Collection MS 300 - Royal Burgh of Arbroath

Identity area

Reference code

MS 300


Royal Burgh of Arbroath


  • 1919-1973 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

98 Volumes

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Name of creator

Biographical history

Arbroath owes its development to the abbey founded in 1178 by William I, who granted the monks the right to establish a burgh with a port and a weekly market. Founded as a burgh of regality, the town underwent a change of status after the Reformation, which saw the removal of the abbot and convent as its superior lords and the introduction of a secular commendator in their place. Arbroath was created a royal burgh in 1599 by King James VI (1567-1625). Its charter gave Arbroath's merchants (as with all merchants of royal burghs) sole rights for buying and selling merchandise not only within Scotland but also abroad. The abbey was formally dissolved in 1608, though even before this it had become a vast stone quarry. By the 18th century, when the town council condemned the practice of robbing the abbey buildings of their stone, a large part of the burgh had already been built out of the monastery's fabric. In 1836 the burgh adopted most of the provisions of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1833 (3 & 4 Will. IV, c.46), giving resposibility for watching, paving, lighting and cleansing in Arbroath to a body of twelve police commissioners, nine of whom were to be elected by the householders. In 1866 the town adopted the whole of the General Police and Improvement (Scotland) Act 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c 101), whereby the municipal and policing functions of the burgh were effectively unified under a single elected town council. This state of affairs was consolidated from January 1901 under the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900 (63 & 64 Vict., c. 49) which integrated fully the council's functions and gave the burgh's governing body the corporate style 'The provost, magistrates and councillors of the burgh of Arbroath'. From the mid-18th century Arbroath was a manufacturing town, where osnaburgs (a type of coarse linen) were produced, the foundation stone of the town's industry. The fishing industry was also of great importance from the 1830s: Arbroath 'smokies' (haddock) were exported all over the world. The tourist industry increased in prominence, partly through the construction of a bathing pool (in the 1930s), and also because of Arbroath Abbey, with its association with the 'Declaration of Arbroath'. In 1891 the population was 22,987, and was 22,586 in 1971, quite a recovery from the 1931 figure of 17,635. The population decline has been ascribed to the decline of the leather and sail cloth industries. From 1930, in accordance with the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929 (19 & 20 Geo. V, c.25), Arbroath was classed as a large burgh and enjoyed powers comparable to those of the four cities, the main difference being that the education authority was the county council, which in Arbroath's case was Angus CC. Arbroath Town Council was abolished in 1975 under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c. 65). Its powers were assumed by Tayside Regional Council and Angus District Council. These in turn were replaced by Angus Council in 1996 under the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 (c. 39). Information from SCAN (Scottish Archive Network

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Council Minutes for the Royal Burgh of Arbroath; 1 index.


Not expected

System of arrangement

Usually chronological within series.

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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Description control area

Description identifier

MS 300

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



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