University of St Andrews

University Library Special Collections

Rare Books


Royal Collection

Images of the Royal Collection

‌The Royal collection is an amalgamation of two gifts from the Royal House of Stewart:

(a) Gift c. 1560 of James Stewart (c. 1521-1570), Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland, and Commendator Prior of St Andrews, to St Leonard's College, where he was a student in 1545

(b) Gift of James VI and I and his family to mark the foundation of a new Common Library for the university in 1611-1612 (the 'Foundation gift').

It contains over 200 volumes and there are over 50 'Regent Moray' volumes, mostly in his gilt armorial bindings. Associated with the Regent Moray gift are 13 volumes owned by Robert Stewart, bishop of Caithness, in his personal bindings, and 2 volumes in the gilt armorial binding of John Stewart (d. 1563), Commendator Prior of Coldingham and half-brother of the Regent Moray. The Foundation Gift volumes have on the covers a fine large gilt stamp (98 x 80 mm) based on the 15th century seal of the University . The collection comprises books of the 16th and early 17th centuries from continental presses, and the main subject areas are theology (notably the Christian fathers) and the classics. The original listing of the collection is held in the manuscripts collection (Pringle's book - msLF1111.P81C99).

Finding aids

The collection is fully available through the online catalogue. There is a contemporary manuscript list of the Foundation Gift. Classmarks for books in this collection have the prefix Roy.


D W Doughty, 'Notes on the Regent Moray's books and their bindings', The Bibliothek, 6 (1971-3), p65-75.

D W Doughty, 'Renaissance books, bindings and owners in St Andrews and elsewhere: the humanists', The Bibliothek, 7 (1974-5), p117-33.


Find out how you can get copies of books, manuscripts or photographs held within Special Collections.

Collection development policy

Discover how the Special Collections Division makes decisions on the development of its rare book collections.

Current projects

Read about the exciting collection projects the Rare Books team is currently working on, and those that have recently been completed.