Title: Scottish Court of Session Records
Creator: Scottish Court of Session
Description: 64 archival boxes. Approximately 2500 printed documents; 50 oversize maps and architectural drawings.
Call Number: MSS 2015-1
Location: UVA Law Library, 3rd Floor, 580 Massie Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903
Contact: 434-243-6703, firstname.lastname@example.org
UVA's collection of Scottish Court of Session Records consists of printed and formerly bound case materials presented before the Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland, from 1759 to 1834. As a court of appeal and of first instance, the Court of Session held jurisdiction over contract and commercial cases, matters of succession and land ownership, divorce proceedings, intellectual property and copyright disputes, and contested political elections.
In addition to petitions and memorials, case documents include color maps, drawings, and plans. Appended to many of these records are printed copies of correspondence, wills, financial accounts, and census reports offered as evidence. The Court provided copies of these papers to all litigants and judges for each case, and it was common practice in this period for lawyers and judges to retain these papers for their personal library or legal practice. Session papers thus exist in various collections around the world, though each collection has its own unique composition of documents and marginalia.
The UVA Session Papers collection originally belonged to lawyer Andrew Skene, who was born in 1784 and served as Scotland’s Solicitor General from 1834 until his death in 1835. Many of these documents include his handwritten and often lengthy annotations on the content and judgments for individual cases. Skene likely enlarged his own library by acquiring Session papers from other personal collections. The earliest documents in UVA’s collection predate Skene’s legal career and include the annotations of other Scottish jurists such as William Craig, lawyer and judge from 1768 to 1812.
The geographic scope of these records includes Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, and India. A majority of the the Scottish geographic data for this site was sourced with permission from the Gazetteer for Scotland.
This collection is currently housed in 64 archival storage containers (64 linear ft.). The documents were dis-bound prior to their arrival at UVA and are currently arranged chronologically by case. When these records were first bound, oversize documents were folded and attached to the back of accompanying case documents. They remain filed as so under the collection's current arrangement.
William Craig, Lord Craig (1745-1813), began assembling this collection as an advocate and later a judge on the Court of Session in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The papers apparently passed to Andrew Skene after Craig's death. Skene (1784-1834) also worked as an advocate and later briefly served as Scotland's solicitor general. He greatly expanded Craig's original collection. When Skene died in 1835 the papers were sold in an estate sale after which the Library of the Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, Scotland came into possession of them. The Library sold them along with many of their manuscript collections in the 1980s. The UVA Law Library purchased the records in 1986.
Digital images in this Scottish Court of Session collection are available for use under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 License (CC BY 4.0). Under this CC BY 4.0 license, we do require users to cite the Library as the source of these images when they publish or otherwise distribute them. Citation guidelines are available online at the Library’s Special Collections Use Policy webpage.