Edinburgh City Archive’s Story Box: ‘The Mysterious’

Disappearing Duke of Perth

Services of Heirs case

Services of Heirs, Drummond case

The mystery surrounding James Drummond, commonly called the 3rd Duke of Perth, is an intriguing one. By 1745 James was involved in the second Jacobite rebellion having joined the forces of the “Young Pretender”, Charles Edward Stuart. He commanded the left wing of the rebel forces at Culloden in 1746.

Standard histories record that he was mortally wounded during the battle and though he escaped the field and made it onto the French ship “Bellone”, he died on board while on passage to France on 13 May 1746. An alternative history however, suggests that he not only survived Culloden, but that he made the sea journey to South Shields in the north east of England.  From there he journeyed a little further by land to the mining community of Biddick about 5 or 6 miles south of Newcastle.  Here, he holed up “under the radar” of the Hanoverian government and its military forces, married and had children until his natural death in 1782.  It was from here in the 1820s that his grandson, Thomas Drummond, set out to try and regain his family’s titles and property.

hold records within the Services of Heir records which record this fascinating case in a lot more detail.




Mr Tipney the 'living skeleton'

Mr Tipney the ‘living skeleton’

The ‘Living Skeleton’

Edinburgh City Archives have some wonderful, ‘mysterious’ collections preserved within its walls; one such being an advertisement calling on people to visit Mr Tipney, ‘A Living Skeleton…a singular living phenomenon’. Mr Tipney was part of a circus tour by the famous Chipperfield dynasty around the 1870s. There are also a variety of playbills and excerpts from theatrical productions within our collections which can shine a fascinating light upon the world of 18th & 19th century social entertainments; all of which provide the interested researcher with brilliantly vivid contextual information on the work, rest & play of Edinburgh citizens of the time in their bustling city.





Aliens in Edinburgh

At first glance you might wonder what on earth Edinburgh City Archives has an Aliens Register for, however all is not quite as it may appear! Rather than being a register recording sightings of U.F.O’s and other extra-terrestrial beings, the registers actually contain details of individuals who were ‘alien’ to the country/city.

The specific origins of the registers lie in the declaration of war by the French Republic against Great Britain in 1793 and the unease felt by the authorities about the impact on radical elements within the Country.

Aliens register entry

Aliens register entry

We can see from the image here that Joseph St Barboza, registered himself in the city on 25th July 1798, aged 29.  He declared he was a medical student at the University of Edinburgh, and was originally from Brazil in South America. It even tells us that he arrived at the port on the Isle of Wight, and was currently residing at Sutherland’s lodgings, College Street.  A real bonus of these registers is that you can see the individual’s signature, which is a feature often lacking on other records.

A searchable online index of persons recorded in the registers is available on our website (www.edinburgh.gov.uk/cityarchives) and obviously you can visit our public searchroom to look at the individual registers in person…




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