David Steuart 1747-1824

From Book Owners Online

David STEUART 1747-1824

Biographical Note

David Steuart (or sometimes 'Stewart') was born in 1747 in Perthshire to John Steuart of Dalguise (1689-1776) and Margaret Findlay. He moved to Edinburgh and partnered with Robert Allan to establish a banking firm. Later, he served as Councillor (1778) and Baillie (1779) before becoming Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1780. As Lord Provost, he commissioned John Ainslie to map Edinburgh. He married Anne Fordyce (1733-1820)

Later in life, he set up as a merchant in Leith selling wine and spirits. His business venture was not very profitable, and he declared bankruptcy in 1800. Part of his library was sold at auction in 1801 to relieve his debts. He died in 1824 and is buried in St. Cuthbert's Churchyard in Edinburgh.


Part of Steuart's library was sold at auction in 1801 by Cornelius Elliot. The auction consisted of 958 lots and took place over 12 days. The catalogue contains extensive detail about the books which is assumed to have been supplied by Steuart himself. Many of the books were printed on vellum and bound in Moroccan goatskin. The collection contained 34 incunabula and many 16th and 17th century books. Publishers included Wynkyn de Wordes, Giambattista Bodoni, Jenson, Aldus, Foulis, and Sweynheim & Pannartz.

Some books that did not sell at the 1801 auction were later sold to the Advocates' Library. These books included the Gutenberg Bible (lot 12/42) and the 1478 Jenson Breviary on vellum (lot 12/45).

The library held a very international collection which spanned many languages and subject. Topics included classics, religion, travel, history, grammars and dictionaries, poems, pamphlets, and literature.

Notable selections:

Gutenberg Bible (lot 12/42)

Jenson Breviary (1478) (lot 12/45)

Mainz Bible (1472)(lot 6/47)

First edition Milton's Paradise Lost (lot 12/32)

First edition Aldine Platonis Opera (1513) (lot 8/53)


National Library Scotland has many of Steuart's books including NLS Inc.1 and Inc.118

Cambridge University Library Inc.3.E.1.2[2784]; Liverpool University Library Inc.P02/A

Characteristic Markings

Used armorial bookplate Franks 28081: Steuart, David, Esqr.; Jacobean Armorial; and 2 armorial stamps.


  • British Armorial Bindings
  • "David Steuart (Lord Provost)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
  • Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the British Museum. London, 1903-4.
  • Hillyard, B., David Steuart Esquire: An Edinburgh collector, Edinburgh, 1993.