William Nassau Elliot of Wells was Commissary and Commissary-General to the allied army in Germany, 1761-173, and his son, William Elliot of Wells was Member of Parliament for Portarlington, 1801-1802, and for Peterborough, 1802-1818, and Chief Secretary for Ireland in the ‘Talents' Ministry, 1806-1807. The Elliots of Wells were only very distantly related to the Elliots of Minto, the common ancestor being Robin Elliot of Redheugh (florished 1582). However, William Elliot of Wells was a close political associate of the 1st and 2nd Earls of Minto, and, being unmarried and having no children, on his death in 1818 bequeathed his library and papers to the 2nd Earl of Minto.
The greater part of the papers are concerned with William Nassau Elliot's offices of Commissary and Commissary-General to the allied army in Germany, 1761-1763, and with William Elliot's office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1806-1807. William Elliot's papers also contain material relating to the Catholic question in England in the early nineteenth century, to the political interests of the Earl Fitzwilliam (1748-1833), who was his borough patron, to the first edition of Edmund Burke's 'Works' (Elliot had been closely connected with Burke in the 1790s), and to British politics in general in the period 1790-1818.
The papers also contain estate material and papers of the Scawen and Meade families, to whom William Nassau Elliot was related by marriage. The estate papers concern chiefly the estate of Wells in Roxburghshire and that of Great Doods at Reigate in Surrey. The Scawen and Meade papers consist chiefly of personal, household and estate accounts, but also contain a little family correspondence, and some estate papers concerning chiefly lands at Carshalton in Surrey, Maidwell in Northamptonshire, and Mitchell in Cornwall.