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The Earl of Stirling's Register of the Royal Letters
Relative to the affairs of Scotland and Nova Scotia from 1615 to 1635


THIS Work was originally intended to be issued by the Bannatyne and Abbotsford Clubs, and was partially proceeded with for that purpose at the time they were dissolved; it has. therefore been deemed advisable to produce the Work in a form which will range with the publications of these Clubs. In the opinion of competent persons who have examined the MS., it imparts more authentic and copious information on public affairs at the period which it embraces than an)- other record, apart from the Proceedings of the Privy Council. Of these Proceedings it is at once supplementary and illustrative. The Earl of Stirling, whose fame as a Poet has survived his reputation as a Statesman, was one of the most remarkable men of his time. From James VI., in 1621, he received a Royal Letter authorising him to establish a Colony in the territory situated between New England and Newfoundland, whereupon followed a Royal Charter under the Great Seal, appointing him Lieutenant-General of the new Colony. Designated New Scotland, the Colony embraced a large portion of Canada, also that Settlement which, alter a century and a half, produced the State of New York. Consequent on the plan for colonising New Scotland was founded the Order of Nova Scotia Baronets, of which the early history constitutes no unimportant part of "The Register."

"The Register" includes many entries illustrative of Scottish social and domestic life in the earlier portion of the seventeenth century; details relating to family history, and warrants appointing to public offices; also a narrative of leading contemporary events. The story of the debased coinage introduced by Charles I., and of the attempt made in the same reign to thrust on the Churches of both kingdoms a metrical translation of the Psalms, ascribed to King James, is related with admirable minuteness ; while other strange episodes of attempted legislation are set forth with chronological precision. Among the details of general administration are numerous State Papers relating to educational and ecclesiastical affairs; also in relation to commerce, both at home and abroad, and the concerns of the Admiralty and Merchant Shipping. There are numerous entries connected with the administration of justice, appointments to offices of trust, and the levying of troops for foreign service. As many of the Letters were directly inspired by the King, the contents of "The Register" are, in relation to the personal history both of James and Charles, especially valuable. Politically, no Scottish MS. of the seventeenth century is more essentially instructive.

Precious as one of the few authentic records of State Proceedings in Scotland, at a period when the will of the Sovereign was nearly paramount, and when royal favouritism had attained its zenith, "The Register" embraces a record of public transactions from the year 1615 to 1635, more especially for the latter half of that period. The Work, in other words, is a transcript of the Royal Letters, Proclamations, Warrants, Instruments of Gift, and other documents issued by Lord Stirling when he held office as Secretary of State for Scotland. The Documents were entered in "The Register" by Lord Stirling's relative and amanuensis, Alexander Alexander, whose services were latterly compensated by his appointment to a Macership in the Court of Session. There are three folio volumes, of which two are preserved in the Advocates' Library, the third and most important in the General Register House. When, on the ruin of his estate by his colonial enterprise, Lord Stirling became embarrassed, two volumes of "The Register" fell to his creditors; these were at length deposited in the Advocates' Library. The remaining volume, in possession of William Trumbull of East Hampstead, one of his descendants, was, in 1759, presented by that gentleman to Major William Alexander, the American claimant of the title. The volume afterwards got into the hands of Mr. John Caley, who, in 1 792, presented it to Mr. Thomas Astle, the Archaeologist, by whom it was handed to the Lord Clerk-Register, for preservation in the Register House.

Prefixed to the Work is a Memoir of Lord Stirling, together with an Historical Introduction embracing a narrative of the events recorded or proceedings described in "The Register." A copious Index of Persons, Subjects, and Places is appended to the Work. As the impression is strictly confined to one hundred and fifty copies, each copy will bear a number attested by the Publisher. The two volumes are now offered to Subscribers at Five Guineas for Small Paper and Ten Guineas for Large Paper Copies; and as the impression is so limited, the Publisher has been instructed to reserve the right of shortly increasing the price.

You can download Volume 1 here! (31Mb)
You can download Volume 2 here! (32Mb)


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