John Scot, The Staggering State of the Scots, 1650

Scope and Content

pp.v-vi, 1-107. ms808: John Scot of Scotstarvit, The staggering state of the Scots statesmen this last 100 years bygone viz fra the year 1550 till the year 1650. A series of lists with biographical notes of the Chancellors, Treasurers and Secretaries of Scotland, their deputies and other officials of the state, recording their rise to power, how they then 'staggered' and fell from grace, including himself as an example. The latest date, 1663, records the death of Sir Archibald Johnstone.

pp.109-147. ms809: A catalogue of the Officers of State mentioned in History and ancient Chartularies. List of names of Scottish Officers of State.

pp.150-171. ms810: Copy of essay by George Buchanan, Ane invective against the family of Hamiltone, 1570.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Scot of Scotstarvit (1586-1670), Lord Scotstarvit, was a judge and writer, and an important patron of Scottish literary and scholarly works. He studied at St Andrews University, bought the lands of Tarvit in Fife and called himself Scot of Scotstarvit. He was interested in scholarly pursuits, writing Latin verse and endowing a chair of Latin at St Leonard’s College, St Andrews. He was brother in law of the poet William Drummond. He was also involved in politics, serving on the privy council of Scotland from 1622 and seemed to relish the constant political infighting, helping to bring down the earl of Mentieth. He also became a lord of the court of session. From 1632 however he took a back seat in politics, concentrating on two publishing projects with the Amsterdam publisher, William Blaeu. One was to produce a volume of contemporary Latin verse by Scotsmen, which featured some of his own compositions, and the second was to publish and expand on the maps of Scotland drawn by Timothy Pont in at the end of the sixteenth century, both as parts of a series of volumes planned by Blaeu. Scot joined with the rebels against Charles I in 1637 and signed the national covenant the following year. For his actions he was removed from his post in the chancery and spent the rest of his days trying to get it back. His own writings were a response to his removal from office and his feeling of abandonment.

George Buchanan (1506-1582) was a playwright, poet, historian and administrator, keeper of the Privy Seal. After an early career teaching classical studies in France and Portugal while composing and translating plays and satirical poems, he returned to Scotland around 1560 and immediately became involved in politics. He gained the favour of Mary queen of Scots, and James earl of Moray. He was appointed principal of St Leonard’s College, St Andrews in 1566, and was keeper of the Privy Seal until 1578. However he later joined the party opposed to Mary, tutored King James, published his major works at the end of his life, on political theory, De jure regni, and history, Rerum Scoticarum historia.


Single item

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

15 Oct 1948


Call numbers used to be ms808, ms809, ms810

Other Finding Aids

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

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Binding, calf, decorated, with Scot. Staggering State Buchanan. One Admonition in gold on spine.Paper: 15.7x20.3cm

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.

Custodial History

ms808 inscribed 'Alexr Keith' on p.i.



Related Material

University of St Andrews: For another copy of ms 808, see GB227 msDA331.S2 (ms1018). GB 227 msPR3671.S3, John Scot, Commonplace Book


ms810 is printed in Harleian Miscellany, Edinburgh, 1808, I, p.419.