Catalogue description Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Letter Books

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Details of SP 55
Reference: SP 55
Title: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Letter Books

Letter books in which the out-letters of the 'third' Secretary of State appointed sometimes between 1709 and 1746 to take special responsibility for Scotland were copied.

Many letters are in reply to petitions from individuals or bodies, such as burghs, university colleges, the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, presbyteries or parishes, and the petition is repeated in the letter books. If money was involved it was recorded that the matter was referred to the Treasury Commissioners, if justice, usually to the Lord Advocate in Scotland, occasionally to the Attorney General in England.

These law officers' reports are also included. Many of the petitions to 1725 relate to the families who were the victims of the forfeiture of estates after the 1715 rising. The Scottish law officers also feature as givers of opinion on sundry matters of law, such as the powers of the Court of Justiciary in treason trials. It is clear that the patronage available to the secretary attracted some correspondence, but there is no evidence that he had any say in military (or naval) appointments or in those of revenue officers. He arranged the elections of Scottish representative peers to the House of Lords when there was a vacancy.

The series also includes correspondence with other officers of state, national and local, the Keeper of the Signet, and the Ordnance.

Date: 1713-1746

The letter books of the secretaries often overlap chronologically. In the case of Roxburghe, there was clearly a decision to separate petitions and reports from other out letters for the period 1721-1725, which had been evolving since 1718; and military commissions for the years 1714-1725 are also separated.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 13 volume(s)
Access conditions: Available in digital format
Publication note:

For further information on the topics in this series, see P W J Riley, The English Ministers and Scotland, 1707-1727 (London, 1964).

Administrative / biographical background:

The successive 'third' secretaries were the Duke of Queensberry (1709-1711), the Earl of Mar (1713-1714), the Duke of Montrose (1714-1715), the Duke of Roxburghe (1716-1725) and the Marquis of Tweeddale (1742-1746). In the intervals, the Secretaries of State for the Northern and Southern Departments took over, and from 1746 the Duke of Newcastle, who had been largely responsible for Scottish affairs until Tweeddale's appointment, resumed control, which passed from his successors in the Northern Department to the Home Secretary in 1782.

The rebellions of 1715 and 1745 both found the 'third' Secretaries wanting in competence, and only the first such appointee, Queensberry, was endowed with his portion of non-Scottish duties to share with his two colleagues in London.

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