Thomas Gouge, The Young Man’s Guide (1696)

The Young Man’s Guide through the Wilderness of the World to the Heavenly Canaan, a book clearly aimed at a male readership, was inscribed a female reader with her name, date of purchase, and the price of purchase. We feature many books on this website that were given by or to women, but this one is clear on who bought it and when: “this book belonges to me margaret campbell march 12th 1698 price 10 pence.”

Son of the famous William Gouge, a Puritan divine best known for his work Of Domesticall Duties (1622), Thomas Gouge wrote this book of advice for young men, warning them of the many vices they might be prone to, such as anger, drunkenness, wantonness, swearing, lying, and “Back-biting, or Tale-bearing.” It is intriguing to imagine a female reader picking up this book, perhaps to prepare for educating her sons.

As a book plate tells us, the book was part of the library of Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont and Lord Polwarth. It is not surprising that the book was owned by this Presbyterian family. The annotations on the title page and above the bookplate may be early shelf marks for the Earl’s library.

Intriguing connections exist between a Campbell family and the Earl, suggesting a likely identification for the female owner. Margaret Campbell (d. 1722) was the daughter of Sir George Campbell of Cessnock (c. 1639-1704). George Campbell had been involved in the Rye House Plot, a Presbyterian conspiracy against Charles II, together with Patrick Hume. Margaret married the eldest living son of Patrick Hume, Alexander, who would later become the 2nd Earl of Marchmont (1675-1740).

Portrait of Alexander Hume-Campbell, 2nd Earl of Marchmont, by Michael Dahl. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons.

Their marriage happened in July 1697, the same year Patrick Hume was created Earl of Marchmont. Margaret and Alexander had their first child, a daughter, in 1698, the year of the inscription. Could Margaret have bought the book eight months after her marriage, while she was pregnant with her first baby, to get ready for raising a son? She had seven more children after her eldest daughter, including five sons, whom she may have brought up with Gouge’s advice in mind. If this is the Margaret Campbell who wrote the inscription, she used a book plate that belonged to her father-in-law, a likely scenario if she lived with her husband at Patrick Hume’s estate. In that case, the inscription would have been a clear reminder to the reader that the book might be part of the Earl’s collection, but it actually belonged to Margaret, who bought it for 10 pence.

Source: book offered for sale on eBay by Wisdompedlars. Images reproduced with permission. A portrait of Margaret can be seen here.

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