George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

The Lindsay family library: acquired in 1988

A collection of English ballads forms part of the family library of the Lindsays, the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres.

The Bibliotheca Lindesiana consists of around 45,000 items. Its development was mainly the work of the 25th and 26th Earls of Crawford in the 19th century. Although the main library has been broken up several times, a number of special subject collections were kept. Most of them have been deposited on long-term loan in publicly accessible libraries since the 1940s. In 1988 these were all reunited in the National Library of Scotland.

It was the 26th Earl of Crawford who assembled the English ballads collection. On the broadside shown here we have the only known copy of a ballad written by Thomas Deloney, a well-known Elizabethan ballad writer and pamphleteer.

He wrote 'A proper new ballad, breefly declaring the death and execution of 14 most wicked traitors'. It deals with the executions of the conspirators involved in the Babington Plot of 1586.

This conspiracy to have Elizabeth I assasinated led to the arrest and execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. You can find the last letter of Mary Queen of Scots in our Digital gallery, with English translation and French transcription.

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