Friday, 29 April 2016

Meet the Borrower: Thomas Campbell

The next in our Meet the Borrower series is Thomas Campbell, a Game Keeper from Innerpeffray. On his first recorded visit to Innerpeffray (August 1859) he borrows two books - an 1842 bound copy of Chambers’ Information for the People and The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting, published in 1611.  The latter has been in the collection since its foundation in the 1680s by David Drummond, 3rd Lord Madertie. As well as practical tips on, for example, the breeding of dogs, it includes poems from the perspective of the hunted fox or hare, and fabulous woodcuts feature throughout. Borrowed in combination with the Chambers volume, however, it seems he may have been looking for practical information, even in so old a text. The Chambers volume contains sections on a wide variety of subjects, from mechanics to flowers, but also ‘the horse’ and ‘dog-sports’.

When he returns his books in September, Thomas picks out another two titles, this time both novels by Walter Scott, showing he is willing to read for pleasure as well as for information. Scott is far from an unusual choice. While Innerpeffray didn’t hold the novels until 1855, when the majority of the 19th century collections were purchased, they proved very popular with borrowers. This is not only evident in the borrowers’ registers, but also through the fact that very few survive in the Innerpeffray collections, literally read-to-pieces!

Thomas spends winter 1860-1 with Gordon-Cummings’ Five Years of a Hunter’s Life, chronicles the life of a Scotsman exploring southern Africa. As well as page-turning passages about the chase of various species exotic to a Scotsman, it describes native populations and the people he meets on his journey. Similarly, borrowing Davis’ The Chinese, Thomas has the opportunity to read about customs, religion, different cities and popular literature.

With interest turning to lifestyles and pursuits overseas it is possible that Thomas Campbell may have been considering emigrating. Emigration was increasingly becoming an option in the period, and the borrowers’ register at Innerpeffray also provides evidence of this. Emigrant’s Manual is borrowed by 5 different individuals 1860-1863, though since the volume has not survived there’s no clue as to which edition, or the locations on which it focused. Among the ephemera at Innerpeffray is an immigration board which displayed the costs of sailings, and has reputedly been on display here since the relevant time.

While records at Innerpeffray can’t tell us what happened to Thomas Campbell, we can infer from his borrowing record what may have prevented him from borrowing any more books. The register tells us that the length of time books may be borrowed in this period is 3 months, but Thomas returns Adventures of British Seamen after 3 months and 5 days. Since there’s no record of his having paid a fine, it’s possible the library keeper did not let him borrow again.

Date Borrowed
17 Aug – 20 Sep 1859
17 Aug – 20 Sep 1859
20 Sep – 24 Nov 1860
20 Sep – 24 Nov 1860
24 Nov – 23 Jan 1860-1
23 Jan – 3 Feb 1861
8 Apr – 13 Jul 1863
Title (Volume)
Chambers’ Information for the People
Gascoigne’s Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting
Walter Scott’s Antiquary
Walter Scott’s Guy Mannering
Gordon-Cumming’s Five Years of a Hunter’s Life
Davis’ The Chinese (v.1)
Adventures of British Seamen