Copies of letters relating to the chair of Humanity, 1868-1875.

Scope and Content

Twenty-nine typescript copies of letters relating to the chair of Humanity at the University of St Andrews.

Letters relating to the supposed vacancy:

  • ms1621 - ms1627 Five letters from Robert Flint, professor of moral philosophy, to the duke of Portland, concerning the chair and the merits of various candidates and the factions supporting them.All dated from St Andrews, 1869.(1p; 2pp; 3pp; 1p; 1p; 1p; 1p)
  • ms1628 - 1629 Specifications for Pursuer, Mrs Auld v Principal Shairp 1874. (1p; 1p.)
  • ms1630 Reply of the duke of Portland to James Auld.Welbeck, 13 March 1869. (1p.)
  • ms1631 - ms1634 Four letters [typed consecutively] from the duke of Portland to James Melville, concerning the vacant chair.Dated Welbeck, 1868-69. (3pp.)
  • ms1635 A letter from Stuart Grace, secretary to the United College, drawing the attention of the duke of Portland to a recent statement of Principal Shairp.St Andrews, 26 April 1869. (1p.)
  • ms1636 Letter from James Melville to James Auld advising him that the chair has not been vacated.Edinburgh, 27 July 1869. (1p.)
  • ms1637 Part of a letter from James Auld to the duke of Portland. (1p.)
  • ms1638 - ms1639 Intimation of Principal Shairp to the duke of Portland concerning his intention to discharge the duties of the chair together with a more detailed letter dated:St Andrews, 25 October, 4 November 1869. (1p; 1p)
  • ms1640-ms1641, ms1644-1649 Letters of James Lindesay jnr WS to the duke of Portland concerning an affidavit, advising him of Auld's legal action, the specification of writings called for, and proffering advice on the issues raised.Edinburgh 1874-75. (1p; 1p; 1p; 1p; 1p; 1p; 1p; 1p.)
  • ms1642-ms1643 Letter from Thomas Spalding WS, agent to Mrs Auld, to the duke of Portland seeking disclosure of documents with reply to the same.Edinburgh and Welbeck, July 1874. (2pp.)

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1868 John Campbell Shairp, then professor of humanity, was appointed principal of the United College, University of St Andrews, but, having initially relinquished the chair of humanity, continued to discharge its obligations. An attempt was made to present James Auld, classics master at Madras College, St Andrews, to the supposed vacancy, which was in the gift of William John Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, fifth duke of Portland. In 1874 the widow of Dr Auld, Mrs Jessie Stewart Howart, brought an action against the duke.


Single item

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Keeper of Manuscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.


Call numbers used to be ms1621-ms1649

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Binding: loose blue boards.Paper: 20.4x25.4cm

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.