Papers of Burnett family of Leys (Crathes Castle papers)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This extensive archive traces the fortunes of the Burnett family of Leys and Crathes Castle from the late 14th to early 20th centuries. It is known by 2 names, Burnett of Leys, or the Crathes Castle papers. A survey list compiled by the National Register of Archives in 1986 (NRA(S) 2847) which divides the papers into 4 sections presently serves as finding aid for the collection. For a detailed description see Rachel M. Hart in Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland, in Northern Scotland, 12 (1992), 133-134.

Section One covers the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. The material described therein includes writs and charters relating to the acquisition of different parts of the estate; title deeds to property in and around Banchory and Muchalls; papers dealing with relations between the Burnetts and neighbours such as the Irvines of Drum; the development of the town of Banchory, and its school (including mortifications, 1650 (GB 231 MS 3361/ I/21/7 - 8) and poor; material concerning patronage and teinds of the church of Banchory Ternan (GB 231 MS 3361/I/10/23 - 24); family papers, including marriage contracts from 1509; and military and personal papers concerning the Covenanting period (GB 231 MS 3361/I/38) and of Major William Burnett of Balfour (also GB 231 MS 3361/II/42 - 59).

Section Two contains mainly seventeenth to nineteenth century papers and correspondence of legal and financial interest, together with many accounts. There is also important domestic material relating to the castle and estate, together with personal, family and executry papers. Rentals, farm plans, tacks, etc. are included with material concerned with the administration of the estate. There are interesting items on nineteenth century forestry (GB 231 MS 3361/II/89), drainage (GB 231 MS 3361/II/94) and roads, and some small amount of mainly printed material on the Dee Salmon Fishing Improvement Association, 1878 - 1902 (GB 231 MS 3361/II/92) (more material on fishing is to be found in Section Three). There are items of political interest, including papers relating to Kincardineshire elections, 1832 - 1874 (GB 231 MS 3361/II/103), and the local development of the Banchory area continues to be well covered with nineteenth century material, for example, on Crathes Station, the Deeside Railway (GB 231 MS 3361/II/117) and Banchory Lodge (GB 231 MS 3361/II/144).

Section Three covers modern estate and legal records, and includes plans, rentals, details of the sale of timber, papers relating to Crathes Castle and school, improvements to roads and bridges, and the fishing of the Dee.

Section Four mainly comprises volumes, including a court book of the Barony of Leys, 1621 - 1709 (v 88); cash books, 1877 - 1938 (v 63 - 73); estate ledgers, 1889 - 1941; rentals, 1762 - 1895; valuations; wood books, 1884 - 1919 (v 40, 51); a family and domestic account book, 1798 - 1809 (v 37); and diaries of Burnett family members, 1820 - 1852 (v 10 - 13, v 5, v 57) and of an unidentified female author, 1817 - 1842 (v 16 - 24).

Administrative / Biographical History

The seat of the Burnett family is at Crathes near Banchory, Deeside, Aberdeenshire. The land of Leys, in the same parish, was settled on Alexander Burnard before 1323 in recognition of his efforts in helping to convert part of the Royal Forest of Drum into a Deer Park; and the Loch of Leys was the principal residence of the family until Crathes Castle, begun in 1553, was completed in the late 16th century. A Queen Anne Wing and the famed 18th century gardens are amongst later additions which characterise the present policies, which were handed over to the National Trust for Scotland in 1951.

These details were extracted from a report by Rachel M. Hart in Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland, in Northern Scotland, 12 (1992), 133-134. Further details are contained therein. See also A Guide to Crathes Castle and its gardens (National Trust for Scotland, 1959), p. 4; Schomberg Scott, Crathes Castle (National Trust for Scotland, 1971), pp. 10 - 11; and The Family of Burnett of Leys, from the MSS of the late George Burnett, Lyon King of Arms, ed. by Colonel James Allardyce of Culquoich (Aberdeen: New Spalding Club, 1901)

Arrangement

Papers presently arranged Bundle-listed, as received. Further listing is on going.

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University between 1991 and 1997, by James C.A. Burnett of Leys

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives, University of Aberdeen. A copy of this list is available for consultation in the National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh (NRA(S) 2847).

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Accruals

Accruals possible

Related Material

Some items described in the 1986 list (NRA(S) 2847) were retained at Crathes Castle for display purposes by the National Trust for Scotland. These include a charter of 1324 and a licence for proclamation of the right to hold a market at Banchory Ternan in April 1607 (GB 231 MS 3361/I/23/5).

Miscellaneous abstracts & genealogical notes relating to the Burnett family, compiled by R. Murdoch Lawrence, in the ?late 19th c (GB 231 MS 2535). These include inventories of Burnett sasines, 1600 - 1785; abstracts of records relating to Burnett family, taken from parish and Kirk session records, etc, from 1570; and file of notes on the Burnett and Blackhall families from various sources.

Bibliography

Rachel M. Hart, Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland, in Northern Scotland, 12 (1992), 133-134.

Many of the documents described in Section 1 of the NRA(S) list (see Scope and Content) were published by the Spalding Club in The Family of Burnett of Leys from the MSS of the late George Burnett, Lyon King of Arms, ed. by Colonel James Allardyce of Culquoich (Aberdeen: New Spalding Club, 1901).

A transcription of the Leys estate rentals, 1762 - 1848 was compiled by Wendy Pettigrew, on behalf of the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society, in Oct 1997. Copies are available for consultation in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives, University of Aberdeen and the reference library of the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society.

Additional Information

Not known