National Museums Scotland

Library Special Collections

Manuscript Papers




William Smellie F.R.S.E., F.S.A. (Scot) (1740-1795)


Compiled, edited and annotated by Stephen W. Brown in July 1998 with revisions made in 2011.


The papers were originally bound in three volumes (SAS MS 592-4) but have subsequently been removed from their binding and arranged by subject.  The original order was restored in 2011.  The listing by Stephen W. Brown is by broad subject (shown below), with references to their volume and item number added in 2011.


The papers were microfilmed in 1988 - in their subject order - and a copy is held in the library collection (Accession No. 159107).  A listing with transcripts by Stephen Brown is also held in the library collection (Accession No. 186864).



Work on the project was much assisted by Fionna Ashmore, Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and by the library staff at National Museums of Scotland.

Funding for the project was received from the National Museums of Scotland, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada


Correspondence General

Various, mostly one-time or limited familiar and business correspondence


Correspondence Familiar

Extended correspondence with friends and family: Lord Buchan; Dr William Buchan; Samuel Charteris; Lord Kames; Robert Burns and Maria Riddell; Robert

and Walter Riddell; Alexander Smellie; John Smellie; William Tod


Correspondence Booktrade

Extended business correspondence with Robert and William Auld; John Balfour; Andrew Bell; William Creech; John Murray; Gilbert Stuart; Andrew Strahan; William Strahan; Strahan and Cadell


Booktrade Documents

Note: Some minor booktrade items are to be found under Correspondence General


Manuscript Works: Natural History (1780-1800)


Manuscript Works: Other writing

Includes reviews, pamphlet satires, essays, prefaces, etc.


Legal Papers






Various, mostly one-time or limited familiar and business correspondence.


Alexander Allerdice to William Smellie. 15 October 1773.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review subscription)

MS 592 no.29


James Anderson to William Smellie. 10 October 1773.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 594 no.32


Anonymous (from London) to William Smellie. 14 October 1790.

(about Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History)

MS 592 no.66

(from Livingston) to William Smellie.  26 Nov. 1766.

(about Betty’s health)

MS 594 no.29


Henry Bateman to William Smellie. 11 January 1790.

(about Buffon translation)

MS 592 no.67


 Rev. Dr Thomas Blacklock to William Smellie.

Five letters, one in Latin; one signed Cosmophilus.

25 May 1775

(declines to write a review for Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 593 no.63(2)

n.d.,probably December 1779

(talks favourably about Smellie's Preface to Buffon)

MS 593 no.63(1)

18 April 1790

(describes intended book on educating the blind)

MS 593 no.2

21 October 1790

(seeks Smellie's assistance with An Essay on the Education of the Blind)

MS 593 no.67


(Latin letter: translation - Having just read your letter and preparing my reply when some twelve youths interposed and carried hapless me by fraud and force imprisoned in a vehicle to Dunbar's domicile. Farewell)

MS 593 no.1


Hugh Blair to William Smellie. 16 June 1780.

(about Buffon translation; two additional pages suggesting corrections to Buffon proposal sent under separate cover)

Letter: MS 592 no.44. Additional pages: MS 592 no.11

2 October 1786.

(corrections to Lord Kames biography).  On reverse, in Smellie’s hand, Figures for the cost of paper for printing part of The Statistical Papers

MS 594 no.3


Dr Gilbert Blane to William Smellie. 1780.

(about printing his medical society paper)  

MS 592 no.12

George Brooks to William Smellie on behalf of the Bishop of Durham. 2 December 1786.

(about Philosophy of Natural History proposal)  

MS 592 no.56


William Smellie to the Rev. Mr Brown. 1774.

(Four letters about controversy arising from article in the Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 593 nos 37-9, 41


Count de Buffon to William Smellie. 18 February 1780.

(translated by William Smellie; about Natural History)

MS 592 no.43


William Smellie to Rev. Dr George Campbell. 25 April 1765.

(about Hume and religion)

MS 594 no.19


Patrick Clason to William Smellie. 6 July 1790.

(personal and financial)

MS 593 no.83


James Cummyng to William Smellie. 21 May 1791.

(professional matters)

MS 592 no.73


William Smellie to John Dalrymple. 6 May 1788.

(about John Smellie's naval career)

MS 593 no.71

John Dalrymple to William Smellie. 30 January 1771.

(about William Smellie printing JD's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland)

MS 593 no.58

John Dalrymple to Thomas Dundas. 22 February 1776.

(supporting Smellie's pursuit of the Chair in Natural History)

MS 592 no.20


Robert Dick to William Smellie. 26 August 1791.

MS 592 no.75


William Smellie to Lord Dreghorn. Late November 1776.

(Smellie explains his part in the Lord Monboddo incident, with Robert Kerr's notes about Charles Elliot)

MS 593 no.6

Lord Dreghorn to William Smellie.

(about the Lord Monboddo incident which effectively finished the Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

17 November 1776.  MS 593 no.65

19 November 1776.  MS 593 no.7


William Smellie to Henry Dundas. 30 November 1787.

(about John Smellie's naval careers)

MS 593 no.69


Thomas Dundas to William Smellie. 6 March 1776.

(about Chair in Natural History at University of Edinburgh)

MS 592 no.35

John Edgar to William Smellie. 19 September 1788.


MS 592 no.63


Robert Faulder to William Smellie. 4 July 1793.

(declining to reissue Volume One of the Philosophy of Natural History).  Letter on reverse by William Smellie to newly elected Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 11 July 1793.

MS 592 no.89


William Smellie to Alexander Fergusson. 19 March 1794.

(personal; also Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

MS 593 no.95


Earl of Fife to William Smellie.

(both letters about Natural History)

19 December 1786.  MS 592 no.57

4 January 1787.  MS 592 no.58


William Forbes to Captain John Hay of the Lord Maccartney Indiaman.

18 February 1788.

(about John Smellie's naval career)

MS 592 no.62

William Forbes to William Smellie.

(two letters about John Smellie)

4 February 1788.

MS 592 no.61

n.d., 1790 ?

MS 592 no.65

See also, William Smellie to William Forbes. 1 February 1795 (included with Alexander Smellie's papers: MS 592 no.47)


John Reinold Foster to William Smellie. 26 August 1779.

(about Natural History)   

MS 592 no.41


William Fullerton M.P. to William Smellie. 2 May (no year indicated)

(about Count de Buffon)  

MS 592 no.3


William Smellie to Lord Gardenston. June 1791.

(about Lord Kames and proposing to write biography of Lord Gardenston)

MS 592 no.74


William Smellie to Dr John Gardiner. 31 May 1794.

(personal; about declining health)

MS 592 no.94


Cosmo Gordon to William Smellie. 9 February 1786.

(Natural History)  

MS 592 no.55


Ralph Griffiths to William Smellie. 17 September 1783.

(about Smellie's essay for the Monthly Review)

MS 593 no.10

Lord Hailes to William Smellie.

(both letters about Smellie's printing of the Annals of Scotland)

19 January 1779.  MS 592 no.39

4 February 1779.  MS 594 no.36


Dr John Hope to William Smellie. 7 February 1764.

(about Smellie's prize in Botany)

MS 593 no. 51


Henry Hunter (medical student) to William Smellie. n.d.

(personal)  Fragment. 

MS 592 no.2

William Smellie to Henry Hunter. November 1761.


MS 594 no.7


Samuel Hunter to William Smellie. 18 September 1762.


MS 593 no. 16


William Smellie to James Hutton.

(both letters personal, about health and finance)

20 June 1793.  MS 592 no.88

26 August 1793.  MS 593 no.92

James Hutton to Alexander Smellie. 1792.

(about printing the Dissertations)  

MS 592 no.1


William Smellie to Robert Kerr.

22 May 1774.

(personal, refers to financial troubles)

On reverse of letter: Dr John Rotheram to William Smellie. 12 May 1794

(about his edition of Dr William Cullen's First Lines)

MS 593 no.98

28 February 1795.

(personal; about money owed to Smellie by William Creech)

MS 593 no.101

Robert Kerr to William Smellie. 2 March 1795.

(appears to lack middle pages about William Creech)

On address of this letter, fragment in William Smellie's hand, of letter concerning Crochallan Fencibles. It reads: " ...this damned world. I hope my dear Major is well; and will be [able] to take the field; against what! his oppon ..."

MS 593 no.99


James Laing to Alexander Kincaid. 12 December 1773.

(for William Smellie about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 592 no.30


William Smellie to John Macniven. 20 March 1795.

(professional matters – booktrade)

MS 593 no.100


William Smellie to John Milman. 10 April 1794.

(about publishing second volume of Philosophy of Natural History)

MS 593 no.96

Dr Alexander Monro to William Smellie.

(both letters about Natural History)

20 March 1794.  MS 592 no.92

13 April 1794.   MS 592 no.93


Robert Morrison to William Creech. 26 January 1774.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 594 no.33

Robert Morrison to William Smellie. 6 April 1774.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 592 no.40


Rev. Dr James Muirhead to William Smellie. Late 1780.

(about Buffon translation and other matters of Natural History)

MS 592 no.19


William Smellie to John Neaves. 3 April 1792.

(about a libel by William Smellie: see explanation of episode in Alexander Smellie's hand on reverse of letter)

MS 593 no.90


Robert Nicoll to William Smellie.

4 January 1773.

MS 592 no.27

2 April 1774.  (about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 592 no.28


William Smellie to William Nicol.

(personal correspondence. Note: William Nicol of the Edinburgh High School was a close friend of Robert Burns and member of the Crochallan Fencibles)

20 August 1790.  MS 592 no.71

1790.  Cover sheet only.  MS 592 no.64


Thomas Pennant to William Smellie. Three letters.

14 January 1780.

(about Buffon translation)  

MS 592 no.42

31 July 1785.

(on Natural History)  

MS 592 no.54

1 June 1793.

(about Robert Faulder reissuing the Philosophy of Natural History  (see Faulder letter).  On this letter, Smellie has made notes about the 1790 publication of his Philosophy of Natural History)

MS 592 no.87


George Ridpath to William Smellie. 7 February 1774.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)  

MS 592 no.31


Principal William Robertson to William Smellie. 28 April 1789.

(about Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History)

MS 592 no.16

29 September 1789.  (about Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History; includes one page of suggested corrections

MS 592 no.17


John Robison to William Smellie. 23 June 1783.

(about Smellie's election to the Royal Society of Edinburgh)

MS 592 no.50


John Rotheram to William Smellie. 4 May 1790.

MS 592 no.68

23 November 1791.

MS 592 no.76

William Smellie to John Rotheram. 27 June 1790.

(personal: correspondence refers to controversy surrounding the sexuality of plants and resulting private tensions)

MS 592 no.70

See also: Rotheram's letter to William Smellie. 12 May 1794,

on reverse of letter from William Smellie to Robert Kerr.  MS 593 no.98

See also: William Smellie's rewriting of Rotheram's Preface to William Cullen's First Lines under MANUSCRIPT WORKS


William Smellie to Peter Sandilands. 10 January 1791.

(about John Smellie's naval career)

MS 593 no 87


William Smellie and Alexander Fergusson to Sir John Sinclair. 31 January 1794.

(about the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

MS 594 no.37


George Stuart to William Smellie. 28 November 1791.

(professional matters - booktrade)

MS 593 no.3


John Stuart to William Smellie. 2 October 1781.

(about Natural History)  

MS 592 no.46


John Thomson to William Smellie. 14 February 1793.

(about purchase of property for Society of Antiquaries of Scotland)

MS 592 no.85


William Smellie to Professor Charles Wilson. 13 December 1793.

(about the printing of Wilson's Hebrew Grammar)

(Note: on reverse of this letter, another letter about the booktrade and unpaid bills).

19 December 1793.

MS 593 no.91


Patrick Wilson to William Smellie. 23 May 1775.

(about William Creech) 

MS 592 no.33






Extended correspondence with friends and family: Lord Buchan; Dr William Buchan; Samuel Charteris; Lord Kames; Robert Burns and Maria Riddell; Robert and Walter Riddell; Alexander Smellie; John Smellie; William Tod.



All related to Society of Antiquaries, especially the various crises over the Charter, Smellie's lectures, and the publication of the History of the Society.


Lord Buchan to William Smellie.

12 February 1783.

(about Buchan's resignation from the Philosophical Society) 

MS 593 no.68

21 September 1781.  MS 592 no.45(2)

5 December 1783.  MS 592 no.51

24 June 1790.  MS 592 no.69


Rev. Dr John Walker to Lord Buchan. 14 September 1781.

(includes notes by Robert Kerr and William Smellie)

MS 594 no.8


William Smellie to Lord Buchan.

20 September 1781.

(Note: this letter includes letter from Buchan in reply to Smellie dated 21 Sept 1781, on Society of Antiquaries crisis)

MS 592 no.45

2 April 1793.

MS 592 no.86



All contain material about medical matters. Many case histories from Buchan's practice, all suppressed by Robert Kerr.


The "Proposal" and partial Scottish subscriptions for his Family Physician (Domestic Medicine) as printed and circulated in Edinburgh by William Smellie. Six pages.

MS 593 nos 24-25


Three letters. William Smellie to William Buchan. All without dates; however, one appears to date from early 1760 and two from 1762.  

MS 593, no.47(2); MS 594, no.1 (1-4); MS 594 no.13


Eleven letters. William Buchan to William Smellie.

First letter early 1760.   MS 593 no.42

20 August 1761.  MS 593 no.47(1)

7 November 1761.  MS 594 no.1(5)

18 January 1762.  MS 593 no.48

10 March 1762.  MS 594 no.30(1)

10 July 1762.  MS 593 no.49

16 October 1762.  MS 593 no.50

29 February 1764.  MS 594 no.34

15 December 1765.  MS 593 no.54

1768.  MS 594 no.30(2)

Unsigned letter to William Smellie. 26 November 1766.

(about William Buchan's wife)

MS 594 no.29



Personal correspondence, much candid discussion of religion and belief and of philosophical matters, especially concerning the activities of the Newtonian Society, University of Edinburgh, and Smellie's proposed Speculator Papers.


Samuel Charteris to William Smellie.  Letters, 1760-1786.

Agreeing to correspond with Smellie, [early 1760s]

MS 593 no.15

Concerning Edward Young’s Night Thoughts, [early 1760s?]

MS 593 no.11

Concerning the “Speculator” (the Man in the Moon periodical), [early 1760s]

MS 593 no.13

Letter of 1763 (cover only)

MS 592 no.22 (insert)

“Your first page made me serious”, [1763?]

MS 592 no.8

Mentioning the Man in the Moon periodical, [1763?]

MS 592 no.9

In praise of snails.  [1763?] 

MS 592, no.10

Concerning Jewish law.  Fragment. 

MS 594 no.2

Referring to Smellie and Creech's publication of Charteris's Sermons in 1786.

MS 592 no.5


William Smellie to Samuel Charteris.  Letters covering 1760-1768.

(Most are undated sequential pages from Smellie's letter book)

Concerning Smellie’s marriage, [1763]. 

MS 593, no.12(1)

“Dear Kalents” summoning the Newtonian Society

MS 592 no.8(2)

Concerning The Man in the Moon periodical. 

MS 593 no.12(2)

“Letter 6” and two letters numbered 7. 

MS 593 no.14

“You know that the Great Knack of being happy”. 

MS 593 no.36

Concerning dreams.

MS 594 no. 22(2)

Concerning salt.

MS 593 no. 45(2)

“Letter 4th.” 

MS 594 no.20

“Letter 8”. 

MS 594 nos 23 and 28

Prayer written by Smellie.  MS 594 no.21


All letters personal; Smellie seeks Kames as patron, and both men discuss their writing careers.


William Smellie to Lord Kames.

25 April 1765.   MS 593 no.52

23 April 1774 (published as two letters by Robert Kerr, 1811).  MS 593 no.61(1)

n.d.  Two letters.  MS 593 nos 8, 66


Lord Kames to William Smellie. 28 May 1774.

(about Bond of Surety for Smellie, and other matters)  MS 593 no.61(3)

See also: Lord Kames Surety Bond on Behalf of William Smellie under BOOKTRADE DOCUMENTS





William Smellie to Robert Burns. 4 March 1794.

Note: on reverse - draft of a letter to Madam (likely Maria Riddell, concerning Riddell family scandal with Burns)


I am at a loss to know what you meant by the conversation you had last night. If you think the Gentleman you alluded to would be guilty of the fault you imputed to him, I am bold enough to inform you that you are in a most egregious mistake. All the acts you alledge are ill founded. I urge you this in passing that you may keep a better tongue in your heid and avoid a great & insolence.


MS 592 no.91



Personal correspondence with many references to contemporary political and literary events

Letter of introduction with compliments of Robert Burns. March 1792.

MS 592 no.102

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 7 March 1792.

(see pencil notation by William Smellie on address)

MS 592 no.80

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 10 September 1792.

MS 592 no.81

MS poem to William Smellie from Maria Riddell, on a passage from Rousseau. September 1792.

MS 592 no.15

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 16 October 1792.

MS 592 no.82

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 22 November 1792.

MS 592 no. 84

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 17 November 1793.

MS 592 no.90

Maria Riddell to William Smellie. 9 February 1795.

MS 592 no.95

Maria Riddell to Alexander Smellie. 7 April 1796.

MS 592 no.72

Maria Riddell to Alexander Smellie. 5 July 1796.

MS 592 no.101



Robert Riddell to William Smellie. n.d. probably 1794.

(Antiquaries Society)  

MS 592 no.14

William Smellie to Robert Riddell. 5 March 1794.

(Antiquaries Society)

MS 593 no.94

Walter Riddell to William Smellie. 1791.

(about Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Crochallan Fencibles)

MS 592 no.79



Personal and professional.  Most items involve Alexander Smellie's pursuit of information for Robert Kerr's biography of William Smellie.


John Anderson to Alexander Smellie. 19 August 1797.

(IOU for Alexander Smellie)

MS 594 no.38

Henry Blaine to Alexander Smellie. 15 June 1810.

(about the biography)

MS 592 no.106

Edward Bruce to Alexander Smellie. 30 June 1795.


MS 592 no.34

Dr Andrew Duncan to Alexander Smellie. 1 August 1810.

(about the biography)

MS 592 no.107

Alexander Fergusson to Alexander Smellie. 26 June 1795.

(Antiquaries Society)

MS 592 no.98

Charlotte Hall to Alexander Smellie. 22 December 1799.

(Alexander Smellie's sister-in-law; about her marriage crisis)

MS 592 no.104

Alexander Keith to Alexander Smellie. 10 March 1797.

(Antiquaries Society)

MS 592 no.103

Robert Kerr to Alexander Smellie. 28 June 1795.

(about writing William Smellie's biography)

MS 592 no.99

Charles Mckinnon to Alexander Smellie. 3 July 1795.


MS 592 no.100

Thomas Miller to Alexander Smellie. 13 July 1810.

(about biography; important source for William Smellie's life)

MS 593 no.102

 Dr Alexander Murray to Alexander Smellie. 12 September 1810.

(about the biography; important source; includes Murray's elegy on the death of Thomas Smellie)

MS 593 no.103

Patrick Neill to Alexander Smellie. 1810

(about the biography)

MS 592 no.105

Principal Playfair, St Andrew's. Two letters to Alexander Smellie.

14 November 1810.  MS 592 no.108

5 October 1813.  MS 592 no.109

William Scott to Alexander Smellie. 25 June 1795.

(death of William Smellie)

MS 592 no.97

George Thomson to Alexander Smellie. 15 December 1820.

(indentures for Alexander Smellie's son as an architect)

MS 592 no.110

Obituary for William Smellie. Written by Alexander Smellie. 24 June 1795.

MS 592 no.13

Fragment of original draft of the obituary. 24 June 1795.

MS 594 no.5

Death announcement for William Smellie printed by Alexander Smellie. 24 June 1795.

MS 592 no.96

Alexander Smellie's notes about William Smellie, provided to Robert Kerr for biography.

42 pages. Includes letter of William Smellie to William Forbes. 1 February 1795

(pp. 7-10).  

MS 592 no.47





All correspondence related to John Smellie's pursuit of a career as a naval officer.


John Smellie & James Mackenzie to William Smellie. 23 February 1788.

MS 593 no.70


John Smellie to William Smellie.

1 March 1789.  MS 593 no.74

26 March 1790.  MS 593 no.76

12 June 1790.  MS 593 no. 80

24 June 1790.  MS 593 no.82

11 October 1790.  MS 593 no.85

26 November 1790.  MS 593 no.86

n.d. (probably sometime in 1790).  MS 593 no.88


William Smellie to Captain Christian of the Colossus. 25 May 1790.

MS 593 no.77


William Smellie to John Smellie. 26 May 1790.

(two copies: second copy with draft of letter from Alexander Smellie to John Smellie.  26 May 1790; also, portion of William Smellie’s letter to Captain Christian)

MS 593 nos 78-79


Alexander Smellie to John Smellie. 4 October 1790.  MS 593 no.84


John Smellie to Alexander Smellie. 4 October 1791.

On reverse: Elementary French language exercise

MS 593 no.89



Tod was William Smellie's fellow apprentice with Hamilton, Balfour and Neill, who settled for a while in London. Their correspondence deals with personal matters, booktrade news and gossip, and philosophical speculations.

William Tod to William Smellie.

29 November 1759.  MS 593 no.44

26 May 1760.  MS 593 no.46

17 November 1761.  MS 592 no.21.  (Cover only)

n.d., probably 1758.  MS 593 no.17

Possibly from William Tod, n.d.  MS 592 no.7


William Smellie to William Tod.  26 March 1761.  MS 593 no. 55.






Extended business correspondence with Robert and William Auld; John Balfour; Andrew Bell; William Creech; John Murray; Gilbert Stuart; Andrew Strahan; William Strahan; Strahan and Cadell)


Robert Auld to William Smellie.

10 October 1769.   MS 529 no.23

18 October 1770.   MS 592 no.25

28 October 1770.   MS 592 no.26


William Auld to William Smellie.

30 April 1768.  MS 593 no.56

3 October 1769.  MS 529 no.22

19 January 1770.  MS 592 no.111


William Auld to John Balfour.

16 October 1770.  MS 592 no.24


William Smellie to William Auld.

20 February 1771.  MS 593 no.60

n.d. probably January 1771  MS 593 no.40


William Smellie to Robert Auld.

20 February 1771 (includes letter to William Auld written on same date) 

MS 593 no. 59


John Balfour to William Smellie.

4 September 1782.  MS 592 no.48


Andrew Bell to William Smellie.

4 October 1784.  MS 592 no.52




Alexander Smellie to William Creech. 1792.

MS 592 no.77


William Smellie to William Creech. 6 February 1783.

MS 592 no.49


William Creech to William Smellie.

Fragment. August 1788.

(about his Deacon Brodie text)  

MS 592 no.6

13 November 1792 (on reverse: fragment of letter by Alexander Smellie replying to Creech, 14 November 1792)

MS 592 no.83


List of books returned by William Smellie to William Creech. 15 June 1775

MS 593 no.64




John Murray to William Smellie.

25 June 1776.  MS 592 no.36

19 October 1787.  MS 592 no.59


William Smellie to John Murray. 15 June 1790.  MS 593 no 81


John Murray to Gilbert Stuart. 3 August 1774.

(includes note by Robert Kerr on Gilbert Stuart's love of Burton Ale – 1810)

MS 593 no.62


Unsigned letter to Gilbert Stuart. 22 May 1775.

(about Edinburgh Magazine and Review)

MS 594 no.35


Gilbert Stuart to William Smellie.

1775.  MS 593 no.5

n.d.   MS 593 no.4


Draft of proposal for Edinburgh Magazine and Review. 1 November 1771

(with note by Robert Kerr)

MS 594 no.6




William Smellie to William Strahan. 1781.

On reverse: notes on the preservation of birds

MS 593 no.9


William Smellie to Strahan & Cadell.

October 1785 (about London edition of Buffon). On reverse, another letter: William Smellie to Strahan & Cadell. 27 October 1785 (also about London Buffon)

MS 592 no.53

 n.d. (probably sometime in 1787).  

MS 592 no.18


Andrew Strahan to William Smellie. 20 December 1787.

MS 592 no.60






William Smellie's contract with the Scots Magazine, signed by Alexander Murray and James Cochran. 6 September 1759.

MS 593 no.43


Surety Bond on behalf of John Balfour and William Smellie signed by Henry Home, Lord Kames. May 1774.

MS 593 no.61(2)


Draft Contract for Edinburgh Magazine and Review in names of William Creech, Alexander Kincaid, William Kerr, William Smellie and Gilbert Stuart. 4 pages.

MS 594 no.31


Legal Papers relating to the libel action brought by Walter Jardine against the Edinburgh Magazine and Review; two documents: 18 July and 2 August 1776.  MS 592 nos 37-38


Headnote for William Smellie's pamphlet letter "To the Journeymen."

(on reverse: a note about bills relating to Donald Smith, Edinburgh banker)

MS 593 no.93


For further Booktrade items, see under GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE:

Alexander Allardice

James Anderson

Dr Thomas Blacklock

Dr Gilbert Blane

Rev. Mr Brown

John Dalrymple

Robert Dick

Lord Dreghorn

Robert Faulder

Lord Hailes

James Laing

John Macniven

Robert Morrison

Robert Nicoll

Patrick Wilson






1. William Smellie: General System of Natural History. Title +2 pages.

MS 593 no.33


2. "On the Boundaries Between Animals and Vegetables." 4 pages.

MS 594 no.4


3. "On the Methodology of the Philosophy of Natural History." 2 pages.

MS 594 no.17(2)


4. "A Critique of Certain Natural Historians." 2 pages.

MS 594 no.14


5. "On Growth in Plants." 2 pages.

MS 594 no.25


6. Notes for an "Essay on Instinct." 4 pages.

MS 594 no.15


7. "On Distinctions Between Plants and Animals." 20 pages.

MS 594 no.24


8. Notes and Observations on the systems of Buffon and Linnaeus

MS 594 no.11

An account of Brissons' classification of Birds, Quadrupeds and

Cetaceous Animals  MS 594 nos 12, 22(1), 26

Buffon on Birds  (part of intended translation)  MS 594 no.16

Thomas Pennant  MS 594 no.16

An Essay on the Anomalous Productions of Nature. 32 pages.  MS 594 no.25


9. William Smellie. Directions for the Preservation of Large Birds (a motion

presented to a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1784). 8


MS 593 no.57


10. William Smellie's Bibliography of Works on Natural History (199 titles; 11


MS 593 no.29


11. William Smellie. "Proposal for a General Plan of Natural History."

1 page.

MS 593 no.21


12. William Smellie. "Prospectus for A General Natural History."

5 pages.

MS 593 no.22


13. Alexander Smellie. "A Subscription Proposal for a General Natural

History by the Late William Smellie," 1801.  4 pages.

MS 593 no.20


14. William Smellie. “General Plan of a Natural History proposed to be published by W. Smellie.” 1 page.

MS 593 no.34






Includes reviews, pamphlets satires, essays, prefaces, etc.


1. "Behold yon pair"; An Address to the Citizens of Edinburgh. A satire on Edinburgh town politics. 1777. Published as pamphlet. 4 pages (incomplete).

MS 593 no.18


2. The Cobbler of Cripplegate: a satire on moral character. 2 pages.

MS 593 no.19


3. On St. Bernard's Well. A satire on the frequenters of the well employing Linnaeus' system in parody. 1 page.

MS 593 no.31


4. A Defence of Thomas Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind, written for the Monthly Review, 1765. (See letter from Ralph Griffiths under CORRESPONDENCE). 3 pages.

MS 593 no. 53


5. Notes for the review of Harris's Philosophical Arrangements, published in the Edinburgh Magazine and Review. 4 pages.

MS 593 no.32


6. Notes for a review of Buffon's Natural History for the Edinburgh Magazine and Review. 3 pages. Also notes for subjects and reviewers for the Edinburgh Magazine and Review and editorial speculations for contributors and articles for the early volumes of the Magazine and Review. 2 pages.

MS 594 no.17(1); MS 594 no.18


7. "Essay on the Life of Alexander Monroe." 4 pages (incomplete).

MS 594 no.10


8. Prospectus for the Scottish Chronicle, a newspaper proposed by Smellie and to appear Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. September 1788. 3 pages.

MS 593 no.73


9. An earlier version of the Prospectus for the Scottish Chronicle. 3 pages.

MS 593 no.72


10. Smellie's advertisement for Rotheram's edition of Dr William Cullen's First Lines of the Practice of Physic, printed by Smellie for William Creech, and one page of the manuscript of Rotheram's Preface, corrected and rewritten by Smellie. 3 pages in total.

MS 593 no.26; MS 594 no.1(6)


11. William Smellie's "Preface" to the History of Man. 7 pages.

MS 593 no.35


12. "Countrymen Beware": Smellie's advertisement for his pamphlet An

Essay on the Nature, Powers and Privileges of Juries. 1784. 1 page.

MS 593 no.28


13. "Dedication" of the Philosophy of Natural History to the Prince of Wales.

1790. 1 page.

MS 593 no.75


14. "Advertisement" for Deacon Andrew Brodie, printed by William Smellie. 1 page.

MS 593 no.23


15. William Smellie. "Tree of Passions." 1 page.

MS 593 no.30


16. De Moivre's "Method for Calculating Annuities" printed by Smellie. 2 pages.

MS 594 no.1(7)


17. List of books on Natural History borrowed by Smellie from the University of Edinburgh library. 1 page.

MS 593 no.27






1. Disposition of William Smiton to Isobel Binney. 1650.

MS 594 no.27


2. Lottery ticket, State-Lottery Office. January 1775. In name of William Smellie.  MS 592 no.32


See: BOOKTRADE DOCUMENTS for further legal papers.