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Members of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet

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  • Gideon William Bell of Fourtoun, WS (1805 - 1877)
    GIDEON WILLIAM BELL OF FORTOUN, WS is the son of William Bell, Farmer, Swintonhill, Berwickshire, Scotland History of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet] He was born on 14 August 1805 and...
  • Robert Hill, WS (1771 - 1842)
    ROBERT HILL, WS A History of the Society of Writers to her Majesty's Signet with a List of Members of the Society from 1594 to 1890 and an Abstract of the Minutes (T. & A. Constable, Edinburgh, 1890)...
  • Ninian Hill, WS (1758 - 1814)
    NINIAN HILL, WS is the son of James Hill, Writer in Glasgow, and his wife, Elizabeth Robertson. He was born on 31 May 1758 and his baptism was registered at Glasgow in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on 12 Ju...
  • John Peter of Whitslade, WS (b. - 1651)
    JOHN PETER OF WHITSLADE, WS Advocate, sometime commissary of Peebles is very likely that son of the deceased David Peter, commissary depute of Peebles, who was enrolled as a burgess and guild broth...
  • James Peter of Chapel, WS (b. - 1691)
    JAMES PETER OF CHAPEL, WS is the son of David Peter, Commissary of Peebles [A History of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet with a List of Members of the Society from 1594 to 8190 and an ...

The Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet is a private society of Scottish solicitors, dating back to 1594 and part of the College of Justice. Writers to the Signet originally had special privileges in relation to the drawing up of documents which required to be signeted, but these have since disappeared and the Society is now an independent, non-regulatory association of solicitors. The Society maintains the Signet Library, part of the Parliament House complex in Edinburgh, and members of the Society are entitled to the postnominal letters, WS.

Heredity in the Society

There is always a hereditary tendency in professional life, but it is somewhat remarkable to find heredity so strongly developed as it has been among the writers to the signet. The same surnames appear again and again upon the lists, and the connection of many families with the calling has been kept up through a long series of years. The continuance of a family for three generations in the society is so common as hardly to attract attention. It is more notable to find such a race as the Russells of Braidshaw and Roseburn, connected with the body from 1711 till 1887, during which time six members of the family, constituting five generations, were writers to the signet. There have likewise been six Ferriers, six Formans, and six Steuarts, all of the same families. The list contains also five Hamiltons of Presmennan, six Andersons of Inchyra, seven Balfours of Pilrig, seven Brodies of Lethen, five Tytlers of Woodhouselee, five Tods of Drygrange, seven Mackenzies of Portmore, five Dundases of Ochtertyre, and five Cuninghams of Newholm.