Robert Baikie d. 1817

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Robert BAIKIE d. 1817

Biographical Note

Robert Baikie was a Scottish politician from Kirkwall. His family was a prominent landowning family in Orkney. His father was James Baikie of Tankerness and his mother was Janet Douglas, heiress of the Monteiths of Egilshay. Baikie married Mary Balfour in 1785.

He was briefly elected MP for Orkney and Shetland in 1780 as the government-back candidate, but was unseated by Charles Dundas in 1781. He ran again in 1784 but lost to Thomas Dundas.

He died in 1817.


Baikie's library which is housed at The Orkney Museum, Tankerness House, was first catalogued in 1989. The collection contains 487 titles, 37 of which were added after Baikie's death. Most of the books date from the second half of the 18th century, although 9 titles are from the 17th century.

Tankerness House, along with its library, fell into disuse in the 20th century, resulting in the deterioration of many of the books. The exact number lost is unknown, but efforts were made when the house was converted into a museum in 1968 to preserve what survived. John Windwick, the museum's first custodian, noted that many books were able to be saved.

The catalogue divides the books by the following categories (descending in order by size): poetry (115 titles), history (101 titles), novels (51 titles), belles-lettres (46 titles), travel/topography (36 titles), drama (26 titles), classics (23 titles), medicine/science (23 titles), biography, theology (12 titles), language, dictionaries, periodicals, philosophy, music, and religion.

The majority of the books were printed in London (292 titles) or Edinburgh (120 titles; 43 of which are from Apollo Press). Most books are reprints from well-known publishers of popular literary works of the time.

Characteristic Markings

Armstrong (1991) notes that several books have Baikie's inscription on their flyleaves.