Hugh Hume Campbell 1708-1794

From Book Owners Online

Hugh HUME CAMPBELL, 3rd Earl of Marchmont, 1708-1794

Biographical Note

Born in Edinburgh, he was the third son and heir of Alexander Hume Campbell and Margaret Campbell, second daughter and heir of Sir George Campbell of Cessnock. His grandfather was Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont. He married his first wife Anne Western, daughter of Sir Thomas Western of London, in May 1731. The couple had one son, Patrick, who died in childhood, and three daughters. In 1748 he married Elizabeth Crompton, daughter of Windmill Crompton, a bankrupt Cheapside linen draper.

He was elected MP for Berwick in 1734, and subsequently built a reputation as a skilled politician. In 1750, he was elected one of the sixteen representative peers of Scotland; in 1764 he was made keeper of the great seal of Scotland; and from 1763 to 1790 he was Governor of the Bank of Scotland. In 1750, he commissioned the construction of Marchmont House in the family estate in the Scottish borders


The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts described him as “a zealous collector of rare books and valuable manuscripts” whose library was thought by some to have formed “one of the most curious and valuable in Britain.” (p.56)

He was not only a collector of books, but a reader too. Lord Chesterfield noted that his "...chief lights were from Johannes Serlius" (Rose, Vol.2, p.298). It is recounted that “some hours of the forenoon, and frequently of the evening, were dedicated to his books. His most favourite studies appear to have been in the Civil Law, and the Laws of England and Scotland, in the Records and History of the European Nations, and in Ancient History and the traces of them are very unequivocal. The fruits of his labors in extracts, observations, comparisons, and researches, all made in his own hand-writing…” (Rose, Vol.1, Vol 1).

He owned several Incunabula including Platina’s history of the lives of the popes Vitae pontificum (Treviso, 1485) (Cambride UL Inc.2.B.9.8[4024]), and Caxton’s edition of Virgil’s book of Eneydos (Westminister, 1490) (Harry Ransom Center PFORZ 1026 PFZ).

Hugh inherited the books of his father and grandfather, kept in the family residence in Scotland. Part of this library was sold at auction in London on 13h April 1761. In 1784, Hugh had the remaining family library moved from Scotland to his residence at Hemel Hempstead. Hugh left no surviving male heir, and bequeathed the entire library to George Rose (1744–1818), the executor of his estate. It was catalogued for sale (1373 lots) and due to be sold at auction by R.H. Evans in London on 12 May 1830. However, the sale did not take place. In 1851, the surviving family papers and books were sold to Hugh Scott, of Harden and Lord Polwarth, and moved to Mertoun House, Berwickshire. The rarest volumes were sold by his successor Walter Scott, (Sotheby’s 15 February 1909), with some volumes possibly dispersed at the sale of all the family effects at in 1912 (Dowell’s Rooms in Edinburgh, 25th-27th March 1912).

Characteristic Markings

His books often contain the bookplate of George Rose, with the initial “M” crowned with an Earl’s coronet, to denote that they were part of Marchmont’s bequest.


  • A catalogue of the entire and valuable library of the Hon. Alexander Hume Campbell, ... to be sold by auction, by Samuel Baker... on Monday the 13th of April, [London, 1761] [Note: this catalogue was not consulted during the research of this entry]
  • Catalogue of the valuable and extensive library of the late Earl of Marchmont...which will be sold by auction by Mr. Evans at his house, no. 93, Pall-Mall, on Wednesday May 12, and five following days, (Sunday excepted),[London] : Printed by W. Nicol, [1830] [Note: this catalogue was not consulted during the research of this entry]
  • Catalogue of an interesting collection of valuable and rare books & pamphlets selected from the library of the right hon. Lord Polwarth [sic] (of Mertoun House, Berwick), including an extensive series of civil war tracts and newspapers, rare americana ...; rare Old English black letter books ... engraved English and French portraits, etc. which will be sold by auction, by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge ... on Monday, the 15th of February, 1909, and following day, [London] : Dryden Press: J. Davy & Sons, 8-9, Frith-street, Soho-square, W. 1909
  • Catalogue of choice antique furniture ... and other valuables of the Rt. Hon. Lord Polwarth, removed from Mertoun House, to be sold by auction (by instructions of J. Hamilton Buchanan, Esq., C.A., trustee) by Mr. Dowell within his rooms, No. 18 George Street, Edinburgh on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 28th, 29th and 30th March 1912... [Edinburgh : A. Dowell, 1912] [Note: this catalogue was not consulted during the research of this entry]
  • Hume, Ian Maitland. "Campbell, Hugh Hume, third earl of Marchmont (1708–1794), politician." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Issue 14, Part 3, 1894
  • Rose, George Henry. A selection from the papers of the earls of Marchmont, 3 vols. (London, 1831)

CategoryLLibraries Sold at Auction