Papers of the Leslie family of Balquhain, Aberdeenshire

Scope and Content

Papers of the Leslie family of Balquhain, Aberdeenshire, 1391 - 1715.

This collection is concerned chiefly with the Leslie lands, rather than with their religious convictions, but does, nonetheless, reflect the pressures put on the family at the Reformation, and particularly in the 17th century. It consists of royal breives and charters, either under the royal signature or under the Great, Quarter, or Privy seals, and of public instruments and papers dealing with boundaries, contaracts of marriage, discharges, enfeoffments, incidents of diligence, indentures, instruments of attendance and service, inventories, marches, obligations, redemptions, resignations, retours, sasines, and other legal matters pertaining to the property of the family, together with a small number of the original royal seals and bishop's seals intact.

Among the earliest records are a royal charter of Robert III, dated 1391; a rare cyrograph indenture of retinue between Malcolm Drummond, Earl of Mar and Gilbert Hay, son of Lord Errol, dated 1400; and 2 royal charters of James I, dated 1423 and 1437. A considerable number of documents are 16th century, including a letter of Mary Queen of Scots to John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews in 1563, and a large bundle dealing with the Reformation, 1559 - 1560. The bulk of the documents, however, belong to the 17th and 18th centuries, when the Leslie lands came under severe pressure.

Title deeds date from the 14th c - 18th c, and legal and administrative papers from the 16th c - 18th c. They include (n.b. place and personal names have not been standardised):

Titles and teinds to the lands of Abirsnethok, parish of Monymusk, 1560s - 1592; Achorthies, Knokcollachie, Pitcaple and Drummis, and the superiorities of Woodhill and half lands of Blairdaff, lordship of Garioch, 1680 - 1708; Auchorthies, 1594 - 1708; Auchquhortheis and Blairdaff, 1391 - 1616; Mains of Aquhorthies, 1638 - 1654; Overtoune of Auchquhorthies, 1637 - 1645; Auchinleithe, barony of Lethintie, 1618; Mains of Haltoun of Auchtirless, 1593; Auldtoun, 1524; barony of Ballhagartie, 1551 - 1626; Balquhain, 1524, 1544 - 1701; Begishill, Thomastoun, Chapeltoun, Stanyfeild, Weddirburn and Brownhill, barony of Colmalegy, 1564 - 1578; Beythis hauche, or Petbeishauche and Croft of Petbie, 1580 - 1669; Bogy/ Bogie, shire of Clatt, 1564 - 1591; Bonytoun, parish of Rayne, 1574 - 1578; shire of Clatt, 1558; Conlie, 1619; barony of Delgatie, 1604 - 1636; Dronlaw, 1400, 1503; Drumdenane, barony of Lochardell, 1591; Drumdorno, 1453 - 1566; Drummes, 1629; Earlsfield and Seggieden, 1672; Erlisfield, Seggyden and Wras, 1521 - 1564; barony of Fetternear, 1556 - 1675; Fintray parish, 1690; Greinhall, parish of Insch, 1654 - 1683; barony of Insch, 1694; burgh of Inverurie, 1530 - 1670; third Stanneris of Inverurie, 1572 - 1610; Kemnay, 1637; regality of Kinloss, sheriffdom of Banff, 1549; Knockalachie/ Knokcallachye, 1527 - 1594; Knockinbard and Scotstoun, Greenhill and Muiricheidles, and Old and New Morliches, parish of Insch, 1660 - 1683; Knockinblewis, 1564 - 1657; Auldtoun and Nethertoun of Knockinblewis, 1650 - 1656; Middiltoun of Knockinblewis/ Knokynblawis, 1569, 1595 - 1692; Largie, barony of Culsalmond, 1545 - 1619; Largie, Lanshabrey and Meiklewardes, parish of Insch, 1661 - 1724; Leddintushe, barony of Rayne, 1563 - 1587; barony of Leslie, 1617, 1690; parish of Leslie, 1617; Templelands of Leslie, 1619; Lindores, 1690; Lochtilloch, 1538; Meikle Wardis, 1424 - 1619; Middletoun, 1661; Netherbigging, 1595; Petbie, 1465 - 1608; Pettindrum, 1640; Chanonry of Ross, 1567 - 1576; Selby, 1536; Selby and Lochtillok, 1433; Seveidlie, barony of Keig and Monymusk, 1563; Sydemilne, the Peil, Earlesfield and Syggieden, parish of Kinethmount, 1638 - 1670; Tailzeauch and Nethertoun, barony of Fetternear, 1568, 1601; Tailzaucht, 1502; Tolmad, 1525; barony of Towie, 1646; Whitecros, 1580 - 1637; Whytehall, 1636; Quhytrashes, 1657; a lodging on the north side of the castle gate of Aberdeen, 1595; and to Cambusbarron and lands in the burgh of Stirling, 1640 - 1671.

Inventories of writs for the lands of Auchorthies, 1622 - 1637, 1671 - 1683, 1688; Balquhain, 1619 - 1638; Earlesfield and Seggieden, 1672; Knockinbard and Scotstoun, barony of Wardhouse, 1694; Largie, Lanshabrey and Meikle Wardes, parish of Insch, 1661; Middiltoune of Knokinglewis and lands of Brako, 1675;.

Legal papers re. Leslies of Balquhain, 17th c; Leslie family and Gordon of Brakko, 1589 - 1636; Gordon of Haddo, 1670 - 1672; Robertson of Achorties, 1670 - 1673; Forbes of Tolquhan, 1674; Forbes of Acquorthies, 1638 - 1674; Urquhart of Meldrum, 1671 - 1683; debts of Thomas Forbes of Aquhorthies, 1661 - 1673; John Leslie of Balquhain, 1564 - 1589; dispute between the laird of Balquhain and the minister of Chapel of Garioch over a moss in the Wards of Tullous, 1713 - 1718; the lands of Middletoune of Knokinglewis, 1608, Leslie, 1617, and Fetterneir, 1627; and the lands of Balquhain and Knocynblawis, 1626 - 1689.

Marriage contracts and related papers, including marriage contract of John Leslie of Balquhain and Jean, daughter of Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar, 1598; marriage contract of Margaret, daughter of John Forbes of Barnis, and Patrick, son of John Leslie of Duncanston, 25 Jul 1620; minute of marriage between James Elphinstone of Glack and Janet, daughter of John Leslie of Balquhain, 1641, and discharge by Janet of provision contained therin, 1670; marriage contract of Patrick, son of George Leith of Friefield, and Margaret, daughter of (deceased) William Lumsden of Pittiloch, 1663.

Ecclesiastical papers include grants and presentations by the Bishop of Aberdeen, re. Chapel of Garioch, chaplainry of Knolinblewis and other church properties, 1559 - 1598; discharges of stipend for the parish and Chapel of Garioch, 1690 - 1715; papers re. parish of Chapel of Garioch, later, Logydurno, 1567 - 1712; papers re. manse and stipend of Insch, 1685; papers re. Inverurie church, 1621 - 1688 (including reference to minister's stipend and ruinous state of church walls, 1669).

Other miscellaneous papers include letters re. casting of fail on lands of Whitehall, 26/7 Aug 1630; letters of slains and remission, including remission under the privy seal to John, son of William Leslie of Buchquhane, Alexander Leslie of Kincraigy and John Keith, for the slaughter of Alexander Forbes, alias Spangare, Aberdeen, 9 Feb 1527/8; letters of slains for the slaughter of William Stevin in Selbye, 2 Dec 1577; letters of slains for the slaughter of David Carle in Auchnacant, 22 Mar 1609; and indenture (referred to above) made between Sir Malcolm Drommonde, Lord of Marre, and the ? Garreych, and Gilbert Haye the younger, son of Sir Thomas Haye, Lord of Erole and Constable of Scotland, whereby Gilbert is becumyn of retunv and man to Sir Malcolm for 6 years in speciale hushald againis all men ontakand the Kyng allegiance, and Sir Malcolm gives to Gilbert the relief of the lands of Dronlaw, with 10 merks for his upkeep, 6 Jan 1400/1.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Barony of Balquhain was created a burgh of barony by David II in 1340. It remained in the hands of the Leslie family from this time until 1919, when their estates were broken up, following the death of Colonel Charles Stephen Leslie in 1916. The Leslie family held lands, and maintained close connections with the ruling hierarchies, in Eastern Europe throughout this period, and following the Scottish Reformation of 1560, became one of the principal dissenting families in the North East of Scotland. The family seat, Balquhain Castle, Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, gave lodging to Queen Mary on the eve of the Battle of Corrachie in 1562, and was burned by the Duke of Cumberland in 1746. Their lands at Fetternear, Aberdeenshire, were leased to the Bishops of Aberdeen, who had held them in free alms of the Crown since the 12th century.

For further details see Historical Records of the Family of Leslie from 1067 to 1868/9, 3 vols., edited by Colonel Charles Leslie, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1869).


Papers have been bundle listed at present, with place and personal names listed as read. No attempt has been made to identify modern spellings. Numbers from at least 2 earlier reference systems are endorsed on the documents.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University on 17 Mar 1980, by the Right Reverend Mario Conti, Bishop of Aberdeen

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, University of Aberdeen (e-mail:

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

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 (e-mail: 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

It is believed that the papers remained in the custody of Craigens, Glennie and Whyte, solicitors (lawyers of successive Bishops of Aberdeen), from the time of Colonel Charles Stephen Leslie's death in 1916, until 1974, when they were handed to the Procurator of Blairs College. The Bishops of Aberdeen are understood to have been the intended beneficiaries of the 1913 Settlement of the Leslies estates, owing to their close connection with the Leslies of Balquhain and Fetternear.


No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers of the Leslie family, Balquhain, Aberdeenshire, 1870-87 (3 volumes, 4 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/76/1-4; GB 231 MS 2769/II/22/1-3; and GB 231 MS 2769/III/4/1 - 10). Uncatalogued.

Maps and plans of Balquhain, Fetternear and Insch estates, Aberdeenshire, c 1769 - 1869 (GB 231 MS 3528)

Papers of the Leslie family, Nethermuir, Aberdeenshire, 1872-1923 (8 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/77/1-5; and GB 231 MS 2769/I/130/1-3;); and 1891-1914 (3 volumes) (GB 231 MS 2769/II/96/1/1-3). Uncatalogued.

Papers of the Leslie family, Berryden, Aberdeenshire, 1760-1825; including estates in West Indies and Virginia (3 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/15/1-3). Uncatalogued.

Papers of the Leslie family, Warthill, Aberdeenshire, 1550-1900 (8 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/159/1-6 and GB 231 MS 2769/I/51/1-2); 1865-87 (2 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/32/1-2); 1890 (1 box) (GB 231 MS 2769/I/70/1) (uncatalogued); and 1770-1857 (4 boxes) (GB 231 MS 2580)

Letter, 1830 May 28, St John's, Newfoundland, of James Robertson, missionary, to William Leslie, Warthill, Aberdeenshire (1 leaf) (GB 231 MS 2593)

Papers of and relating to Captain John L. Leslie, 1876-83 (1volume) (GB 231 MS 2769/II/82)

Letter, 1630 November 26, of Isobel Leslie, Delgatye, Aberdeenshire, to Patrick Jack, Aberdeen (1 leaf) (GB 231 MS 2104)

Postcards of Walter Leslie of Balquhain (1606-67), Albrecht von Wallenstein (1583-1634) and Eger, Hungary (1 folder) (GB 231 MS 2044)

Notes on Leslie family made by Stephen Ree (GB 231 MS 805)

Papers relating to history and genealogy of families of Grant, Forbes, Arbuthnott, Leslie of Balquain, Ross, Campbell, Strachan, Seton and Lumsden (GB 231 MS 0848)

The genealogie of the sirname of Lesley, 1695 (GB 231 MS 2201)

Papers relating to history and genealogy of Leslie family (GB 231 MS 2493)

Notes and extracts relating to history and genealogy of Leslie family (1 roll) (GB 231 MS 3271)


Transcripts of, and reference to, many of the papers in this collection are contained in Historical Records of the Family of Leslie from 1067 to 1868/9, 3 vols., edited by Colonel Charles Leslie, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1869).

Additional Information

This material is original