Papers of Dr. Alexander Burt Taylor (1904-1972)

Scope and Content

The papers consist of notes on Old Norse literature and Anglo-Saxon literature.

Administrative / Biographical History

Alexander Burt Taylor C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt.(Edin.) was born in Earlston, Berwickshire, in 1904. He was educated at Hamilton Academy and Kirkwall Grammar School, and he studied at Edinburgh University graduating with the degree of M.A. in 1925. He taught in Stirling and Falkirk, and at Columbia University, New York, and in 1933 he joined the Schools' Inspectorate of the Scottish Education Department. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Taylor was seconded to the Department of Health for Scotland and was involved with the evacuation of school children from urban areas and with the homeless. After the war he worked on town and country planning and on the housing programme. In 1947 he was promoted to Assistant Secretary within the Department and took charge of the division responsible for administering the mental health services, specialist services, medical research and rehabilitation. These years too saw the formation of the National Health Service in Scotland. In 1959 Taylor was appointed as Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Scotland. During his period as Registrar-General he improved the public research facilities offered by the Registrar-General's Office, and he was responsible for two censuses of Scotland - the full census 1961 and the ten per cent sample in 1966. The 1961 census was the first in Scotland in which a computer was used. He was made a C.B.E. in 1961, and that year too he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He retired in 1966. Taylor's publications include a translation of The Orkneyinga saga: A new translation with introduction and notes (1938), and geographical and historical interests gave impetus to his British and Irish place-names in Old Norse literature (1953). Alexander Burt Taylor died on 13 March 1972.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Rennie, A. L. 'Alexander Burt Taylor C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt.(Edin.)' Year Book R.S.E., 1972-73. Edinburgh.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.


At Edinburgh University Library, shelfmark .8396 Ork. a copy of The Orkneyinga saga. Edinburgh; London: Oliver and Boyd, 1938.