Papers of John Galt, 1779-1839, novelist

Scope and Content

  • Correspondence from John Galt to Messrs Cadell & Davies concerning a presentation copy of Annals of the Parish 1821
  • Fragment of Galt’s holograph of his story A Rich Man [1836].

Administrative / Biographical History

John Galt (1779-1839 ), was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, the son of a sea-captain. The family moved to Greenock and after finishing his education at Greenock Grammar School he began work at Greenock Custom House. In 1796 he started as a junior clerk with a local merchant and contributed articles to local journals and newspapers. In  1804  he moved to London and unsuccessfully tried his hand as a merchant and for a while studied law at Lincoln's Inn. From 1809 to 1811 he travelled extensively through Europe, meeting  Lord Byron (1788-1824 ), and on his return he published various accounts of his travels. In 1815 he married Elizabeth Tilloch and, following several posts in business, he began to concentrate on his writing. Galt published several school textbooks under the pseudonym of Rev T Clark and contributed to the Monthly Magazine. He then produced a succession of novels for Blackwood's Magazine, beginning with The Ayrshire Legatees (1820 ), and subsequent books included the one for which he is best known, The Annals of the Parish(1821 ).

From 1824 Galt became involved with encouraging emigration to Canada and in  1826  founded the town of Guelph, Ontario, but this venture failed and he returned to Scotland in  1829 , to face a spell in debtors' prison. Thereafter he settled in Greenock and in 1830 published Lawrie Todd, followed by several other works, including The Life of Lord Byron (1831 ) and in  1834  his autobiography, Literary Life and Miscellanies.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

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Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

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This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 559 procedures

Custodial History




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Location of Originals

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No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by H M Kemp and Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project, 10 May 2002.


Geographical Names