Records of Lady Glenorchy's Chapel

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: a state of debts, legacies and claim on Lady Glenorchy's effects, 1787; letter of Horatius Bonar to Thomas Burns, 1913; two copies of the order of service, Lady Glenorchy's New Church and Halls, laying of foundation stone by the Lord High Commissioner, 1909; sermon on the prevailing love of pleasure, from Isaiah 47.08, 18th century; minutes of a meeting of the session of Lady Glenorchy's Chapel held in the schoolhouse, 1810; draft of extracts from Chapters 6-11 of The life of Willielma, Viscountess Glenorchy by Thomas Snell Jones; and, notes on Alexander and James Bonar, Elders, and memo as to Lady Glenorchy's remains.

Administrative / Biographical History

Willielma Campbell, Viscountess Glenorchy, was born in 1741. In 1761 she married John, Lord Viscount Glenorchy, the eldest son of the 3rd Earl of Breadalbane. That year too her elder sister married William, 17th Earl of Sutherland. Around 1764, Lady Glenorchy became deeply influenced by religion and she built a church in Edinburgh which was named after her - Lady Glenorchy's Chapel. Other chapels were built by her in Carlisle, Matlock, and in Strathfillan on the Breadalbane Estate. On her death she left large sums to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), mainly for the maintenance of schools. Willielma Campbell, Viscountess Glenorchy, died in 1786.

Lady Glenorchy's Chapel, or Church, had been built next to Trinity College in 1772. Both the Church and the College were cleared away in 1848 to make way for the then North British Railway marshalling yard (now part of the area taken up by the city's Waverley Station). For the Free Kirk congregation descended from Lady Glenorchy's, a Free Church had been built in Greenside Place in 1844. In 1875, Glenorchy Place, Greenside, was named marking that connection. Trinity College kirk was re-erected in Chalmer's Close, High Street, in 1872.

Access Information

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


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Harris, Stuart. The place names of Edinburgh their origins and history. Edinburgh: Gordon Wright Publishing, 1996. (2) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.3. Brown-Chaloner. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

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

Other Finding Aids

Local lists.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes Lady Glenorchy related material: letters to Anna Bruce of Arnot 1762-76, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD242 NRA 34969 Shepherd.