Broadsheets and manuscripts of John Milne of Glenlivet (1792 - 1871)

Scope and Content

Small collection of broadsheets containing printed songs and poems of John Milne of Glenlivet, late 19th c; a list of his poems, numbered 1 - 173, n.d.; and a small collection of letters, with manuscript poems, sent from him to Alexander Walker, 1865 - 1871.

Alexander Walker, gardener at Castle Newe, Aberdeenshire, was a well-known local fiddler. He emigrated to America (Beaverwyck, near New York), c 1870. An Epistle to Mr Alexander Walker is included in John Milne, Selections from the Songs and Poems of John Milne of Glenlivat (sic) (Aberdeen: Free Press Office, 1871), pp 142 - 144.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Milne, son of William Milne, sailor, and his wife, Catherine Campbell, was born in Dunnottar, Kincardineshire in 1792. Both parents died young and John and his 4 brothers were brought up by their grandfather, Joseph Milne, a blacksmith in Netherley, Fetteresso. He was apprenticed as a shoemaker in Aswanley, Fetteresso, and afterwards set up in business at Bogenwreth, Durris and later Demick, in Glenlivet, Banffshire, where he supplemented his income through smuggling in the illicit whisky trade.

He began composing poetry at the age of 18, and had his first work, Johnny Cope, printed as an 8 sheet piece, in 1826. Recurrent ill health, combined with the growing popularity of his works (Noughty Glens (1826) earned him the title of The Poet of Glenlivat (sic), or The Poet of Livat's Glen) led him to abandon his trade in favour of his poetry. For the following 30 years he travelled extensively throughout the eastern counties of Scotland, visiting local fairs and markets, where he recited and sold his poetry to an audience composed principally - though not exclusively - of farm servants and labourers. The subjects covered in his works were wide ranging in nature, including religious, political and social issues (e.g. On the Repeal of the Corn Laws, A Song on the Corn Bill, A New Song for the Free Church, Lecture to Chartists). A selection, with short biographical sketch, is published in Selections from the Songs and Poems of John Milne of Glenlivat (Aberdeen: Free Press Office, 1871).

He married a native of Glenlivet and had 10 children, outliving all but 4 of them. In his later years his hands were crippled by erysipelas. He died on the 21 Jan 1871.


None observed - listing in process

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Gifted to the University in 1934, by G.F. Rose, of Auchternach

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

See publication note, below

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures


No accruals expected

Related Material

No related material identified in this repository


Some of the poems and letters in this collection are printed in John Milne, Selections from the Songs and Poems of John Milne of Glenlivat (Aberdeen: Free Press Office, 1871).

Additional Information

This material is original