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Correspondence and papers of the Elliot family of Minto.

Identifier: MSS.11001-13496

Scope and Contents

The founder of the family was Gilbert Elliot (1651-1718), a younger son of Gavin Elliot of Midlem Mill. Gilbert Elliot was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1688, created a baronet in 1700, and appointed a Lord of Session as Lord Minto in 1705; he acquired the lands of Headshaw in Roxburghshire in 1696, and added Minto to his property in 1703. Sir Gilbert Elliot, 2nd Baronet (1693-1766), likewise had a distinguished legal career, becoming a Lord of Session as Lord Minto in 1726, a Lord of Justiciary in 1733, and Lord Justice Clerk in 1763. Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet (1722-1777), was both a leading figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and an active politician at Westminster. Sir Gilbert Elliot, 4th Baronet (1751-1814), whose political and diplomatic career culminated in his appointment in 1807 as Governor-General of India, was created Baron Minto in 1807 and Earl of Minto in 1813; he assumed the additional surnames of Murray Kynynmound in 1778 on succeeding to his mother's properties, and his successors likewise assumed these additional names on succeeding to the earldom. His eldest surviving son, Gilbert, 2nd Earl of Minto (1782-1859), served as a Cabinet Minister in the Whig Ministries of Grey, Melbourne and Russell. William Hugh, 3rd Earl of Minto (1814-91) was an active member of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The public career of Gilbert John, 4th Earl of Minto (1845-1914), culminated in his appointments in 1898 as Governor-General of Canada and in 1905 as Viceroy of India.

The Minto Papers richly document the activities of the leading members of the family, and are a valuable source for the study of most aspects of Scottish affairs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the local history of Roxburghshire; of British politics in general, circa 1740-1914; of war and diplomacy in Europe and east of the Cape in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; of Italian affairs in the early and mid nineteenth century; of Canadian affairs in the late nineteenth century; and of Indian affairs in the early nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. But the collection also contains the papers of equally distinguished younger sons, as well as of related families, which extend even further the range of subject matter.

The papers of the diplomatist, Hugh Elliot (1752-1830), are a rich source for the general political history of Europe in the years circa 1770 to 1806.

The papers of the Honourable Sir Henry George Elliot (1817-1907) are chiefly concerned with European diplomacy and the Eastern Question in the years 1868 to 1884.

The papers of Admiral John Elliot (1732-1808) contain material concerning lead and copper mining in the eighteenth century.

The Elliot of Wells papers are chiefly concerned with the Commissariat to the allied army in Germany, 1761-1764, and with the Government of Ireland in 1806-1807, as well as containing estate papers concerning lands and families in Roxburghshire, Surrey, Cornwall and Northamptonshire.

The National Library's holdings of the Minto Papers are not complete.

Letters of David Hume to Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet, (published in J Y T Greig (editor), ‘The Letters of David Hume’ (Oxford, 1932) are no longer with the collection.


  • Creation: 17th century-20th century.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


2188 Volumes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged in sections, each being the papers of an individual or family, plus various subject sections. Each section has its own introduction. Where the material is correspondence, it is always the recipient, not the author, of the letter in whose papers the letter belongs. Thus, for example, letters of the 1st Earl of Minto to the 2nd Earl of Minto are with the 2nd Earl's papers, not with those of the 1st Earl. Hence, the various sections overlap to a great extent. The subject sections also overlap with sections concerning individuals and families. It is important, therefore, that the searcher should always use the index in conjunction with the catalogue description, since it is unlikely that all relevant material will be found exclusively within one section.

Except where otherwise stated, each volume contains papers of various sizes, folio and under.

Some of the material was received in the National Library arranged and bound.

The papers are arranged as follows: MSS.11001-11041. Early family papers MSS.11042-11739. Papers of the 1st Earl of Minto MSS.11740-12237. Papers of the 2nd Earl of Minto MSS.12238-12364. Papers of the 3rd Earl of Minto MSS.12365-12803. Papers of the 4th Earl of Minto MSS.12804-12809. Papers of the 5th and 6th Earls of Minto MSS.12810-12864. Literary papers, music and drawings of the Minto family MSS.12865-12884. Papers of Admiral John Elliot MSS.12885-12948. Papers of the Elliot of Wells family MSS.12949-12950. Papers of the Murray of Kynymound family MS.12951. Papers of the Brydone family MSS.12952-13059. Papers of Hugh Elliot MSS.13060-13088. Papers of the Honourable Sir Henry George Elliot MSS.13089-13103. Papers of the Honourable George Francis Stewart Elliot MSS.13104-13110. Papers of the Honourable Gilbert and Lady Harriet Anne Gertrude Elliot MSS.13111-13153. Papers of the Hislop family MSS.13154-13180. Papers of the Abercromby family MSS.13181-13186. Papers of the Grey and Farquhar families MSS.13187-13307. Estate papers and correspondence MSS.13308-13320. Household papers MSS.13321-13414. Papers concerning local affairs MSS.13415-13420. Miscellaneous papers MSS.13421-13472. Maps and plans MSS.13473-13496. Additional journals of the Minto family

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bought, 1958, 1960, 1975 and 1982, with the exception of MSS.12458-12472, presented, 1968, by Miss Helen Acheson, MSS.13427 and 13462, folios 11-12, presented, 1965, by H M Colvin, C.V.O., C.B.E., F.B.A.

Separated Materials

Many of the letters of Edmund Burke and Horatio Nelson to the 1st Earl of Minto are now in the Osborn Collection (Yale University) and the National Maritime Museum respectively, and other papers of the 1st and 2nd Earls of Minto, and of Hugh Elliot, are in the National Maritime Museum. Part of the correspondence of Thomas Stamford Raffles (see MSS.11691-11711) is now in the British Library (India Office Library and Records). For additional Minto and related family papers acquired by the Library since the completion of this catalogue see MSS.21206-21238.

For charters and other formal documents, 12th to 20th centuries, see

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
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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