Sutherland Collection


Sutherland Collection


The books of James Sutherland (1638?-1719), first Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, came to the Advocates Library in two batches. The first in 1705, along with his collection of coins, represented his hobby and are mainly on the subject of numismatics. The second in 1707 related to his professional life and represent an excellent collection of early botanical books by some of the most important contemporary and classical authors. The collection consists of over 300 printed volumes, including two incunabula. There are many 16th-century books in the collection, which includes scholarly works on botany and physic, herbals, descriptions of local floras, works on gardening, and catalogues of the plants in contemporary physic gardens. There also exists a curiosity, a fine copy of the first Irish translation of the New Testament, printed in Dublin in 1602-1603. Most of the volumes can be identified from the Advocates Library ex-libris on the front fly-leaf dated 1705 or 1707, and with the additional note: prius M. Jacobi Sutherland.


After acquisition the books were dispersed throughout the Advocates Library's collections. In 2004 the books known to be in the National Library with a Sutherland provenance were identified and brought together as a single collection, with the exception of the incunabula which are part of the Library's Incunabula Collection. The books have been catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'Suther.'.


The books were purchased by the Faculty of Advocates in 1705 and 1707. Ownership was transferred to the National Library after its foundation in 1925.

Related collections

Two manuscripts were also purchased by the Faculty of Advocates. Ownership was transferred to the National Library after its foundation in 1925. The manuscripts are held at Adv.MS.23.5.10 and Adv.MS.23.7.10.


'The library of James Sutherland', RL Betteridge, Edinburgh, 2013.

'James Sutherland (1638(?)-1719): botanist, numismatist and bibliophile', MV Mathew, The Bibliotheck, Volume 14, Numbers 1-3, 1987.

'Catalogue of James Sutherland's Library', WA Kelly, The Bibliotheck, Volume 14, Numbers 1-3, 1987.





Natural history