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Papers of the family of Chalmers of Auldbar (or Aldbar), near Brechin.

Identifier: MSS.15401-15519

Scope and Contents

Auldbar was bought in 1753 by William Chalmers, a Gibraltar merchant whose family had owned land in Aberdeenshire, at Federate and Hazlehead. His father and brother were physicians in Aberdeen, and the papers as arranged below begin with medical records of these men. An important section concerns the trade and administration of Gibraltar in the second quarter of the 18th century, and there is also much mercantile correspondence of the 18th and early 19th centuries. As with the rest of this collection the estate papers and accounts are fragmentary and lacunose, and they came to the Library in poor condition. Large periods, particularly in the later 19th century are not represented, and there is comparatively little on the Chalmers family estates before the purchase of Auldbar. Building operations and improvements at Auldbar Castle are covered in a certain amount of detail in correspondence, specifications and accounts. The legal correspondence and papers of the family have survived in quantity. Several fields in which various members of the family were interested or even prominent have been accorded sections by themselves - medical practice and mercantile activities have already been mentioned - and these include political affairs (Patrick Chalmers (died 1854) was M.P. for Montrose Burghs 1855-1842) and patronage disputes; ecclesiastical affairs, including patronage matters; antiquarian and genealogical research, on which Patrick Chalmers M.P. was a leading Scottish authority (there are included here groups of letters from some of the leading antiquaries of the day); and there is a section of papers concening railway companies in which Patrick Chalmers was involved. Educational, cultural and literary matters are the subject of a separate section.

The correspondence of a fair number of members of the Chalmers family, together with their connections, has been preserved, though here again the coverage is patchy. Notable sections are the personal correspondence of Patrick Chalmers (died 1824) with his son, a London merchant, and his daughter-in-law, and with his female cousins. There are runs of correspondence with the Elphinstone, Guthrie, Spankie and Inglis families, all connected by marriage with the house of Auldbar. Letters concern military service in India, Egypt and the Sudan; colonial life in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand; and business activities in London or the Empire. The affairs of the Vernon family of Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire, into which the antiquary Patrick Chalmers's wife had first married, are treated in a separate section. A number of miscellaneous sections and single items bring the papers to a close.

The Chalmers Papers were surveyed by the National Register of Archives (Scotland) in 1963. On the subsequent sale of Auldbar Castle the muniments were dispersed and many items noted in 1963 have not since been located.


  • Creation: Late 17th century-early 20th century.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


121 Volumes

Language of Materials



The papers are arranged as follows: MSS.15401-15403. Medical. MSS.15404-15416. Gibraltar; 18th and early 19th century trade. MS.15417. Early estate & financial papers. MSS.15418-15430. Auldbar estate papers, correspondence & accounts. MS.15431. Walthamstow property papers & correspondence. MSS.15432-15435. Public burdens & taxes; banking accounts & correspondence. MSS.15436-15438. Building accounts & specifications. MSS.15439-15450. Household & personal accounts & miscellaneous account books. MSS.15451-15453. Household plenishings. MSS.15454-15466. Legal correspondence, papers & accounts. MSS.15467-15469. Political papers & correspondence. MS.15470. Ecclesiastical correspondence & papers. MSS.15471-15481. Antiquarian & genealogical papers & correspondence. MSS.15482-15485. Railways. MSS.15486-15499. General & family correspondence. MSS.15500-15506. Vernon family & Hanbury Hall. MS.15507. Hallyburton affairs. MSS.15508-15518. Educational, literary, cultural & miscellaneous papers. MS.15519. Papers unrelated to the Chalmers family. collections.

Custodial History

The manuscripts catalogued here have been acquired by the National Library from a variety of sources, and either in large lots or as single items, over a number of years. The great bulk was bought in 1964, 1967 and 1977, and separate smaller sections or single items in 1964, 1965, 1967, 1976 and 1978. The item catalogued as MS.15511 was presented, 1975, by Charles S Irons, Arbroath.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Various, 1964-1978.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

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