Hay Fleming Reference Collection (manuscripts)

Scope and Content

The collection includes correspondence 1898-1930, notebooks, newspaper cuttings, lectures and study notes, transcripts and facsimiles of documents, publication proofs, as well as pamplets 1700-1900 and original material dating from 1624. There is a particular emphasis on the areas of Hay Fleming's own research, including the history of St Andrews and Fife, Mary Queen of Scots and scottish ecclesiastical history.

Some notable original items include 19th century street games and rhymes of St Andrews, St Andrews examination roll, 1719-52, bonds and financial papers, 18th-19th centuries; Strathkinness congregational roll, 1816-1890; Madras College magazine, 1950-53; Sermons of William Tullideph, 17th century; Covenanter sermons, notebooks etc. 17th-18th centuries; Memoirs of Bishop Guthrie, 1681; Music manuscript, 1722; volumes relating to the trades in St Andrews: wrights 1624, tailors ca. 1661-87, weavers and tailors, 1751-1850; engraving of St Andrews cathedral, 1776.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Hay Fleming (1849-1931) was born in St Andrews, Fife on 9 May 1849. He studied at Madras College and then engaged in business until he retired in 1883 to devote himself to the study of Scottish history. In 1904-06 he was lecturer on Church History in New College, Edinburgh. In theology he was an old school Presbyterian and a staunch Calvinist. He was author of works including: The Martyrs and Confessors of St Andrews (Cupar, 1887), Mary Queen of Scots from her birth to her flight into England (London, 1897), The Scottish Reformation (Edinburgh 1903) and The Story of the Scottish Covenants in Outline (1904).

He served as Secretary of the Scottish History Society and Honorary Curator of the St Andrews Cathedral museum. His Guidebook to St Andrews, published in 1881, was held as the standard text on the subject for many years. For this and other work he received an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of St Andrews in 1898.

As an independent scholar and eminent local historian and antiquary he accumulated a voluminous library of around 13,000 books, a collection of manuscripts and personal papers, all of which he left to St Andrews on his death with a bequest to endow a reference library at St Andrews.


The arrangement reflects the way in which the material was held before deposit in the University Library. The collection is not yet fully listed.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Trustees of the Hay Fleming Reference Library, St Andrews.


Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

A brief guide to manuscript holdings is held on database.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Custodial History

The collection was transferred to the custody of the Library in 2000 along with Hay Fleming's collection of books and photographic and illustrative material.


The bequest continues to be used to continue to expand the collection.

Related Material

GB 227 also houses the other elements of the Hay Fleming Reference Collection: a photographic collection and library of local and rare books, both of which are currently being accessioned and catalogued.GB227 ms36707-36797 is a collection of 90 letters from David Hay Fleming to Sir William Alexander Craigie, 1893-1911 and one from George D Low to David Hay Fleming, 1906. This material was given to the University in 1973 by Dr James Craigie LLD.


CM Gascoigne, 'Book Keeping'in Alumnus Chronicle, 2003, p. 15.

Additional Information

Some of the material may have been lost during previous periods on open public access.

Geographical Names