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

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  • Ninian Hill, secundus WS (bef.1775 - 1814)
    NINIAN HILL secundus Writer to the Signet Ninian Hill, here treated, is the youngest child of James Hill of Cartside and his wife Elizabeth Robertson. Writers History: 99 He is the younger brother ...
  • Louis Borthwick, WS (bef.1800 - 1876)
    LOUIS BORTHWICK (aka LEWIS BORTHWICK) WS BORTHWICK LEWIS JOHN BORTHWICK/GRIZEL ADDISON FR1245 (FR1245) M 14/04/1800 699/ 30 55 Stow History of the Society of Writers: 21
  • Master James Bannatyne of Kirton of Newtyle, WS (deceased)
    JAMES BANNATYNE OF KIRKTON OF NEWTYLE WS Writer to the Signet; Depute Clerk of Justiciary 4 December 1595 Writers to the Signet: 12 Evidence from the National Records of Scotland 1 26 Septemb...
  • Master John Montgomery of Wrae, WS (deceased)
    MASTER JOHN MONTGOMERY OF WRAE WS Master John Montgomery of Wrae is the fifth son of George Montgomery of Broomlands. He died on 11 March 1725 age 62. Writers: 149 First Marriage John Montgomery ...
  • Mungo Buchanan (1662 - 1710)
    MUNGO BUCHANAN OF HILTON WS (formerly MUNGO BUCHANAN OF AUCHENRORLIE) Mungo Buchanan of Hilton is the third son of Mungo Buchanan of Tillichewan. Strathendrick, and its Inhabitants from Early Times, ...

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.