Letters of William Tait (1793-1864)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-854
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 letters. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      Dc.4.101-103 Tait; Gen. 2041/150-151

Scope and Content

The letters are to T. Doubleday, to J. M. Ludlow written from Edinburgh, and to D. E. Milne written from Prior Bank. One to Doubleday is about Tait's Edinburgh magazine, another accompanies a returned article (not in collection) on Afghanistan which 'seems a very good one but too late for me', and the other along with a subscription to the Liverpool Financial Association and the note that Prior Bank is where he chiefly resides 'although I retain my Edinburgh house and reside there a good deal during the winter'.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Tait was born in Edinburgh on 11 May 1793. He attended Edinburgh University briefly with the intention of following a law career and was articled to a Writer to the Signet. However he abandoned that path and became a bookseller with his brother, and began publishing. His principal works published were Brown's Philosophy of the human mind, Carlyle's German romance, and Tytler's History of Scotland. He is most well known for the literary and radical political Tait's Edinburgh magazine which first appeared in April 1832 and ran until December 1864. Contributors to the publication included John Stuart Mill, Cobden and Bright. Tait's shop was a meeting place for Edinburgh notables. William Tait retired from business in 1848 and he died at his Melrose estate of Prior Bank on 4 October 1864.

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. 19. Stow-Tytler. 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 various references to William Tait material which may or may not relate to William Tait, Publisher (check the Indexes for more details): letters (2) of Tait, William, to Messrs Cunningham and Mortimer, 1843, at La.II.646/242/1-2; correspondence of Tait (William) Publisher, with P. F. Tytler, at La.II.494; letter to Tait, William, from T. Aird, 1828, at La.II.336; letter to Tait (William) Publisher, from Thomas Carlyle about his German romance, at Gen. 1730 onwards; letter to Tait, William, from E. Elliott, 1832, at La.II.647/170; and, letter to Tait, William, from W. Howitt, 1836, at La.II.647/215.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence, 1820-1849, National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections, Ref. MSS 3713, 3823, letters to John Burton, 1834-1854, Ref. MS 9406, and correspondence with Thomas De Quincey, 1834-1846, Ref. MS 1670; letters to Peter Mackenzie, 1834, East Dunbartonshire Archives, Kirkintilloch, Ref. NRA(S)0347 NRA 11630; correspondence with Richard Cobden, 1836-1853, West Sussex Record Office, Ref. Cobden papers NRA 10616 Cobden; correspondence with Richard Cobden, 1836-1853, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 43665 NRA 5927 Cobden; and, correspondence with J. A. Roebuck, 1833-1847, Liverpool University, Special Collections and Archives, Ref. D.584/6/1/ NRA 39999 Roebuck.