Papers relating to Francis, Lord Jeffrey (1773-1850)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-381
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      circa 45 letters, 6 photographs.
  • Location
      Dc.4.101-103; Dk.6.23/1; Gen. 863/8/35; Gen. 1429/18/17; Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; Gen. 1995/41; E94.85; E96.36; E98.49; E2009.19; E2009.21

Scope and Content

The papers consist of: a letter to Dr. John Brown about David Scott, the painter, within Dc.4.101-103; letters to Lady Bell, and Miss Pollock, within Dc.101-103; letter to James Reddie about a legal case, at Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; letter to the Duchess of Sutherland, at Gen. 1429/18/17; letter to Mrs. Waddington, at Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; letter to Lady McNeil about M. D'Assailly, at Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; letters to Mrs. Fletcher, at Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; letters to Professor G. Wilson about articles in The Edinburgh review, 1847-1849, at Dk.6.23/1; letter to John Hunter, within Dc.4.101-103; letter to A. Reily, an autograph collector, within Dc.4.101-103; letter to Craig, possibly Lord Craig, at Gen. 863/8/35; letter to Sir George Talbot, within Dc.101-103; letter about a draft from Bordeaux, at Gen. 1995/41; recommendations made while Lord Advocate, at Gen. 1731 Jeffrey; letter to Mr. Dow, at E94.85; letter to Alexander Smart, at E98.49; and, letter to Ballantyne's, at E96.36.

At E2009.19 there are 3 letters:

  • - undated letter, to Lord Mackenzie on a legal matter, referring to Mackenzie's 'opinion in Stainton's case', and in which he thinks he will 'ultimately accede to it' and would 'like to see it again in proof'
  • - letter dated 3 August 1841, London, and including a franked cover, to Doctor Baron, Gloucester, arranging for him to visit him in London when he will be available at certain times 'except when I am obliged to go to the House of Lords', and hoping that he 'will prescribe some refrigerants for the weather'
  • - letter dated 13 January 1842, London, lengthy piece of correspondence discussing his health and symptoms in detail

At E2009.21 there is a letter dated 2 December 1817 from Jeffrey to Doctor W. H. Fitton, Physician in Northampton, in which Jeffrey reports that he has 'received and printed' Fitton's paper, and in which he admits that he has not 'had time to do more than glance over' Fitton's 'last article'.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis Jeffrey was born in Edinburgh on 23 October 1773. In 1781 he began studies at the Royal High School in the city and the then studied Greek and Philosophy at Glasgow University and Law and History at Edinburgh University. He prepared himself for the Scottish Bar and made the acquaintance of Sir Walter Scott among others. Jeffrey was admitted to the Bar on 16 December 1794 - a Whig in the midst of a profession almost wholly in the hands of Tories. Despairing of success in his chosen profession he turned to writing and to the study of science. Together with Sidney Smith, Francis Horner, and Henry Brougham, he started the Edinburgh Review in 1802 and was its editor 1803-1829. By 1806 his law career had begun to pick up, and with the introduction of juries to civil cases in 1816 it advanced still more. The improved political fortunes of the Whigs also helped in this. Jeffrey participated in politics, advocating reconciliation with the USA after a visit there 1813-1814, and voicing his support for the abolition of income tax. In 1829 he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and in 1830 he was appointed Lord Advocate. In 1830 he embarked on a parliamentary career, and from 1832 represented Edinburgh in Parliament. His time in the House was unremarkable but for the drafting of the Scottish Reform Bill with Henry Thomas, Lord Cockburn (1779-1854), in 1831 and 1832, and for the Burgh Bill 1833. In June 1834 he was appointed as Judge of the Court of Session and he took the title Lord Jeffrey. From now on his judicial work would take up his time, and he spent spring in London, winter in Edinburgh, and the summer at Craigcrook Castle, his home on Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh. Indeed, as a member of the literary and social Friday Club and through the holding of open house at Craigcrook, Jeffrey was able to encourage and pronounce on literary and political matters. Francis Jeffrey, Lord Jeffrey, died on 26 January 1850. He was buried in Dean Cemetery.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Letters to Reily, Hunter, Craig, and Talbot, purchased 1964, Accession no. E64.61. Letter to Dr. Brown, Accession no. E68.41. Letter to Duchess of Sutherland, purchased June 1971, Accession no. E71.21. Letter to Waddington, purchased November 1971, Accession no. E71.35. Letter to McNeil, purchased 1972, Accession no. E72.36. Letter to Reddie, purchased October 1972, Accession no. E72.52. Letter to Fletcher, purchased April 1973, Accession no. E73.14. Letter to Dow, purchased December 1994, Accession no. E94.85. Letter to Ballantyne's, purchased 1996, Accession no. E96.36. Letter to Smart, purchased July 1998, Accession no. E98.49. Letters at E2009.19 purchased May 2009. Letter at E2009.21 purchased May 2009.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 10. Howard-Kenneth. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908. (2) Keay, Julia. and Keay, John (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Jeffrey related material (check the Indexes for more details): letter to Sir William Drummond, at La.II.591/4; letters to Sir Walter Scott, at La.III.584/15, 35; letters to D. Laing, at La.IV.6; letter relating to estate near Blackhall, La.II.278; Letter from John Clerk, Lord Eldin, at La.II.110; letter from Mr. Fraser, at La.II.511; verses to Miss Grant, at La.III.797; verses, at La.III.357; a request to the Dean of Faculty, at La.II.174; mentioned in letters of Mrs. Anne Grant of Laggan, La.II.357; and, mention in other letters, at La.II.511, La.II.591, La.IV.6, La.IV.17. There are further mentions in letters at Gen. 1730 Lyell, Gen. 1730 Carlyle, and Dc.4.101-103 Le Bas. Also see E2009.18, a letter from Thomas Campbell to Jeffrey. In addition there are letters to Thomas Chalmers, circa 1829-1843, Edinburgh University, New College Library, Ref. CHA4 NRA 27818 Chalmers.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes the following material in Scotland and in private hands: at the National Library of Scotland, letterbooks, journals etc, 1800-1834, Ref. Acc 3445, journal of his visit to the United States,1813, Ref. Acc 11099, legal notes, 1821, Ref. Adv MS 24.3.18 NRA 29292 NLS misc., answers to memorials and queries relating to encroachments on works of Sir Walter Scott, 1824-1827, Ref. MS 3581, diaries of journeys, 1800-1823, Ref. MSS 23223-23224, poems, 1794-1795, Ref. MS 23226, letterbooks (3) as Lord Advocate, 1830-1834, Ref. MSS 23220-23222, letters to Thomas and Jane Carlyle, 1827-1844, Ref. MSS 787, 1766, correspondence with Henry Cockburn (65 items), 1827-1846, Ref. Dep 235 NRA 25498 Cockburn, letters to Henry Cockburn, 1831-1849, Ref. Adv MSS 9.1.8-12, correspondence with Archibald Constable, 1802-1826, Ref. MSS 672-3, 789-94, correspondence with Lord Dunfermline, 1826-1836, Ref. MS 24761, letters to James Reddie, 1798-1844, Ref. MS 3704, correspondence with Thomas Spring Rice, 1825-1835, Ref. MS 2225, letters to Andrew Rutherfurd, 1832-1848, Ref. MS 9696, letters to Sir Walter Scott, 1805-1826, Ref. MSS 3875-903 passim, letters, 1789-1849, Ref. MSS 1809, 9632, 9657, 9696, 9813, 9848, 10273-10274, 10373, 10997, and miscellaneous correspondence, 1829-1850, Ref. MSS 9703-9818, 10279-10995 Passim; in private hands, letters to Lord Moncreiff, circa 1828-1847, Ref. NRA(S)0333 NRA 10980 Moncreiff, and letters to Sir John Sinclair, Ref. NRA(S)0189 NRA 10552 Sinclair, and correspondence with William Creech, 1801, Ref. NRA(S)1915/p8 NRA 22823 Blair-Oliphant; letters (21) to Sir John Dalrymple, 1827-1849, at the National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD135/2835, and also letters to A. J. Stewart Mackenzie, 1832-1837, Ref. GD46/4/138; letters to Sir James Gibson-Craig, circa 1831-1832, Herot-Watt University Archives, Ref. Gibson-Craig NRA 37154 Gibson-Craig; letters (14) to Peter Mackenzie, 1831-1833, William Patrick Library, Kirkintilloch, Ref. p2 NRA 11630 Mackenzie see NRA(S)0347; letters (10), mainly to J. P. Muirhead, 1839-1847, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department, Ref. MS Gen 1354; and correspondence (19 items), 1798-1836, City of Glasgow, Mitchell Library, NRA 35994 Mitchell.