Papers relating to John Home (1722-1808)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-367
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 manuscript volumes, 2 manuscript letters.
  • Location
      Dc.1.51; Dc.4.101-103 Home; Dk.6.27/4; Dn.4.15

Scope and Content

The papers are composed of: poems with corrections, including verses on the death of George Augustus, Earl of Guildford; explanatory note, 1776; engraving of Home, 1799; letter to Andrew Strahan, MP, 1804; and, an inscription in a copy of Alonzo.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Home was born in Leith, Edinburgh, on 21 September 1722. He was educated in Leith and then studied at Edinburgh University with a view to joining the Church. He was licensed as a probationer by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1745. During the Jacobite Rebellion he enlisted for the defence of Edinburgh and he was present at the Battle of Prestonpans and the Battle of Falkirk. For a short time he was imprisoned in Doune Castle. In 1747 Home became Minister of Athelstaneford, East Lothian. While at Athelstaneford he completed the tragedy of Agis which he took to London at the end of 1747. After his return to Scotland he set to work on his tragedy of Douglas founded on a popular Scottish ballad. Again he took it to London. Both of these tragedies had been rejected by David Garrick (1717-1779) the actor, manager, and dramatist, and so with the support of his contemporaries Douglas was put on in a theatre in Edinburgh's Canongate in December 1756. Although the work was enthusiastically received by the public, the Church was outraged and the play was denounced as profane. In February 1757, Home went to London and in March the play was produced at Covent Garden by Rich. On his return to Scotland, the Church took proceedings against him but these were cut short when he resigned his charge at Athelstaneford. Soon after, Home was appointed as Private Secretary to Lord Bute and also became the tutor of the Prince of Wales (later George III). From this position he was able to persuade Garrick to put on Agis, and it was performed at Drury Lane in February 1758. In 1760, his Siege of Aquileia was produced at Drury Lane too, followed by Fatal discovery in 1769 and Alonzo in 1773. In 1802, Home published The history of the rebellion of 1745. John Home died in the Merchiston district of Edinburgh on 5 September 1808.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Explanatory note, purchased Christie's auction, 1962, Accession no. E62.2.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.9. Harris-Hovenden. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

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 John Home related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): fragments of the tragedy Agis, alternative ending to Alonzo, verses, and printed invitation to a meeting, March 1797, at La.II.713; fragment of History of the rebellion in 1745, at La.II.165; corrections suggested for Professor Walker's Natural history of the island of Icolumbkil, at La.III.575(pocket); verses at La.III.584/16; letter to Mr. Cadell and Davies, at La.II.589; letters to General Campbell and to an unnamed correspondent, La.II.214; letter to George Murray, 6th Lord Elibank, La.II.503; letter to Home, 1776, at La.II.173; letter to Home, circa 1807, at La.II.509; verses on Home, at La.II.417/79; verse at La.II.419; and address, at La.II.620/2. There are also letters to Home at Dk.6.27/3-4, and a mention of him in Benjamin Rush's journal, 1766-1768, at Mic.M.28, f.114.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, 1754-1805, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Catalogue of MSS, vols 1-2, 1938, and papers including account of journey to Bath with David Hume in 1776, circa 1803, Ref. Acc 10686, and letters 1751-1801, Ref. MS 10782, and letters received, 1759-1803, Ref. MS 124, and correspondence with Lord Milton, 1756-1805, Ref. MSS 16696-759, and correspondence with Andrew Stuart, 1798-1801, Ref. MSS 8251, 8294; and, letters (12), 1799-1804, Huntington Library.