Papers of William Henderson (fl. 1675) and his son Robert Henderson (fl. 1715)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-357
  • Dates of Creation
      17th century - 1730
  • Language of Material
      Latin, and English.
  • Physical Description
      2 volumes, 1 part-volume, 1 separate manuscript document.
  • Location
      Da.1.31; Dc.1.4/1; Dc.6.51, pp. 300, 340, 393, 407, 413; Dc.7.83

Scope and Content

The papers of the Hendersons, father and son, consist of: the commonplace book of William Henderson with additional entries by Robert Henderson, content such as Praxis linguae latinae 1688, and notes of plays read; William's donation book, being a record of books donated to Edinburgh University Library from 1667 and a list of earlier benefactors (it also includes later entries); Latin verses; and, commission of Robert Henderson to Gawin Hamilton, bookseller, to receive from the Company of Stationers in London books due to Edinburgh University under the Copyright Act.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Henderson was the eleventh Librarian to Edinburgh University and held the office between September 1667 and November 1684. He succeeded William Somerville who had been Keeper of the Library between 1666 and 1667. The same year that Henderson was chosen as Librarian, or Bibliothecar, it was also decided that 'no books should be lent out of the Library without a receipt'. Henderson also acted as Secretary to the University. In 1674, his salary was six hundred merks (in 1707, one merk was thirteen shillings and four pence Scots or one hundred and sixty pennies Scots). In 1684 Henderson's son, Robert Henderson, was admitted as Librarian, but at first 'probably conjunctly' with his father.

Robert Henderson had graduated with the A.M. degree (Master of Arts) on 28 November 1683 and doubtless continued to study and carry out research. Indeed, in 1690, after the Professor of Humanity, John Drummond, stepped down, the younger Henderson was one of the candidates to succeed him. He would hold the post of Librarian until 25 March 1747, having remained in office for sixty-two years, longer than any of his predecessors and longer than any Professor had held a teaching post at that time.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Dalzel, Andrew History of the University of Edinburgh. Vol. 2. History. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1862.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Corporate Names