John Urquhart 1696-1756

From Book Owners Online

John URQUHART 1696-1756

John Urquhart's bookplate (from the library at Craigston Castle)

Biographical Note

A member of the Urquhart family of Craigston Castle, Aberdeenshire. The house was built at the beginning of the 17th century by John Urquhart (1597-1631), known as the 'Tutor of Cromarty', and has been lived in by the family ever since, apart from the years 1657-1738, when financial difficulties forced a sale. It was bought back by this John, who spent some years as a privateer for Spain and has been nicknamed 'John Urquhart the Pirate'.


A library has been built up at Craigston by successive generations of the family, certainly since the time of this John Urquhart, and possibly earlier. At the time of his death in 1756, an inventory lists many books; the location of the library within the Castle has changed several times. John used an engraved armorial bookplate, not in Franks; the library was certainly added to by John's son William (1741-1796), who also used a (different) bookplate (Franks 30185). In the early 20th century, the laird of the time (Arthur Urquhart) was a Benedictine monk, and ca.400 pre-1800 volumes were moved from the Castle to the Abbey of Fort Augustus (many of these now being in the National Library of Scotland. At the present time there are ca.5500 books at Craigston, of which about half are pre-1901. The subject range of the library is wide and imprints date from the 15th century onwards.

William Urquhart's bookplate (from the library at Craigston Castle)

Characteristic Markings

As well as the bookplates which are found in the books, an early (19th century?) library stamp will sometimes be found. The presence of William's plate in an Urquhart book may not be proof that the book was acquired in his time, as it was probably also used by later members of the family.

The ink stamp used at Craigston Castle


  • Craigston Castle, Wikipedia.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903-4.
  • Slade, H. G., Craigston Castle, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 108 (1976-7), 262-99.
  • Information from Sandra Cumming.