Letters of Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-422
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      4 letters.
  • Location
      Dc.3.99/13, f.3; Gen. 301/3; Gen. 1732; Gen. 1982/41

Scope and Content

The material is composed of: an undated letter possibly to the Rev. A. Alison; letters to Miss Anna Munro Ross, 1792-1812; and a letter to 'my dear Henry' about a specimen of his handwriting, and modern philosophy, 1820.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Mackenzie was born in Edinburgh on 26 August 1745. He was educated at the Royal High School in the city, and he studied at Edinburgh University. He worked for an Edinburgh solicitor, acquiring a knowledge of exchequer business, then in 1765 went to London to study English exchequer practice. When he returned to Edinburgh he became the partner of his former employer, George Inglis of Redhall, Attorney for the Crown in Scotland. Mackenzie would eventually succeed to this office himself. Mackenzie began writing, and produced at first anonymously The man of feeling (1771), followed by The man of the world (1773) also anonymously. He also successfully produced a tragedy, The Prince of Tunis (1773), and his other plays included Shipwreck (1783), The force of fashion, a comedy (1789), and White hypocrite (1789). Mackenzie was also responsible for the setting up of the periodical, the Mirror, selections from which were published in London in 1826. Mackenzie was a friend of David Hume, and of Sir Walter Scott, and of Sir Humphry Davy, and had been an admirer of Robert Burns. He was one of the earliest members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he also wrote anonymously on contemporary politics. Henry Mackenzie died in Edinburgh on 14 January 1831.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Letters purchased February 1976, Accession no. E76.12.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 12. Llwyd-Mason. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

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 Mackenzie related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letter to the Lord Advocate, and related correspondence, 1792, at La.II.500; letter to a publisher, 1793, at La.II.267; letter of recommendation, 1793, at La.II.500; signature to receipt, 1800, at La.II.178/7; letter to Office for Trade, Whitehall, 1805, at La.II.589/15; letters to Laing, 1821, at La.IV.6; letter to Sir Walter Scott enclosing a poem, 1824, La.III.584/54; warrants, Whitehall, Treasury Chambers, 1799-1801, at La.II.103/22 and 24; letter to Mackenzie from Blacklock, 1787, at La.II.110(vii); letter from Dempster, 1795, at La.II.500; notes on Mackenzie by Chalmers, La.III.521; and, mentions in letters, 1810 and 1831, at La.II.357 and Gen. 301/3.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: letters to George Home, 1771-1818, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD267/16/4 NRA 11620 Milne-Home, see NRA(S)0682 0242, and letters to Lord Melville, 1803, Ref. GD51 NRA 10188 Dundas, and letters, 1768-1808, Ref. GD125, and letters to Grant family, 1779-1819, Ref. GD248/98 NRA 32594 Ogilvie-Grant; correspondence and literary mss relating to his Life of Hume, circa 1810-1821, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Acc 10686, and letters to Blackwoods, circa 1817-1822, Ref. MSS 4002-4009, 4723, and correspondence with Constables, 1807-1825, Ref. MSS 673, 789, 791, and correspondence with Robert Liston, 1804-1831, Ref. MSS 5608-5618, 5657-5676, and correspondence, literary MSS and papers, Ref. MSS 124, 569-70, 598, 645-48, 1803, 2534-39, 2613, 4846, 5319, 6362-401; Ch 5813-31, and letters to Anne Ord, 1774-1776, Ref. MS 14841, and correspondence with Sir Walter Scott, 1807-1825, Ref. MSS 3876-3901; MS essay on Edmund Burke, Yale University Libraries, Beinecke Library, Ref. (FD 1) NRA 18661 Osborn coll; letters to John Swinton, Private, Ref. NRA(S)0200 NRA 10561 Swinton; and, correspondence with William Creech, 1777-1787, Private, Ref. NRA(S)1915/p8 NRA 22823 Blair-Oliphant.