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The Moleman Predicts

Our blog this week comes from our Chairman, and retired GP, Dr James Grant, who is a regular visiting lecturer for the Arts Society. Dr Grant is particularly interested in the history of medicine, and he takes a look at one of Innerpeffray’s curiosities: A Treatise of Moles.

In the library of Innerpeffray you will find a very rare text from 1653, “Sanders Chiromancy.” Here is all you need to know about chiromancy, physiognomy, metoposcopy and oneireoscopy. Space does not allow an explanation of all these fabulous pseudo sciences suffice to say they have a lot to do with lines on the skin and dreams! Do check though if you have crossed lines in the centre of your forehead  –it indicates that you are going to be hanged! (Metoposcopy is the ancient art of interpreting the lines of your forehead in relation to the planets!)

Figure from A Treatise of Moles, Sander’s Chiromancy, 1653

Perhaps the most interesting and bizarre of these psuedo sciences was the study  of the significance of the position and colour of the moles on the body. A total of 112 primary mole positions are identified in Sanders and to each is attached a paragraph on its significance to the physician (or quack!):

“If you have a mole in the midst of the forehead under the line of Jupiter (don’t ask) and it is in the first figure and number (16) (see above!) and in the midst of the breast he has similar this prenotes the man to have a discourteous , cruel mind, floating brain, dull and incapable. If red he is sullen and furious, if black he is inexpert and unskilful. It shows a woman to be foolish, simple and idle, if it appears black she is a slut, a lazy slow creature”

And so it goes on, paragraph after paragraph, he is tough on men but he really hates women!  It finally ends with position 112:  “a mole in the lower part of the neck towards the left shoulder describes a man much more inclined to do evil rather than good. In a woman it describes her to be impudent, not regarding her manner and common civility and full of moles elsewhere.” It is amazing how many wives have left shoulder moles. (I dare you to check!) Saunders makes misogynists look like fully paid up feminists!!


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Meet the Borrower: Thomas Stalker & family part 3

In August 1891, Mrs Stalker’s name first appears in the Borrowers Register. That year she borrowed Dodderidge’s ‘ The Family Expositor’ on six dates – probably a different volume each time. In 1892 her reading is dominated by Smith’s Sermons, Monro’s Sermons, Robert’s Sermons and Flavel on Death. In previous years she may well have been reading books brought home by her husband and her children.

Thomas had continued to borrow Scott’s novels, an increasing variety of books on historical topics and the lives of important figures, as well as Chamber’s ‘Book of Days’, William Robertson’s ‘The History of America’, Buffon’s ‘Natural History’ and Thomas Pennant’s ‘A Tour of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, 1772’ – in which Innerpeffray is mentioned:

Thomas Pennant, Tour of Scotland, 1772

From 1892 until 1896 he also became an avid borrower of ‘The Scots Magazine’. From 1896 onwards he was borrowing prolifically and his choice of reading became extremely varied, particularly during the years 1896 to 1899, as can be seen below from some of his entries in the Register.

In May 1900, Thomas and Ann moved to Inchbrakie Cottage, Crieff, and by then the family had all left home. Catherine was the ‘Cook Domestic’ at Balnaboth Mansion, Glenprosen, Angus, and by 1911, she was working in Dunoon, Argyll. At some stage after that she returned to Crieff and was living with her parents when they died.

By 1901, John had married and was still living in Glasgow. His occupation was recorded as a Coal Traveller. William had moved to different lodgings in Glasgow and was now a Railway Porter. He would continue to work on the railway and later moved to Larbert, Stirling. In 1901 Thomas jnr. was living and working at Tullibardine Mill, Blackford, as a forest labourer.

In 1901 Janet was employed as a Dairymaid (Domestic), at Paddockhaugh, Blackford.  She married John Steven Mitchell in 1903 and by 1911 was living in Fife. Margaret appears on the 1901 census as a General Domestic Servant at Summerlea, Ferntower Road, Crieff. She was living at home again in 1911 but appears to have still been working as a Servant (Domestic).

Jane married in 1900 and by the beginning of April, 1901, she was living with her husband, David McKeith, and eleven month old son, William, at 40, East High Street, Crieff.

Thomas snr. borrowed his last books – ‘Maurice Dering’ (a novel) and ‘Lizzie Foston of Grayrigg’ (content unknown) – on the 27th November, 1900, returning them on 12th January 1901. By April 1911, Thomas, wife Ann, daughter Margaret and granddaughter Catherine McKeith, were all living at Hosh Farm Cottage, by Crieff. Ann died in 1918 and when Thomas died in 1920 he was still living at Hosh Cottage, with his daughter Catherine.

Thomas borrowed too many books for them all to be listed here but the following extracts from the Borrowers Register, 1897 to 1900, give an insight into his choice of reading during these final four of his thirty five years of borrowing. (Note: Extracted entries are transcribed exactly as they appear in the Borrowers Register.)

10-2-1897     The historical castles and mansions of Scotland                     A H Millar

17-3              Lost in the wilds of Canada                     Eleanor Stredder

25-3              Hudson Bay                     R M Ballantyne

7-4                Recollections of Dean Boyle                     G D Boyle

19-5              Jane Eyre                     Charlotte Bronte

16-6              Robbery under Arm

s7-7                Darien or The Merchant Prince           Bartholomew Warburton

28-7                            The Autobiography of an English Gamekeeper                                                                        John Wilkins

30-7With the Camel Corps Up the NileEdward Gleichen
5-8The Life of John DuncanWilliam Jolly
23-8Disraeli and his dayWilliam Fraser
2-9Round LondonMontagu Stephen Williams
5-10Quiet Folk 
15-10Health and LifeBenjamin W Richardson
26-10My VillageRobert Menzies Fergusson
16-11Life of BoswellPercy Hetherington Fitzgerald
Life of James Boswell, Percy Fitzgerald, 1891
15-1-1898Six Months at the CapeR M Ballantyne
5-3Pall Mall Magazine 
10-3Livingstone and Stanley 
1-4The Dog Crusoe and his masterR M Ballantyne
9-5Leaves from the journal of our life in 
 the HighlandsQueen Victoria
28-5Coral IslandR M Ballantyne
14-6Is Natural selection the creator of speciesDuncan Graham
6-7George Stewart, A Story of Waterloo 
21-7Basil WoolcombeArthur Lee Knight
15-8Mary BartonElizabeth Gaskell
30-9A Foolish Marriage 
19-10Harmsworth and Pearson Magazine 
24-10Auld Foulis and the jeely wellT Hardy
 Across Greenlands Ice FieldsMary Douglas
10-11The Life BoatR. M. Ballantyne

17-2-1899     Life of Dean Burgon

28-2              Life of Dean Burgon Vol. II

24-3              Life of Mary Queen of Scots 2 Vols. & The Munsey Magazine 15-4                     Conquering and to Conquer

31-5              The Trials and Triumphs of Jeanie Douglas and Peter Fern

13-7              Century Magazine, Windsor Magazine, The Royal Magazine & Munsey Magazine

31-8              Sir Walter Raleigh

Harmsworth Magazine June 1899, Pearsons Magazine July 1899 2-10      The Kings Own Borderers

17-11            The Royal Magazine & Harmsworth Magazine Pearsons Magazine & Black and White Magazine

21-12            The Lady’s Realm, Lady’s World and Pearsons Magazine Special Black and White Magazine & Punch (2 copies)

3-1-1900 The Lancashire Witches

The Roll of Drum & Masterman Ready 18-1              Rob Roy & The Royal Magazine 4 vols.

10-2              The Sphere & Black and White Magazine (3 copies)

15-3              The Woman at Home, Royal Magazine (2 copies) & Harmsworth Magazine 2-4    Dora & The Bride of Lammermuir

4-7                Early Years of the Prince Consort & Dennis Drone 14-11                     The Woman at Home (2 vols.), Magazines (2 vols) 27-11                     Maurice Dering

Lizzie Foston of Grayrigg

12-1-1901 The books borrowed in November were returned.

There are no further entries for any member of the Stalker family.

However, there is one more part of the story of the Stalker family that needs to be told. Before Ann and Thomas Stalker died, they would have known that their son, Thomas George Stalker, had been presumed killed in France, in 1917, but they would not have known where, or even if, he had been buried.

Fortunately, much of his Service Record is now available to look at, courtesy of the CWGC, thus enabling us to complete his story. On the 1st March 1916, Thomas jnr. attested with the 3rd Scottish Rifles. Aged 40, single, and living at Easter Boghead, By Lenzie, he was working as a farm labourer and wood cutter. He was mobilised and posted on 9th April 1916 and then transferred to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on the 1st June. In August 1916, he spent three weeks in the Field Hospital, North Walsham, suffering from ‘Debility’, a general term used then for a whole range of medical conditions.

He embarked for France on the 28th January 1917. Fighting with the Princess Louise’s Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 11th Battalion, Thomas was initially reported ‘Missing 15 April 1917’. In the terrible conditions of WW1 battlefields, it was not always possible to be sure that someone was dead. Initially, he would be recorded as missing and the next of kin informed by letter that this did not necessarily mean that he was dead, as he may have been taken prisoner or become separated from his regiment. If, after six months, no further news him had been received by either his regiment, or unofficially by the family, then his death would have been presumed to have occurred in the place and on the day that he was last known to be alive.

The ‘Missing’ date on his Service record is followed by ‘Place of Casualty – Field 9 April 1917’ (this was the first day of what is known as the Arras Offensive, 9th April – 15th May, 1917) but it was six months later, on 6th November 1917, before ‘Now reported killed’ is added to his record. This news would then have been conveyed officially to the family.

On the 11th July 1919, his sister Catherine signed a Declaration, witnessed by the Minister, Woodside, Dollerie Terrace, Crieff, confirming that the ‘relatives of the deceased soldier now living’ were: –

Father – Thomas Stalker, Hosh Cottage, Crieff.

Brothers – William Stalker 48, 19 Comely Park Street, Glasgow. Sisters – Catherine Stalker 54, Hosh Cottage, Crieff

Jessie Mitchell 46, Clunie Street Manse, Abernethy.

Margaret Ann Congie 41, P.O Verskifhers Kop, Dim-Harrismith, O.F.S. South Africa Jane McCulloch McKeith 39, Drummond Street, Comrie

The receipt of the official plaque and scroll in commemoration of Thomas was acknowledged by his father on the 3rd March 1920. The receipt of his British War Medal and Victory Medal was acknowledged by his sister, Catherine, on 23rd November 1921.

The next event in Thomas’s story was when the following note was added to the bottom of the page on his Statement of Service record: –

‘Buried at Hirvin Farm British Cemetery, St. Laurent Blangy, 2 miles east of Arras. Next of kin notified 31/1/22.’

One has to presume that this date may be indicative of the time when his remains were first found, identified and then buried in an ‘official’ grave. His sister Catherine, of Drummond Street, Comrie, was listed as his next of kin.

We then discover that during 1924 -1925, as with thousands of others like Thomas, who had been killed during the fighting in this part of France and buried in one of the many small cemeteries such as Hirvin Farm, or in simple graves where they fell on the battlefield, his body was exhumed. The reburials all took place in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, near Souchez. The means of his official identification recorded simply as ‘Cross (French), Field Service Dress and Kilt’. Thomas George Stalker’s siblings (his sister Catherine, of Drummond Street, Comrie, listed as his next of kin) were fortunate in that he could be identified, as over half of the more than 7,500 WW1 burials in this cemetery alone, remain unidentified.

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The Bishop from Innerpeffray and the Scottish Jesuit Spy

The collection donated by Janet Burns St Germain never ceases to amaze.

When I examined what is now Library of Innerpeffray LD.4.13, my attention was first drawn to the inscription at the foot of the title: “Rdo in Xo. Patri. Ludvo Richome. Gs Critton”. This copy was donated to Ludovicus Richomus, or Louis Richeome, whom I had come across in another incarnation when working on French Emblem Books. He lived and worked in various places including Lyon, but died in Bordeaux in 1625, which may explain the inscription at the head of the title: “Collegii Burdigal. Societ. Jesu Catalogo inscriptus” indicating that the volume was in the collection of the Jesuit College in Bordeaux. The donor of the book to Richeome was Gulielmus Crittonus, or William Crichton.

Foot of title page

However, the author was William Chisholm (ca. 1547-1629; called III, because two others of that name were, in succession, important in Scotland, and more precisely Perthshire), and the book is entitled: Examen confessionis fidei Calvinianae, quam Scotis omnibus ministri Calviniani subscribendam et jurandam proponunt an rectius, propter innumeras verae fidei detestationes Catholicae fidei confessionem vocemus. [Examination of the Calvinist confession of faith which all Calvinist ministers set before all the Scots for them to subsctibe to, or, more properly what we might regard as a confession of faith on account of its innumerable denials of the the true Catholic faith ]. So this is on a controversial topic, but nonetheless dedicated to the King of Scotland, before he succeeded to the English throne. The title also indicates that Chisholm was a Scot, and was the Bishop of Vaison in Provence. Vaison is near Avignon, where the book was published in 1601. His predecessor as Bishop in Vaison was his uncle, also William Chisholm, who was also deeply involved in Scottish affairs, and had earlier been Bishop of Dunblane, in succession to his uncle, yet another William Chisholm. [See DNB.] However, William Chisholm III is of the greatest interest to the Library where this book is now preserved, because he was actually born in Innerpeffray to Jean Drummond and James Chisholm of Cromlix, near Dunblane. He studied in Paris and Rome and became a doctor of  theology, before ordination to the priesthood. He joined his uncle in Vaison in 1580, and became bishop on his uncle’s resignation in 1585. He remained concerned with Scottish affairs, and may have been a papal ambassador to Scotland. He died in 1629 in Vaison, and contributions of his to the cathedral building survive, in the shape of two chapels.

What of William Crichton, who gave the volume to Richeome? He was a graduate of St Andrews, and then also studied in Louvain. In September 1562 he was back in Scotland, and present at a meeting between his uncle William Crichton, Bishop of Dunkeld, and the Papal envoy, with whom he returned to Europe; he was ordained around Whitsun 1563, and continued with the rigorous Jesuit noviciate. He was involved in Jesuit colleges in Lyon and Avignon, and was vice-provincial in Lyon in the late 1570s. In 1581 his career changed, and he became a papal adviser on Scottish affairs: the time seemed ripe for a Catholic effort to influence Scotland, and in particular the teen-aged James VI, perhaps given that James’s fiercely protestant tutor George Buchanan died in 1582. The idea was to enlist the help of the Spanish to depose Elizabeth I of England and restore Catholicism to Scotland and England. This came to nothing, because James was nobbled for the protestant cause by the “Ruthven Raid”, and Spain had more pressing matters to hand.

The machinations of 1582, which included a plot to assasinate Elizabeth, came back to haunt Crichton when he was captured while going on a mission to Scotland in 1584, possessed of incriminating papers. He spent time in the Tower of London, but was released when he convinced the authorities that he had advised the plotters against Elizabeth on the grounds that their actions would be completely unlawful. He was in Scotland between 1587 and 1589, during which time he was commissioned, but failed, to contact the Spanish Armada to get the Spanish to invade Scotland during the flight through the North Sea.

Crichton was involved in further machinations in attempts to carry out a pro-Catholic coup in Scotland in 1589-90, but emerges in the Scots seminary in Douai, which moved to Louvain in 1595. He may or may not have been one of the Jesuits present at the Battle of Glenlivet in 1594, when Catholic lords briefly had the upper hand over James and his Protestant supporters.

Crichton was, however, strongly supportive of James in the English succession, which brought him into conflict with English Catholics and other Jesuits who supported the claim of the Catholic Spanish king’s daughter rather than the Protestant King of Scotland. This led to Crichton’s having to leave Louvain (in the Spanish Netherlands) in 1598, when he fundamentally moved to Lyon, where he spent most of the rest of his days, interspersed with some diplomatic activity, and advisory work for the papacy on Scottish affairs. At this point he presumably met Louis Richeome, and eventually gave him Chisholm’s book. However, possibly the most significant move by Crichton in support of James VI brings us neatly back to William Chisholm III. In an attempt to conciliate the Pope and avoid opposition to his succeeding to the English throne, James VI sent Crichton to Rome with a letter dated 4 September 1599, requesting (in the event unsucessfully) that Chisholm be made a Cardinal.

Innerpeffray already had a copy of the French translation of Chisholm’s work: Examen d’une confession de foy (Paris: Jean Gesselin, 1603): its date of acquisition is uncertain, and it appears never to have been borrowed, however appropriate to the background and environment of Innerpeffray.

However, as always with Janet Burns St Germain, we have to ask how much of all this she knew when she bought Chisholm’s book. Serendipity? Flair? Good luck? Skill? Experience, on examining her other books, suggests a combination, which in turn implies something else: landing a copy like this, which links an author, with close Innerpeffray associations, to an early purchaser with an indisputable connection to this author, strongly indicates collecting genius.

[With grateful acknowledgement to Mark Dilworth’s articles on the relevant persons in the DNB; and to Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter.]

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Tour of the Tops Pt 2

Welcome to the second in a new series of blogs appearing throughout the year to interest, intrigue and, one hopes, entertain followers of the goings-on of Innerpeffray Library. The theme is a general one, but should deliver up something to pique everyone’s interest at some point. 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’ continues the hunt as we slowly move around the top shelves of the Library. I would love to claim special access during these trying times, but the research for this article was done before the Library closed back in March!

So, a quick confession around the first book I am going to discuss… I knew it was up there somewhere! This is a book that has been on display at times in the Library and one that a number of volunteers – and the Keeper of course – are consequently aware of and told me to look out for it once I announced my intentions to embark on this journey. It is, though, worth highlighting here as it’s a fascinating account of St. Kilda, written by its local minister, a chap by the name of Kenneth MacAulay, in 1764. I should note, he was the minister for the parish of Ardnamurchan and so he was an infrequent traveller to the island as opposed to a resident. He does seem, however, to have been intrigued by life on this most remote island – situated over 100 miles from his own, already extremely remote, parish on the mainland. Even today, St. Kilda remains an oddity, with its only permanent inhabitants being military personnel, supplemented by various visitors and National Trust for Scotland employees. The resident population was evacuated in 1930, so this book offers an insight into what life was like as a native islander. As usual with these types of book, it is written for an audience of gentlefolk in the cities of Great Britain, so some of the language can be somewhat, shall we say, condescending – he refers to the islanders as “our domestic Indians”. There are, however, signs of respect for the compassion and generosity of the islanders. The book then delves into all sorts of details of the island – its geography, history, flora, fauna and daily life on the islands all get a mention in this book. It offers a really interesting account of this most unusual place and it is written in a very free-flowing style which makes it quite easy to delve into the book and keep going. Of course, there are plentiful classical illusions and comparisons as one would expect from a learned man of this era, but on the whole, it is an enjoyable read. A real delight and a book I can certainly recommend to anyone with a vague interest in St. Kilda!

Map of St Kilda from History of St Kilda, Macaulay, 1764

The next book is also a travel book, but one that takes us a lot further than St. Kilda – all the way to India in fact! This is a quite remarkable book by a chap called Thomas Coryat (or Coryyat, Coryate or Coriat depending on what you’re reading!) who was a Jacobean gentleman who was court jester for a time to Prince Henry of Wales (eldest son of James VI). For some unknown reason, he decided to go for a long walk – around Europe! – and wrote up an account of the travels in a book. The Library’s copy dates from 1776 and includes various letters written from his lengthier later travels to Persia and India. The title of this work is “Coryat’s Crudities” and I’m still not quite sure why… It has some serious fascinating sections – this is one of those books that I will perhaps revisit in a later episode because there is so much to take in! However, I am going to focus on two aspects this time round. Firstly, as this includes a lot of material about Coryat as well as by him, there are some “extracts relating to him, from various authors”. My favourite of these is not just a piece of text. Oh no, this one is presented “according to the forme of Musick and to be sung by those that are so disposed”!! It’s quite the piece – comparing Coryat to a porcupine (I mean, who wouldn’t be flattered by that!). I will concede that the lyrics are not the best. Twice, the author is forced to jump into Latin to make the rhyme work and towards the end he just completely gives up and puts “Porcupen” twice, which is a distinct lack of effort if you ask me… Although, I can hardly accuse him of a lack of effort overall, as below you will see that he has written the same poem in LATIN as well. It really puts modern-day fans to shame, doesn’t it?

Back in the 17th Century, people wrote songs with a tune in multiple languages to express their admiration for people’s talents!! The second aspect, which I teased in the previous episode, is the attempt at Instagram! Firstly, see the text to the right:

Apologies that it’s not perfectly clear – in full, it reads “I have rid upon an Elephant since I came to this Court, determining one day (by God’s leave) to have my picture expressed in my own Booke, sitting upon an Elephant.” And here we have a picture of him sitting upon an elephant! Now, surely this is the 17th Century equivalent of posing for a photograph whilst doing a particularly unusual activity JUST for your social media postings? The thing that amuses me the most about this is that, well, we have no actual proof that he DID sit on an elephant – only his word! So, couldn’t he have lied about riding one and just got a drawing made of him doing so? Perhaps that’s just the cynic in me speaking out, but it’s certainly a fascinating insight into the mind of a man who thought it was worth travelling thousands of miles across multiple continents on foot! A most intriguing character indeed and one whose adventures I am sure I will discuss further in future episodes! Definitely worth a look next time you, dear reader, are in the Library!

Coyrate’s Crudities, reprinted from the edition of 1611, Thomas Coryate, 1776

The final book I want to introduce you to today is yet another one to which I shall endeavour to return later as well, because I am certain that there will be a lot more therein to share! For now, however, I shall focus on what I found at the end… This book has the most delightful title of “Les Délices de la France” or “Description des Provinces, Villes principals, Maisons Royales, Chateaux, & autres Lieux remarquables de ce beau Royaume” (to translate: The Delights of France or Description of the regions, main cities, royal palaces and the other notable places of this beautiful kingdom). In three small volumes, this book bounces around the entire kingdom of France as it was in 1728 – a decade or so after the Sun King had permanently set. It’s basically the forerunner to the Michelin guides that came out in the early 20th Century! It makes me think it is basically a French version of the amazing Britannia by William Camden that the Library has (albeit Britannia is over a century older). This is, unsurprisingly, in French, but anyone will appreciate what lies at the end of each of the three volumes: Cityscapes! Well, cityscapes and drawings of the more well-known “Maisons Royales”, as you will be able to see in the image to the right. It shows Versailles at the height of its importance in the world with the gardens stretching off into the far distance. I did not have as long as I would have liked to peruse all of the maps, but I found most of the major French cities – some twice – in the time I did have. I only had a brief glance at the actual text so taken was I with these cityscapes. Unlike the other two books I have discussed today, this one seems to have been less known and a bit more hidden on the shelves. It was borrowed once – by an intriguing chap noted as A. Du Pare in 1797. Intriguing because he was living at Drummond Castle and that is a very French sounding name! Perhaps he was a French visitor to the Drummonds, or maybe a native French tutor? Either way, it seems that this book is a bit more of a hidden treasure!

La Delice de La France, 1728

So that rounds off the second ‘episode’ of the Tour of the Tops. Hopefully, it has continued to prove interesting. I fear that there will now be a break until I can get back into the Library to continue the tour, so I cannot provide any teasers for the next episode. The joy is that I have genuinely no idea what I might come across next, so the surprise will be mine as well! I hope you will join me once again once I get back to the top shelves of Innerpeffray!


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Meet the Borrower: Thomas Stalker pt2

Thomas Stalker, Gamekeeper – Part 2 – the children, 1875 – 1900

From January 1875, when daughter Catherine’s name is first recorded in the Register, all the Stalker children would become borrowers. Except for Thomas jnr. who was aged 16, the first time their names appear they were all between 9 and 13 years of age. Many of the dates recorded indicate that several family members often visited the library together.

Catherine (Katie) borrowed books on nine dates during her first year. Throughout her borrowing her reading choices were nearly all stories for older children and some light novels. Her name appears only once in both 1876 and 1878, twice in 1880 and then disappears from the Register until she is borrowing again between July 1896 and March 1897. She borrows once in December 1898 and then from January to March 1900, her last entry. It was probably around 1880 that she left home to go into domestic service and her later borrowings were most likely when she was at home again, either between jobs or working more locally.

John’s name is first recorded in the Register in October 1878, joined by William in 1879, and their names appear regularly each year until 1885. They both borrowed stories for older children, such as ‘Alfred in India’, ‘The Swan’s Egg’, ‘Little Robertson’. They also regularly borrowed Chamber’s ‘Book of Days’ and Chamber’s ‘Repository’. Their interests began to widen over the years and by 1882 William was borrowing predominantly history books, including Samuel Fergusson’s ‘The queen’s visit and other poems; with copious historical notes’ and the novels of Sir Walter Scott, whilst John had progressed to reading Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott’s novels.

Chambers’ Book of Days

In January 1885, John’s occupation is recorded in the Register as a Clerk, living at home, but this is his final entry. On the 1891 Census he is lodging in Glasgow and is recorded as a ‘Coalmaster’s Clerk’. After 1885 William’s name does not appear again until an entry in July 1891 and another in June 1893, when he was, presumably, visiting his parents. On the 1891 Census he is recorded as lodging, seemingly with a Stalker relative in Glasgow, and his occupation is recorded as a ‘Light Porter’.

Jessie’s (Janet) name first appears in September 1886 when she borrows Parley’s ‘Christmas Tales’, and she continues to borrow regularly until July 1900. However, in September 1892, she had obviously moved out of the family home and is recorded in the Register as the ‘Housekeeper, North Mains, Innerpeffray’. This would remain her address until 1896, when she returns to living with her parents at Parkneuk Cottage. Her reading choices were almost all light novels, with an occasional delve into Chamber’s ‘Book of Days’ and Sir Walter Scott’s Poems. In the later 1890s she was borrowing, as were the rest of the family, numerous magazines which the library was obviously acquiring on a regular basis, such as Harmsworths, The Royal Magazine, The Windsor Magazine, Longman’s Magazine and My Picture Magazine.

Cleopatra, by H Rider Haggard

‘Cleopatra’ by Rider Haggard was the last book that Jessie borrowed.

Margaret (Maggie) began her borrowing in February 1891 and was joined by her sister Jane in July 1891. Maggie repeatedly borrowed both Chamber’s ‘Papers’ and ‘Repository’ and in 1893 ‘The Glasgow Infant School Magazine’, whilst Jane read various novels for older children, ‘Poems for the young’, Robertson’s ‘History of Scotland’ and Rapin’s ‘History of England’. Maggie continued to borrow until August 1898, after which she probably went into Domestic Service. Jane’s final entry in the Register is January, 1900.

Thomas (junior) began his borrowing in December 1891, with Sir Walter Scott’s “Tales of a Grandfather’, and his occupation is recorded as a Clerk. That was the only record for him that year and this was followed by three entries in 1893, four in 1894 and then none until a further three in the autumn of 1898 and a final entry in November 1899. Others of Scott’s novels, ‘The Life of Nelson’ and Buffon’s ‘Natural History’ featured on his reading list.

Buffon’s Histoire Naturelle

Buffon’s Natural History series ‘Birds’

The Stalker children borrowed too many books for them all to be listed here but the following extracts from the Borrowers Register, give an insight into their choice of reading and illustrates how several members of the family often visited the library together. (Note: Extracted entries are transcribed as they appear in the Borrowers Register.)

Unfortunately many of the books that they borrowed are no longer in the collection and, as we have no evidence to suggest that they were not returned, we can only suspect that  they were ‘read to death’. Nor does the library have any of the many magazines that are recorded in the Register.


1891 (Full entry for all the family for this year)

13-1 Thomas ‘Arighurst tu tuk’ and ‘Woodstock’
17-2 / 20-3 / 18-6  
  Maggie Chambers Papers
1-7 Thomas ‘Memorials of the Late War’ and Allan’s ‘Life of Nelson’
  Maggie Chambers Papers
  John The Swan’s Egg
9-7 Thomas Life of Wellington
13-7 Jane Poems For Young
  Maggie Chambers Papers
16-7 Mrs Stalker Cave’s Lives of the Twelve Apostles
27-7 Jane History of Scotland
1-8 Maggie Chambers Papers
  Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor
5-8 Maggie The Swan’s Egg
8-8 Maggie Chambers Repository
18-8 Maggie Book of Days
22-8 Jane Alfred in India  
  Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor
  Maggie Chambers Papers
2-9 Jane History of England Paul de Rapin
  Maggie Chambers Miscellany  
8-9 Maggie Duty and Affection  
18-9 Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor  
  Jane Clever Boys  
  Maggie Chambers Repository  
5-10 Jane Sunbeams on the Cottage  
19-10 Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor  
  Maggie Chambers repository  
  Jane Moral Courage  
21-10 Thomas Scotts Poems  
24-10 Maggie Sunbeams on the Cottage  
29-10 Thomas Adam Bede  
6-11 Jane Steadfast Gabriel  
  Maggie Chambers Repository  
12-11 Thomas Tales of a Grandfather Sir Walter Scott
20-11 Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor  
  Jane Chambers Papers  
5-12 Maggie Antiquary  
10-12 Jane Old Mortality Sir Walter Scott
  Maggie Chambers Papers  
14-12 Thomas jnr Tales of a Grandfather Sir Walter Scott
21-12 Jane Tales of a Grandfather  
22-12 Mrs Stalker The Family Expositor  

1893 (Extracts from this year)

13-6    Jane        Chambers Repository Jessie           Summer Time in the Country

Maggie       Anderson’s Story of my Life

20-6    Mrs Stalker                    Apolisticia                                              Cave

1-8     Thomas        The Scots Magazine

4-9     Jane             Chambers Repository

Mrs Stalker          Apolisticia

Thomas jnr   Castle Dangerous

Jessie          Success of Mohamet      Washington Irving

Maggie          Chambers Papers

Thomas        The Scots Magazine and ‘Essays Moral and Humorous’ 26-10

Mrs Stalker                               Burnets History of the Reformation

Jessie           Antiquary

Jane             Wide Wide World Thomas jnr Tales of a Grandfather

31-10 Maggie          The Glasgow Infant School Magazine

8-11          Maggie          Dora

19-12 Thomas        School Magazine and Nation’s History

Maggie                     Sheltering Arms

Mrs Stalker          MacCaulay’s St. Kilda

Thomas jnr. Buffon’s Natural History

Jessie           Redgauntlet

1899 (Extracts from this year)

17-2    Thomas jnr. The Bride of Lammermuir 28-2   

Jessie         Duty

Jane             Robert Martin’s Lesson

Thomas jnr. Life of Sir William Wallace

27-3    Thomas jnr. Our Trip North

Jane             Pearson’s Magazine and The Lady’s Christmas 2 vols.

Jessie                     Eugene Aran

15-4    Jane             Windsor Magazine and The Munsey Magazine

31-8          Jessie           Cleopatra

Thomas jnr. Nickolas Nickleby

2-10    Jessie           The Windsor Magazine

17-11 Thomas jnr. The Kings Own

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Tour of the Tops part 1

Tour of the Tops – Episode 1 “Initial Inquiries Lead to Historical Hilarity”

Welcome to a new series of blogs that will be appearing throughout the year to interest, intrigue and, one hopes, entertain followers of the goings-on of Innerpeffray Library. The theme is a general one, but should deliver up something to pique everyone’s interest at some point. 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! I will note, this is very much based on what grabbed my attention whilst atop a ladder, so apologies to those who love sermons, or meaty Latin texts – I left those where there were! So without further ado, let’s get climbing and see what’s lying in wait.

The first book to grab my attention was “A Complete History of the Inquisition in Portugal, Spain, Italy, the East and West-Indies…”, written by the Reverend Mr. Baker, M.A. in 1736. What really helped this book’s case was, of course, the promise of “several Copper Plates, representing their Manner of Punishment, etc. etc. etc.”! So I had a quick read through the book and found a rather interesting account of an interrogation of a chap by the name of Louis Ramé. As you may have guessed from his name, he was neither Portuguese, nor Spanish, nor Italian, but French. Again, this intrigued me as France was a mostly Catholic country, but on reading his account, it seems that he was a French Protestant from the Southwest and he had been picked up by the Inquisition in Mexico, then part of the Spanish Empire. The book provides a gripping account of the interrogations (one does have to wonder HOW Mr. Ramé managed to remember it all verbatim years later…) and some interesting facts are thrown up. He reveals that he has 18 (!!!) siblings and most seem to still be alive, although he’s less sure how many cousins he has; when asked how many children his aunt and uncle have, he responds “five or six daughters”. Reading through the full story, it turns out that he was stuck in prisons for over nine years before being eventually taken to Spain and released. All in all, a most fascinating book on the Inquisition with plenty on offer to terrify the average British reader… One does have to wonder, however, how much was truthful and how much had been exaggerated to heighten fears of what would happen to the country were a Catholic power ever to conquer it. The book was taken out 14 times according to the Borrowers’ Register – all between 1804 and 1863. One chap, a John Dougall of Muthill, clearly enjoyed it a lot as he took it out four times!

Note the priest at the far left making sure that everything is being done correctly… Not a nice scene!

The next book to catch my eye entertained me immensely once I opened it to the frontispiece. Welcome to the catchily titled “Family Expositor” a “Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament with Critical Notes and a Practical Improvement of each Section” (my italics). Yes, the author, the most wonderfully named P. Doddridge, D.D., has decided that the work of the disciples could be improved and so decides to tell his readers exactly how they could be. He clearly had a high opinion of himself, as the opposing page has a picture of “The Author’s Head supported by Faith and Piety, accompanied by Benevolence”, as you can see below…

I took down the first volume (of six!) and began to read. His improvements prove to not be quite what I expected. I had hoped that it would be his attempts at trying to rework the Bible, but instead they seem to be more along the lines of ways to improve the reader’s approach to life. A good example of this is in the “Improvement” from the Feeding of the Five Thousand. He focuses her on churchmen, saying that “Ministers of the Gospel have it in their Power to assist Men in their Temporal, as well as Spiritual Necessities” (very much HIS italics!). His style is very preachy at times – another Improvement begins “Alas, how prone are our foolish Souls to relish and regard the Things of Men, rather than those of GOD!”. I may have been highly amused by how time has worn away the strength and meaning of a lot of what was written here, but it is, in truth a fascinating insight into the kind of book that people were reading at this time. In fact, it must have been quite popular at one point, because whilst I was reading through it, a fellow volunteer noticed that we have a second full set of the “Family Expositor” about six shelves down from where I had found him! Clearly a most popular chap indeed – his works were borrowed over 30 times between 1776 and 1895 with a number of repeat borrowers, including a certain Mrs. Stalker, wife of Thomas Stalker whose story was introduced in a previous blog post! In fact, possibly playing on the fact that it was aimed at families, there were six different women borrowing the book out of twenty individual borrowers.

The final book in this first post is easily my favourite of the three, and a perfect example of the title betraying little of the wonders within the book! Welcome to “An Easy and Compendious Introduction For Reading all sorts of Histories: Contrived in a more facile way than heretofore hath been published”. This was the fourth edition of Mathias Prideaux’s work and was printed in 1664. I am quite the history fan and historical history books always fascinate me, so I started to flick through the pages and, well, came across this:

Yes, read it again, it does indeed say:

So, in utter bafflement as to how a history book could be discussing this topic, I found that this was a chapter title and it turned out to be about none other than the Popes! Yes, for those not in the know, the “Luxurious Sodomites” came just after a sequence of “Usurping Nimrods” and began with the infamous Pope John VIII, also known as Pope Joan! Historians now doubt the existence of a female Pope, but it was a well-told story by Protestant writers trying to discredit the Catholic Church, so it is unsurprising that she gets a mention in here, especially given the obvious bias that this author has against the Catholic Church! Not being the greatest expert on the papacy, I then turned to read about one Pope whose actions had quite the impact on English history; namely Clement VII, who denied Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon and led to the creation of the Church of England. I was not disappointed by the description of Clement “crossing our King Henry the eighth and deluding him in the Divorce from his Brothers [sic] Wife, Queen Katherine, he lost his supremacy here in England, and for his lewd life otherwise, made his See infamous.” But… My eye then glanced down the page onto the description of his successor… “Paul the third, who prostituted his sister Julia Farnesia to Alexander the sixth that he might be made Cardinall, committed incest with his own daughter Constantia, and poysoned her husband Bosius Sforsia, to enjoy her the more freely”. Goodness me! Obviously, a huge pinch of salt should be taken here – the author has a very clear bias against the papacy and is clearly repeating any rumour he can find about them, but still! The accusations being levelled almost beggar belief. I intend to return to this book later as there were sections on other areas of history later on, so watch out for more coming from this book in future articles. Just remember the title of this book: “An Easy and Compendious Introduction For Reading all sorts of Histories”. I don’t know about you, good reader, but I’ve not read THAT sort of history before! Fascinatingly, this book appears to have never been borrowed – so maybe this book has been on a top shelf for most of its lifetime in the Library!

And thus, we come to the end of the first ‘episode’ of our Tour of the Tops. I hope you’ve found it intriguing so far and that it’s piqued your interest to maybe have a look up there the next time that you are in the Library. The next episode will talk about Scotland’s most remote island, hint at perhaps an early attempt at Instagram in 17th Century India and reveal some utterly delightful cityscapes! RS

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Meet the Borrower – Thomas Stalker Pt 1

Thomas Stalker was the Gamekeeper at Innerpeffray for over 30 years. He began borrowing books from Innerpeffray Library soon after taking up the employment, in the early 1860s, and continued to do so throughout his time in the area. In December 1864 he married Ann McLean and they brought up their family in Parkneuk Cottage.

The first time Thomas appears in the records is on the 15th April 1865, when he borrowed the ‘Fortunes of Nigel’ by Sir Walter Scott. Throughout 1865 he borrowed a further five of Scott’s novels and another five of them in 1866. Scott’s novels remained a favoured choice of reading throughout his borrowing and, over the years, he would often return to some of them several times. Robert Burns was another long term favourite, as was Shakespeare.

Apart from the novels by Sir Walter Scott, Thomas borrowed novels by other authors as well as books such as ‘Five years of a hunter’s life in the far interior of South Africa’ by Roualeyn Gordon Cumming. Perhaps he wanted to compare his life as a gamekeeper in Scotland with that of a Scotsman going hunting in far off country such as Africa!

As the years progressed Thomas’s choice of reading matter began to expand and by the early 1870s, although still borrowing the occasional novel, he is clearly developing interests in a much wider range of subjects. The history of England and Scotland, as well as that of the wider world, became his main reading list. Add to that historical and critical accounts of the life of Oliver Cromwell, Nelson, Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, Ferdinand and Isabella, and other notables. He borrowed books about adventures at sea and to places such as Arabia and America, This increased desire for knowledge of the wider world continued throughout his borrowing but there were also books that he returned to regularly for reference, such as Robert Chambers’ ‘The Book of Days’ and William Chambers’ ‘Papers’.

Perhaps rather an unusual choice of book was ‘Elise, or Innocencie guilty: a new romance translated into English by Jo: Jennings, gent..’ printed in 1655. The printing date for this book, along with other 17th century books that Thomas took home to read, would seem to indicate that all of the books in the Innerpeffray collection were made accessible to borrowers. no matter which level of social class they were deemed to come from.

In 1875 the Stalker children began to borrow books from Innerpeffray and an insight into their choice of reading will be covered in Part 2.

Thomas Stalker borrowed so many books for them all to be listed here but the following extracts from the Borrowers Register, 1865 to 1878, give an insight into his choice of reading during these years. (Note: Extracted entries are transcribed exactly as they appear in the Borrowers Register.)

15-4-1865Fortunes of NigelSir Walter Scott
03-MayFive years of a hunter’s lifeRoualeyn Gordon-Cumming
03-JunRed GauntletSir Walter Scott
01-SepBurns Life and Works
12-NovThe LamplighterMaria Susanna Cummins
16-2-1866Old MortalitySir Walter Scott
26-FebThe TalismanSir Walter Scott
16-AprAnne of GeiersteinSir Walter Scott
20-9-1867Life of NelsonAllan
6-1-1868Russel War 1853, 1854
08-DecRob RoySir Walter Scott
12-1-1869Quentin DurwardSir Walter Scott
29-DecLife of Napoleon
4-2-1870Life of Oliver CromwellWilliam Harris
29-AprLife and Works of Robert BurnsAlan Cunningham
15-4-1871Memoirs of EnglishwomenLouisa Stuart Costello
20-MayShakespeare’s Plays
14-5-1872The Roving Englishman
07-NovSt. Ronans WellSir Walter Scott
2-10-1873WaverleySir Walter Scott
19-NovScotts Poems
6-1-1874Lives of the successors of MahometWashington Irving
29-JanConquest of Florida
10-FebFerdinand and IsabellaWilliam Prescott
12-MarThe Book of DaysRobert Chambers
07-AprArabian Tales and Anecdotes Conspiracies – 15/16/17 centuries  John Park Lawson
19-MayAdventures of British Seamen Robertson Adventures in America
21-7-1874Bird Architecture
14-NovWaverleySir Walter Scott
04-DecChambers PapersWilliam Chambers
25-5-1875Stewarts Queen MaryGilbert Stuart
01-JulThe Memoirs of Sir James MelvilleJames Melville
24-AugElise or Innocencie guiltyJean Pierre Camus
20-1-1876The History of EnglandThomas Macaulay
04-JulMemoirs of the Duke of Wellington
20-JulThe Roving Englishman
2-1-1877Men of the TimeAlaric Watts
10-MayBurns Life and WorksAlan Cunningham
27-NovScotts Prose Works
2-7-1878Chambers PapersWilliam Chambers
04-JulMemoirs of EnglishwomenLouisa Stuart Costello
17-OctLife of Wellington