State Papers

You might be interested in the State Papers of Scotland if you have been able to trace your family up to 1707.

The State Papers are the published collections of early Scottish government and royal documents. They contain references to individuals from all social classes in Scotland. The original documents were created before the Act of Union between Scotland and England in 1707.


The Borders papers

If your ancestors lived in the Borders region of Scotland, they may be mentioned in 'The Border papers', edited by Joseph Bain. The reports of the Border Wardens include references to murder, robbery, horse stealing, rebellions and espionage between 1560 and 1603.

  • 'The Border papers. 'Calendar of letters and papers relating to the affairs of the Borders of England and Scotland preserved in Her Majesty's Public Record Office, London'. 2 volumes. (Edinburgh: H M General Register House, 1894-1896.)


Payments to tradesmen

We have a publication that records where monarchs got their money and how they spent it. It include payments to local tradesman for work done on their behalf.

  • 'Computa Thesaurariorum Regum Scotorum'. 'Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, 1473-1580'. Edited by Thomas Dickson et al. 13 volumes. (Edinburgh: H M General Register House, 1877-1913, and Edinburgh: HMSO, 1978.)


Privy Council register

The Privy Council advised the monarch. Its remit was wide ranging, covering the political, administrative, economic and social affairs of Scotland. The 'Register of the Privy Council of Scotland (1545-1689)' include diverse topics, such as:

  • The treatment of beggars, gypsies, witches, Jacobites and Covenanters
  • Licences to travel
  • The regulation of trade and shipping
  • Emergency measures against the plague
  • The administration of oaths of allegiance
  • The prevention of lawlessness in the Borders and Highlands.


Letters, licenses and other grants

Grants by the monarch issued under the Privy Seal include:

  • Pensions
  • Gifts of property
  • Passports and licences to travel abroad
  • Appointments to minor offices
  • Licences to print
  • Letters of protection.

You can find details in:

  • 'Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum'. .Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland, AD 1488-1584'. Edited by M Livingstone et al. 9 volumes. (Edinburgh: H M General Register House, 1908-1982.)


Building and repairing royal residences

If your ancestor was involved in the construction or repair of any of the royal residences in Scotland between 1529 and 1649, they may be mentioned in:

  • Accounts of the Masters of Works for building and repairing royal palaces and castles. Edited by Henry M Paton et al. 2 volumes. (Edinburgh: HMSO, 1957-1982.)


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