Skip to main content

Register of the Cathedral Church and Bishopric of Aberdeen, also known as the 'Registrum Album', written between 1380 and 1550.

Identifier: Adv.MS.16.1.10

Scope and Contents

Manuscript written in Scotland containing the register of the cathedral church and bishopric of Aberdeen. This volume, also known as the 'Registrum Album', is a composite work containing miscellaneous charters of the church and see, including sections of royal and papal charters, as well as grants by the bishops.

The manuscript dates from the late 14th century, with additions which extend into the 16th century. Davis has suggested that the work was probably begun during the Bishopric of Adam de Tyninghame (1380-1389). The material in the manuscript covers the 13th to 16th centuries, with the latest entry dated 1535. The manuscript is multi-scribal and there are many interpolations and additions throughout.

The contents of the manuscript are as follows:

Ex libris inscriptions and shelfmarks. Folio ir.

Pencil inscription, 'A', referring to the volume's designation by the Spalding Club edition; pencil inscriptions of charters on the facing folio. Folio iiv.

Assorted entries ranging from 1210 to the mid 15th century, in a mix of Latin and Scots. Folios 1r-5v.

Bulls and charters in favour of the Knights Templars and Hospitallers (with later interpolations beginning at folio 12r). Folios 6r-14v.

Constitution of the Cathedral as fixed in 1256, 'Statuta Ecclesie Abbirdonensis'. Folio 15r-20r.

Miscellaneous charters followed by a Bull of Honorius III. Folio 20r-25v.

Statutes of the Scottish Church, 'Statuta Generalia Ecclesiae Scoticanae'. Folios 26r-38r.

Later insertion, charter of Malcolm III regarding the lands of Murthlach (Mortlach). Folio 38v.

A table of contents for material found on folios 47r-103r. Folios 39r-44r.

Later insertion of charters of Robert I. Folios 44v-46v.

Account of the foundation and endowment of the see with a list of bishops; miscellaneous charters of Malcolm III, David I, Malcolm IV, William I, Alexander I, Robert I, David II, Robert II. (The authority of these charters has been called into question by the editor of the Spalding Club edition). Folios 47r-99v.

Rental of Alexander III of the sheriffdoms of Aberdeen and Banff from which the 'second tithes' were assessed. Folios 100r-103r.

Miscellaneous charters of the beginning of the 15th century. Folios 103v-127v.

Miscellaneous deeds and charters in more modern hands, continued to 1535. These occasionally come under topographical headings and are frequently signed by notaries. Folios 128r-188v.

The decoration is inconsistent throughout the volume. Rubrics and large initials are occasionally in red. In some portions of the work capitals are stroked with red, or yellow. Between folios 15r and 77v there are frequent depictions of faces in the plain penwork initials. Spaces have been left, but never filled, for decorated initials between folios 128r-132v. Maniculae are also evident between folios 22v-118r.

Most folios, recto and verso, have been lined and ruled, but this is not consistent. Pricking is occasionally visible along the outer edges for the horizontal lines and in the gutter margin.

There are frequent marginal annotations referring to the content of the charters. These annotations are a mix of scribal, contemporary, and later hands, extending into the 17th century.

Horizontal catchwords are visible on the following folios: 6v, 8v, 10v, 87v, and 95v.

The manuscript is extremely worn in places making parts of the text illegible. A gallotanic solution as been applied to several folios, and is particularly evident on 70v, 71rv, 72r, 111v, 127v, 184, and 186rv.

Towards the end of the volume there is a loss of text into the gutter margins due to the binding, particularly on the verso sides.

There are several sets of foliation running through the volume. The modern library foliation is in pencil in the top right corner. There is a set of Arabic foliation in the centre of the top margin, possibly early 17th-century. This foliation runs 1-76; 78-159; 159-188 (folio 159 has been foliated twice, and there are further gaps in this foliation). Another foliation runs just above the text on the right-hand side and is in a mix of Arabic and Roman numerals. This foliation is possibly late 16th-century and runs sporadically, appearing to end on folio 93.


  • Creation: 1380-1550.


Language of Materials

The text is predominantly in Latin, with some entries in Scots.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1 Volumes ; 29.8cm x 18.3cm x 7.5cm


i-ii + 188 + iii folios, as well as 2 modern paper flyleaves to the front, and 2 modern paper flyleaves to the rear.

Collation as recorded by Catherine Borland:

a⁴, b⁶, c⁴, d⁸, e¹⁶, f-k⁸, l⁹, m-o⁸, p², q¹⁴, r⁷ (8 cut out – blank) s⁴, t⁸, uv⁶, wx⁴, y⁶, z⁴, A⁴, B⁴, C⁴

Custodial History

Davis and Cunningham suggest that the work possibly belonged to Sir James Balfour due to its mention in Sir Robert Sibbald's 'Memoria Balfouriana...'.

The manuscript belonged to a merchant in Leith named John Baird. The records of the Faculty of Advocates state that the volume was bought from him for £200 Scots on the 10th of March 1703, and received in the Library on the 31st of March 1703.

There is an inscription on the recto side of folio i which reads: 'Ex Libris Bibliothecae Facultatis Juridicae Edinburgi 1734'. This ex libris is repeated on the recto side of folio 1, but with the date '1704'.

The previous shelfmark assigned to the volume by the Library of the Faculty of Advocates is given on folios ir and 1r: 'A.1.38'.

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

18th century copy: Adv.MS.35.3.4.

The material is partly duplicated in Adv.MS.34.4.4.


Borland, C. R. 'Catalogue of Mediaeval Manuscripts in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh', 4 Volumes. (Unpublished manuscript, Edinburgh, 1906-1908). Volume II, folios 445-446; 451-451. NLS Reference: FR.198a/2.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain: Amendments and Additions to the Scottish Section of Davis', Monastic Research Bulletin, Volume 3 (1997), pages 1-7.

Cunningham, I. C. 'Sir James Balfour's Manuscript Collection: The 1698 Catalogue and other sources' in Edinburgh Bibliographical Society Transactions, Volume, VI, Part 6 (2004), pages 191-255.

Davis, G. R. C. (ed.) 'Medieval Cartularies of Great Britain and Ireland. Revised by Claire Breay, Julian Harrison, and David M. Smith' (London, 2010), page 227, number 1111.

Innes, C. (ed.) 'Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis' Spalding Club (Aberdeen, 1845), 2 Volumes.

Sibbald, R. 'Memoria Balfouriana, sive Historia rerum, pro literis promovendis, gestarum a clarissimis fratribus Balfouriis, D.D. Jacobo, Barone de Kinaird, Equite, Leone, Rege Armorum: et D.D. Andrea, M.D. Equite Aurato.' (Edinburgh, 1699), page 19, number 7.

'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates' Manuscripts' (Edinburgh, 1971), page 15, number 138; page 107, number 1374.

Turnbull, W. B. D. D. 'Fragmenta Scoto-Monastica: Memoir of what has been already done, and what materials exist, towards the formation of a Scotish (sic) Monasticon.' (Edinburgh, 1842), page 3.

Physical Description


The volume was possibly rebacked, and was certainly boxed, in December 1967 - March 1968. The binding is of smooth dark brown leather. The front and back boards have blind tooled borders and the turn-ins are also blind tooled. The spine has raised bands, and is gold tooled with the shelfmark, library stamp, and title which reads: 'REGISTRUM ABERDONENSE'.

Folios i and ii are watermarked 'DGT'. Folio iii is watermarked with the Arms of Amsterdam.

Parts of the old binding have been retained and are boxed with the manuscript. This binding is possibly of the late 17th century, and is of smooth brown leather over cardboard. The two boards are retained, the edges of which are blind tooled, with evidence of mice bites on the head end of the inner of the back board. Two unwatermarked endpapers have been retained, one of which is still attached to the back board. The endpaper formerly at the front has a pencil shelfmark inscription '16.1.10'. There are 4 panels of the spine still attached to the back board, upon which there is evidence of a title, possibly gold-tooled at one point. On the reverse of the spine are the remnants of string.

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