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Estimate of the Scottish Nobility

Estimate of the Scottish Nobility

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Excerpt from Estimate of the Scottish Nobility: During the Minority of James the Sixth, With Preliminary Observations

During the spring of 1872, while engaged in the Public Record Office in some important researches, I chanced to discover a small quarto MS. volume, bearing the following inscription: - "Index of ye Nobility of Scotland in ye Time of James ye First." The volume was in the handwriting of Sir Joseph Williamson, and, though undated, clearly belonged to the period between 1666 and 1701, when the transcriber held office as Keeper of the State Papers. Along with a written narrative concerning the nobility and their several families were descriptions of their armorial escutcheons, partly in French, and other entries of an extraneous and unimportant character.

From internal evidence, hereafter to be noticed, it became evident that Sir Joseph Williamson had transcribed the "Estimate of the Nobility" from another copy which was likely to be found in the public archives. On a careful search in the British Museum, three copies of the "Estimate" were discovered, each varying in orthography, but otherwise substantially alike. Of these, one is included among the Lansdowne MSS. (No. 877), the two others are embraced in the volumes 1423 and 6101 of the Harleian MSS. A fifth copy is deposited in the Lyon Office, Edinburgh.

These several MSS. may be described. The Lansdowne MS., a thin folio, contains masterly tracings of the arms of Scottish peers, including coloured shields of opulent and influential Scotsmen. On the title-page, it bears, in an ornamental border, the name "Joseph Holand," with the date "1585."

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