Transcript of The Chronicles of Scotland

  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 38
  • Dates of Creation
      19th Century [transcript]
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      376 x 231 mm. 1 volume (308 folios);

Scope and Content

A nineteenth-century transcription of the History and Chronicles of Scotland by Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, being a continuation of John Bellenden's translation of Scotorum historia by Hector Boece.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Lindsay (c 1532-c 1586), Scottish historian, was born at Pitscottie in the parish of Ceres, Fifeshire, of the family of the Lindsays (Lindesays) of the Byres. His History and Chronicles of Scotland, the only work by which he is remembered, is described as a continuation of Hector Boece's Scotorum historia, translated by John Bellenden. It covers the period from 1437 to 1565 and, though it sometimes degenerates into a mere chronicle of short entries, it contains some passages of great picturesqueness. Sir Walter Scott made use of it in Marmion; and, in spite of its inaccuracy in details, it is useful for the social history of the period.

Although only one manuscript (formerly in the collection of John Scott of Halkshill) preserves the text as Pitscottie probably intended it, much of his work must have soon become known, since at least sixteen manuscripts (and possibly four more) have survived and there are scrappy continuations to 1603. The History was first published, by subscription, at Edinburgh in 1728 by Robert Freebairn, a well-known printer, bookseller, and ardent Jacobite; later editions appeared at Glasgow in 1749, and again at Edinburgh in 1778 and 1814. All were superseded when a full text, based on two of the oldest manuscripts, with extensive introduction, notes, and glossary, was published in three volumes by A.J.G. Mackay for the Scottish Text Society between 1899 and 1911.

Source: W.W. Scott, 'Lindsay, Robert, of Pitscottie (c.1532-c.1586)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press -

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan and Jo Humpleby, project archivists, with reference to:

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 38).

Custodial History

Formerly part of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, the Library of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, from Haigh Hall, Wigan, Lancashire.

Related Material

University College London, Special Collections, holds two copies of Boece's Chronicles of Scotland (ref.: MS ANGL 1 and MS ANGL 2). The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, holds a manuscript of Lindsay's translation into Scots of books 1-5 of Livy and of Hector Boece's Historia Scotorum (ref.: Adv MSS 18 3 12, 33 4 15). The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, holds an illuminated manuscript of the History and Chronicles of Scotland, 1531-1536 (ref.: MS M.527).

Additional Information

The National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, holds a manuscript of Robert Lindsay's History and Chronicles of Scotland within the Crawford Papers.

Geographical Names