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  • Charles H. McIlwain '94 Collection

    Collection of about 4,500 books and pamphlets concerning history and political science. The main portion of the collection is the history of law and the two principal branches are the history of Western political institutions and the history of political theory. The collection was dispersed throughout the Library's general stack and general rare book collections. The collection is distinguished by the large number of early treatises on law. Refer to: Joseph R. Strayer '25. "The McIlwain Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle IX, 4 (June, 1948) pp. 211-214 [full text] . Strayer's article gives more specific information about the collection, especially concerning books published before 1700.

    Spanish & Catalan Legal Tracts

    The collection, purchased in the winter of 1982, consists of 652 documents stored in 20 grey archival boxes. Library call number for these boxes is (Ex) KJD.A001.1634.collectn. The documents are arranged in two series: 1) dated documents (covering 1634 to 1857, numbers 1 to 478) and 2) mixed documents (having both dated and undated documents intermingled, numbers 479 to 618).

    This collection consists of ca. 650 documents chiefly from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries covering litigation in the civil, military and ecclesiastical courts of the Principality of Catalonia and of a few other areas of the Kingdom of Spain. Most of the documents originate in Barcelona, although in subject matter [as a whole] they cover a large portion of the geography of Catalonia, especially the episcopal sees of the Principality (Barcelona, Vic, Girona, La Seu d'Urgell, Solsona, Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa). Almost all the tracts are printed, and the majority are legal briefs prepared by the plaintiffs or the defendants in a given lawsuit arguing the case for one of the sides, with frequent references to Catalan jurisprudence and legal treatises. There are also a few documents describing a complete court action, sometimes including the court ruling, and public letters to the King or other authorities asking for a special favor or the restoration of past privileges. The main language used is Spanish, although Latin is widely employed as well, particularly when quoting legal treatises and in some ecclesiastical cases. Catalan appears to a minor extent, and it is restricted to the ecclesiastical courts after the Decreto de Nueva Planta of 1715.

    A majority of the documents deal with inheritance and with financial matters, such as mortgages and land rents, but enough variety of themes exists to make the collection a good starting point for gaining an insight into life in Catalonia during the period of time covered: the many subjects present cover commerce, marriage problems and the condition of women, rape and murder; banditry and extorsion, taxation, and the universities at Barcelona and Cervera, among many others. Socially, the main group represented is by far the nobility, given that the expenses involved in legal action exceeded the resources of the vast majority of the population. Nevertheless, a good portion of suits involve peasants, tradesmen and above all the clergy.

    There is an item-by-item inventory covering the Library's collection. Call number for the catalogue is [shelved at ReCAP as of January 2002] (Ex) KJD .A001 1634 inventory (and it is shelved with the Collection). Note: This inventory is also available as a data file in a PDF document.

    The cataloguing has been done by Carlos Rufin '86 under the supervision of Peter Johnson. The original database from which the database was created, preparation by Stephen Ferguson. Data entry by Laura Hollengreen '85 and Barbara Broderick '87.

    A companion collection is at the Central Library of Barcelona. For details see: Barcelona. Bibliotheca Central. Catálogo de la colección de folletos Bonsoms, relativos en su mayor parte a historia de Cataluña. Barcelona, 1959-. [(F) DP302.C62 xC3 1981].

    See David D. Laitin, et al., "Language and the Construction of States: The Case of Catalonia in Spain" in Politics and Society Vol. 22, no. 1 (March 1994), pp. 5-29 for a study based on the Princeton collection.

    Scottish Legal Printed Documents

    During 1987 the Library purchased two small gatherings of such documents. The first group is three bound volumes of tracts, comprising 198 individual pieces that are each individually cataloged [(Ex) KDC840.S362q]. The second group contains 90 pieces, rehoused in box/folder arrangement and also individually cataloged [(Ex) KDC840 .S362f]. Note that bound items have a checklist with title: Scottish legal miscellanies : a collection of 198 pamphlets from the library of Ferguson of Raith. (New York : Ximenes Rare Books, 1987) [(Ex) KDC840 .S36 catalog].


    "The collection comprises of 198 pieces, small quarto, bound together in three volumes, from the library of Ferguson of Raith. They cover the period of twenty years following the '45 rebellion and the aftermath of that conflict, with its claims for redress and damages, is reflected directly in a number of items. (5,49,73,75,84.) They consist of Petitions, Memorials, Informations and Statements in civil and criminal cases and provide detailed insight into the whole spectrum of the social and economic life of Scotland during the period.


    The material can be broken down into various sections. One section concerns domestic troubles and the finances of families: disputed wills; protection and support of orphan children; maintenance of widows. There are cases of murder (160); incest (182) and several cases of adultery (3,4,19,20,65,66,102) including one gross example in which an under-age wife is accused by her husband of adultery with numerous persons, one of whom turns out to be the comedian and theatre-manager John West Digges, "...on every day of the month of the marriage, and every month thereafter, to the very day of executing the divorce..:' There is a small but good section of material relating to the church, church politics and to the stipends and maintenance of university professors-. items 76 and 77 concern the salary of professors at the University of St. Andrews and discussions as to how the funds are to be raised to pay them; item 177 provides much detail on the financial circumstances of Dr. John Johnstone, Professor of Medicine in the University of Glasgow. Items 11,12,13 concern a congregation's attempt to eject their Minister on the grounds that he was too fat; whilst 165 and 166 discuss, in a manner which make them read like the raw material for a chapter by Fielding, clerical misbehavior in the form of the habitual inebriation and licentiousness of one Rev. Anderson, Minister of Glondovan.

    Life and commerce in the country regions are reflected in many of the pieces: there are disputes concerning fishing rights (Salmon fishing in North Esk, 50; oyster and muscle beds in the Firth of Forth, 130 and 131); Mines (14, 81); the carriage of coal from the Haddington mines to Edinburgh (86,87,88); maintenance of roads and highways (51,52,86,87,88); sheep- stealing (191); the wintering of cattle (113,114,115,116); the importation of cattle from Ireland (84); moss and peat gathering (148,149,150). Commerce at sea is also represented in a case of shipwreck and salvage (56 and 57); fish-mongering in Edinburgh (135,136) and cases of smuggling (168,169,170) including the case of the illegal importation of brandy from New England via the Isle of Man.

    The largest and perhaps most important body of material concerns the economic and social life of the towns, particularly Edinburgh. Items 17 and 18 concern municipal improvements at Brechin which encountered violent opposition; items 6 and 7 the alleged mismanagement of the town's finances by Edinburgh town council and the imposition of a duty on Ale as a means of raising revenue; 63 and 64 concern the prosecution of the unlicensed theatre. Item 175 and others indirectly, concern brewing and 189 the fate of an unfortunate publican "burnt out of his tavern." Item 132 describes a most interesting case of industrial espionage in which a snuff-mill is forcibly entered by rival interests with the purpose of discovering its secret processes. Items 33, 34, 89 and 90 all concern complaints by local residents against William Reach, Class-Grinder and Wright, whose workshop in Carrubber's Close, Edinburgh was the source of a fire which nearly destroyed the neighborhood: the arguments here, discussing how far the magistrates and town council may control the shops and manufactories of the city go a long way towards stating the case for the need for planning permission. Other anticipations of more recent times are to be found in the cases concerning attempts to impose closed-shops or guild monopolies: item 78, the case of the Mantua Makers of Perth, shows a local tailor's guild seeking to eliminate a rather harmless form of opposition in the shape of three young seamstresses and items 126 and 127 show the Shoemakers of Leith up to a similar trick when they face prosecution for sequestering and breaking up the tools of a rival who has recently set up in the town. Item 32, on the other hand, shows the Scots as a whole suffering from an English monopoly. This item, The Memorial for the Booksellers of Edinburgh and Glasgow, is an important early document in the struggle against the claims of perpetual copyright made by the London publishers and imposed by action and threats of action on the Scottish printing trade.

    Much of this material is obviously rare; few, if any of the pieces are recorded in E.S.T.C.: there could have been no call for large numbers of copies. But the wealth of material they contain provides a detail to the outline of Scottish economic and social life which historians can surely not afford to ignore. The papers bear the signatures of many of Edinburgh's leading lawyers of the day, most notably that of Alexander Boswell, father of Johnson's biographer. Many are annotated in a contemporary hand, presumably that of Ferguson himself, indicating the outcome of cases and court decisions. The tendency of some bibliographers to ignore legal papers in their lists seems, in the light of this collection, hard to justify especially when the material they contain is so directly informative in the various areas of interest. E.S.T.C. records, for example, a copy of Andrew Chalmer's "An historical account of the city of Edinburgh's duty upon Ale," but neither of the two memorials (items 6 and 7 of the present collection) which provide much additional material and supply us with the correct date of publication. Lowe's bibliography of the Theatre gives various works on Digges but not the Petition (item 65), which accuses him of adultery. The Memorial for the Booksellers of Glasgow and Edinburgh is not in Kress, and so on. There is clearly a good case for stating that material of this kind has previously been significantly underrated."


              --Stephen Weissman, proprietor of Ximenes Rare Books, 1987.

Research Tools for Printed Material (Books, Maps, Prints, etc.)