The papers include correspondence and accounts, bills of lading and personal material. Particularly notable are a group of letters relating to an extended voyage from Kirkcaldy to Rotterdam with coal, then to Norway for timber which was carried to London, then on to Bordeaux for wine and back to Kirkcaldy, between April and October 1668. Thereafter the Watsons seem to have used various skippers in whose ships they owned shares to export coal, feathers, herring, linene and linen yarn, peas, stockings, tallow and timber to London, bringing back mainly tobacco, but also barrel hoops, hats, pewterware, sugar, tin ingots and manufactured goods.
The papers also shed light on the distribution of the goods brought in by ship, such as tobacco to merchants in Elie, Falkland and Perth, wines and brandy to lawyers in Cupar, timber sold across estates in North Fife. There is correspondence (1684-9) relating to the trade between Andrew Watson and Robert Kellie of Dunbar which involved the filling of Dunbar-made barrels with salt at Kirkcaldy, then returning them to be packed with salt herring. There is material on the purchase of Glentarkie and the building of a new house there.