Papers of James Skene of Rubislaw, Aberdeen

Scope and Content

211 letters to James Skene of Rubislaw or his representatives, from his factors, Charles and Alexander Gordon, advocates, Aberdeen, chiefly concerning the sale and residential development of the Rubislaw estate, Aberdeen, 1802 - 1805, 1819 - 1821 and 1829 - 1830. The correspondence was originally part of a larger collection, and original numbers in ink on the documents indicate that there were at least 600 items.

The collection is discussed more fully by Colin A. MacLaren and Margaret A. Stephen in Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland, Northern Scotland, 1 (2) (1973), 223 - 225.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Skene (1775 - 1864) was the second son of George Skene of Rubislaw and Jean Moir of Stoneywood. He studied in Germany and was admitted to the Scottish bar on returning to Edinburgh in 1797. Much of his life thereafter was spent in Edinburgh, where he maintained a close friendship with Sir Walter Scott, and was for a time curator of the library and museum of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Subsequent travels took him to Greece, where he settled near Athens, 1838 - 1844. In 1844 he returned to Britain, settling near Oxford where he died, on 27 Mar 1864. The estate of Rubislaw, which had been acquired by Thomas Skene, brother of Sir George Skene, a Danzig merchant and Provost of Aberdeen, 1679 - 1688, in the late seventeenth century, was inherited by James in 1791. During his absence from Aberdeen, he was represented by Sir Henry Jardine, who had married his sister, Catherine.



Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the University in Jun 1969, from Messrs Robson Lowe Ltd, London (lot 1225). Other items of Skene family correspondence were sold at the same auction, under lots 1222 and 1226 - 1230, for which no bids were made. These included letters to James Skene in Hannau, Germany, 1792 - 1794; letters from James Skene (3rd son of James Skene (1775 - 1864) to his father, whilst a student at Hannau, on military service in Ireland and Malta, and whilst consular general at Aleppo, 1826 - 1836.

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail:

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

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: 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


No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers held in private hands relating to James Skene (1775 - 1864) and his family were surveyed by The National Register of Archives (Scotland) in Oct 1969. For further details contact the National Register of Archives (Scotland), quoting survey number NRA(S) 0464.

Papers of Charles Skene (b. 1912), Marischal College, and Andrew Skene (1814 - 1846), Medical School, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh University (GB 231 MS 2061)

Papers of Skene family, Aberdeenshire, 1744-45 (GB 231 MS 2523)

Plans of Skene House, Aberdeenshire, 1847; 1850 (GB 231 MS 2628)

Papers relating to history and genealogy of Skene family, compiled by John Hall Skeen, 1958 (GB 231 MS 2728)

Poems of Lilias Skene, 1665-96, transcribed by William Walker (1840 - 1931) (GB 231 MS 2774)

Letters, 1817-22, of Rev. George Skene Keith, agricultural writer, to Admiral Lord George Keith-Elphinstone (1747 - 1823) (GB 231 MS 3629/ 1 - 12)

Papers relating to cause between George Skene, Skene, Aberdeenshire and William Forbes, Disblair, Aberdeenshire, 1719 - 1740 (GB 231 MS 0500)

Papers relating to Moir of Stoneywood (GB 231 MS 2736)


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original