Papers of James Kirkwood (c. 1650-1708)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-745
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      5 items in form of registers, discourses, volumes; 1 book letters; miscellaneous material including lists, letters, and notes; circa 12 printed and manuscript tracts, talks, and pamphlets. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      MSS KIR

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: material including a register, discourse, and sermons; A new family book; or, The true interest of families; a book of letters and receipts relating to the printing and distribution of Irish Old Testaments and Bibles, catechisms and psalm-books, 1687-1699, including letters to Colin Campbell of Carquhin, Astwick, and accounts of disbursements, and a list of Highland parishes; material about Highland schools and libraries; letters about charity schools and about dissemination of Bibles in the Highlands; letter of Rev. Thomas Salmon containing proposals for instituting a Society for the Reformation of Manners in England; material relating to Highland libraries; letters about Irish Bibles, Highland libraries, and charity schools, including letters to Gilbert Burnet, Bishop Salisbury, and to George Meldrum; letters on charity schools and SPCK matters; a list of Catholics in the Highlands; a copy of An account of a design to erect libraries in the Highlands of Scotland: as also in Orkney and Schetland; copies of material on parochial libraries in Library chronicle, Vol.5. 1888, and in The library No. 1. January 1889, and other material on the same subject; talks, newspaper cuttings; photocopy of the negative photostat made from a copy of an original of An overture for founding and maintaining of bibliothecks at Wigan Public Library; and, photocopy of the negative photostat of A copy of a letter anent a project for erecting a library in every presbytry ... in the Highlands made from the copy at Wigan Public Library.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Kirkwood was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, in around 1650. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1670, and became chaplain to John Campbell, Earl of Caithness, 1st Earl of Breadalbane. In 1679 he became Minister of Minto. Due to the religious turbulence of the period he left Minto in 1681 and went to England, to Astwick, Bedfordshire. In 1690 he was responsible for the circulation of two hundred copies of the Bible in Irish throughout the Highlands, and in 1699 published An overture for founding and maintaining bibliothecks in every paroch throughout the kingdom Kirkwood was an advocate of libraries in every parish throughout the country. James Kirkwood died in 1708.

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) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1909.

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

Other Finding Aids

Local lists.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show reference to Kirkwood related material (check the Indexes for more details): notes on Kirkwood, c. 1950-1956, by L. W. Sharp, Librarian, Edinburgh University, with Photostat copies of manuscripts and printed books by Kirkwood in the National Library of Scotland and other libraries, at Dc.1.29. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: 1687-1708: correspondence, 1687-1708, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MS 821