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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