Memorandum on the administration of Orkney

Scope and Content

Memorandum, dated 1760 and probably by James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton, on a pamphlet [by the Reverend Thomas Hepburn, Minister of Bursay] entitled A letter to a gentleman from his friend in Orkney containing the true causes of the poverty of that country , [dated 4 March 1757], which had defended Morton against charges of illegally increasing rents and other duties brought against him by the lairds of Orkney. The writer had advised against publication, but the pamphlet was in fact published in 1760.

Administrative / Biographical History

A royal grant of Orkney and Shetland was made to the Earls of Morton in 1643, and the earls became hereditary stewards and justiciaries of the islands. There was often conflict with the thirty-some Orkney lairds who ruled over Orkney on behalf (and sometimes contrary to the will) of the Earls, as this was a time of strong Jacobite sentiment which culminated in the last Orkney Jacobite uprising of 1745. The uprising was, in part, due to the great discontent with the Earls of Morton which was felt by the lairds and Orcadians.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Enclosed with a copy of the pamphlet in question, a Goldsmiths' Library volume lettered 'A Letter from Orkney with MS', 1760, which also includes a copy of A letter to a gentleman from his friend in Orkney containing the true causes of the poverty of that country (1760; G.L. Cat. 9543).

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

9" x 4¾"

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Separated Material

Further material relating to James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton, may be found at Nottingham University Library, the British Library, and the national Archives of Scotland.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


Namer and Brooke, The House of Commons, 1754-90 (HMSO 1964).