Papers of the Cheape of Rossie family

Scope and Content

Although primarily concerned with the Cheapes, a prominent landholding family in Fife and Perthshire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there is also a considerable amount of material on the Scrimgeours of Myres, the Bonars of Rossie and Lumquhat, the Hardies in Wester Rossie, the Scotts of Rossie and the Lindsays of Kilwhiss. There is information on land in the parishes of Abernethy, Auchtermuchty, Collessie, Fossoway and Newburgh prior to its acquisition by the Cheape family. This additional material comprises:

  • Scrimgeour of Myres family writs, 1541-1610 relating to the third part of Wester Rossie and the resignation and selling thereof by James Scrimgeour to James Bonar of Rossie in November 1607.
  • Bonar of Rossie family writs, 1454-1667, relating to: Easter Rossie; the three parts of Wester Rossie that had been held by James Scrimgeour of Myres, Thomas Hardie of Daftmill and John Bonar of Lumquhat; the barony of Rossie; and Lumquhat Mill.
  • Hardie of Rossie family writs, 1531-1608 relating to a third part of Wester Rossie.
  • Writs, 1630-1668 relating to the granting of the Barony of Rossie (comprising the lands of Easter Rossie, Wester Rossie and the Loch of Rossie ) to Colonel Sir James Scott of Rossie Kt, gentleman of the royal bedchamber, and the grant of the liferent of the towns and lands of Lumquhat Mill and Wester Rossie to Lady Antonia Willobie, his wife. In 1648, their daughter Mary Scott was infeft with Rossie in conjoint fee as part of her marriage contract with Sir John Brown of Fordell, but resigned the lands and barony of Rossie in liferent to James Cheape and in fee to Henry Cheape, his eldest son and heir, in 1668.
  • Lindsay of Kilwhiss papers, 1647-1707, being documents relating to that portion of Kilwhiss sold by James Lindsay of Kilwhiss to James Cheape of Rossie in 1669.

The collection is mainly comprised of financial and legal material and includes accounts of crops, livestock, seeds and trees, together with plans of husbandry and papers such as those relating to the draining of the Loch of Rossie. There are also many accounts rendered by tradesmen and professionals, such as apothecaries and surgeons, bakers, booksellers and binders, candlemakers, cloth manufacturers and tailors, coppersmiths and pewterers, dyers, fleshers, garden seedsmen, glaziers, goldsmiths, inn-keepers, jewellers, mowers, slaters, smiths, tailors, wigmakers and barbers, wine and spirit merchants, and wrights. The correspondence within the collection mainly concerns legal, financial and business matters but also has society and family news and reports of national and international events, including military campaigns on the Continent and the Act of Union (1707).

Among those items worthy of special mention are: lists of books purchased and owned by the Lairds of Rossie, a roup roll for the Mains of Airdit (1760-64), outbuilding plans and inventories for the houses of Mugdrum and Rossie, and accounts relating to the burning of witches in Collessie parish (1662). The correspondence of William Cheape gives valuable insight into the weaving and linen industry in Scotland. There are also references to Patrick (Peter) Cheape, merchant in Glasgow and supercargo on the "Loyalty of Glasgow" which was attacked by pirates en route to Barbados in 1719, and his brother, David, who commanded "The Wager" in Lord Anson's squadron which was driven ashore and lost on the southern coast of Chile on 14 May 1741. Other subjects covered include the militia between 1650 and 1680, education and apprenticeships, and the episcopal meeting houses at Falkland and Perth.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Cheape (1641-1701) 1st laird of Rossie, was son and heir to Henry Cheape of Ormiston (formerly of Mawhill), whose estate included Grange of Lindores, Fife and lands in Ormiston, East Lothian and Fossoway, Kinross-shire. An eminent advocate in Edinburgh during the reign of Charles II, James Cheape of Ormiston acquired the lands and barony of Rossie in 1668 from Dame Mary Scott, eldest daughter and heir to Colonel Sir James Scott Kt and Lady Antonia Willobie. In 1669, James Cheape added to his estate by purchasing the lands of Kilwhiss from James Lindsay for 12,500 merks. The Cheapes of Rossie soon emerged as a prominent landholding family in Fife and Perthshire with lands in the parishes of Abernethy, Auchtermuchty, Collessie, Fossoway and Newburgh. James married Alison Balfour, daughter of Sir Michael Balfour of Denmill Bt in 1639 and then Janet Sibbald, relict of John Barclay in 1654. He died in 1701, and the estate of Rossie passed to his eldest surviving son, Henry.

Henry Cheape, 2nd laird of Rossie, (ca. 1640-1705) married Anna (Anne) Murray, 3rd daughter of Sir William of Ochtertyre Bt. in 1676 and had seven children. His second marriage, to Margaret Graham, daughter of John Graham, writer in Edinburgh produced six children.

James Cheape (1677-1746) succeeded his father to become the third Laird of Rossie in 1705. He married Christian Lowis, second daughter of Mr James Lowis of Merchiston in 1706 and had at least ten children including Henry (Harry, eldest son and heir), James (1710-1803), Thomas (third son, surgeon) and William (the fourth and youngest son, linen draper and manufacturer in Bonnymills and six daughters.

A cadet branch of the Cheapes of Rossie, the Cheapes of Wellfield were established in 1767 when James Cheape (1710-1803), second son to James Cheape, 3rd laird of Rossie, and wine cooper in Leith, purchased the lands of Wellfield. He married Margaret, 3rd daughter of Hugh Clark in 1745. In 1803 James was succeeded by his eldest son, James (1746-1824). James purchased the lands of Strathtyrum (St. Andrews) in 1782.

James Cheape was succeeded by his eldest son Henry (Harry) (1707-1786) who became fourth Laird of Rossie in 1746. Henry was educated at Perth and became a writer in Edinburgh after serving a three year apprenticeship with Alexander Stevenson of Montgreenan WS. In 1751 he married Alison Landale, daughter of John Landale of Airdit.

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.


Further genealogical detail can be obtained by consulting the manuscripts database.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Complete hard-copy list and index; partially listed on the departmental manuscripts database.

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.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Custodial History

The Harry Cheape Papers held as ms30488 were given to the University of St Andrews in 1969 and have been listed as part of box 1 of ms36929. In January 1913, the Cheape of Rossie Papers were offered to the University of St Andrews by Captain William Murray Stewart of the Cameron Highlanders, on condition that the documents were to be securely kept, sorted and arranged, and open to the inspection of any descendent of the Cheape family or other respectable person. They were accessioned in 1973.

Related Material

GB227 msdep76 Cheape of Strathtyrum and Lathockar papers

Additional Information

This material is original.