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Other National Library of Scotland Ballads

by Dr. Brian Hillyard

Emeritus Rare Books Collection Manager
National Library of Scotland

As well as the deposited Crawford ballads and the Library's own Rosebery ballads, EBBA has archived 76 other early ballads owned by NLS, selected from two volumes of pamphlets.

Six ballads come from NLS shelfmark 1.24, a volume of 305 items in the Library's 1st Series Pamphlets. This volume, previously the property of the Advocates Library, was transferred, with all that library's other non-legal books and manuscripts, to the new National Library of Scotland on its foundation in 1925. The present binding is a library binding of the late 19th or early 20th century, but it has an early 18th-century Advocates Library ex-libris inscription (without date) and a note saying that the contents are from Lord Fountainhall's collections and were bound up by Archibald Stewart in 1718 (it is unclear if this was for Lord Fountainhall or for the Advocates Library, implying that it was acquired in or before 1718). Sir John Lauder (1646–1722), elevated to the bench as Lord Fountainhall, was a noted Edinburgh jurist and book collector whose library is extremely well documented: see T.I. Rae, "The Origins of the Advocates' Library," in For the Encouragement of Learning: Scotland's National Library 1689–1989, ed. P. Cadell & A. Matheson (Edinburgh: HMSO, 1989), pp. 13–14. No research has yet been carried out on his interests in ballad literature.

The remaining 70 ballads have been selected from NLS shelfmark RB.l.262, previously shelfmark S.302.b.2 in first the Advocates Library and then, after 1925, in the National Library of Scotland. This volume, in a fairly recent Library binding, carries two bookplates on its front paste-down, presumably transferred from the previous binding. One, designed by Charles William Sherborn in 1898, is that of Emma Chamberlayne, while the other is that of Olivia Thermuthes Preston, with the printed date 1896. Olivia Thermuthes Preston appears to be the fourth child of John Norcliffe Preston, of Flashby (or Flasby) Hall, Yorkshire, who married Thermuthes Fauquier, youngest daughter of Henry Thomas Chamberlayne, of Stoney Thorpe, Warwickshire, in November 1871, though that would make her young to have a bookplate in 1896. The fact that Chamberlayne was her mother's maiden name suggests that Emma Chamberlayne may have been related to Olivia. For the family see William Bowker Preston, The Preston Genealogy (Salt Lake City, 1900), p. 39. Neither lady is known as a book collector. The volume contains 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century pamphlets; one pamphlet contains a reference to the year 1833, and others have been conjecturally dated as later than this. Who was responsible for bringing this collection together is not known, though there is a significant amount of Irish material, suggesting that it was somebody from an Irish family.