Sub-fonds MS 17/9 - Papers and Correspondence of James Dalyell

Identity area

Reference code

MS 17/9


Papers and Correspondence of James Dalyell


  • 1717-1970 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 box

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

James Dalyell, born in Edinburgh on 24 July 1798, was the illegitimate son of Sir James Dalyell, 5th Bart of the Binns, Linlithgow. He entered the Royal Navy in 1814 as a Volunteer and was stationed at St. Helena at the time of the death there of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821. On qualifying as a ship's mate Dalyell served in the West Indies and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1826 on board the 'Tweed'. In 1827 he left the Navy and was placed on the half pay list. He went to live in France, and while there made strenuous attempts to secure a commission and promotion for himself mainly by seeking the assistance of his father. In France he made contact with his half-brother, Francis Aubert, but was repulsed by his mother. Dalyell undertook a series of extensive walking tours in France, with the aim of including descriptions of his experiences in a traveller's guide to France. In about 1835 he fathered a child, John James Dalyell, and married the mother, Marie Anne. Discouraged by his father from returning to Britain, Dalyell stayed on in France, mainly at Tarbes, until 1838. From 1838-1841 he served in the Coast Guard Service, mainly at Jury's Gap and Buckie. In 1841 he was re-commissioned in the Royal Navy as 1st Lieutenant aboard 'HMS Champion', stationed in the Pacific and off the NW coast of Mexico. In 1845 he left the Navy and rejoined the Coast Guard Service, serving at Burnmouth, Berwick, Stonehaven, Carnoustie and Buckie. From 1841 Dalyell conducted long correspondences with his uncles, Colonel (later General) Robert Dalyell, and Captain William Cunningham Cavendish Dalyell R.N., Governor of the Royal Hospital, Greenwich. It was not until 1859 that James Dalyell was granted a pension by the Coast Guard Service and enabled to retire under the designation of Commander. He lived at West Point House, Carnoustie, with his wife and son up to his death on 18 September 1869.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Miscellaneous papers and correspondence, mainly relating to James Dalyell's career in the Royal Navy and in HM Coast Guard Service 1814-1860; notebook containing copies of letters to his father, Sir James Dalyell 1823-1833; copy correspondence to his father, Sir James Dalyell 1833-1837; copy correspondence to his father c.1836-1840; correspondence, mainly copies, with Robert [later General] Dalyell (third brother of Sir James Dalyell), 1819-1825; correspondence with his uncle, Colonel Robert Dalyell, 1841-1848; correspondence with his uncle, William Cunningham Cavendish Dalyell (youngest brother of Sir James and later 7th Bart of the Binns); miscellaneous correspondence of James Dalyell, with some correspondence of John James Dalyell 1832-1870; miscellaneous letters and documents, mainly relating to the career and financial affairs of James Dalyell; miscellaneous papers and correspondence of James Dalyell and John James Dalyell 1826-1883; notebooks and loose notes containing diaries of travels by James Dalyell in southern France during the summers of 1828 and 1832-1834; certificates, 1814 - 1857; literary essays and poems; commissions, 1862-1870; miscellaneous items, 1831 - 1881; newspaper cuttings, 1853 - 1927; receipts and accounts relating to the trust fund of David Guillan, 1854 - 1867; Miscellaneous receipts and accounts, 1717 - 1866; family trees and other papers relating to the Morgan and Crammond families, 1724 - 1970; prints of Egypt.


Not expected

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act (2018), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) and any other relevant legislation or restrictions. Clinical information is closed for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges may be made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply; please check with the Duty Archivist.

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Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

The records are on paper. Also some prints. May require conservation

Finding aids

Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Notes area


Related units of description: MS 17/10 Correspondence and Papers of John James Dalyell

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Description control area

Description identifier

MS 17/9

Rules and/or conventions used

Description compiled in line with the following standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) General International Standard Archival Description; International Council on Archives, ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families; National Council on Archives, Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997



Dates of creation revision deletion


  • English
  • French
  • Hawaiian



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