- 1220-2017 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Approximately 0.5 linear kilometers; volumes, papers, parchment, photographs, maps and plans
Name of creator
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The family and estate archive of the Campbell Family, Dukes of Argyll.
The contents of the archive are wide and varied, reflecting:
• The historically important role of the Campbell family in Scottish, British and international affairs: From the fourteenth century onwards the Earls and, later, Dukes of Argyll were closely allied to the Scottish crown and parliament, acquiring a host of official roles and responsibilities which were sustained and expanded after Union. Extensive personal papers, correspondence and accounts document the activities of the extended family in all of its endeavours, offering potential for many important historical themes and events to be explored.
• The geographical extent of the estate: Until the mid-twentieth century Argyll Estates covered most of Argyllshire, parts of Inverness-shire, Clackmannanshire, Stirling, East Lothian, as well as properties in Edinburgh, London and abroad. Many of their lands were acquired controversially during the west highland clan wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, whilst acting as Crown mediator and overseer for confiscated estates. In the 18th and 19th centuries successive Dukes invested heavily in agricultural, industrial and urban development and the records of these endeavours provide an unparalleled insight into our landscape history and built heritage. Large areas of the estate lie in some of Scotland’s most marginal and fragile island environments (Tiree, Iona, Mull) which endured some of the worst periods of nineteenth century Highland famine, emigration and land agitation. The history of all of these places and events, and of the people within them, is documented in detail in the archive.
• The chronological depth of the collection: Records in the archive date from the 13th to 21st centuries, forming an unbroken record of nearly eight hundred years of the family’s fortunes which closely reflects all of the key events in Scotland’s history. This depth of chronology is very rare for a Scottish family archive.
Principal series and items of interest
• A large collection of writs and charters relating mainly to the transfer of land and titles, but also including marriage agreements, commissions and appointments, contracts of friendship, inquests, gifts of ward and non-entries, letters of tutory, assize herrings and more, 13th – 20th centuries. The principal collection of approximately 500 charters is arranged chronologically, 1315-1784, and is summary listed. This is an important collection as it includes many early royal charters which record the progressive expansion of Campbell lands and influence from the 14th to 16th centuries. Many other charters are listed in groups and individually, throughout NRAS 1209, and a there is a further substantial collection of un-listed and largely unsorted charters.
• Records relating to the Earls and Dukes of Argyll’s official roles and responsibilities, 16th – 20th centuries, including three collections of political and personal correspondence from important royal, military and noble figures with whom the Argyll Family were closely associated, 1543-1800 (‘Royal Letters’ and ‘The Argyll Letters’ Volumes 1 and 2). These collections also include commissions to the Earls of Argyll, 1460-1646.
• Military papers, 16th – 20th centuries, including militia lists, muster rolls, accounts and correspondence relating to military and political matters, with much on 16th and 17th century west highland unrest and on the Jacobite Rebellions. Also, records relating to the Argyll Militia, Territorial Army and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 19th - 20th centuries, and some papers relating to the First and Second World Wars (also see personal and estate correspondence).
• Personal and business papers of family members, 16th – 20th centuries, including personal correspondence of the Marquess of Argyll and Margaret Douglas, 1660 and 1673, papers of the 8th Duke of Argyll relating to his term as Secretary of State for India, 1860s-70s, and letter books and press cuttings of the Marquis of Lorne (later, 9th Duke) as Governor General of Canada, 1878-1883. A large and interesting collection of family correspondence exists for the 8th Duke and Duchess and their extended family, including the Dukes of Sutherland, Northumberland and the Royal family, along with personal diaries, photograph albums, sketch books and other personalia. A very complete personal archive for the 10th Duke also exists, comprising extensive correspondence and an unbroken series of detailed personal diaries, 1892-1945. Personal papers also exist for other generations of the family, but are currently listed very piecemeal.
• Transcripts of The Argyll Papers and related archives, compiled by Sir William Fraser, the 10th Duke and others: approximately 250 volumes and 100 bundles or folders. The most important collection, ‘The Argyll Transcripts’, contains handwritten copies of many of the earliest records in the archive (24 volumes).
• Genealogies of all branches of the Campbell Family, mainly compiled by the 10th Duke and his contemporaries, 19th – 20th centuries, but including some earlier records.
• Extensive estate archives for Inveraray; Rosneath; Kintyre; Campbell; Tiree; Mull, Iona and Morvern; Lismore and Scammadale Estates, 16th – 20th centuries. These include accounts, rentals, tacks, correspondence and other papers relating to the administration of the estates, including rural industries (kelp, salt, wool, lint, coal, quarries, woods) and infrastructure. They also include name lists, such as the Argyll Estate Census of 1779 (recording the names and ages of every person living on the Argyll Estate) and smaller scale census for Tiree (1776), and Campbeltown and Kintyre (1792). A large collection of estate maps, plans and written surveys also forms part of the estate archive and is described more fully below under ‘Maps and Plans.’
• Amongst the personal, family and estate papers described above are surveys and accounts for buildings of national importance, with which the family was associated, 17th – 19th centuries, including:
o Argyll’s Lodging and Gardens, Stirling: titles, correspondence, surveys and accounts, 17th – 18th c, including detailed accounts for carpentry work, wright work, slaters work and a bill for painting the ‘wholl lairge high deining room’ (NRAS 1209 Bundles 1051, 1189, 1856, 3206).
o Argyll’s Lodging, Holyrood House: copy royal warrant, granting John, Duke of Argyll, lodgings in the Abbey formerly possessed by John, Duke of Atholl, 1705 and vouchers for household expenses, 1776-1796 (NRAS 1209 Bundles 111 and 683).
o General Register House, Edinburgh: vouchers for work done by tradesmen at Register House, Edinburgh, under the supervision of Robert Reid, Architect (NRAS 1209 Bundles 3194-3197, amongst the executry papers of Lord Frederick Campbell, Registrar).
o Castle Campbell, Dollar Glen: survey describing its state of dereliction after military occupation and estimates for repair, 18th century.
Maps and Plans
• Architectural plans and specifications relating to family homes, estate buildings and county towns, including:
o Inveraray Castle and policies: original plans and elevations by Roger Morris, John Adam, and Robert Mylne, 1746-1789, including Roger Morris’ book of ‘Letters and Instructions for building Inverara Castle, 1744-47’. Also, plans of alterations made by Anthony Salvin and Ian Lindsay following extensive fires in 1877 and 1975; plans and correspondence relating to the policies by William Nesfield, 19th century (incorporating seventeenth century formal avenues and plantations); plans of estate buildings and follies within the policies, by various architects, 18th – 19th centuries.
o Rosneath Castle: large volume containing over 100 annotated plans and specifications by Joseph Bonomi and correspondence with the 5th and 6th Dukes of Argyll, 1802-1806.
o The Royal Burgh of Inveraray, 18th – 20th centuries: drafts for the town layout (Inveraray was one of Scotland’s first planned towns, built under instruction of Archibald, 3rd Duke of Argyll in 1751), plans and elevations of the principal public and residential buildings by Roger Morris, John Adam and Robert Mylne.
o Campbeltown and Oban, 1740s-1900s: detailed street plans, house plans and written surveys containing detailed descriptions of properties, building styles and their occupiers.
• Estate plans and surveys, relating mainly to estates in Argyllshire, 17th - 20th centuries, including:
o William Douglas’ map of Iona, 1769. This is the earliest detailed map of the island and is accompanied by a written survey. Many other records relate to the island’s history, including correspondence describing the 8th Duke’s efforts to manage the landscape and antiquities, his appointment of Sir Robert Rowand Anderson to repair the abbey in 1874 and his decision to gift the ownership of the abbey buildings to the Church of Scotland in 1899.
o George Langland’s Survey of Kintyre, 1770-77. This is one of the most important landscape surveys ever undertaken by a single surveyor and patron, containing detailed descriptions of 204 Kintyre farms, with recommendations for their modernisation and improvement. The process of improvement was embraced over a period of thirty years and is recorded in a very large collection of estate records recording the amalgamation and abandonment of marginal settlements, the division of shared tenancy farms into modern farming units, and the introduction of new families, technologies and industries into the peninsula, which by the middle of the nineteenth century had become the industrial and agricultural heartland of the Argyllshire.
o James Turnbull’s Survey of Tiree, 1768/9. A large, gloriously illustrated and highly coloured map depicting the Tiree landscape before the modern crofting landscape was created in the nineteenth century. It shows densely packed clusters of large farming townships separated by rigs of infield and outfield cultivation, common grazing, ‘old danish forts’ and other antiquities. It is accompanied by a detailed 111 page written survey describing each township in detail, with minutely recorded observations on farming practices, fishing and the way of life of the island’s inhabitants. There are many other eighteenth and nineteenth century surveys for the island, which appears to be particularly well documented owing to its geographical location and circumstances of its acquisition.
o Twentieth century maps of Auchindrain and Auchnagoul townships, near Inveraray, demonstrating the rare survival of traditional shared farm tenancies long after the practice had died out elsewhere. These maps and supporting estate records could enable further research to be undertaken on the history and cultural significance of these its history than has been possible to date, and most importantly, help us understand its significance in the wider landscape.