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The Spalding Club

John Spalding (Born C1624) was a Scottish historian, possibly a native of Aberdeen and possibly the son of his Father Alexander's  mistress who his father then married when his 1st wife died.

The name was uncommon there in the 16th and 17th centuries, but the registers for Aberdeen record the marriage of "Alexander Spalding and Cristine Hervie" (i.e. Herries) on 7 Feb. 1608. John Spalding became a Lawyer, and resided in the 'Old town, Aberdeen'. For many years he acted as Clerk to the Consistorial Court for the Diocese; and his office, the records of which were burnt in 1721, was within the precincts of the Cathedral of St Machar.  The latest trace of him occurs in a notarial document in his own handwriting, dated 30 Jan. 1663, whereby Bishop David, acknowledges to have received from Robert Forbes of Glastermuir £25. 7s. 4d. as feu duty for these lands from Martinmas to Whitsun 1661 and 1662.

Spalding was the author of a valuable annalistic History of the Troubles and Memorable Transactions in Scotland between 1624 and 1645. This is a simple narrative of current events, interspersed with copies of documents which no doubt came into Spalding's hands in his official capacity. The work was left incomplete. It begins and ends abruptly, commencing with a feud between the Earl of Moray and the Clan Chattan, and ending with Sir John Hurry's junction with General Bailie.  Spalding wrote as a shrewd, well-informed, conscientious, yet in the ecclesiastical sense no bigoted, Royalist.  Charles I he held in the highest veneration. The Parliamentarian Regime jarred harshly on his conservative instincts, and he deplored many outrages on the fabric of the cathedral of Aberdeen and the prohibition of merrymaking on Christmas Day

Spalding's History was first published in Aberdeen (2 vols. 8vo, 1792); it was re-edited for the Bannatyne Club by William Forbes Skene (1829), and again by Dr. John Stuart for the Spalding Club (1850).

In 1839 an Antiquarian publishing society, founded at Aberdeen, was named after the historian the Spalding Club. The latest publication is dated 1871. The New Spalding Club, with similar objectives, was founded at Aberdeen in 1886.

The Bannatyne Club, named in honour of George Bannatyne a native of Angus and his famous anthology of Scots literature the Bannatyne Manuscript was founded by Sir Walter Scott to print rare works of Scottish interest, whether in history, poetry, or general literature. It printed 116 volumes in all. It was dissolved in 1861.

The Spalding Club
is the name of successive Antiquarian Societies founded in Aberdeen.  The clubs were named after the 17th century historian John Spalding.

One incarnation as the Spalding Club was founded by Joseph Robertson (1810?1866) in 23rd December, 1839, and included Included Cosmo Innes and John Stuart, Geneologist (1813?1877). This organisation ceased to be active after 1870.  Stuart was Secretary and Editor of many works published by the club.  Thirty-eight quarto volumes were issued by the club, 14 of them were compiled by John Stuart; his important works included, The Sculptured Stones of Scotland, in 1856 and 1867, a highly valued antiquarian reference work and The Book of Deer, published in 1869, regarding the Celtic history of Scotland, reproduces a manuscript copy of the Gospels held at the Abbey of Deer.

Spalding Club (1839 - 1869)

The Club  was established in Aberdeen by Joseph Robertson (1810 - 1866) and John Stuart (1813-77), LLD (inset), for the publication of the historical, genealogical, topographical and literary remains of the North-eastern counties of Scotland (printed notice of intention to establish the Club, published in Aberdeen newspapers, 5 Dec 1839). Together they were responsible for many of the Club's early, and most enduring, publications, including Collections for a History of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff , ed. by Joseph Robertson (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1843); Fasti Aberdonensis , ed. by Joseph Robertson (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1854); Sculptured Stones of Scotland , ed. by John Stuart, 2 vols (Aberdeen, Spalding Club, 1856-67); The Book of Deer , ed. by John Stuart (Edinburgh: Spalding Club, 1869); and The Miscellany of the Spalding Club, ed. by John Stuart, 5 vols (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1841-52). Robertson later became Curator of the Historical Department, Register House, Edinburgh, c 1858, and Stuart was appointed Principal Keeper of the Register of Deeds, Edinburgh, in 1873. 

The work of 2 other individuals also contributed to the early success of the Club. Cosmo Innes (1798 - 1874), a member of, and already experienced Editor with, the Bannatyne Club, Edinburgh, edited Fasti Aberdonenses. Selections from the Records of the University and King's College of Aberdeen, 1494-1854 (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1854) and sponsored Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis. Ecclesie Cathedralis Aberdonensis Regesta que extant in unum collecta, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Spalding Club, 1845) and A Genealogical Deduction of the Family of Rose of Kilravock; with illustrative documents from the family papers, and notes (Edinburgh: Spalding Club, 1848). George Grub (1812 - 1892), Professor of Law at Marischal College and Aberdeen University, 1843 - 1891, and author of An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland from the Introduction of Christianity to the Present Time, 4 vols (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1861), Edited History of Scots Affairs from 1637 to 1641, by James Gordon, Parson of Rothiemay 3 vols (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1841) and Thomas Innes' The Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, AD 80 - 818 (Aberdeen: Spalding Club, 1853). At the height of its popularity, in March 1850, the Club had attracted a membership of 500, but by December 1869, numbers had fallen to 227, and the decision, 1st mooted in December 1866, was formally made to dissolve the Club at this time. During its 30-year history, it published 38 volumes.

Reconstituted as the New Spalding Club 11th November 1886 (1886 - 1928),


Unnamed Personalities of Aberdeen

The New Spalding Club Volume. A second Volume of the "Miscellany of the New Spalding Club" has just been published. It comprises 3 items. The first is a Summary of Friars Prices in Aberdeenshire from 1603 till 1619, compiled by Dr Littlejohn, the Sheriff Clerk, the prices from the latter date till 1900 being subjoined as far as the incomplete records now extant permit. Dr Littlejohn prefaces the summary with" Some General Observations." He points out that the Commissary Records of Aberdeenshire, which would have been a mine of wealth to the investigator, unfortunately perished by fire in 1721, and, had they existed, considerable light would probably have been obtained from them, for the Commissary Court, both before and immediately after the Reformation, fixed friars for the rents of church lands, which were given effect to in the Sheriff Court. The commodities or species of grain or victual dealt with, he says, have varied, but not greatly - "Oats was, of course, an important feature, and of it there have always been at least 2 kinds of qualities in evidence and for the greater part of the 3 centuries 3 species, viz.: ^real oats or white oats, blaudit oals (at a later period styled " brockit "), and small oats. The present system of dividing oats into 1st (sometimes called potato oats) and 2nd quality, was adopted in 1813 for crop barley, which was first introduced into the list with great hesitation by the jury in 1811 for crop 1810, and of which 2 qualities were 1st struck for crop 1879, has now after 90 years, ousted its older rival bear. Oatmeal always occupied and still occupies a leading place among the species of victual submitted to the assize summoned to settle the friars."

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Last modified: 01/09/2013