Blairs College Library

Blairs College Library

This is the library of printed books from St Mary's College, Blairs, Aberdeen. The College was founded in 1829 to train students for the Catholic priesthood, and finally closed in 1986. As the only such institution in Scotland, the College accumulated books and manuscripts both from the Scots Colleges founded in mainland Europe at Douai, Paris, Rome and Valladolid after the Reformation, and from the semi-clandestine seminaries established within Scotland in the eighteenth century. There are 17 incunables (books printed pre-1501), c. 200 STC items; 1,000 Wing items, and c. 13,500 books printed before 1801.

Keywords: Theology; religion; Roman Catholic Church; Jacobitism

Strengths: Theology and religious controversy predominate. Additional subjects represented include English and French literature, history, geography, natural history, science, architecture, numismatics, agriculture and accountancy. Several books are only-known copies. John Weddington: A Breffe Instruction, and Manner, Howe to Kepe, Marchantes Bokes of Accompts (Antwerp, 1567), John Hamilton: Ane Godlie Exhortatioun, or Twapenny Faith (St Andrews or Edinburgh, 1559), and 'The Copland Tracts', nine devotional tracts printed by Robert Copland (London, 1522-1531).

A large number of volumes have significant provenance. For example, links between the Scots College in Paris and the exiled Stuart court at St Germain en Laye are highlighted by a group of Jacobite bindings with armorial stamps.

Languages:English, Latin, French. Also smaller holdings in Italian, Spanish, German

Identifier: BCL

Physical characteristics: 27,176 volumes

Accumulation date range: 1829 - 1980s

Contents date range: 1474 - C20

Associated Publications: Cherry, T. A., 'The library of St Mary's College, Blairs', Bulletin of the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries, 1.3 (June, 1975), 9-13. 'The Library of St Mary's College, Aberdeen', The Bibliotheck, 12 (1984), 61-69. Mitchell, W. S., 'Blairs College Bindings', Aberdeen University Review, 33 (1949-50), 23-29.

Accrual Status: Closed

Custodial history/provenance: The library was deposited at the National Library of Scotland by the Trustees of St Mary's College in 1974. In 2012, the Trustees, NLS and University agreed that the library should be deposited at Aberdeen in the Special Collections Centre. Transference was completed in 2014.

Access Control: Closed access - please request. Non-borrowable.