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Archives and Special Collections: Leighton Library

Collection information

Collection: Leighton Library

Classmark: Leighton Library...

Biographical/administrative history:
The Leighton Library in Dunblane is founded on the personal library of Archbishop Robert Leighton (1611-1684). Robert Leighton lived through one of the most turbulent periods in Scottish history. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister, yet took up the office of Bishop of Dunblane in the restored Episcopal Church, in an attempt to reconcile Presbyterians and Episcopalians in a united Church of Scotland. Aware that he might be accused of seeking self-aggrandisement, he accepted a post in Dunblane, the smallest and poorest see in the country. He was later installed as Archbishop of Glasgow, though he failed to bring about the reconciliation in church affairs which he so desired.

Leighton was a learned scholar, with wide ranging interests. He bequeathed some 1500 books and pamphlets to the Cathedral of Dunblane. A library building was erected between 1684 and 1688 in order to house the books for the use of the local clergy. From 1734 the library became one of the first subscription libraries in Scotland and thrived until around 1870. Leighton’s collection of books was supplemented by 18th and 19th century additions.

Contents: The collection dates from the 16th century to the 19th century and covers a variety of subject areas, including history and politics (particularly 17th century), theology, medicine, travel, language and the occult. There is also much to interest the book historian.

Extent:  Around 4,000 volumes and 78 manuscripts,


Catalogue information

Books are listed in the Leighton Library catalogue.

Please contact us in advance of a visit by emailing Please allow at least 1 week before expecting to consult an item from this collection.

Other Catalogues of the Leighton Library

Additional collection information

Custodial history: The Leighton Library is owned and administered by the Leighton Library Trust. Thanks to an agreement with the Trust, books from the Leighton Library may be consulted in the University Library.

Accruals: None expected.

Access conditions:  Please email, allowing at least 1 week before expecting to consult the documents.

Languages: English, Latin, Greek, French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, Syriac, Persian, Arabic, German, Dutch, Gaelic, Irish, Polish


Jacqueline Kennard, The most borrowed books of the Leighton Library's water drinkers, 21st June 2021 (blog post)

Gordon Willis, Catalogue of manuscripts: Leighton Library, University of Stirling Bibliographical Society, 1981. ISBN 0907250009 (available for purchase for £6)

Gordon Willis, The Leighton Library, Dunblane : its history and contents, The bibliotheck 10 (6), 1981


Using the collection

Archives Reading Room

Opening Hours:

10.00 am - 1.00 pm / 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm

Monday - Friday

Contact us:

Tel. 01786 466619


Please contact us in advance of your visit. Material can be ordered in advance by emailing us at

Collection images

Online resources

Leighton Library website

Some material relating to Robert Leighton and the Leighton Library is also held by the Dunblane Museum.

Books and Borrowing 1750-1830
Borrowing records from the Leighton Library were included in this study. The borrowing records and minute books have been digitised and are available from the website.

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