John Whitefoord Mackenzie’s Library

The book Statistique monumentale: atlas – arrondisements de Toul et de Nancy by Grille de Beuzelin bears the armorial bookplate of John Whitefoord Mackenzie. Endeavouring to learn more about Mackenzie, we discovered that his library had been catalogued in 1886 by auctioneers T. Chapman & Son of Edinburgh, and that a copy of the catalogue is held by University of Glasgow Library. Hot on the trail, we asked Glasgow University if they could kindly check whether our book was listed, and were delighted to receive confirmation that the book did indeed appear in the sale and was sold on the final day for the princely sum of four shillings.
Famed bibliophile T. F. Dibdin’s “bibliographical tour” of Scotland included a visit to Mackenzie in Edinburgh. He is described as being an affable gentleman whose library “is unambitious, but it has an air of attic elegance.” Articles in The Scotsman in 1886 describe a legal challenge to the sale of this library after Mackenzie’s death: his son and two daughters squabbled about who should be entrusted with its sale. The son wished to entrust the sale to an auctioneer other than Chapmans, against his sisters’ wishes who favoured Chapman. The case was taken to court and the sisters’ rights were upheld by the Court of Session meaning that the library was sold by Mr Chapman’s company.
Glasgow University Library also holds a further forty volumes previously owned by Mackenzie.

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