World of David Murray

David Murray was a Glasgow lawyer, antiquary and bibliographer, and Special Collections houses his personal library containing around 15000 printed books, incorporating some 23000 items including pamphlets and ephemera, and over 200 manuscripts. He bequeathed the majority of his library to the University in 1927 and subsequent acquisitions have been made as supplementary materials.  

Portrait of David Murray as printed in The Bailie, a Glasgow newspaper, in 1893.

The David Murray collection contains a wealth of material relating to regional history; the socioeconomic development of the West of Scotland; the city of Glasgow administration, and the University of Glasgow. It also contains examples of Murray’s other interests including early legal texts, school-books, early books on accounting, and lists of curiosities and rarities relating to the history of private and public museums.  

David Murray’s manuscript catalogue of printed books, 1861.

Over on our Flickr, we have created a virtual exhibition, which seeks to champion our collection and reinvigorate interest in David Murray: The Man, The Lawyer, The Book Collector. It has been generously supported by the University’s Chancellors Fund and was conceived at the re-inauguration of David Murray lecture delivered by James Hamilton, the Research Principal of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet and author of the paper Legal bibliophilia in the Dear Green Place: Dr David Murray and his lost legal archive, 1842-1928, in 2019. 

This exhibition is indicative of the breadth and richness of the David Murray collection. His personal library is vast and varied in terms of scope and content, although particular emphases are clear. Significantly, the Murray collection symbolises a recognition for the importance of book collecting on a personal, local and national scale. It offers many research possibilities, both at item and collection level.  

Categories: Archives and Special Collections

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1 reply


  1. Alchemy at Glasgow: John Ferguson and his ‘Crowning of Nature’ Manuscripts – University of Glasgow Library Blog

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