Hidden Treasures

The Library Special Collections at Highland Theological College, University of the Highlands and Islands

Abstract This paper details the library special collections material held at the library of Highland Theological College, University of the Highlands and Islands. Our three main special collections are the primary focus of this article: the William Temple Collection, the Rutherford House Collection, and the Fort Augustus Collection. We detail here the story behind these collections entering our custody and proceed to highlight a selection of monographs of provenance and personal interest. This paper constitutes original research into the collections, building upon a foundation laid by the late college librarian, Mr. Martin Cameron (1955-2019), who curated the collections over some twenty years. We also discuss our ongoing work in formulating our new Historical Texts Collection, comprising the library’s oldest books of academic interest, and a subcollection of liturgical music, isolated from the Fort Augustus Collection.


Highland Theological College (HTC) is one of the specialist institutions within the federal structure of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and was founded in 1994 by two Church of Scotland ministers: the Rev. Hector Morrison and the Rev. A. T. B. McGowan. The campus occupies buildings in Dingwall, Ross-Shire in the Scottish Highlands, and a satellite campus in Glasgow opened in 2015. There are typically around 100 matriculated students, primarily of theology at all levels through to PhD, allowing for a close-knit community of faith and scholarship. Many of our students are Church of Scotland ministry candidates, while others study for leisure or other ministry fields. Adjacent to theology, other subjects are richly represented in the library, such as history, archaeology, politics, and Scottish Gaelic. HTC enjoys the unique position of being a believing and worshipping community which is Reformed, Evangelical, and non-denominational while also enjoying membership of a secular university. Consequently, we draw students from a variety of Christian traditions, or no faith at all, creating the framework for a healthy, vibrant, and diverse academic discourse (Highland Theological College 2022).

The library is a member of the Association of British Theological and Philosophical Libraries and has over 60,000 items, the largest by volume within the university. With 20,000 items in our lending library, the remaining 40,000 mostly fall under the banner of our three main special collections: the Rutherford House Collection, the William Temple Collection, and the Fort Augustus Collection. In addition to overseeing these collections, we are pleased to be custodians of a rich selection of historical texts, the oldest dating to the 1630s. Our library owes much to the Cameron legacy. The personal library collection of Hector Cameron (1924-1994), former moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland and father to the late college librarian Martin Cameron (1955-2019), provided the foundation for the HTC library collections in the earliest days of the college.

The William Temple Collection

The first of our collections we wish to highlight is the William Temple Collection. It comprises several thousand volumes from the personal library of William Temple. Temple (1881-1944) was an Anglican teacher, author, preacher and bishop, serving as Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, from 1942 until his death. Temple was a politically active socialist, a member of the Labour Party from 1918-1925, and author of the work Christianity and Social Order. His legacy is continuing through the work of the William Temple Foundation, shaping debate on religion in public life (William Temple Foundation 2022).

HTC acquired these resources after they were made available by the John Rylands library at the University of Manchester. While these resources of Anglican heritage might be considered outside of HTC’s traditional purview, we determined that the historical significance of the collection was such that it should be preserved and retained as a single cohesive unit. This proved a valuable decision, as it is a collection which receives appreciable research attention. The collection comprises enriching materials for theological research with an important 20th century Anglican heritage. Subjects richly represented included Anglican history as well as the works of Anglican bishops and scholars. Moreover, selections on politics, history, and world religions are represented along with significant works of philosophy, with a bent towards morality, ethics, and metaphysics.

As one might expect, works by Anglican theologians, clergy, and scholars take center stage. Two shelves are occupied by an extensive set of Cambridge editions of select works edited for the Parker Society, on Works of the Fathers and Early Writers of the Reformed English Church. The Parker Society, established in the 1840s, attained support from across the Anglican communion in both Evangelical and High-Church branches to publish these important works of English church heritage (Toon 1977). Therein can be found selected works by Becon, Bullinger, Coverdale, Fulke, Whitgift, Hutchison, Grindal, Hooper, Hooker, Latimer, Pilkington, Whitaker, and Tyndale, among others, all bound in rich maroon cloth. These constitute an invaluable reference source for scholarship. One example of the rich historical content the collection contains is a comprehensive nine-volume Macmillan set, A History of the English Church, dating to 1901 and covering the development of Christianity in England from 597 AD to the 19th Century. The Macmillan set provides fascinating insight into the contemporary church scholarship of the period, complete with appendices and color maps detailing titles of office bearers and positions of historical dioceses.

Temple was a prolific author himself, and his own publications can be found among the shelves, including a 1935 edition of his work Nature, Man & God, a lecture series delivered by Temple at the University of Glasgow between 1932-1934. The lectures provide insight into Temple’s unique philosophy of the Christian faith, applying “the notion of personality to the Divine” and arguing that “revealed religion can sufficiently combine Progress, Ultimate Reality and Ultimate Personality” (DeLashmutt n.d.).

In understanding Temple’s philosophical interests, we need not look far in the collection to find examples. Standing out among the numerous philosophical works in the collection is a suite of works by Cambridge philosopher Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872) covering moral and metaphysical philosophy, published shortly after his death. Maurice’s father was a Unitarian, and while studying law at Cambridge, Maurice caused a controversy by refusing his degree rather than expressing allegiance to Anglican theology, then spent time in London as a radical pamphleteer (Kiefer n.d). He did eventually become an Anglican convert, however, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1834 (Bannerjee 2007). Temple’s interests in philosophy were not limited to contemporary materials, as evidenced by the collection’s strong selection of classics, which one would expect for a learned scholar of this period. Examples include selections from Plato and Aristotle. A complete set of the revised Clarendon edition of Plato’s Dialogues, published at Oxford in 1873 by the great Anglican scholar and tutor Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), catches the eye with its bright orange cloth covering.

Temple’s interest in languages, particularly classical and biblical languages is also evident in the collection. A unique item of personal intrigue, and certainly among the largest and weightiest titles, is a two-volume Samuel Bagster edition of the Biblia Sacra Polyglotta. These incredible volumes compare the biblical text side by side, four languages to a page. The introduction is in Latin, with references to Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac scripts, while the main body provides a side-by-side comparison with the Greek and Hebrew text, with English, Latin, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Classification curiosities

As is common for collections of its era, the William Temple Collection is classified under a proprietary religion classification scheme, though precise details as to its construction have alluded us. Based on our conversations in researching the provenance of this scheme, we speculate it was created by William Temple personally or by whomever was originally responsible for his collection. The scheme was unfamiliar to our colleagues in the theological libraries sector, and, after chasing some failed leads due to speculated similarities to Morton Library Classification, we determined it is most likely an unpublished scheme. We have yet to reverse-engineer the classification, although the story of that process could likely constitute its own article. We have retained the original classification scheme as it is important for documentary purposes, providing a fascinating biographical insight into Temple’s wider reading interests.

The Rutherford House Collection

Our second collection of note is the Rutherford House Collection. This collection came to HTC from what is presently the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology (RCRT), operating out of HTC and directed by the Rev. A. T. B. McGowan, former principal of the college. Rutherford House was based at its own premises in Leith in Edinburgh for 35 years before moving to Dingwall, leading to HTC becoming custodians of the extensive collection. The unique and exciting contents are reflective of the continuing ethos of RCRT, comprising quality resources for scholarship, research, and education to help people think biblically and theologically. The collection contains approximately 11,500 books and 1,800 periodicals and pamphlets. The most exciting materials in this collection are found in the archival boxes that contain rare and important monographs. Presbyterian and Scottish evangelical materials are particularly richly represented among the tracts, pamphlets, magazines, and printed ephemera.

Among the materials are some pertaining to our immediate local area in the region of Easter Ross. These items are of immeasurable worth to the study of Scottish church history at the local level, including a 1926 pamphlet Beaton of Rosskeen (1678-1754) A Famous Son of Skye, by Donald Mackinnon F. S. A. (Portree). This volume, printed locally in Dingwall, includes a prefatory note by Donald Maclean (1869-1943), former principal of Free Church College, Edinburgh. Mackinnon was notable as the first minister inducted by the Free Church of Scotland at the Church at Fancy Hill at Portree on the Isle of Skye in 1923. Previously, the building had been occupied by a United Presbyterian Church congregation but had been vacant since 1900 following the merger into the United Free Church. The Free Church congregation, being very small at the time because of the Union, did not have the means to purchase the church building until 1920 (Free Church of Scotland [Continuing] 2022).

Following the theme of Union, another exciting piece in this collection is the eleven-page supplement to the December 1900 British Monthly magazine, The First Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland, Oct 31, and Nov 1, 1900. This vibrant piece details the proceedings with photography, illustrations, and an attendance roll for the inaugural conference. The centerpiece is a two-page illustration of the signatories of the uniting act. We are grateful to preserve such a fascinating piece of first-hand journalism from this historic moment in Scotland’s church history.

The Fort Augustus Collection

Our flagship special collection, as well as our largest, is the Fort Augustus Collection, containing some 10,000 volumes. It comprises books, periodicals, and pamphlets from the former library of St. Benedict’s Abbey, in the eponymous town at the southwest end of Loch Ness. The abbey operated as a Roman Catholic Monastery from 1880-1998. As the abbey approached closure, both HTC and UHI were in dialogue with the abbey towards purchasing the collection. The central priority was ensuring that these important materials stayed in Scotland, continued to be used for theological research, and remained together rather than being sold piecemeal to private collectors. The resources are typical of what one would expect in a theological library with a predominating bent towards works of patristic and Roman Catholic authorship. Moreover, the resources therein have a Scottish heritage local to our region here in Easter Ross. Many of them are rare or unique and are of great monetary and academic value. For this reason, we consider them to be some of our most prized items with the richest provenance.

The key attraction is French priest and scholar J. P. Migne’s (1800-1875) Patrologia Graeca and Patrologia Latina, which are critical editions of the writings of the Greek and Latin “fathers” (hence Patrologia), although Migne’s use of the term “fathers” went beyond the strictly patristic period of Church history to include all Greek theological writers up to the year 1439 and all Latin authors up to 1216. The collection contains the Garnier edition of the Petrological Graeca in 161 volumes and the Patrologia Latina in 221 volumes (volume 1 published in 1865 and the others at intervals thereafter). Our edition of Migne has four supplementary volumes of Latin theological writings published in the 1960s. The entire set is in pristine condition, in handsome white calfskin bindings. They constitute an invaluable resource for historical and theological research. The highly reputable antiquarian book dealers Grant and Shaw of Edinburgh, who undertook to value the Fort Augustus library, said of the Migne collection that it was “of immeasurable value to all present and future students.”

Also featured is the Acta Sanctorum, the published collections of lives of the saints. It originated in the work of the “Bollandists”—after the Jesuit scholar and hagiographer Jean Bolland (1596-1665), the first editor of the Acta Sanctorum. It constitutes a critical edition of the lives of the saints based on a thorough sifting of historical sources, arranged according to the order of saints’ days in the Church calendar. It continues to constitute a basic tool of historical research. Our edition of the Acta Sanctorum is in 65 volumes, vol. 1 having been published in 1863 and the rest at intervals thereafter. Like Migne’s Patrologia, they are bound in calfskin and are in excellent condition. Supplementary volumes of the Analecta Bollandiana from 1930 to 1965, are also contained therein.

Among the periodicals and pamphlets of the Fort Augustus Collection, several highlights can be found. These include a 17-volume set of bound pamphlets relating to 19th century religious issues, Irish priest John O’Hanlon’s (1821-1905) Lives of the Irish Saints (10 vols., 1875), and English priest Alban Butler’s (1710-1773) Lives of the Saints (12 vols., 1810). Also of note are several 19th and 20th century runs of Roman Catholic periodicals: The Tablet, complete in bound volumes from 1868 to 1970; The Month, complete in bound volumes from 1864 to 1957; the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, complete in bound volumes from 1889 to 1910; and the Catholic Record Society, complete in bound volumes from 1905 to 1956. These provide a vast accumulation of Roman Catholic thought and history. Moreover, A portion of the collection consists of works by or about English theologian John Henry Newman (1801-1890), including first editions of his works such as Apologia Pro Vita Sua and 16 volumes of his letters and diaries.

Liturgical music is also represented in the Fort Augustus Collection, with Catholic Missals featuring prominently. These contain the scriptures, chants, and directions for the celebration of the Mass throughout the liturgical year. Our collection contains 19th and early 20th century editions of several liturgical texts including the Missale Ambrosianum and Missale Romanum. There is also an 1852 edition of the Canon Missae ad usum Episcoporum ac Praelatorum, used for pontifical masses as part of the usus antiquior (Tribe, 2008). Not only do these volumes constitute pristine editions of sacred music, but they also have an important local provenance as examples of the kind of musical works which would have been used when Fort Augustus was a functioning monastery. In this manner, this portion of the collection gives us a fascinating insight into the liturgies used as part of monastic life.

The crowning piece of the liturgical music collection is a complete vellum-bound set of Paléographie Musicale: Les Principaux Manuscrits de Chant Grégorien, Ambrosien, Mozarabe & Gallican by French Monk and musicologist André Mocquerea (1849-1930). This impressive suite of liturgical music contains facsimiles of the principal Roman Catholic chants. The work was of great importance in preserving and promoting the art and form of Gregorian chant (Walden 2015). In addition to facsimiles of the original musical manuscripts, extensive foreword and musicological context is provided for the works contained therein, providing essential context for vocalists on performance and technique, doubtless of great use as part of the liturgical rhythm of life in the monastery.

The Historical Texts Collection

The Historical Texts Collection is one we are presently curating at HTC. It came to fruition in 2021, spurred on by the donation of books by a private collector in combination with local primary source material. We created the Historical Texts Collection as a fitting way of collating special collections material which we have acquired in recent years that does not fit under the banner of our other collections. Coming from a diverse range of sources, the collection is not grouped thematically. Nonetheless, it is worthy of preservation and digitization where appropriate due to the age and academic importance of the items. Most of the items in the collection date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

One such exciting primary source is a book of handwritten sermons by the Rev. Thomas Simpson of Avoch (1718-1786) (Scott, 1928, 2) generously donated in 2020. It contains 28 handwritten sermons across 280 pages. The post-script reads, “This first volume of sermons was begun at Avoch the 27th day of October 1760 years and finished the first day of October 1761 years by me Thomas Simpson, minister of the Gospel at Avoch. Deo Juvante.” The text has been displayed in the Dingwall Townhouse Museum for their 2022 season.

The collection also contains what is currently the library’s oldest book: Daniel Featley’s (1582–1645) Clavis Mystica A Key Opening Divers Difficult and Mysterious Texts of Holy Scripture: Handled in Seventy Sermons, which dates from 1636. This book is an excellent example of Christian homiletics during this turbulent period in British History. Described as “A Westminster Puritan, and a voluminous writer” (McMahon n.d.), Daniel Featley was a prolific author of many works tackling the religious issues of his day, from Jesuits to Arminianism. This book contains some of his sermons, primarily focused on attacking other English ministers. However, his views did not receive universal approval. One person who strongly disapproved was Archbishop William Laud, who had his chaplain William Bray censor the manuscript. It is claimed that Bray “gelt them exceedingly and purged out all the smart and masculine passages against the Papists, Jesuits, and Arminians” (Hunt 2008). The result of this effort was the removal of seventeen sheets and the production of a reprint. Uncensored copies of the book have survived and are recognized by the absence of an errata list on the final page. Unfortunately, our copy does contain the errata, so it is not one of those elusive uncensored copies. Our copy of this book has its original leather binding and contains the handwritten names of the book’s owners from the 17th and 19th centuries, Joseph Hall (1661) and James F. George (1860s). These names are an exciting reminder that this book has been used over the centuries and can now be preserved for future generations at HTC.

Another noteworthy set is seven books from a 1638 edition of the collated writings of Cyril of Alexandria (376-412), presented bilingually with Latin and Greek columns. A 1679 two-volume set relating to the writing of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Abbot of Clairvaux and Doctor of the Church, also features. These 17th century Latin editions provide fascinating insight into Bernard’s legendary eloquence of speech and pen.

Moving into the early 18th century, the collection contains a 1700 reprint of the three-volume set of works by Isaac Barrow D. D. (1630-1677) in two books titled The Works Of the Learned Isaac Barrow D. D. Late Master of Trinity-College in Cambridge (Being all his English Works). Though only two of Isaac’s sermons were published during his lifetime, his father, Thomas Barrow, on obtaining his works, made it his goal to ensure the publication of the work we see today. Archbishop of Canterbury John Tillotson (1630-1694) set about the publication of Isaac’s sermons, and the project was completed between 1678 and 1680. Later editions of the works of Isaac Barrow were published because of Brabazon Aylmer buying the copyright of the full works along with his other manuscripts in 1681. Barrow’s works are a unique collection of writings that bring attention to a unique figure in early 18th century Britain. Barrow is a fascinating character, rising from a reluctant student to a Mastership at Trinity College. Maybe a true summary of Barrow should be left to King Charles II who in jest claimed Barrow was an “unfair” preacher because “he exhausted every subject and left no room for others to come after him” (Feingold 2007).

A further highlight of the HTC Historical Texts Collection is the 1709 copy of Thomas Ellwood’s (1639–1713) Sacred History or, Historical Part of The Holy Scriptures of The New Testament, an accompaniment to his 1705 book Sacred History … of the Old Testament. Our copy conveys the personal touch of its previous owners, with two signatures of ownership on the inner pages. The first is John Rakestraw, who owned the book in 1709 and may well have purchased or received the book new at the time of its publication. Anna Steevens’ name also appears on the inner pages, dated 1809. Although there are no indications that either John or Anna was a notable historical character, their connections with this volume have preserved this small element of their lives for posterity.

Ellwood was a religious controversialist who, after hearing the itinerant preachers Edward Burrough and James Nayler preach at a Quaker meeting in 1659, became an avid member of the Society of Friends (Loewenstein 2008). Unfortunately for Ellwood, he lived during a period when the monarchy was cracking down on dissenting groups such as the Quakers who did not agree with the King’s Anglican views and refused to take the King’s oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Therefore, Ellwood would spend most of his life in and out of prison because of his beliefs. In 1662 Ellwood became a reader for John Milton (1608-1674), whose work he “highly valued” (McLaughlin 1967, 17). Like Daniel Featley and Isaac Barrows, Ellwood became a prolific writer and pamphleteer, writing broadly about the vices and woes he believed were ruining the society of his day. Indeed, these biblical works were created in part to offer godly instruction and virtuous pleasure, especially for youthful readers who otherwise indulged in literature Ellwood viewed as indecent.

Highlighted here are but a small selection of the historic books in this collection which range from records of national history to further recorded sermons by notable ministerial worthies of the past. Among them is an early 18th century Latin edition of the second part of Historae Universalis. Based on the signature of ownership, it is possible this book originated from the collection of Joseph Fürstenberg from the Swabian noble House of Fürstenberg. We do not believe it originated from the Westphalian noble house of the same name, due to the apparent lack of notable persons named Joseph in that family. It is, of course, difficult to ascertain provenance with certainty based on a signature alone, and we hope for an expert in 18th century German literature eventually to appraise the item.


In this article, we have highlighted a small number of the texts held in our special collections. Through our ongoing curation and digitization efforts, HTC library seeks to ensure this rich diveristy of resources becomes increasingly accessible to our local and international researching communities, and it is our aim that in the coming years, research opportunities will arise for an increased number of people to explore these exciting texts. Presently, much of the library holdings of UHI are browsable in OCLC WorldCat, and the portion of our collections which have been catalogued may be viewed there. We are continually digitizing items from our collection and hope our digital offerings will grow in the future. For example, the Thomas Simpson book of sermons comprises one of the first volumes of the project to be digitized and is kindly hosted online by Mr. Rob Bradshaw, Librarian of Spurgeon’s College, London.1 We are also periodically uploading our own digitized materials to our Internet Archive page in an endeavor to make these interesting historical sources more open and accessible.

In closing, we feel there is great opportunity in the future to curate and promote these collections for community heritage and research. It has long been an aspiration of the HTC library service to open its doors to serve researchers, members of the public and other libraries via inter-library loan with these resources. Moreover, we endeavour to provide a community space for research and reflection, and to use our position to contribute to the elevation of Scottish theological research output. We endeavour in future to pursue project funding to aid in the ongoing task of properly cataloguing, preserving, digitizing, and promoting these collections.

We welcome international research interest and the registration of external members. For more information please contact htc-library@uhi.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0) 1349 780215. For a link to our Internet Archive account, consult our library webpage at: https://libguides.uhi.ac.uk/c.php?g=687989.


Bannerjee, Jacqueline. 2007. Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872) victorianweb.org. https://victorianweb.org/religion/maurice/bio.html

DeLasmutt, Michael. n.d. “William Temple.” The Gifford Lectures. https://www.giffordlectures.org/lecturers/william-temple

Feingold, Mordecai. 2007. “Barrow, Isaac.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-1541?docPos=2

Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). 2022. “Portree.” Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). https://www.freechurchcontinuing.org/find-us/congregations/item/portree

Highland Theological College UHI. 2022. “About us – A community of faith and scholarship.”HTC. https://www.htc.uhi.ac.uk/about-us/.

--. 2022. “Rev. Prof Andrew McGowan.” https://www.htc.uhi.ac.uk/about-us/faculty/rev-prof-andrew-mcgowan/

Hunt, Arnold. 2008. “Featley [Fairclough], Daniel.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-9242

Kiefer, James. n.d. “Frederick Denison Maurice – Priest and Theologian.”Justus.anglican.org. http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/134.html

Loewenstein, Daniel. 2008. “Ellwood, Thomas.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-8726

McLaughlin, Elizabeth. 1967. “Milton and Thomas Ellwood.” Milton Newsletter 1, no. 2: 17-28.

McMahon, C. Matthew. n.d. “Daniel Featley (1582-1645).A Puritan’s Mind. https://www.apuritansmind.com/puritan-favorites/daniel-featley-1582-1645/

Scott, Hew. 1928. Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Vol VII, Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.

Toon, Peter. 1977. “The Parker Society.” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 46, no. 1: 323-332.

Tribe, Shawn. 2008. “Reprinting the Canon Missae Ad Usum Episcoporum Ac Praelatorum.” Newliturgicalmovement.org https://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008/04/reprinting-canon-missae-ad-usum.html#.YvYz0C7MI2w

Walden, Daniel. 2015. “Dom Mocquereau’s Theories of Rhythm and Romantic Musical Aesthetics.” Études Grégoriennes 22: 125-150. https://www.academia.edu/30684568/Dom_Mocquereaus_Theories_of_Rhythm_and_Romantic_Musical_Aesthetics

William Temple Foundation. 2022. “William Temple Foundation: Shaping Debate on Religion in Public Life.” William Temple Foundation, Ltd. https://williamtemplefoundation.org.uk/


1 The complete text of this volume may be viewed at https://theologicalstudies.org.uk/book_sermons-on-natural-unrevealed-religion_simpson_thomas.php..