James Baillie, Edinburgh

Letters from the Past

Lord Hyndford
to James Baillie, Edinburgh 1798

and Alexander Gordon in London to James Baillie, 1810.

by

Eunice Shanahan

We have three letters addressed to James Baillie, all are different and all of interest.

James Baillie was the Distributor of Stamps for Edinburgh and Leith, a responsible position, which he held until his death in 1818. The first is from his mother in 1776, and is a personal, family letter, giving him information, and asking questions. As it is a lengthy letter, it is on a separate page on our website.

click here

The second one is from Mauldslie Castle, dated 1798, and concerns financial matters. Letter dated 27th Nov 1798 post marks Scottish Bishop Mark only partially struck, 4d charge mark which was the rate in force 1796 to 1801 within Scotland, a distance not above 15 miles. This is correct as the distance between the two is about 11 miles. There is a one line town name stamp LANERK, ( this should be Lanark ?)

The woven paper has a Watermark BUDGEN 1795.

It is addressed to

: James Baillie Esqr
of Coulterallers
Stamp Office Edinr.


The letter is clear to read, and is a reminder for a meeting.

Mauldslie Castle 27th Nov 1798

My Dear Sir,

A meeting is called against the 14th Decr at Hamilton, Requesting the Deputy Lieuts who took the management of the contributions in aid of Government, to bring their Subscription papers & the money subscribed, that the cash may be remitted to the Bank of England.

If it is necessary I beg you will on receipt, write Col. Bertram, to this purpose, as I did not consider it so, as I knew you had taken the management for him, in his absence.

I give you the trouble of this letter lest the Advertisement in the Glasgow papers might escape your observation.

I am , My Dear Sir,
yours faithfully
Hyndford Conr ?

Cannot read that last word but perhaps it is an abbreviation for Convenor?

The filing note on the outside notes that it is
from Lord Hyndford. Mauldslie Castle 26th Nover
Lord Hyndford calling a meeting of the Deputy Lieuts with Subn lists of the money for aid of Contribution to Government, 1798

The signature is that of Thomas Carmichael 5th Earl of Hyndford (1750-1811) who lived at Maudlslie Castle which was built between 1792 and 1793 for him. It was close to the village of Dalserf South Lanarkshire. The great Scottish architect Robert Adam was responsible for the design.

This painting by Henry Raeburn was on the wikipedia page about this Earl who was the Clan Chief of the Carmichael Clan.

The reference to the Deputy Lieutenants is interesting and this office has changed over the years, but basically in the United Kingdom, a Deputy Lieutenant is a Crown appointment and one of several deputies to the Lord Lieutenant of a lieutenancy area.

They represent the Lord Lieutenant in his or her absence, including at local ceremonies and official events, They must live within their ceremonial county, or within seven miles (11 km) of its boundary. Their appointments do not terminate with any change of Lord Lieutenant, but at the present time they are legally required to retire at age of 75. Whether that ruling applied in 1798 is unlikely as the average lifespan was much less.


The third letter contains two letters from two brothers named Alexander and M? Gordon. The letter is in a bit of a state but the contents are of interest.

It has three postal markings, a circular London datestamp evening duty 3 AP 1810, an Edinburgh datestamp Apr 6 1810 and the charge mark 2/- This is not the correct rate as it should have been 1/1, but it was a ‘double’ as it had an enclosure so it should have been 2/2d. The letter written from London is addressed to

James Baillie Esq Stamp Office Edinburgh

Old Broad Street London
2 April 1810
My Dear Sir,
My brother having handed me your letter to him, of 26 ult, I beg to inform you that our next term for the Court Sitting will commence on 9 May and as there is but a very short interval between the conclusion of that and the beginning of the following Term, They will continue Sitting until about the end of July, and the Court of Chancery till near the end of August and if your nephew proposes to attend them, I will be most happy in giving him every further information and assistance in my power.

I do not however, understand the regulation of the American Courts to which he alludes: He cannot receive from our Court any Certificates of having attended them, and therefore I do not see how such attendance could enable him to be called sooner to the Bar in America. That may probably be the case if he had kept his Terms here, and been called to the English Bar - but that is quite a different thing, which w’ld require some years & it is attained by being entered in one of the Inns of Court here, & keeping Terms there, but not by attending the Courts as your nephew proposes.

I am very much obliged to your kind intentions of endeavouring to throw some business in my way. There is not only a great deal of business from Scotland every year in the way of Road and Harbours Bills etc before Parliament, but most private gentlemen have also concerns of one kind or other requiring the assistance of a Solicitor in England - and some of your Writers send up a great deal of business to their correspondents. You will really oblige me very greatly, by trying to recommend me whenever it is in your power

I was in Edin for a few hours in Sept last & called upon you at the Stamp Office, but found you were then in the Country. I had been making a hurried tour thro’ the Highlands, with which I was delighted. My sister Phemy joins me in kind remembrance & I remain Dear Sir
A. Gordon


The rest of the letter is in a different handwriting and concerns wine.

My dear Sir
I have to thank you for your letter of 26 March, inclosing a draft for the £6 price of the wine. I now return you the Bill drawn from Madeira with the indorsation of my partner M. Murdoch, in whose favour you will observe it is drawn

I gave your letter to my brother to answer that regards your nephew, which he has done, and I hope the information may prove useful. You may be assured My Dear Sir it will always give us much pleasure to have it in our power to render any service to so old and much esteemed a friend of our late father, as you are.

I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you this harvest at Deebank

Believe me, My Dear Sir
Yours most truly
M? Gordon


Now for the information about James Baillie himself.

The position he held as Distributor of Stamps in Edinburgh and Leith was of sufficient importance that his death was mentioned in the 15th report of the Commissioners of Stamp Duties in 1818. He was responsible for the kind of stamps in daily demand, bills, recipts, testamentary inventories, attorney administration, all licenses, sasines, attorney mandates, law proceedings of all sorts and higher Stamps to be purchased from Head Office on Regents Bridge.

This information from the website reported that there was an Enquiry into the collection and distribution of Stamps in Edinburgh, and that James Baillie died on the morning of 4th January 1818, and there are five entries on the page 427 of the report, relating to his death and who should take over the job, and the actual accounting process. It is interesting to note that the Comptroller who made the report pointed out the large amounts of money for which they were responsible and that they had small reward for their jobs.

Stamp Office, Edinburgh, 4th January, 1818 (Sunday)

Honoured Sirs, It is, I believe, my duty to acquaint you of the death of Mr James Baillie Distributor for Edinburgh and Leith, which took place this morning, and to request your directions respecting his department. His present clerks, Mr Richard, Mr Walter Richard and Mr Neil are faithful, and besides are all bonded for their fidelity, and I propose that they should continue as formerly, in the mean time, under the immediate direction of Mr Richard, who will account as for Mr Baillie as for himself, till your Honours directions are received. I had just surveyed the department and balanced the account for the last year; the amount of cash paid into the Head Collector was 125,242 L. 18s 3d; (one hundred and twentyfive thousand twohundred and fortytwo pounds, eighteen shillings and three pence) and stamps exchanged and returned 12,961 L 13s; (twelve thousand ninehundred and sixtyone pounds thirteen shillings) a most important trust for such small salaries.

I have the honour to be etc,
Thomas Pender Comptr.
The Honourable Commissioners of Stamp Duties

The page finishes up with this report, and notice the date.

Stamp Office LONDON, 13th January 1821

Sirs, I am directed by the Commissioners to inform you that they have notified to the Lords of the Treasury the death of Mr James Baillie, late Distributor of Stamps for Edinburgh and Leith, and at the same time transmitted to their Lordships the Memorial of Mr John Richard, his first clerk; the Board also direct me to say, that they desire that you will take care that the business of that department is properly carried on till their Lordships pleasure respecting the appointment of a successor to the late Mr Baillie is known.

I am, Sir, your humble servant William Kappen

To Robert Hepburne, Esquire.


This seems a long time to be dithering as to who will do the job, it is now 3 years since the death of James Baillie!

I have found a somewhat lighter snippet of information about him, from an online record of the Scotsman magazine on 27th July 1794, James Baillie of Coulterallers was elected to be a member of the Highland Society of Scotland, and after the business had finished all the members went to Bayll’s Tavern where many loyal, constitutional and patriotic toasts were given.

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