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

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  • John Colin Wilson, WS (1797 - 1837)
    JOHN COLIN WILSON Writer to the Signet Fasti III: 317 Writers: 217 Printed Evidence Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. The Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation....
  • Thomas Peat, WS (deceased)
    THOMAS PEAT WS Writers: 162 Writers: 217 Printed Evidence A History of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet : with a list of the members of the society from 1594 to 1890 and an abst...
  • Alexander Dunlop, Writer to the Signet (b. - 1619)
    ALEXANDER DUNLOP WS Writer to the Signet Alexander Dunlop, here treater was a member of the Society of Writers to the Signet. He signed the Minute of the Society on 17 January 1606. Signet Writers:...
  • Robert Menzies of Culterallers, WS (b. - 1769)
    ROBERT MENZIES OF CULTERALLERS WS=== Burgess of Dumfries (1736) Burgess of Lanark (1737) Writer to the Signet (1742) Burgess of Rothesay (1747) Burgess of Dingwall (1752) Burgess of Peebles (1759) ...
  • John Cunninghame of Bandalloch, WS (b. - 1716)
    JOHN CUNNINGHAME OF BANDALLOCH WS======Writer to the Signet; Fiscal, 1690-95=== Apprentice to James Cunningham. Son of William Cuningham of Drumbeg, Stirlingshire. Died 24th February 1716. Married Jean...

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.