The Faculty of Advocates and Abbotsford

After Sir Walter Scott's death in 1832, his estate passed to his son who executed a Deed of Entail on the estate. When this entail was broken in 1954, ownership of Scott's books and other artefacts at Abbotsford passed to the Faculty of Advocates. The Faculty worked with the Maxwell Scott family living at Abbotsford, until the death of Dame Jean Maxwell Scott in 2004.

Progress on improving access to Scott's library was made over this period, much of it directed by Professor Douglas Gifford who was appointed by the Faculty as Honorary Librarian for Abbotsford in 1995. At the same time an advisory committee was set up, bringing in academic expertise from the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and from the National Library of Scotland to support the library staff of the Advocates Library and to advise the Faculty on matters relating to the Abbotsford library. This committee guided the work of what became known as the Abbotsford Library Research Project.

Over the next two decades, this advisory committee, with Professor Gifford as director of research, led various initiatives aimed at improving access to the library.

Since the death of Dame Jean Maxwell Scott, Sir Walter Scott's last descendant to live at Abbotsford, in 2004, the Abbotsford Trust has been responsible for managing the Abbotsford estate. The Faculty of Advocates has been working with the Abbotsford Trust to ensure the long term survival of Abbotsford. Abbotsford has undergone a major refurbishment, reopening in summer 2013. A new visitor reception building is open, with a shop, restaurant and an exhibition which includes many items from the library.

The Faculty has transferred its property at Abbotsford, the library books and artefacts to the Faculty of Advocates Abbotsford Collection Trust. The Faculty and Abbotsford trusts work together on a Joint Collections Management Committee and continue to benefit from the advice of a joint advisory committee. In addition to representation from the universities, National Library of Scotland and Faculty, the committee now also includes representatives from the National Museums of Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland.  In July 2015, Professor Alison Lumsden of the University of Aberdeen succeeded Professor Douglas Gifford as Honorary Librarian for Abbotsford.

The Faculty of Advocates itself continues to support work on the collections, especially with respect to cataloguing and conservation work.

The Abbotsford website provides further details about developments at Abbotsford.




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