Testimonials granted by the Baillies of Aberdeen Burgh, 1589 - 1603

Scope and Content

A propinquity book, recording testimonials granted by the town baillie for natives of Aberdeen and district, who had travelled out of the county or abroad. The baillie typically heard evidence from one or more persons acting on an individual's behalf, although there is no indication of what form this evidence took. The entries conform to a set format, recording the name and destination of individuals; names and abode of both parents; and names and occupations of the persons presenting the evidence. Some entries record testimonials granted for persons who had died at sea, though it was more common for this type of incident to be recorded in the notaries' protocol books.

The volume is a useful source of information about the migration of individuals from north east Scotland in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

Aberdeen was created a royal burgh by David I (1124 - 1153), when it had markets for wool, hides, meal and dried salted fish. Merchant burgesses, made wealthy by trade with Europe, ruled the town in the early 17th century, and by the 1680s it had a population of between 10,000 and 12,000: it increased by a third again in the next century. Nearby Old Aberdeen (the name derives from a corrupted form of Aulton or Alton) was created a burgh of barony in 1498, and both were created Police Burghs under the terms of the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act, 1862 (25 & 26 Vict c.101). Burgh administration was carried out by police commissioners who were responsible for the cleansing, lighting, policing and public health of the burghs. The two burghs were united in 1891. Thereafter Aberdeen's expansion, which had been to the north, began to move west, the main industries by then including granite quarrying and ship building, though from the 1960s the production of oil and gas from the North Sea has dominated the city. Under the terms of the Town Councils (Scotland) Act, 1900 (63 & 64 Vict c.49) Aberdeen Town Council was established. This was abolished in 1975 under the terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1973 (c.65). Its powers were assumed by Grampian Regional Council and Aberdeen District Council. These in turn were replaced by Aberdeen City Council in 1996 under the terms of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1994 (c.39).


Single item

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Purchased by the University in 1933. No further details known.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

Alternative Form Available

No copies known, but see Publication Note, below.

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives ( speclib@abdn.ac.uk ) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

The volume was originally bound in a parchment manuscript dated from Aberdeen, 1559. The volume was re-bound in 1950, and the manuscript preserved separately, ref. MS 1050/2.


No accruals expected

Related Material

This is the earliest in a series of 5 Propinquity Books which are known to exist for the Town of Aberdeen. The 4 later books, and other records created by Aberdeen City Council and its predecessors, are in the custody of Aberdeen City Archives, Town House, Broad Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1AQ. A catalogue of these records is available for consultation in the University Searchroom.

The following records created by the old administrative units covering the historic counties of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire are deposited in this repository: Aberdeenshire land valuation books, 1634 - 1795 (transcripts for 7 years) (GB 231 MS 507) Aberdeenshire land valuation books, 1644, 1649, 1667 (GB 231 MS 1037) Aberdeenshire land valuation book, 1750 (GB 231 MS 1038) Stent roll for the Burgh of Aberdeen, 1748 - 1749 (GB 231 MS 57) Poll book of the Shire and Burgh of Aberdeen, 1696 (GB 231 MS 568) Alphabetical index to the first 76 volumes of the Council Register of the City of Aberdeen from 1398 - 1800 (GB 231 MS 595) Abstract register of sasines for Aberdeenshire, 1599 - 1606 (transcript made early 19th c) (GB 231 MS 837)


A full transcription of this record, with personal and place name indexes, was published in the The Miscellany of the Third Spalding Club, ed. by W. Douglas Simpson, 3 vols (Aberdeen: Third Spalding Club, 1935-60), vol. 2 (1940), 3 - 85

Additional Information

This material is original

Geographical Names