“Sorry, Foakes Jackson, I am for real”*


Our colleague, Patrick Murray, has begun work cataloguing the W. F. Jackson collection, initially, as part of the Funk Cataloguing Project. This collection has been at New College for many decades but with the need to fill in accurate data about the material, it was soon apparent that no one knew very much about William Foakes Jackson or W. J. Jackson as he had carefully and clearly inscribed in each book.

The closest match that could be found was a Frederick John Foakes-Jackson, who was an eminent scholar of Judaism, something which connected with the first tranche of books. However, after that the trail went cold and, as the archivist, I was asked if I could give any advice on where to look next.

Away from the office, searches on Google, ScotlandsPeople and Ancestry.co.uk all drew a blank on proffering a sibling or son to Frederick John Foakes Jackson, who might have owned and donated these books.

In the New College Library Archives, there are boxes of library correspondence from throughout the 20th century some of which relate to the deposit of collections (ref. AA.2.1). As these records are in varying states of arrangement I decided to look at some of W. F. Jackson’s books for any other clues before delving into the correspondence.

The first couple of books seemed devoid of any details about the owner but, unexpectedly, out of the fourth book I looked at fell a scrap of an envelope on which was written: ‘[-] F Jackson, Suffolk House, 18 Suffolk Road, Edinburgh’ and postmarked 1929. The key to it all.

Scrap of an envelope found in the W. F. Jackson collection of books.

Scrap of an envelope found in the W. F. Jackson collection of books.

A quick visit to ScotlandsPeople searching for the death certificate for a W. F. Jackson after 1929 and there was William Fulton Jackson, in 1931, passing away at Suffolk House, 18, Suffolk Road, Edinburgh. That narrowed down the correspondence search nicely and quite quickly I found a note from his niece, Janet Cameron, depositing the records at New College Library (ref. AA.2.1.104a).

Suffolk House, 18 Suffolk Road, Edinburgh. 6th June 1934 Dear Dr Mitchell Hunter, It was the desire of my uncle, the late Mr W. F. Jackson, that should I wish to dispose of any of his books, his “Eastern Collection” be gifted to the Library of the Church of Scotland. As I understand these books will be acceptable, I hereby formally make the Gift, and I trust it will be convenient to keep them together as one collection, to be called the “W. F. Jackson” collection, and that they will be found useful by many students of our own Church. I am, Yours faithfully, Janet Inglis Cameron Dr, Mitchell Hunter, Librarian Church of Scotland.

Letter from Janet Inglis Cameron, niece of W. F. Jackson, to Dr Mitchell Hunter, Librarian, New College, making a gift of his “Eastern Collection” of books.

Transcript of letter:

Suffolk House,
18 Suffolk Road,

6th June 1934

Dear Dr Mitchell Hunter,
It was the desire of my uncle, the late Mr W. F. Jackson, that should I wish to dispose of any of his books, his “Eastern Collection” be gifted to the Library of the Church of Scotland.

As I understand these books will be acceptable, I hereby formally make the Gift, and I trust it will be convenient to keep them together as one collection, to be called the “W. F. Jackson” collection, and that they will be found useful by many students of our own Church.

I am,
Yours faithfully,
Janet Inglis Cameron

Dr, Mitchell Hunter,
Church of Scotland.

To the railway historian, the name William Fulton Jackson will be familiar. He was born in 1855 to John Jackson, a grain merchant, and Mary Fulton, in 73, South Wellington Street, Glasgow. In 1883 he married Maggie McJannet Lattimer, at her home in 14, St James Street, Glasgow. In 1891 he was listed as a railway clerk living in Coltbridge Avenue, Edinburgh and by the 1901 census, he had become the General Manager of the North British Railway Company, living at 24, Royal Terrace, Edinburgh. It appears that Jackson was appointed as General Manager in 1899, after his predecessor, John Conacher, stepped down in the wake of a boardroom scandal.

Further internet searches revealed that some of his photograph albums had been deposited at Glasgow University Archives, and that he was an active member of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

The 1911 census provides us with a mystery, outwith our remit, in that on the night the census was taken he and many others were staying in the same place as Arthur Conan Doyle and his family: “Rothsay” in Bournemouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England. Is this a connection or a coincidence?

Whatever the answer, after many years of this valuable collection of books being known as the “Foakes Jackson Collection” and thanks to an envelope scrap, finally we are able to give the real W. F. Jackson – William Fulton Jackson, Esq., the credit he is due.

Kirsty M. Stewart, New College Collections Curator

As the books in the W.F. Jackson collection are catalogued their entries will become available on the University of Edinburgh’s discovery service: http://discovered.ed.ac.uk

University of Glasgow material:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/uofglibrary/sets/72157644176571389/ http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/archiveofnews/2007/july/headline_31062_en.html

*With apologies to hip-hop duo, “OutKast”.

Cut it out!

I have been making my way through the manuscripts collection in an effort to identify material, see what conservation needs there are and generally acquaint myself with the collections. This week I have been struck by the quantity of material from the 1600s, which has, of course, come about as a result of the Covenanters. While a good proportion of the manuscripts are sermons there are a few which are copies of letters or the last words of Presbyterian martyrs.

My heart was in my mouth when I opened one such volume (ref. MSS NOT) and found that in several places pages had been cut out. As I went through the notebook in search of the name of the person who had carefully copied down sermons by Laurence Charteris and James Good, Latin tracts and proclamations, my heart resumed its usual position when, quite unusually, I found an explanation for the missing pages:

“Nota: I lent this book to Mr Samuel Nairne when he was passing his tryalls for the Ministrie which he keept four years & some more; & when removed from the parish of Moonzie and went to Arroll, he tooke the booke with him; And all the thankes I got was the cutting out of thir leaves as is to be seen in the following part hereof Which was neither done lyke a Gentleman nor a Minister. Whereupon I ame resolved here after to take heed to whom I lend the use of my booke, especially of a manuscript.”

Author's explanation for missing notebook pages.

Author’s explanation for missing notebook pages.

While the notebook’s author is as yet unknown, the reference to Samuel Nairne dates it to around 1690 and one can assume that the author was living in the parish of Moonzie or nearby.

The inside cover of the notebook tells us that it was later owned by a James MacGregor. However, at another point in the notebook, where Samuel Nairne had been busy with a blade, James wrote the following:

 “Fhuair Seumas McGriogair an leabhar so am Peairt am Bliadhna ar Tighearna 1778 ar son 2sc[illin]”
Translation: “James MacGregor bought this book in Perth in the Year of our Lord 1778 for 2 pence.”

Not only does this give us more about the provenance of the book but also shows that James MacGregor was literate in Gaelic.

James MacGregor notes when and where he bought the notebook (ref. MSS NOT)

James MacGregor notes when and where he bought the notebook (ref. MSS NOT)

Missing pages can be frustrating and sometimes even heartbreaking but for our unknown Fife scribe their absence was clearly just plain annoying: annoying enough to write about it.

Kirsty M Stewart, New College Collection Curator

Information on Samuel Nairn from Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae , vol 5, p 169: SAMUEL NAIRNE, M.A. ; ord. before 22nd July 1690 ; trans, to Errol 12th Jan. 1692.


“You’ll never guess who I met today…”

At the beginning of August I took on the role of New College Collections Curator looking after the archives held at New College Library and in the Centre for Studies in World Christianity (CSWC). As the CSWC archives rooms were essentially out of action during the festival, the Rainy Hall being a Festival Fringe venue, I spent my first month concentrating on acquainting myself with the archives in New College Library (NCL).
As inevitably happens with archives, almost as soon as you are trying to establish the facts around your collections you find yourself with questions. So it was in my third week of work.

Archives stacks August 2015

The Rev Thomas Chalmers (1780 – 1847) is a mighty figure in Presbyterian Church history and his collection of papers is no less substantial than the man himself. The first Principal of New College, his papers (ref GB238 CHA) contain correspondence with many individuals, including notable figures of the era; family papers dating back to the 18th century; sermons and lectures. There are also several boxes marked as an Appendix to the collection. Within one of these boxes are photocopies noted as having been taken from records belonging to a descendant of Thomas Chalmers. Intent on finding out who this descendant was and where the originals of these documents might be now, I set about searching the records of New College Library itself (ref. GB238 AA2) to see if there was any mention in minute books or correspondence about making and receiving these photocopies.

This proved to be a useful exercise in itself as I was able to get a sense of how the Library operated, key points in the history of the collections, and the sort of cataloguing work that had been done on the manuscripts during the twentieth century. Gleaning the names of different members of staff over the years – Mrs Margot Butt seems to have become the expert on Thomas Chalmers – I was quickly able to start scanning documents for them, which was why I gave a start when my own grandfather’s signature, as bold as the man himself, jumped out at me from some correspondence. The second surprise came when I realised that he had written to the Library on behalf of my father (ref. GB238 AA.2.1.108).

Letter of enquiry from W M Macartney to New College Librarian, 1969 (GB238 AA2.1.108).Letter from The British and Foreign Bible Society to Dr Moir, 1969 (ref. GB238 AA2.1.108).Letter from W M Macartney to New College Librarian, 1969 (GB238 AA2.1.108).

As the images above show, it transpired that in the late 1960s when my father was a missionary in Kenya, he had a colleague, called Simon, who used a particular book to help him while evangelising. He had noticed that the book was falling apart, pages were missing and the covers torn and so he wanted to get him a new copy but all he had to go on was part of the title page. He sent this fragment to my grandfather (incidentally a New College graduate) to see if he could find out what the full title was and if a new copy could be purchased. My grandfather duly wrote to the New College Librarian and the enquiry resulted in success with contacts in London being able to identify the book: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, by Samuel Bagster. From a note on the first letter it seems that the Librarian actually visited my grandfather but whether they were friends or he just happened to be in the vicinity I’ll never know. My father has no recollection of the matter although he does remember Simon. For me it was quite touching to encounter my late grandfather and be reminded of my own father’s characteristic thoughtfulness amidst a completely different quest altogether.

As for the Thomas Chalmers photocopies and originals, I eventually discovered records of the Thomas Chalmers Bicentenary Exhibition, which Margot Butt had prepared in 1980, along with the name of not one but twenty-one descendants and discussion on the disputed inheritance of his papers (ref. GB238 CHA Appendix 5). A blog for another day.

Kirsty M Stewart, New College Collections Curator

J.H. Oldham (1874-1969) : Missionary and Ecumenical Pioneer

Faith on the frontier : a life of J.H. Oldham / K.W. Clements. New College Library BX6.8.O54 Cle.

Faith on the frontier : a life of J.H. Oldham / K.W. Clements. New College Library BX6.8.O54 Cle.

Today, 16 May, is the anniversary of the death of J.H. Oldham.

Joseph Houldsworth Oldham (1874-1969) was a missionary and pioneer of ecumenism. The organising secretary for the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, he also founded the journal International Review of Missions. During the Second World War the meetings of his ‘Moot’ group initiated new thinking about Christian responsibility in modern society.

New College Library holds a substantial collection of J.H. Oldham’s papers,  which include correspondence, material relating to the Moot including minutes (1938-1947), lectures, sermons, papers and reports.

You can read more about J.H. Oldham and the Oldham Papers here , or in Faith on the frontier : a life of J.H. Oldham  by K.W. Clements, in  New College Library at BX6.8.O54 Cle.

Happy Birthday New College Library

Seventy six years ago on the 8th of October, New College Library, Edinburgh, was formally opened to students and staff in its current building, the former Free High Kirk. The earth under the church floor had been excavated to allow the three stackrooms below the Library Hall.

The New College Archive preserves this original admission ticket to the inauguration ceremony, as it also preserves the suggestions books, committee minutes and account books of the business of New College Library since its foundation back in the 1840s.  The ticket bears the arms of Edinburgh University on the left and the Church of Scotland’s burning bush emblem on the right. This represents the union which had been effected in  January 1935 of the Church of Scotland’s  New College with the University’s Faculty of Divinity in the New College building.

New College Library Archives

An image from the New College Archive of New College Library as it appeared in 1946

Did you know that New College Library holds significant collections of archives and manuscripts?

These  collections include the papers of Thomas Chalmers, J.H. Oldham, James S. Stewart and Norman W. Porteous.  Hidden among the older archives are gems such as the  last speech and testimony of the covenanter James Renwick (1662-1688).  The Archives also include a New College Archive which includes group photographs of students and staff, and of the New College buildings.

Recently added to our collections are the papers of Rev Tom Allan (1916-1965), Rev. Professor Alec Campbell Cheyne (1924-2006), Rev. Professor John McIntyre (1916-2005), and the Very Rev Professor James Whyte (1920-2005). The listing of these papers was funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Rev. Professor Alec Campbell Cheyne .

See the New College Archives web page to find out more.

How an Olympic champion became a missionary

The BBC Scotland programme Eric Liddell: A Champion’s Life http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lb63b  on BBC2 tonight (Monday 23rd July) at 10pm features items from University of Edinburgh Collections.

RUNNING THE RACE: Eric Liddell Olympic Champion and Missionary. John W. Keddie.

New College Library recently received a donation of a biography of  former Olympic Champion Eric Liddell, by John W. Keddie.  Immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire, Liddell won gold in the 400 metres at the Olympic games in Paris 1924, but famously refused to compete in his best event, the 100 metres, because it was held on a Sunday. He went on to study at the Scottish Congregational College and in 1925 went to China as a missionary with the London Missionary Society.

New College Library holds a  letter (30 June 1940) from Liddell to Mary and George Cameron, Heriot, Midlothian describing his movements during his last trip with his family. After two years in a wartime  internment camp with other members of the China Inland mission, he died on 21 February 1945, five months before liberation.

Liddell’s Olympic medals were donated to Edinburgh University by his daughter Mrs. Patricia Russell. A new Sports Scholarship at Edinburgh University, the Eric Liddell High Performance Sports Scholarship, was launched recently in his memory.

Medieval manuscript on display at New College Library …

Now on display at New College Library : the Athanasii Opuscula.

This fifteenth century Italian medieval manuscript has a beautiful painted and gold tooled frontispiece and a neat humanistic script. In the lower margins cupids hold a gold hoop.  (Details taken from Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, N.R. Ker, Oxford: Clarendon 1977, p. 532)

New College Library possesses five medieval manuscripts in its manuscripts and archives collection. This item was given to the Library by F. Sargent, probably before 12 Nov 1844.

Following in the footsteps of the New College Librarian

Spent some time this morning sculling through the New College archives looking for correspondence about some of the New College Special Collections, the Dumfries Presbytery Library and the Longforgan Free Church Ministers’ Library. There’s a fascination to leafing through the thin typewritten sheets that measured out the business of New College Library over the decades. One envelope contains the daily diary notes of the New College Librarian for the autumn term (no semesters then) of 1965 – jottings and tick lists of meetings about the finances, measuring up the space needed for new periodicals, noting library staff who’ve gone home feeling ill.  Other letters are handwritten enquiries to the Librarian, and his replies –  “Dear Miss Grant, I have very little to tell you about the revival of the use of the saints names as dedications of Church of Scotland Parish Kirks …” this said, the letter went on to give a full page of information. My life as a librarian is measured out in e-mails, with paper letters like these occasionally lurking at the fringes.