The Mystery of the Missing Volumes – Stirling Burgh Records, 1552

This month’s Document of the Month concerns a mystery relating to the Archives…

At the back of the second volume of records for the Burgh of Stirling that we have at the Archives, there is a list made by the Town Clerk in 1552. It is an inventory of the ‘Council books’, the records of the Council that were found in the Tolbooth and as described, put in the ‘Treasury’ for safekeeping. This list tells us that the Council had already lost the records of its earliest transactions by this date but also gives an indication of what did survive then and has not come down to us today. The list reads as follows: –

“The fifth day of July in the year of God 15 and fifty two years, delivered by John Graham of Baldorran Common Clerk of the Burgh of Stirling to John Craigingelt of that Ilk, Provost of Stirling, these common books underwritten, and put by him in the treasure house in the presence of Archibald Spittal, Bailie, Robert Cousland, Master of Works and John Hastie, Deacon of the Incorporation of Tailors.

First, a book beginning on the date 1444 and going on to 1455 years.

Item, another book beginning in the year of God 1458 and going on to 1466 years.

Item, the third book beginning on the date 1500 and going on to 1507 years.

The fourth book beginning the same date [1507] and going on to 1512 years.

The fifth book beginning in the year 1513 and going on to 1520 years.

The sixth book beginning on the same date [1520] and going on to 1530 years.

The seventh beginning 1537 years and going on to 1544 years.

The 8th book, the one before the present book beginning on the same date [1544] and going on to 1549 years.

Item, a book called the head book containing accounts.

Item, I, the said John Graham, Clerk, aforesaid, have the register book of the feu lands and sasines of the Town’s lands, for which I shall be responsible.

Subscribed with my hand, year, day and place aforesaid.

  1. Graheme

John Craigingelt of that Ilk Provost.”

Given that the Burgh of Stirling was created sometime between 1124 and 1127, according to other surviving documents held at the National Records of Scotland, there are no records listed here that date from the early 12th century to 1443, so over 300 years of the day-to-day workings of the Council had not survived to the 16th century. Of the list given above, only 3 volumes survive, the one dating from 1520 to 1530, the one dating from 1544 to 1549 and the register of feu lands and sasines, which dates from 1544 to 1590. The ‘heid buke’ with the accounts has not survived as we have no account books for the Burgh dating from before 1634.

It would be lovely to find these records but it is likely that they have not survived being moved from office to office over the years.

The original Scots version of the inventory reads as follows: –

The fift day of July The year of god 1m

vc and fiftie tuo yeiris deliv[er]it be johne graheme

of baldorran com[m]en clerk of the burght of stirling

To johne craigingelt of that ilk provest of stirling

this com[m]on bukis undir writing and put be hym

in the thesaure hous In pre[senc]e of Archibald spittale bailzie

robert cousland mas[ter] of werk john hastie

dekin of tailzors

In p[ri]mis ane buke beginand of the dait 1m iiii c xliiii

yeiris indurand to lv yeiris

Item ane oth[er] buke beginand in the year of god  1m [crossed out]

[crossed out] iiii c & fiftie viii yeiris indurand to iiii C Lxvi yeiris

Item the thrid buke beginand the dait 1m v c yeiris

and induris to v c & vii yeiris

The fourt buke beginand the saim dait & induris

to v c & xii yeiris

The fift buke beginand in the year erl v c & xiii yeiris

and induris to xx yeiris

The sext buke beginand in the saim dait & induris

to v c & xxx yeiris

The sevint buke beginand erl v c xxxvii yeiris &

Induris to v c xliiii yeiris

The viii buke equis pr[esen]t buke beginand in the saim [the one before the present book?]

dait and induris to v c xlix yeiris

Item ane buke callit the heid buke hereto named

said compts & settis

Item I the said johne graheme clark foresaid has

the register buke of the feu lands & sesingis of

the towns in my awin grounds with that assuch for

the quhilk I sall anser subscrive with my hand

year day & place foursaid

J Graheme

John Craigingelt

of that Ilk provest