Records of the Forbes-Leith family of Whitehaugh, Aberdeenshire

Scope and Content

Although incomplete, the collection gives a good deal of information about the administration of Whitehaugh estate in the second half of the eighteenth century and the middle of the nineteenth. Foremost amongst the collection is the baron court book of Whitehaugh, covering the period 1739 - 1745, which also contains a rental of 1739 and loose resolutions of general meetings of the Commissioners of Supply for the County in the period 1767 - 1774.

Three eighteenth century and five nineteenth century account books and ledgers have survived, covering the period 1738 - 1805 and 1847 - 1857, respectively. One of these volumes records the intromissions of Blaikie and Smith, advocates, with the rents and annual produce of the estate, 1847 - 1854. The contents of the remainder are more general in nature, although the principal account book of the nineteenth century series also contains a rental, and the information from this and earlier rentals is complemented by a volume, compiled in 1881, which records all current tenancies on the estate at that time. It is notable that nineteen-year leases, which were common in the district at the time of the Old Statistical Account, were still the principal form of tenure at Whitehaugh in the 1880s.

In addition to estate records the collection also contains a small collection of family papers. This includes two volumes of nineteenth century correspondence, three library catalogues, dating from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries and an eighteenth century copy of an early family history. The first volume of correspondence consists of several hundred letters, together with miscellaneous literary exercises and some drawings, and covers the period 1833 - 1836. The second volume contains about fifty pieces from the years 1844 - 1873, preserved, it seems, mainly for the autographs, since the writers are largely members of the county aristocracy and the subjects are generally trivial.

The earliest of the library catalogues appears to have been compiled in the late eighteenth century, with books in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French and Italian, as well as English, arranged by subject, with dates and places of publication generally given. The items listed range from a Venetian edition of 1491 in Latin of Plato's Opera and a French Psalter of 1556 to The Improvement of Waste Land by Francis Forbes (London, 1778), and a copy of Dr Beattie's Essays of 1776, presented by their esteemed author. The second catalogue describes the books at Whitehaugh as at Sept 1858, grouped roughly in the same order of subject, but mainly of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with later additions. The third lists, apparently in random order, a number of books as at 1 Dec 1858 sent or to be sent to Edinburgh.

There is also an eighteenth century copy of the genealogical study of the Forbes family, made by Matthew Lumsden in 1580, and continued by others in the seventeenth century. This was not acquired with the rest of the collection, but was presented by J.M. Lothian in the same year. It had formerly been in the possession of the Forbes-Leith family but in 1865 had been given to W.J. Lumsden of Balmedie.

Associated with the collection is the Court book of the lands of Countesswells, 1620 - 1632, which were owned in the seventeenth century by the Leiths of Whitehaugh. In the same volume is a series of accounts and inventories relating to Countesswells, 1632 - 1661, containing very full lists of buildings, describing their construction and furnishing in some detail.

Administrative / Biographical History

The estate of Whitehaugh, lying in the parish of Tullynessle and Forbes, Aberdeenshire, was owned in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the Forbes-Leith family. In the seventeenth century, they owned Countesswells estate, Peterculter parish, Aberdeenshire, though by 1895, it had passed into the hands of Rev. J.S. Gammell, of Drumtochty Castle.

Genealogical details are given in A. and H. Tayler, eds., The House of Forbes (Third Spalding Club, 1937), 339.


None observed - listing in progress

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the University in 1958 - additional items subsequently presented in 1958 by J.M. Lothian.

Other Finding Aids

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

Catalogue of the Leith family library, Whitehaugh (GB 231 MS 3453/ 1) Catalogue of the Leith family library, Whitehaugh (GB 231 MS 3453/ 1) Poems of unidentified members of the Leith family (GB 231 MS 3453/ 2)


Extracts from the seventeenth century proceedings of Whitehaugh baron court were published in the Miscellany of the Spalding Club, vol. 5 (1852). Extracts from the seventeenth century proceedings of Whitehaugh baron court were published in the Miscellany of the Spalding Club, vol. 5 (1852). Williamina Helen Stewart Forbes Leith Prayers (1849)

Additional Information

This material is original