County Lives: A – Anglesey, Aberdeen, Argyll and Ayr

We start off our County Lives series across the Irish sea, on Anglesey. John Speed described its air as, “reasonable, grateful and healthful” and depicted Tudor Beaumaris, with its own school and windmill. Special Collections holds 18th and 19th century works on the history and antiquities of Anglesey, including Angharad Llwyd’s History of the Island of Mona or Anglesey (1833), Henry Rowlands’ Discourse on the antiquities natural and historical of the isle of Anglesey (1766), and a Welsh botanology of its native plants, with a useful “Alphabetical catalogue of the Welsh names of vegetables rendered into Latin and English; with some account of the qualities, economic or medicinal, of the most remarkable” (1813). And not to be missed is the Excursion on the outside of a stage coach, from Llangollen to Menai Bridge. With cursory observations, by a traveller (1830). Perhaps some of these titles were being read by the Beaumaris Book Club, whose rules (dated 2 Jan 1854) are pasted into our copy of Thomas Carlyle’s Latter-day pamphlets (1850).

map of Aberdeenshire showing historic county area

Aberdeen is well-represented by 19th century printed works thanks to the Thomas Glazebrook Rylands collection of publications by Aberdeen’s Spalding Club (1839 – 1869) “established for the publication of the historical, genealogical, topographical and literary remains of the North-eastern counties of Scotland.” More personal glimpses of Aberdonians can be found in a Keepsake gift-book with a former owner’s inscription, “Helen Jane Gerald, Old Aberdeen, Dec. 11th 1836” (1837) and the Victorian chapbook relating “The life and astonishing adventures of Peter Williamson, who was carried off when a child from Aberdeen and was sold for a slave.” The digitised copy from the Thomas Fisher Library shows the author looking remarkably cheerful after his adventures.

map of Argyllshire showing historic county area

The shire of Argyll also included most of the Inner Hebrides (except Skye and Eigg, which were part of Inverness-shire) represented in Special Collections by Thomas Pennant’s 1774 Voyage to the Hebrides, the second volume of his A tour in Scotland, and a voyage to the Hebrides; 1772 (printed much more locally, in Chester). John Fraser, one of our Scottish collectors, owned the more sober 1883 Argyll manifesto by the Edinburgh journalist Alexander Robertson, who gave evidence (singling out the Duke of Argyll) to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands, which led to the Crofters’ Act (1886). The 9th Duke of Argyll (and Governor-General of Canada) also turns up in the Children’s book collection: Canadian life and scenery with hints to intending emigrants and settlers (1886) is part of the larger Canadian pictures by John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, Duke of Argyll (1845-1914).

map of Ayrshire showing historic county area

Finally, Ayr is also featured in John Fraser’s Scottish book collection, celebrating the Ayrshire-born poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). The 1891 pamphlet by Wallace Bruce, The Auld Brig’s welcome on the unveiling of the Burns statue, Ayr, July 8, 1891. Recited by the author at the unveiling ceremony alludes to Burns’ poem ‘The Brigs of Ayr’.

Special Collections copies of works cited:

Anglesey

  • Angharad Llwyd History of the Island of Mona or Anglesey (1833): SPEC Y83.5.27
  • Henry Rowlands (1655-1723) Mona antiqua restaurata. An archaeological discourse on the antiquities, natural and historical, of the isle of Anglesey, the Ancient Seat of the British Druids (1766): SPEC Ryl.0.1.08
  • Hugh Davies (1729?-1821) Welsh botanology (1813): SPEC Y81.3.384
  • Excursion on the outside of a stage coach, from Llangollen to Menai Bridge. With cursory observations, by a traveller (1830): SPEC Y83.3.665(5)
  • Thomas Carlyle (ed.) Latter-day pamphlets (1850): SPEC L10.12

Aberdeen

  • The Keepsake (1837): SPEC Annual 1a.K213
  • The life and astonishing adventures of Peter Williamson, who was carried off when a child from Aberdeen and was sold for a slave (1840?): SPEC Y85.3.208(21)

Argyll

  • Thomas Pennant Voyage to the Hebrides (1774): SPEC J13.26-27
  • Argyll manifesto by the Edinburgh journalist Alexander Robertson (1883): SPEC Fraser 1065(17)
  • Canadian life and scenery with hints to intending emigrants and settlers (1886): JUV.A158:1(1)

Ayr

  • Wallace Bruce, The Auld Brig’s welcome on the unveiling of the Burns statue, Ayr, July 8, 1891. Recited by the author at the unveiling ceremony (1891): SPEC Fraser 894(5)

Maps from wikishire.co.uk CC-BY-SA

County Lives: A-Z of the historic counties of Britain

Christopher Saxton’s map of Cheshire  SPEC H49.45*

Two of Special Collections & Archives currently locked-down treasures are our c.1590 hand-coloured printed maps of the counties of England and Wales by Christopher Saxton (approximately 1540-1610), and the 1611/1612 Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain by John Speed (1552?-1629). These two atlases are amongst the earliest to depict all the historic counties of England and Wales. Ireland is represented in Speed’s atlas by maps of the four historic provinces of Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster, and Scotland by a single map, since Speed started his work before the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when Scotland was still a separate kingdom. Both of these cartographical treasures were generous gifts to University College, Liverpool from Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928), a Liverpool benefactor (he also funded the Palm House in Sefton Park) who was renowned for his collection of medieval manuscripts.

Using Saxton and Speed as inspiration, and thinking of University students and staff now dispersed around the country, we are posting a new County Lives series on the SCA blog and @LivUniSCA twitter account, based on our behind-the-scenes work to upgrade collection catalogues, making it easier to search for people, places and subjects. County Lives will highlight items from our collections relating to each of the historic counties or provinces where the University community and our social media followers may now be living and working, or perhaps looking forward to revisiting in the future.

And as we are unable to take new photographs of our locked-down collections, we invite readers to tweet their own photographs showing these places four hundred years on from Saxton and Speed.