Papers of Reverend James B. Craven, Archdeacon of Orkney

Scope and Content

Small collection of Reverend James B. Craven's personal papers, compiled in the course of research for his various publications. Contents include list of persons who have joined the Roman Church from Scotland in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, 1915; notes on the Episcopalian Church in Caithness, c 1880 - 1890; notes on the Book of the Archdeacons of Orkney, c 1900; 20th century transcript of petition to Queen Anne by Episcopalian gentry in Banff; notebook containing Thoughts and Observations relating to the Ruthvens, Earls of Gowrie, their esoteric studies and alleged conspiracies, c 1919; notes on the Rosie Cross in Scotia, c 1900; and notebook containing Recollections and Collections in connection with the parish of Newhills, Aberdeenshire, 1922.

Administrative / Biographical History

James B. Craven, son of the Reverend J.E. Craven, Free Church minister, was born in Aberdeen in 1850. He took the Arts course at Aberdeen University, 1861 - 1863, attended Law classes there from 1866 -1869, and received an Honorary DD degree in 1908. He was ordained to the Scottish Episcopalian Church in 1875, and subsequently appointed Rector of St Olaf's, Kirkwall, 1876 - 1914, Provincial Grand Master Depute of Caithness, Orkney and Zetland, 1904 - 1914, Archdeacon of Orkney, 1912 - 1914. He retired in 1914, owing to his increasing ill health and died at Kirkwall on 17 April 1924.

Throughout his life, Craven pursued his interest in and developed an expert knowledge of ecclesiastical history and biography. His extensive research in this area culminated in several important publications, most notably, his series on the history of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which was published over a period of 40 years. Titles in the series include: History of the Episcopal Church in Orkney, 1688 - 1882 (Kirkwall, 1883, 1912); History of the Church in Orkney from the Introduction of Christianity to 1688, 3 vols (Kirkwall, 1893 - 1901); History of the Episcopal Church in Moray (London, 1889); History of the Episcopal Church in Caithness (Kirkwall, 1908); and Records of the Dioceses of Argyll and the Isles 1560-1860 (Kirkwall, 1907). Other published works include his Journals of the Episcopal Visitations of Bishop Robert Forbes (London, 1923?); Esoteric Studies of Bishop Leighton (Selkirk, 1918); Scots Worthies, 1560 - 1688 (Edinburgh, 1894); Family of Cravie or Craven in Scotland (Kirkwall, 1910); Family of Arnot (Kirkwall, 1913); Count Michael Maier (Kirkwall, 1910); and Dr Robert Fludd (Kirkwall, 1902). Further details of publications are given in Who Was Who, 1916 - 1928, 242; David M. Bertie, Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689 - 2000 (Edinburgh: Clarke, 2000); and in his obituary in Aberdeen University Review 11 (1923 - 1924), 284.

Annotated copies of many of his books, including several still in manuscript form, were bequeathed to the University after his death. However, his most valuable contribution to the University was his gift, in 1914, of the important Kirkwall Bibliotheck, an early public library comprising over 500 volumes, which was established by William Baikie of Holland, Stronsay, in 1684.


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Access Information

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Presented to the University in 1951, by Mrs Fyfe.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

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Related Material

Additional deposits of Reverend James B. Craven's personal papers, comprising notes on South Ronaldsay and Isle of Burray session records (GB 231 MS 0894 - 0895); Collections and studies on Trithemius (ref. GB 231 MS 896/ 1); Dr Heinrich Khunrath: a study in mystical alchemy (ref. GB 231 MS 896/ 2); and family memorials, notes and pedigrees (GB 231 MS 2197) are also deposited in the University.

The Kirkwall Bibliotheck, or Bibliotheck of Kirkwall, is held as a printed book collection in the University of Aberdeen, with shelfmark BK.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has deposited extensive collections in the care of the University of Aberdeen. For further details see collection level description for GB 231 MS 3320: Records of the Scottish Episcopal Church: Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, c 1600 - 1980, and NRA(S) survey list 2697.


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Additional Information

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