray’s 18th Century Women

This edition of Meet the Borrowers differs from the usual format in that it mentions all the women whose names appear in the Borrowers’ Register between the years 1747 and 1789. There may well have been women who borrowed books from the collection in the years between the founding of the library in 1680 and the earliest written records we hold, dating from 5th June 1747, but there are no documents to tell us.

The majority of these women are recorded as a Borrower on only one date, but it indicates to us that they were reading and gives us an insight into the subject matter. Despite using the vast amount of information and records that are available, and easily accessible, to a researcher today, we have been unable to discover very much at all about some of them. What we do know is that most of them were members of ordinary families, employed by the local land owners and living on the various estates in the area, including Innerpeffray. The only exceptions to this were the Hepburn ladies, of the Colquhalzie estate, and Louisa Drummond, a member of the wider Drummond family of Drummond Castle.

The first female recorded in the Borrowers’ Register is Beatrix Faichney, daughter of James Faichney and Margaret Richart. The family lived at Knappielands, a farm between Innerpeffray and Muthill, and a location that is still named on maps today. We know from baptism records of the Episcopal Church, Muthill, that at least eleven children were born to James and Margaret, including three sets of twins – William (1/9/1726), twins Elspeth and Jean (23/5/1727 – and this sad note recorded with the date ‘born before time. Jean died a few minutes after baptism’), twins Thomas and Joseph (17/5/1728), Beatrix (31/1/1731), Margaret (2/1/1734), twins Janet and Lilias (24/6/1738), James (2/5/1742) and Jean (2/5/1751).

The are only two entries for Beatrix, both entered at the bottom of the first page of the Borrowers’ Register, and the date was 29th August, 1747. From these entries we are led to conclude that Beatrix was probably employed as a servant on the Abercairney estate. Perhaps this was not the first time that she had borrowed books from Innerpeffray for ‘Mr Moray, at Abercairney’, and for herself.

The first entry reads as follows:
Lent to Mr Moray at Abercairney by Beatrix Faichney.
1st Volume of Clarendon Civil Wars, the History of Queen Elizabeth & the 1st Volume of the Compleat history of Europe.

Second entry on the same date:
Lent Beatrix Faichney Christ the way the truth and the life.

On the 24th March, 1751, in the Parish of Crieff, Beatrix married William Roben. Unfortunately, after this date, the couple disappear from our story, as no further records of them living in the area, or further afield, have been discovered so far.

The second female Borrower named in the Register is Janet Cooper, living at Kirkhill of Innerpeffray. Her only entry is dated 12th September, 1747.

Lent to Janet Cooper in the Kirkhill of Innerpeffray
book on the unchangeableness of God.

Other than where Janet was living, we have been unable to discover anything else about her. The only possible reference is to a Janet Cowper, baptised at Fowlis Wester, in 1723.

Left: Mr. Pearse’s last Legacy – Two Discourses’ London 1687

The next female Borrower was ‘Elizabeth Faichney, in Loanhead’ on the 16th September, 1752. This Elizabeth was the daughter of Andrew Faichney and Elspeth Brugh, of Drumsachy/Drumsachany, baptised on the 13th November, 1730. There are baptisms recorded for three other children – John (13/11/1725), when the parents are listed as living at Innerpeffray, followed by Jean (15/5/1728) and James (22/1/1732) when they were living at Drumsachy/ Drumsachany. We have been unable to find any map, or descriptive reference, to enable us to identify this location. Drumness and Macheny, two adjacent settlements, may give us a clue as to where it might have been. Or it may even have been Drummawhance. When place names were being written, down the writer at the time would frequently spell them as they were pronounced. What appears on paper may bear little or no resemblance to the correct spelling!

Lent to Elizabeth Faichney in Loanhead Burroughs Saints Happiness

There were numerous branches of the Faichney family living in the area in the 17th and 18th centuries, several of whom borrowed books from the Library. However, from the Borrowers’ Register we can see that both John and James Faichney, in Loanhead, were also borrowing books in 1752 and 1753. John was a Master Stone Mason and he was in charge of the construction of the building in which the library has been housed since 1762.
The name ‘Margaret Morison, of Innerpeffray’, first appears on the 10th May, 1755, when she borrows ‘An Abridgement of Dr. Preston’s VVorks’ by William Jemmat, M.A., 1648 (see left)

There are two later entries for Margaret, one on 29th September, 1756, when she borrows William Perkins ‘Cases of Conscience’, and another on 13th November, 1756, when she borrows William Gouge’s ‘God’s three arrovves’. On the 24th July, 1756, a ‘Duncan Morison, Kirkhill of Innerpeffray, a servant to James Sharp’, borrowed a book. Perhaps he was Margaret’s husband.

The next female Borrower was ‘John Allan’s wife’ on the 29th September, 1756. John Allan had married Helen Dawson, in Muthill, and births and baptisms were recorded for their children, the first being Ann, born on 12th February 1745. She was followed by Mary (24/2/1748), James (7/7/1750), John (9/3/1751), John (20/3/1753) – it was common practice to give the same name to another child after the death of the first one of that name and this occurs again with James (27/7/1755). Then there was Helen (16/11/1757), Margaret (24/7/1760), David (26/4/1764) and Christian (26/4/1767).
John Allan is recorded in the Borrowers’ Register as ‘Gardner at Innerpeffray’, and he borrowed books from 12th May, 1753, until 1756 and then again between 1764 and 1766. However, there is only the one entry for his wife, who would no doubt have been fully occupied looking after their young family and would have had little time to sit and read. Interestingly, the one book that she did borrow was ‘An Abridgement of Dr. Preston’s VVorks’ edited by William Jemmat, M.A., 1648, the same book that her near neighbour, Margaret Morison, had borrowed the previous year. Perhaps Margaret had discussed the book with Helen Allan and encouraged her to come to the library and borrow it for herself.

There was no borrowing at all recorded between the 17th February, 1759 and 16th November, 1763. This was the time when the building that now houses the Library of Innerpeffray was under construction.
There is then a lack of female borrowers until ‘Mrs. Mary Drummond, Innerpeffray’, on the 18th December, 1765. She borrows ‘The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Begun in the Year 1641’ by Edward Earl of Clarendon. Oxford 1702 and ‘A Collection of Voyages and Travels Vols. 3 & 4’ . London 1704

On the 9th May, 1771, ‘Louisa Drummond at the Castle of Drummond’, borrowed ‘La Sainte Bible de Port Royal. Louisa was a daughter of Andrew Drummond, who served as a colonel in the French army, and his wife, Magdalena Silvia, who was the daughter of a Lieutenant General in the French army.

She borrowed the same book again on the 31st August, 1773, along with ‘Goguet origins
des loix, des arts, et des sciences. 1758’

Mrs Hepburn, wife of John Hepburn Esq. of Colquhalzie, became a borrower, on the 6th December, 1775. John Hepburn had succeeded to the Colquhalzie Estate on the death of his mother’s cousin, Dorothea Stewart. He married Margaret Bissett, daughter of James Bissett of Ferdal, and they had two children, a daughter, Helen, and a son, Thomas.
The first book Mrs. Hepburn borrowed was ‘A Harmony of four Gospels’ by James Macknight. Her husband was already a borrower before her and their son, Thomas, had first borrowed a book from Innerpeffray in 1771. He borrows again in 1772, 1776 and then with much more frequency between 1790 and 1813.
The next time we see the name of ‘Mrs. Hepburn, of Colquhalzie’, is in January 1782, when she borrows ‘(Jeremiah) Burroughs Saints Happiness’ and ‘An exposition of the Creed’ by John Pearson. However, this entry could be either Mrs. (Margaret) Hepburn borrowing once more or it could be Mrs. (Mary) Hepburn, Thomas’s wife, whom he married in 1781. An entry for a Mrs. Hepburn, Colquhalzie, does not appear again until 23rd August, 1805, when she borrows ‘Biographia Britannica’ and Jeremiah Seed’s ‘Sermons’.

On 1st January, 1789, Margaret Malcom, at Mill of Gask, borrows Burrough’s ‘Gospel Revelation’. There is only this one entry for her and other than where she was living at the time, we have no other information about her. She could be the Margaret Malcom baptised in Auchterarder on the 18th January, 1767, and daughter of William Malcom and Betty Clement. She may be the Margaret Malcom whose name is recorded on the 1841 Census, as living at East Kirkton, Auchterarder. These are the kind of dilemmas faced when trying to identify many Borrowers, both male and female. especially when there are numerous families living in the same areas with the same forenames, surnames and of similar ages.

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Tour of the Tops – Episode 5 “Unusual Reviews”

Welcome to the fifth in this series of blogs that have been appearing every now and then to pique the interest of the wonderful followers of the life of Innerpeffray Library. As always, the theme is a general one, but I try to ensure that there is a variety of books, so hopefully there is something for everyone. For those of you lucky enough to have visited the Library, you will have noticed that the shelves really do go from floor to ceiling and, as a result, there are some shelves that really do not get the attention that they perhaps deserve. This series aims to remedy this injustice by dragging out the ladder and going for a quick Tour of the Tops to see what gems there are awaiting true recognition! This ‘Episode’ looks at some rather exotic food, a rather misleading (to 21st century eyes at least!) essay on tobacco and that rare find – a 17th century book that actually mentions the Library’s founder!

The first book I want to share with you today is all about the East and West Indies. The book is a translation of José de Acosta’s work describing the New World in great detail. Acosta was a Spanish Jesuit missionary who spent a significant amount of time in South America and was one of the first Europeans to describe altitude sickness and to attribute it to the thinness of the air. Given this was two centuries before oxygen was discovered, he was quite far ahead of his time! Fortunately for us, the Library’s copy is indeed a translation, so I was able to read it without too much difficulty! It’s very much the kind of book that you could read cover to cover given the time, but I decided to focus on two specific aspects. One thing to note, as you may have perhaps already guessed, is that the book’s focus is on what we now call South America, and there is not so much on the East and West Indies. I wonder if this is a slight mistranslation of Historia natural y moral de las Indias, the original Spanish title and someone assumed that the plural was because it covered both East and West Indies? Either way, don’t expect much about the Philippines or Jamaica in the book!

So having just said that the book is primarily concerned with South America, I am now going to seemingly contradict myself, as the first thing I want to share is all about… the Poles. No, not the inhabitants of Poland, but the antipodean regions of the globe. There is a rather fascinating description of the form of the world and the inhabitants thereof, as you can see in the pictures below (nothing that the third is not the page immediately after the second!)

Quite a lot of text to digest there, apologies! Starting on the left, we have a description of the world, although not quite as we understand it! I’m sure none of my readers still cling to the myth that Colombus believed the world was flat when he set sail for China, but there have been various historical figures that believed the world is flat, or bowl-shaped (with slightly concave sides), or even floating in water in an endless ocean. It is the latter theory upon which this text touches in the first and second photos, but concluding that “the Sea is never divided from the Lande above a thousand Leagues.” (approximately 3000 miles). It’s an interesting idea that the antipodean point on the earth to land is water and vice versa, although our more enlightened times have comprehensively shown otherwise! Continuing across to the third sheet, we find Acosta quoting heavily from a late Roman author called Lactantius. This chap was not a fan of the round earth theory and dismisses it in quite ridiculous ways. “Is it possible that any should be so grosse and simple as to beleeve there were a people or nation marching with their feete upwardes, and their heades downwardes”? When you think that this is being written without any understanding of gravitational forces, you can kinda of understand where he is coming from, however insane it sounds to us today. Imagine a ball with a figure standing at the top; if you try and place someone on the opposite side, of course their feet are now at the top and things fall from where their feet are towards where their head is. Logical, isn’t it? I do love Acosta’s rebuttal to the idea – a simple and clear demonstration of the inaccuracy of Lactantius’ theory! “Wee that live now at Peru… finde not ourselves to bee hanging in the air, our heades downward, and our feete on high”.

The other thing I wanted to share, as mentioned in the introduction, was some rather interesting food-related information from the New World! On the left you can read about the “Cacao” – source, of course, of chocolate in our modern lives. However, chocolate as we know and love it today was not something that was available at the end of the 16th Century, and so it has a rather different form. As can be seen, the main use is for a drink called “Chocholaté” (looks familiar!) that is “loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a skumme or froth that is very unpleasant to taste”. Hmm, now sounds less familiar! It gets even better as we read on – “They say they make diverse sortes of it, some hote, some colde, and some temperate, and put therein much of that Chili” Wait, WHAT do they put in?! Having once tried a modern attempt at recreating this “chocholaté”, I have to say it is not something I can recommend… Maybe it’s something that you have to get used to over time – or perhaps my tastes are just cultured enough to enjoy it; after all, “they feast noble men as they passe through their Country” with it!

So one final treat from this book before I move on… A substance that is a little less acceptable than chocolate in today’s society! Coca leaves – the source of cocaine. Here we get a description of the practice of chewing the leaves for a mild dose of the cocaine (not that this was known to Acosta at the time of course). Acosta describes the coca as being “like the taste of leather” – hardly a ringing endorsement – but he seems confident in its abilities. One wonders how much he tried. I will leave you with the delightful way that it could be eaten as well as chewed – “mingle it with the ashes of bones burnt and beat in powlder; or with lime”. Given some of the things that allegedly get mixed in with modern cocaine, this sounds worryingly familiar! A most fascinating read indeed, and a book I could certainly recommend to any Library visitor!

The next book on today’s Tour is another Madertie book. If I’ve learned one thing from doing these tours thus far, it’s that Madertie had excellent taste because there are a lot of fascinating books from his collection to enjoy! This one is the “Entertainments of the Cours”, written (unsurprisingly) in French originally and “rendered” into English. As a Francophile, I am always drawn to books about 17th Century France, especially as this promised to discuss life in the early years of the Sun King Louis XIV. What really surprised me, however, was on the next page…

So I first saw, just in the top left corner of the left-hand image, Madertie’s signature, but then, well hello!! I spy a Marquis (or Marques as the printed text claims) whom I recognise! A quick reference back to the date on the frontispiece confirms that this is the second Marquis of Montrose, not his most renowned father who had died in 1650, and therefore this is the nephew of Madertie, as his wife was the sister of the first Marquis. Even with this, I was far from ready for what I found on the next page… A reference to Madertie himself (here spelled Maderty)! I was absolutely stunned; I’ve seen his signature so many times in various books around the Library, as well as his name in print in our various leaflets and signs and whatnot, but here we have a contemporary writing about him! For a man about whom we know almost nothing, this is a huge deal. Yes, sure, it’s a fleeting reference, merely saying that he is a “Noble Soul” known by the first Marquis of Montrose, but it is a reference nonetheless. The dedication is from the English translator, but what I find fascinating is the fact that this was published in 1658, under the Cromwellian Commonwealth, yet it praises people who had fought against and been executed by that regime! One wonders how they got away with this at the time! It’s not as if the printing was done abroad and the book smuggled into the country; it was sold at the “three Pigeons in St. Paul’s Churchyard” – a common location for booksellers. So here we have a book that Madertie owned and could read his name in print; what else does it have to show us?

After some meandering through the text, I came across this wonderful section on Metoposcopy. “What is Metoposcopy” I hear you cry? Well, do see this wonderful blog post from Dr. James Grant which talks about it. To summarise briefly, it was the ‘science’ of assessing a person’s future by the lines on their forehead in relation to the planets. It was quite in vogue during the late 16th and 17th Centuries and there were a lot of books published on the subject. Clearly it was discussed at the French Court during that period, despite a ban on the practice by Pope Sixtus V. As you can tell from the text, each line on your forehead corresponds to a planet (or other celestial body) and through this, the expert metoposcist could tell all sorts of secrets about your life. Quite the bizarre practise – your future would have been literally written on your face! It does sound like the kind of thing that foppish courtiers, well isolated from the realities of the world, would have found utterly fascinating!

Today’s final book is a series of letters from a chap called James Howell, who had a quite a colourful life. He was an Anglo-Welsh historian, who become a clerk of the Privy Council during the Civil Wars, and was consequently unable to take up the role and instead spent some time in the Fleet Prison, where we started writing a selection of books. His bibliography includes the first epistolary novel in English, a “New English Grammar” and one of his books features the first recorded use of the phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”! Here, we have a series of letters he wrote throughout his life to a variety of different people. It should be noted that there is some doubt over whether all of the letters he claimed to have written were actually sent as described, so take some of the following with a mild pinch of salt! I am going to share three letters, or extracts from letters, with you, shown below. The left hand one, I shall just leave for your amusement as I don’t think it needs any further description!

So the middle letter is the one alluded to at the beginning of this ‘episode’, with a most amusing description of tobacco. Apparently, “it helps Digestion, taken a-while after Meat; it makes one void Rheum, break Wind, and keeps the Body open”! Well, just marvellous indeed – who wouldn’t want to benefit from such, err, effects? I have to admit, I was somewhat baffled at first by the line about it being “a good Companion to one that converseth with dead Men” – didn’t realise that smoking was a necromantic aid… Having said this, the most incredible line of all is the one saying that “The Smoke of it is one of the wholesomest Scents”. Wow, I don’t know where we went wrong over the last four hundred or so years, but clearly we got things wrong at some point with tobacco if that’s how it used to smell!!

The right-hand letter brings back to the previous book with its description of the execution of the Marquis of Montrose in 1650. Don’t read if you are too squeamish as it goes into a fair bit of detail… I will also apologise in advance to any Scottish readers, as in my five years living up here, I have yet to see any examples of “cruelty from Scotland” so I think this is some gross slander! The latter section refers to a young Charles II, who was crowned in Scone in January 1651 under the terms of the Treaty of Breda, wherein he fully submitted to the power of the Kirk in Scotland and undertook to introduce this to England. Needless to say, he completely repudiated the treaty on being restored to the throne in 1660!

So ends the fifth ‘episode’ of the Tour of the Tops with three letters detailing some of the more unusual aspects of 17th century life! I hope that you have enjoyed this varied selection of books from the hardest to reach shelves of Innerpeffray! As the Library is now open once again, I do encourage you all to come by and visit when you can so you can perhaps explore these incredible books for yourself. The “Tours” will be taking a short break for the next month or so but will certainly be returning in October as there are plenty more shelves awaiting exploration!