From the Saunderson Rare Books Room: Imperial Family Bible


To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Bishop John Strachan’s death, this month’s rare book highlight is an Imperial Family Bible from the John Strachan collection. After his death on 1 November, 1867, Strachan left the majority of his 3000 volume library to Trinity College. Many of these items lasted well over a century within the library’s circulating collection. More recently, however, due to their age and their important provenance, a special collection was created for all of his books that had survived. The current collection, consisting of well over 300 volumes, shows the breadth of Strachan’s intellectual and collecting interest.


The item showcased here is an 1844 Imperial Family Bible printed by Blackie and Son in Glasgow, Scotland. It belonged to John Strachan Jr., the elder Strachan’s second-youngest son and a judge in Goderich, Canada West. Strachan Jr. died in 1853, and left this bible to his parents. When the bishop died in 1867, this particular volume was given to Mary Elizabeth Strachan, Strachan Jr.’s daughter. She, her mother and her sister, moved into Trinity College to live with her mother’s brother, The Rev. William Jones, the college’s mathematics professor and later bursar and registrar. Mary Elizabeth took a great liking to Trinity and spent many years as dean of the women living at Deneside, one of St. Hilda’s residence buildings. In 1922, she left this bible and a few other items belonging to her grandfather to the college.


The bible, with over 1300 pages, is an impressively large and heavy item, and contains nearly 40 woodcut illustrations. Like all our rare books and special collections items, the Imperial Family Bible is available for consultation any time in the John W. Graham Library. For further information, please inquire at the circulation desk or contact us at

One response to “From the Saunderson Rare Books Room: Imperial Family Bible

  1. 1852 to 1922, seventy years of an extended Strachan family connection to the college. And our founder’s daughter-in-law’s brother a math professor at Trinity. Who knew?


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