Papers of the Simson family of Brunton and Blairstruie

Scope and Content

The collection relates to the family of Simson of Brunton, Blairstruie and Pitcorthie and consists of: the correspondence of the Simson family with friends, relations and business associates, 1721-1936; financial documents, 1800-1910; titles and other legal documents relating to the family estates in Fife, Sunninghill, Berkshire, Kent and Cornwall, England, Scotland and India, 17th century to 1898. There are also miscellaneous diaries, account books, scrap books and printed items, 1719-1912, in the collection, including papers relating to the Maidstone elections of 1806-08.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Simson family was long established in Fife. George Simson, son of John Simson of Brunton and Blairstruie by his second wife, spent his youth in India. There he married Mary Ramsay, daughter of James and Christian Ramsay of New Street, Edinburgh in 1789. George Simson left India to return to England sometime between 1795 and 1806. He had made a considerable fortune in India and assisted his step-brother, William, in his financial ventures and in the purchase of the Pitcorthie estate, Carnbee, Fife. For several years from ca. 1806 George Simson was MP for Maidstone and resided at Sillwood Park, Berkshire and in London.

On the death of William Simson, George claimed Pitcorthie in settlement of debts and agreements of long standing with William. The estate had been bequeathed to William's illegitimate son George Belches Simson of Edinburgh, with whom there was a protracted legal battle which George Simson won.

The fortunes of the Simson family declined from ca. 1825 onwards. George Simson's business ventures in London, in particular with a banking house (Bruce, Simson and Co.), had been disastrously unsuccessful and the correspondence reflects the financial plight of the family. George died in 1848 and his son George continued to manage the remaining family estate and business interests. He had been born in India in 1796 but had been educated in England; he attended Eton and Christ Church Oxford, married Mary Ann Sutherland in 1822 and died in 1869. Other sons of George Simson senior continued the tradition of service in India. John Simson died shortly after reaching Bombay at the age of 21, but his brothers William and James Bruce had long careers with the East India Company, married in India and had children who returned to England for their education.

There is little information about George Sutherland Simson, the eldest son of George and Mary Ann Simson, although he was expelled from school and spent some time in India. The second son, Henry Bruce, spent most of his life in the Indian Civil Service, rising to become a divisional judge. He married Margery Vincent in India in 1857 and they seem to have remained in India with their children until about 1880 when they took up residence at Brunton. Henry died in 1893 by when the estates had been sold and the family was living in St Andrews.


Chronological within sections: correspondence, financial, legal, accounts, miscellaneous.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Gifted to the University by the Executors of Mrs GHL Simson in 1966.


Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Brief handlist is available.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Additional Information

This material is original.