Tayler Genealogical Collection/ Papers of the Duff family of Duff House, and William Rose of Montcoffer, their factor

Scope and Content

Although known as the Tayler Genealogical Collection, this collection is comprised almost wholly of original records, principally correspondence, of The Duff family of Duff House (including the first and second Earls Fife) and their factor, William Rose of Montcoffer. It dates from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, together with a few items of earlier and later periods which were acquired by Rose or the Taylers from family archives and other sources. It seems to have acquired its title owing to the part which the letters played in the compilation of the Tayler's several histories of the Duff family, and, though their contents will be of interest to family historians, their research value is much wider, covering the spheres of local history, estate management, rural affairs, politics, etc.

The records are arranged in 351 sections, and alphabetically by name of correspondent, subject (e.g. taxes, game laws, naval affairs, acts of Parliament), or, more rarely, place (e.g. Aberdeen, Nairn). For a full list of topics covered, contact the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk)

Many letters are accompanied by their original covers and frequently have appended drafts of replies or memoranda by Fife or Rose and his son. There are occasionally pencilled marks by Miss Tayler.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Duff, 2nd Earl of Fife, succeeded his father in the Irish peerage in 1763. He served as MP for Banff and Elgin at intervals between 1754 and 1784, and for Morayshire from 1784 until 1790, when he was created a peer of the United Kingdom, and took his seat in the House of Lords. There were no children of his marriage in 1759 to Lady Dorothea Sinclair and he was succeeded by his brother, Alexander (1731 - 1811), two of whose sons he educated.

Alistair and Henrietta Tayler were the grandchildren of Lady Jane Duff, the eldest daughter of Alexander, 3rd Earl of Fife (1731 - 1811). Together they wrote The Book of the Duffs (London, 1914), Lord Fife and His Factor (London, 1925) and The Domestic Papers of the Rose Family (London, 1926), using material from both this collection and other family papers made available to them. An appreciation by Sir James Ferguson of Kilkerran of the genealogical work done by the Taylers can be found in a preface to Miss Tayler's last work, Two Accounts of the Escape of Prince Charles Edward ... (Oxford, 1951), vii - x.

The material in MS 2226 concerns for the most part the work of William Rose, who was given employment by the first Earl, and became factor to the second. His interests spread beyond the management of the Duff estates to local affairs and county politics. A detailed account of his career can be found in the Taylers' printed works, cited above.


The system of arrangement devised by the Taylers has been retained. See Scope and Content for further details.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

See Archival History


Most series are listed to item level, though some are dealt with in less detail. Notes about correspondents and their family relationships have been kept to a minimum, but this information should be found in the standard genealogical sources referred to above. Where possible, individual documents which were used in the Taylers' printed works have been identified, with reference to the work in question. It has not always been possible to do so, because the Taylers' editorial style has obscured some of the original sources used, in some instances, for example, extracts from two records appear to have been combined in a single quote under one date.

The spelling 'Montcoffer' is used throughout, and in the case of some personal names, an effort has been made to provide a consistent form, despite variants in the manuscripts. For the sake of brevity, full addresses are not always given. To avoid repetition of headings in the more bulky sections, no distinction has been made between the different residences used by William Rose and the Earl of Fife in the county of Banff, the description 'as above' being considered sufficient. The following abbreviations are followed throughout:

Ld. F.: 2nd Lord Fife Ld. F.: 2nd Lord Fife W.R.: William Rose W.R.: William Rose B. of D.: A. and H. Tayler, The Book of the Duffs (London, 1914) B. of D.: A. and H. Tayler, The Book of the Duffs (London, 1914) Ld. F.&his factor: A. and H. Tayler Lord Fife and His Factor (London, 1925) Ld. F.&his factor: A. and H. Tayler Lord Fife and His Factor (London, 1925) Dom. Papers Rose fam.: A. and H. Tayler The Domestic Papers of the Rose Family (London, 1926)

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives, University of Aberdeen. Contents of this list are searchable on-line at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/historic/collects/stiqcgi/prelim01.html, via the Historic Collections database.

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

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: 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

This collection was part of a larger one preserved by William Rose, which was deposited in the Banff Court House in the middle of the nineteenth century, examined by William Crammond, Cullen (MS 997/7/6; Lord Fraser and his Factor, preface v - iv), and sold in part to Edward Gordon Duff (1863 - 1924), Oxford, formerly of the John Rylands Library, Manchester, who allowed the Taylers to use it in the compilation of The Book of Duffs, and made the collection over to them in 1923. Henrietta Tayler presented the papers, with some additions, to Aberdeen University Library, apparently in 1940 (see ref. by Miss Tayler in MS 2226/ 7/ 6) and certainly before her death in 1951.


No accruals expected

Related Material

The University holds a number of other collections that are closely linked in provenance and interest with MS 2226. The papers of William Duff of Braco, 1st Earl of Fife, are complementary, and the introduction to their listing (GB 231 MS 2727) should be consulted. The Lumley-Smith papers (GB 231 MS 0997), which came to the library after Miss Tayler's death have also been listed, and supply some gaps in the present collection. Other collections of relevance include the Hatton mss (GB 231 MS 2778) and some of the Spalding Club mss (GB 231 MS 2264). Most recently, in 1984, the Duff House archive/ Montcoffer papers was deposited (GB 231 MS 3175). This very large collection (1300vols.; 1500 boxes; 533 plans) covers the period 1500 - 1960, and contains the estate records dating from William Rose's factor-ship.


Alistair and Henrietta Tayler, The Book of the Duffs (London: W. Brown, 1914)

Additional Information

This material is original