Papers of John Leslie, 7th Earl of Rothes (1630-1681)

Scope and Content

The papers are composed of: letters to the Duke of Lauderdale, 1660-1671; and a chapter on Rothes' administration with reference to ecclesiastical affairs in An account of the late revolutions in the Church of Scotland.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Leslie was born in 1630 and he succeeded to the earldom of Rothes at the age of eleven. Leslie was one of the first noblemen to serve Charles II on his arrival in Britain from Breda in 1650 and at the king's coronation he carried the Sword of State. Commanding his regiment he accompanied the Scottish army into England but was taken prisoner at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, and committed to the Tower of London. In 1652 he was freed but only to within ten miles of the City of London, although he was allowed to return to Scotland on business in 1652, 1653, and 1654. In 1654-1655 he was allowed to stay in Newcastle for six months. In 1656-1657 he was again permitted to visit Scotland but Cromwell had him committed to Edinburgh Castle to prevent a duel between him and Viscount Morpeth. On the return of Charles in 1660, again from Breda, Leslie accompanied him, and he was appointed President of the Council in Scotland, and in 1661 Lord of Session, and Commissioner of the Exchequer. In 1662 he went to London to press for the establishment of episcopacy, and in 1663 he was appointed Lord High Treasurer and a Privy Councillor in England. In 1664 he became Keeper of the Privy Seal. Although marital scandal caused him to lose many of his official functions he was created Duke of Rothes in 1680. John Leslie, 7th Earl of Rothes, Duke of Rothes, died at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, on 27 July 1681.

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) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

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.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Rothes related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letters to the Earl of Linthigow, 1670, and to an unnamed nobleman, 1669, at La.II.557. There is also material relating to the 6th Earl of Rothes. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes for the 7th Earl: political correspondence (70 items), 1678-1680, Private, Ref. GD224 NRA 6184 Montagu-Douglas-Scot; correspondence with Sir William Bruce, 1663-1696, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD29 NRA 29953 Bruce; correspondence with Duke of Lauderdale, 1658-1680, Buckminster Park, Ref. NRA 23003 Tollemache; and, letters to Lauderdale, Charles II etc., 1657-1681, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MSS 23113-38, 23242-48, 28747.