The Scottish History Society (SHS) was founded in 1886 with the aim of publishing original sources of Scottish history. It forms part of a rich tradition of publishing clubs in Scotland (and we will be writing about some of the others in another post in the near future), and has become one of the longest-running and most successful of them. Over the last 130 years, the SHS has published over 170 books, covering a very wide range of historical topics. The NLS has now put the complete run on its website. We've added a list of all of the titles available from the SHS below, but we thought we'd highlight some of our favourites.
Arthur Mitchell's monumental work "Contribution to the bibliography of Scottish topography" is a superb reference work. It was published in two volumes: the first is arranged geographically (by county, then by parish), while the second is arranged by subject area. The books list many thousands of articles, books, pamphlets and chapters, and is indispensable for local historians, and extremely useful for family historians as well. Our copy was so heavily used I had to send it to my bookbinder for repairs!
There are two particularly useful titles for those interested in Jacobite history: List of persons concerned in the rebellion, published in 1890, and Prisoners of the '45, published in three volumes in 1928-1929, edited by Sir Bruce Gordon Seton and Jean Gordon Arnot. While certainly not comprehensive, and in many ways superseded by more recent research, they are both very useful starting points.
An intriguing, explicitly genealogical title, albeit one that is not always entirely reliable, is Genealogical collections concerning families in Scotland, made by Walter Macfarlane, 1750-1751. Families covered by this volume include Balfour, Bethune, Munro, Moncrief, Morton of Cambo, Kinnaird of that Ilk and Inchture, Mackenzie, Grant, Maclean, Mackintosh, Leslie, Bisset, Fraser of Lovat, Oliphant, Maule, Lawmond [Lamond], Carnegy, Martine, Schevez, Forbes, Strang, Knox, Spang, Douglas, Robertson of Strowan, Fraser of Dores, Fullarton, Urquhart, Gordon, Rose of Kilravock, Stirling and Kinninmond of that Ilk. As ever with printed genealogies, any information should be treated with a great deal of caution.
As graduates of the University of St Andrews, we are both interested in the history of Scotland's oldest university, and of the town. There are no fewer than three relevant titles in this collection: Rentale Sancti Andree, being the chamberlain and granitar accounts of the archbishopric in the time of Cardinal Betoun, 1538-1546, Early records of the University of St. Andrews The graduation roll, 1413 to 1579, and the matriculation roll, 1473 to 1579, and Acta Facultatis Artium Universitatis Sanctiandree, 1413-1588. The first of these is a very useful source for 16th century Fife, while the latter two are among the earliest surviving education records in Scotland.
Another source for sixteenth-century Fife is the Sheriff Court Book of Fife, 1515-1522. This excellent volume includes a full index of people and places. It's worth noting that much of Kinross was at this time under the jurisdiction of the Sheriff of Fife.
There are a number of other early books of court records from around Scotland:
- Court book of the Barony of Urie in Kincardineshire, 1604-1747
- Records of the Proceedings of the Justiciary Court Edinburgh, 1661-1678
- Records of the Baron court of Stitchill 1655-1807
- Minutes of the justices of the peace for Lanarkshire, 1707-1723
- Court book of the Barony of Carnwath, 1523-1542
- Court book of the Burgh of Kirkintilloch 1658-1694
- Court books of Orkney and Shetland 1614-1615
There are transcriptions and extracts from early church records in Scotland:
- Records of the Presbyteries of Inverness and Dingwall, 1643-1688
- Rentale Dunkeldense, Being accounts of the bishopric, A.D. 1505-1517, with Mylin's 'Lives of the Bishops', A.D. 1483-1517
- Stirling Presbytery records 1581-1587
- Perth Kirk Session books, 1577-1590
- Register of the minister, elders and deacons of the Christian congregation of St. Andrews comprising the proceedings of the Kirk Session and of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife Fothrik and Strathearn, 1559-1600
- Minutes of the Synod of Argyll, 1639-1651 (1652-1661)
- Calendar of Scottish supplications to Rome, 1428-1432
- Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1378-1394
- Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1394-1419
- Calendar of Scottish supplications to Rome, 1418-1422 (and 1423-1438)
- Survey of Lochtayside, 1769 Made by John Farquharson and John McArthur
- John Home's survey of Assynt
- Argyll Estate instructions: Mull, Morvern, Tiree 1771-1805
- Ayr Burgh accounts, 1534-1624
- Early records of the Burgh of Aberdeen 1317, 1398-1407
- Aberdeen Guild Court records 1437-1468
- Selections from the records of the regality of Melrose, 1605-1661 (1662-1676, 1547-1706)
- Records of the Earldom of Orkney, 1299-1614
The final volume I want to mention is an unusual one. Alexander Webster was a Church of Scotland, born in Edinburgh, although his father was a Covenanting minister from Fife. In 1742, he proposed a pensions scheme for widows of Church of Scotland ministers which, with some adaptations, was eventually adopted, and was one of the pioneering works in actuarial studies. His work drew the attention of the government, which in 1755 commissioned him to produce data for the first population census of Scotland. Unlike later censuses, Webster's work did not include names, but was just a count of the population in each parish. It includes the number of Catholics, the number of Protestants, and the number of "fighting men" in each parish. Webster's work is reproduced, together with population counts for subsequent censuses, in Scottish population statistics. Although not very useful for genealogists, it does provide the earliest population count for most of the parishes in Scotland, and is therefore very useful for historical demographers.