James Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford

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The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres
Lord Lindsay - Earl of Crawford.jpg
Caricature of Lord Crawford by Leslie Ward
Member of Parliament for Wigan
In office
Serving with Thomas Knowles
Preceded byJohn Lancaster
Henry Woods
Succeeded byFrancis Sharp Powell
Thomas Knowles
Personal details
James Ludovic Lindsay

(1847-07-28)28 July 1847
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
Died31 January 1913(1913-01-31) (aged 65)
Political partyConservative
Emily Florence Bootle-Wilbraham
(m. 1869⁠–⁠1913)
Parent(s)Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh

James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres, FRS, FRAS, KT (28 July 1847 – 31 January 1913)[1][2] was a British astronomer, politician, ornithologist, bibliophile and philatelist. A member of the Royal Society, Crawford was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1878.[3][4][5][6] He was a prominent Freemason, having been initiated into Isaac Newton University Lodge at the University of Cambridge in 1866.[7]

Early life[edit]

The future Earl was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France on 28 July 1847,[8] the only son of Alexander Lindsay, 25th Earl of Crawford and his wife Margaret. He was asthmatic and spent considerable periods at sea studying the more portable sections of the family library which had been established by his father.[Note 1]


Lord Crawford aboard his yacht Valhalla in 1906

Crawford was interested in astronomy from an early age. Along with his father, he built up a private observatory at Dun Echt, Aberdeenshire. He employed David Gill to equip the observatory, using the best available technology. Among his achievements, Gill later made the first photograph of the Great Comet of 1882,[9] pioneering astrophotography and the mapping of the heavens. Crawford mounted expeditions to Cadiz in 1870, to observe the eclipse of the sun; India in 1871, to observe the eclipse of the sun; and then to Mauritius in 1874, to observe the transit of Venus.[10] On the latter two expeditions Crawford employed London photographer Henry Davis, who in 1876 was appointed Crawford's personal librarian.

Upon hearing of a threat to close down the Edinburgh Royal Observatory,[11] in 1888 Crawford made a donation of astronomical instruments and his books on mathematics and the physical sciences from the Bibliotheca Lindesiana in order that a new observatory could be founded.[12] Thanks to this donation, the new Royal Observatory, Edinburgh was opened on Blackford Hill in 1896.

As well as much astronomical equipment, Crawford's observatory included an extensive collection of rare books, part of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana at Haigh Hall, which his father and he had accumulated till it was one of the most impressive private collections in Britain at the time.

The Bibliotheca Lindesiana[edit]

A book plate from the Bibliotheca Lindesiana

The Bibliotheca Lindesiana (i.e. Lindsayan or Lindsian library) had been planned by the 25th Earl and both he and his eldest son had been instrumental in building it up to such an extent that it was one of the most impressive private collections in Britain at the time, both for its size and for the rarity of some of the materials it contained. Alexander William Lindsay had been a book collector from his schooldays and so he continued. In 1861 he wrote to his son James (then 14 years old) a letter which describes his vision of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana; in 1864 he redrafted and enlarged it while visiting his villa in Tuscany. By now it was 250 pages long and under the name of the "Library Report" it continued to be added to during their lifetimes. He based his plan on the Manuel of J.-Ch. Brunet[13] in which knowledge is divided into five branches: Theology, Jurisprudence, Science and Arts, Belles Lettres, History; to which Alexander added six of his own as paralipomena: Genealogy, Archaeology, Biography, Literary History, Bibliography and Encyclopaedias; and finally a Museum.[14] Features of the collection included reacquired stock from earlier Lindsay collections, manuscripts both eastern and western, and printed books, all chosen for their intellectual and cultural importance.[15]

The bulk of the library was kept at Haigh Hall[16] in Lancashire with a part at Balcarres. The Earl issued an extensive catalogue of the library in 1910: Catalogue of the Printed Books Preserved at Haigh Hall, Wigan, 4 vols. folio, Aberdeen University Press, printers. Companion volumes to the catalogue record the royal proclamations and philatelic literature. The cataloguing and organisation of the library was a major task for a team of librarians led by J. P. Edmond.[17][18] Two catalogues were issued privately in 1895 and 1898, of the Chinese books and manuscripts (by J. P. Edmond) and of the Oriental manuscripts, Arabic, Persian, Turkish (by Michael Kerney).[19] The manuscript collections (including Chinese and Japanese printed books) were sold in 1901 to Enriqueta Augustina Rylands for the John Rylands Library. Other parts of the collections have since been donated to or deposited in national or university libraries, including the National Library of Scotland. In 1946 the deposited collections were distributed to the British Museum, Cambridge University Library, and the John Rylands Library.[20] Changes to these locations were made by later Earls of Crawford; apart from the Crawford family muniments those at the John Rylands Library were removed in 1988.


Crawford's philatelic interests[21] grew out of his work in extending the Lindsay family's library.[22] He purchased a large collection of philatelic literature formed by John K. Tiffany[22] of St. Louis, the first president of the American Philatelic Society. Tiffany's was already the world's largest and most complete collection of philatelic literature. He added to this by purchases throughout Europe. He added a codicil to his will bequeathing his philatelic library to the British Museum, of which he was a Trustee.[23]

Crawford formed notable collections of the stamps of the Italian States, the United States and Great Britain. The Crawford Medal was established by the Royal Philatelic Society London in Crawford's honour for distinguished contributions to philately. It is awarded annually for "the most valuable and original contribution to the study and knowledge of philately published in book form during the two years preceding the award." The 26th Earl of Crawford by the time of his death in 1913 had amassed the greatest philatelic library of his time.[22] Crawford's name was included as one of the "Fathers of Philately" in 1921.


Crawford was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Wigan in 1874, and held the seat until his elevation to the peerage in 1880.


Crawford had spent a short period as an Ensign in the Grenadier Guards, and after he became MP for Wigan he was appointed one of two lieutenant-colonels of the 4th Lancashire Rifle Volunteer Corps with his brother-in-law Arthur Bootle-Wilbraham, a former Ensign in the Coldstream Guards, as the other. On 10 October 1900 Crawford was appointed Honorary Colonel of the unit, now the 1st Volunteer Battalion, Manchester Regiment.[24]

Marriage and children[edit]

On 22 July 1869, the Earl, who was then Lord Lindsay, married Emily Florence Bootle-Wilbraham (1848–1934), the daughter of Colonel the Hon Edward Bootle-Wilbraham (son of Edward Bootle-Wilbraham, 1st Baron Skelmersdale) and his wife Emily Ramsbottom (daughter of James Ramsbottom, MP, brewer and banker, of Clewer Lodge and Woodside, Windsor, Berkshire)[25][26] and the sister of Ada Constance Bootle-Wilbraham, wife of Italian politician Onorato Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta and Prince of Teano. Together, James and Emily were the parents of seven children:[27]

Lord Crawford died on 31 January 1913. His widow, Emily, Dowager Countess of Crawford, died on 15 January 1934.[27]

Through his eldest son, the 27th Earl, he was a grandfather of eight, two sons and six daughters, including David Lindsay, 28th Earl of Crawford, Hon. James Lindsay (MP for Devon North), Lady Mary Lilian Lindsay (wife of Lord Chancellor Reginald Manningham-Buller, 1st Viscount Dilhorne, whose daughter is Baroness Manningham-Buller), and Lady Katharine Constance Lindsay (wife of Sir Godfrey Nicholson, 1st Baronet, and mother of Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne).[27]

Through his son Robert, he was a grandfather of Australian politician Robert Lindsay.

Other positions and honours[edit]

Lindsay received the degree of LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1882, and in the following year was nominated honorary associate of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. He became a trustee of the British Museum and acted for a term as president of the Library Association.[10]

He had a strong connection to Wigan, where he was chairman of the Free Library Authority and head of the Wigan Coal Company. In January 1900 he received the Freedom of the borough of Wigan.[29]

Crawford was a member of the Council of the Zoological Society of London from 1902.[30]


  1. ^ Crawford was a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron and owner of several private yachts that he used for scientific expeditions, most famously the 1490 ton Valhalla (see below "Further reading").


  1. ^ Owen Gingerich, 'Lindsay, James Ludovic, twenty-sixth earl of Crawford and ninth earl of Balcarres (1847–1913)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 15 Feb 2011
  2. ^ Barker, Nicolas (1978) Bibliotheca Lindesiana: the Lives and Collections of Alexander William, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres, and James Ludovic, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres. London: for Presentation to the Roxburghe Club, and published by Bernard Quaritch; p. 129
  3. ^ "James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Royal Astronomical Society. 74 (4): 271–273. 1914. Bibcode:1914MNRAS..74..271.. doi:10.1093/mnras/74.4.271.
  4. ^ "Lord Crawford, F.R.S." Nature. 90 (2259): 652–653. 1913. Bibcode:1913Natur..90..652.. doi:10.1038/090652a0. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Obituary". The Observatory. 36: 153. 1913. Bibcode:1913Obs....36..149. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Obituary–The Earl of Crawford". Journal of the British Astronomical Association. British Astronomical Association. 23: 207. 1913. Bibcode:1913JBAA...23..182. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  7. ^ Harrison, David (January 2013). "The Liverpool Masonic Rebellion and the Grand Lodge of Wigan" (PDF). Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  8. ^ Barker (1978), p. 129
  9. ^ Gill, D. "On Photographs of the Great Comet", Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 43, p.53
  10. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Crawford, Earls of". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 385–386.
  11. ^ The Royal observatory, Edinburgh
  12. ^ Lord Crawford's donation of books and instruments
  13. ^ Manuel du libraire et de l'amateur de livres; 4e édition / dans laquelle les nouvelles recherches bibliographiques, pub. par l'auteur en 1834, pour y servir de supplément, sont refondues et mises à leur place ... le tout rédigé et mis en ordre par une société de bibliophiles belges. Bruxelles: Meline, Cans & comp
  14. ^ Defined as "those manuscripts and books which were «monuments not so much of thought and literature as of bibliography»"--Barker (1978); p. 225
  15. ^ Barker (1978) Bibliotheca Lindesiana; chapter 8: the library report, pp. 195–230
  16. ^ Since April 1974 in Greater Manchester
  17. ^ Edmond (together with Robert Dickson) compiled Annals of Scottish Printing: from the introduction of the art in 1507 to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Cambridge: Macmillan & Bowes, 1890
  18. ^ Second International Library Conference. List of Manuscripts, Printed Books, and examples of Bookbinding exhibited to the American librarians on the occasion of their visit to Haigh Hall; compiled by Edmond. 1897
  19. ^ Murgatroyd, T. (1942) "Index to the first twenty-five volumes of the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library"; Manchester University Press; p. 46
  20. ^ Guppy, Henry (1946) "The 'Bibliotheca Lindesiana', in: Bulletin of the John Rylands Library; vol. 30, pp. 185–94
  21. ^ British Philatelic Trust, Rowland Hill, promotion of "the study, research and dissemination of knowledge" about philately – UK Philately, Stamps and stamp collecting plus much, much more GB Archived 11 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ a b c "APS Hall of Fame – 1941". American Philatelic Society. Archived from the original on 23 June 2002.
  23. ^ The Journal of the Philatelic Literature Society, April 1913, Volume 6, Issue 2, p.24.
  24. ^ Army List, various dates.
  25. ^ "The Honourable Mrs Emily Bootle-Wilbraham (1814-1899)", by Paul Frecker – Fine Photographs, London, paulfrecker.com. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  26. ^ Fisher, David R., "Ramsbottom, John (1778-1845)", The History of Parliament: the House of Commons (volumes: 1820-1832), Institute of Historical Research, 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2022.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Crawford, Earl of (S, 1398)". cracroftspeerage.co.uk. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  28. ^ "What Is Doing in Society". The New York Times. 27 December 1902. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Court Circular". The Times. No. 36030. London. 4 January 1900. p. 6.
  30. ^ "Zoological Society of London". The Times. No. 36755. London. 30 April 1902. p. 6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barker, Nicolas (1978) Bibliotheca Lindesiana: the Lives and Collections of Alexander William, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres, and James Ludovic, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres. London: for Presentation to the Roxburghe Club, and published by Bernard Quaritch
  • Catalogue of the Crawford Library of Philatelic Literature at the British Library (1991).
  • Edmond, J. P. "Suggestions for the description of books printed between 1501 and 1640"; by John Philip Edmond, Librarian to the Earl of Crawford. Library Association Record; [1902?]
  • Nicoll, M. J. (Michael John), 1880–1925 [https://archive.org/details/threevoyagesofnatu00nico Three Voyages of a Naturalist: being an account of many little- known islands in three oceans visited by the "Valhalla," R.Y.S.; with an introduction by the Earl of Crawford

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Wigan
With: Thomas Knowles
Succeeded by
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Royal Philatelic Society London
Succeeded by
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by Earl of Crawford
Earl of Balcarres

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