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Balcarres Papers.

Identifier: Adv.MSS.29.2.1-29.2.9a

Scope and Contents

In the original inventory (a copy of which is at MS.3581, folios 6-7) signed by Thomas Ruddiman, then Underkeeper of the Library, the papers are listed in thirty-eight bundles. Most of these were arranged and bound during the period 1820-1849. Of the remainder, Adv.MSS.19.1.24 and 29.2.9a were bound in 1896, when it was not realised that Adv.MS.19.1.24 belonged to the collection. Adv.MS.16.2.3, now a small quarto volume, had also become separated from the rest of the papers, but can be identified from the original inventory. A few items in that inventory are missing, notably letters of Darnley and of James Sandilands, Lord Torphichen, and papers giving the keys of cyphers.

The papers fall into three periods: the middle of the 16th century (Adv.MSS.29.2.1-5); the late 16th century (Adv.MSS.19.1.24, 29.2.6-29.2.9, 29.2.9a); and the 17th century (Adv. MSS. 16.2.3 and 29.2.9). The first of these groups relates chiefly to Mary of Lorraine, Queen Consort of James V. The second consists largely of papers compiled or collected by John Lindsay, Lord Menmuir, who was the grandfather of the first Earl of Balcarres. To some extent, they reflect his varied activities as a Senator of the College of Justice, a royal commissioner for the visitation of the University of Saint Andrews, Master of the Metals and Minerals, and Secretary of State to James VI. In this latter capacity, the papers concern foreign and ecclesiastical affairs. The third group is rather more miscellaneous, and the papers concern the first Earl of Balcarres, the Covenanters, and the erection of baronetcies in Nova Scotia.

Where a reference to a published work is recorded in an abbreviated form in the catalogue descriptions the expanded form is cited under `Bibliography`.

Summaries of those items which do not appear to have been published or summarised elsewhere are given in the catalogue descriptions.


  • Creation: 1231-1686, and undated.

Language of Materials

English; French; French, Middle (circa 1300-1600) ; Scots; Swedish; Italian; Spanish


0.00 Linear metres (10 volumes. Folio.)

Custodial History

The Balcarres Papers were presented to the Advocates` Library in 1712 by Colin, 3rd Earl of Balcarres.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1925, by the Faculty of Advocates to the nation on the foundation of the National Library of Scotland.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilms available: Mf.Sec.MSS.209-212.

Related Materials

MS.3581, folios 6-7: Photostats of an `Inventary of missive letters and others underwritten, gifted to the Faculty of Advocates by ... Coline, Earle of Balcarres`.

For other papers from this collection see Adv.MSS.16.2.3 and 19.1.24.


The collection has been briefly described in the First Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, Appendix, page 124.
Many of the papers have been published and appropriate references are provided under the relevant descriptions. Where there are considerable variations between the published versions of a particular document, or where facsimiles and translations are included, more than one published version may be cited.
National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland
03 07 2015
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Local Descriptive Rules
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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