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Papers of the Skene family and related families., Circa 1420-1919.

Identifier: Acc.12092/1-39

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

This collection consists of more than 3000 documents, dating from the 1420s to 1980s, mainly relating to the family of Skene of Rubislaw (near Aberdeen). At its centre are the papers of James Skene (1775-1864), artist and friend of Sir Walter Scott. Skene corresponded with notable individuals in the cultural circles of his day and was connected with such organizations as the Royal Institution, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institute for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, the Board of Trustees for Manufacturers, and the Bannatyne Club, among others.

Folder 10 includes some letters of James Skene himself. Other related families (folders 22-36) include Moir of Stoneywood (the family of James Skene’s mother, Jane), the Forbes family (that of Skene’s wife, Jane, daughter of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo), Russell of Aden, Keith of Ludquhairn, Gordon of Balgown, Ramsay of Invernellie and Peterhead, and Skene of Halyards and Curriehill.

Later family papers (folders 37-39) include correspondence and other material of James Skene’s three sons: 1) George Skene (1807-1875), advocate and professor of law in Glasgow University; 2) William Forbes Skene, historian (1809-1892), author of (among other titles) 'Celtic Scotland: a History of Ancient Alban', and the 'Memorials of the Family of Skene' and historiographer royal for Scotland; and 3) James Hay Skene (1812-1886), author and Consul General at Aleppo.

Major Payne acquired - and in some cases extracted from the Skene papers - material relating to Sir Walter Scott and his family (folders 87-99). Of particular note are letters from Scott, his daughter and son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart (folder 89), and correspondence (more than 100 items) by or relating to Scott’s father, Walter Scott, W.S, written from 1774 to 1806. Dr J. C. Corson arranged this material and produced an index (located in folder 91). A further acquisition by Major Payne comprised two commonplace books of James Ellis (1763-1830) of Otterburn, poetical editor and associate of Sir Walter Scott. These volumes include an ‘Ode to the Genius of Scott’, accounts of visits to Scott, poetry, transcriptions of letters, and a collection of verse by Thomas Bedingfeld, whom Ellis edited.


  • Creation: Circa 1420-1919.

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Conditions Governing Use

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39 Volumes

Language of Materials


Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700