Shedden family

Scope and Content

Letters and papers relating to Robert Shedden & Sons, merchants of London, 1794-1823, produced by E.M. Archibald in the case of Sheddon v Patrick, concerning the legitimacy of William Patrick Ralston Shedden. The papers comprise:
Letters, written by Robert Shedden and Sons, London, to William Shedden, New York, introducing merchants travelling to North America needing credit and assistance. The merchants were agents of Boyce Benfield & Co. (12 Mar 1793 and 15 Mar 1794); J.J. Breene (4 Aug 1795); Guerlain & Co (25 Jan and 25 Jun 1794; John MacKenzie (5 Aug 1798); Mr. Piercy (18 Jun 1795); Nathaniel Robbins (12 Mar 1795); Robert Shedden Junior (5 Jun 1798) and Bruce Wilson (2 Jan 1794). The letters introducing the agents of Boyce Benfield & Co. mention trading activities in the Mediterranean. These letters are fastened together and numbered, and also include a receipt for £1659 paid by William Shedden to Elizabeth Paltry Mallet on 22 Aug 1794.
Other documents comprise an authorised copy, made 21 Mar 1797, of an indenture of bargain and sale of 2 Mar 1796, by which David Wilson, a farmer of Harlem, New York, and Margaret his wife, sold to Mary Ker, wife of George Ker, for a consideration of £1800, a dwelling house and land in the seventh ward of Harlem, New York; a letter written from Robert Shedden in New York to James Farquhar, enclosing a printed bond of 26 Jun 1799; a letter written on 31 Dec 1823 by Robert Shedden (of 35 Gower St, London) to William Patrick Ralston Shedden 'at Dr Patrick's, 4th Street, Edinburgh'; and a synopsis of the Shedden papers in the hand of Mrs D. Goldsmith.
All the above, with the exception of the last item, feature annotations in the hand of E.M. Archibald which note that they were produced as exhibits and referred to in the deposition of William Patrick Ralston Shedden.

Administrative / Biographical History

Litigation to prove that William Patrick Ralston Shedden (b 1794) was the legitimate son and heir of William Ralston Shedden (1747-1798) commenced in 1801, went twice to the Scottish courts and the House of Lords, and judgement was finally given against the petitioner in Nov 1860.


As given in the Scope and Content.

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

Given by Mrs D. Goldsmith in 1964 and added to the Goldsmith's Library of Economic Literature.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Archivist's Note

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

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.


Details of the legal case may be found in English Reports 164 (1921).