CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2253
TitleForbes and Hay families of Seaton, Aberdeenshire: family and estate papers
Date1746 - 1886
Extent14 boxes and 1 large folder (3.0 linear metres)
Creator NameForbes family of Seaton, Aberdeenshire (fl 1782 - 1829)
Hay family, of Seaton, Aberdeenshire (fl 1829 - 1962)
Administrative HistoryJames Forbes (1735-1829) was the son of William Forbes of Corriebreck and his wife Jane Michie, and grandson of William Forbes of Belnabodach. Very little has been published about his life. From the records deposited here and other collections in the University (see 'Related Material' field) it is known that he had business interests in London, and that he was one of the proprietors of the Aberdeenshire Canal. The main references to him in A. and H. Tayler's 'The House of Forbes' (Third Spalding Club, 1937; pages 368-381) concern his purchase of the estate of Newe from his bankrupt relative Major John Forbes, 9th Laird of Newe, which he re-sold, for a considerable profit, to 'Bombay Jock' Forbes, founder of the Bombay mercantile business, Forbes and Co. Later, c. 1782, he purchased Seaton Estate in Old Aberdeen, and settled here with his wife, Margaret Gordon, daughter of Rear Admiral William Gordon of Banff. Their only surviving child and heiress, Elizabeth Forbes, married Lord James Hay (1788-1862), second son of George, 7th Marquis of Tweeddale (1753-1804), in 1813, and they subsequently lived at Seaton with her father, who died in 1829, aged ninety-two.

Lord James Hay (1788-1862) was active during the Napoleonic Wars, and was present at Waterloo. He became Colonel of the 86th Regiment of Foot in 1854, and was a director of the Aberdeen Railway Company, serving as chairman for the period 1848-1854. His marriage to Elizabeth Forbes produced four children, though only three survived. Their eldest daughter, Margueritte Louise, married the French artist, Gudin, later Baron Gudin; a second daughter, Georgiana, remained unmarried; and their son, James Gordon, who inherited the estate, was the father of Malcolm Vivian Hay (1881-1962), last Laird of Seaton.

[For further details see A. and H. Tayler, 'The House of Forbes' (Third Spalding Club, 1937), pages 368-381, 450, 452; I. A. Hay, 'Valiant for Truth, Malcolm Hay of Seaton' (1971); G. C. Williams, nee Hay, 'The Ancestral Home of the Hays of Seaton', in Aberdeen University Review, 42 (1968), 133-135; Rachel Hart, 'Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland', in Northern Scotland, 8 (1988), 69-71.]
SourceDate and source not recorded - probably deposited in the University c. 1954-1955.
DescriptionThese papers cover the period 1746-1886, but largely date from the purchase of the Seaton Estate, Old Aberdeen, by James Forbes, c. 1782. There is no clear distinction between the papers of the Forbes and those of the Hays, which would seem to reflect the gradual transfer of influence over the Seaton Estate from James Forbes to his daughter and her husband.

The papers are arranged in ten series, as outlined in system of arrangement. Of most interest in the main series of accounts (series 1) are the records of Lord and Lady James Hay, which reflect their extensive travels through Europe between 1830 and 1861. Frequent references are found in both accounts and correspondence to their daughter Marguerite Louise, wife of Baron Gudin, and there are occasional receipts and requests for payment in French. A separate series containing other financial papers (series 2), includes estate rentals, crop books, and other estate, household and personal accounts for the period 1773-1886. A corresponding series of accounts for the family and estate, 1782-1861, was deposited later, and has been listed separately (MS 2414). See Related Material field for further details.

Further papers relating to the management of the estate are found in series 4 and 5. Series 4 consists mostly of tacks and related papers, including correspondence and memoranda of leases for areas of land on Donside, including Mugiemoss, Stoneywood and Balgownie, 1767-1834. There is also an abstract of Kettocks Mill accounts and notes on the mill, 1804. Series 5 is concerned with fishing rights on the River Don, and includes leases, correspondence, case papers and minutes, 1766-1850.

The business interests of James Forbes and Lord James Hay are reflected in series 6 and 7 - papers relating to the Aberdeenshire Canal, 1800-1809, and Aberdeen Railway Company, 1846-1879, respectively. Items of interest therein include reports on the Aberdeenshire Canal by W. Jessop and Thomas Telford of Edinburgh, 1805 and 1809, and a sketch of the wharf, 1800-1809. Papers relating to Lord James Hay's interests in the Aberdeen Railway Company include statements and reports of the Board of Directors, 1846-1855; correspondence of Lord James Hay, as Chairman of Directors, 1848-1854; proposals for clearing debt, 1852; schedule of purchase of land owned by Hay of Seaton for railway, 1850s; Aberdeen Railway Act, 1850 and 1853; The Great North of Scotland Railway Amendment Act, 1854; plans of proposed line from Murtle to Kintore, 1852; and the Aberdeen and Peterhead Railway from Kittybrewster to Broadford, not dated.

Four boxes of correspondence, arranged in 43 original bundles, concern family and estate matters for the period 1746-1879 (series 8). Letters cover many subjects, including leases, tenants, state of land, measurement of land, building of houses on estates, disputes over mining, fishing and rights of way, inventories of property and machinery at mills and bleachfields (notably Muggiemoss Mill), Auchmull House, state of roads, quarries (including enquiries about the possibility of quarrying granite to be used for London Bridge (1823) and the roads of the metropolis (1828)), Aberdeenshire Canal, activities of Forbes as executor for Charles Ogilvy, payment of bills, debts, investments, and parliamentary candidates.

The military correspondence of Lord James Hay (series 9), 1814-1858, is mostly minor, concerning clothing, leave of absence, recommendations, appointments, and pensions, but is of interest in as much as it reflects the personal influence which Lord Hay held in such matters. Included with this correspondence is a sketch showing the position of investing corps of allied armies before Sebastopol by Captain Biddulph, R.A., October 1845.

Although Series 3 is described as Family papers, this is slightly misleading, for it comprises 4 family settlements relating to monies and lands, 1755-1767, and the most informative records relating to the family are actually found dispersed amongst the accounts and correspondence described above.
AppraisalThis material has been appraised in line with normal procedures
AccrualsNone expected
ArrangementMS 2253/1: Accounts, 1774-1861 (William Forbes, 1774-1777; James Forbes, 1777-1829).
MS 2253/2: Other financial records, 1773-1886.
MS 2253/3: Family, 1755-1767.
MS 2253/4: Estate, 1767-1834.
MS 2553/5: Fishing and leases, 1766-1850.
MS 2253/6: Aberdeenshire canal, 1800-1809.
MS 2253/7: Aberdeen Railway Company, 1846-1857.
MS 2253/8: Correspondence, 1746-1879.
MS 2253/9: Military correspondence, 1814-1858.
MS 2253/10: Miscellaneous.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related Material'Accounts of the Forbes and Hay families of Seaton', 1782-1861 (MS 2414). This collection complements the deposit of family and estate papers of the Forbes and Hay families of Seaton in MS 2253 (described above). In particular, it fills in gaps in the series of accounts contained therein.

'Papers of James Forbes, concerning business and India', c. 1770-1782 [part of the Davidson and Garden collection] (MS 2769/I/94).

'Collection of letters and papers by, or concerning, persons of family or surname of Forbes', 1766-1830 [part of A. and H. Tayler genealogical collections] (MS 2226/123/1-39).

'Papers of Malcolm Vivian Hay of Seaton', 1881-1962 (MS 2788; MS 2193 and MS 2272). Principally relating to his historical research and publications.

'Papers of Alice Ivy Hay of Seaton' (d. 1982) (MS 3079). Personal papers regarding Alice Ivy Hay and her husband, Malcolm Vivian Hay (1881-1962).
Publication NoteRachel Hart, 'Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland', in Northern Scotland, 8 (1988), 69-71.
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