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Collection S - Stornoway Town Council (Burgh of Stornoway), Lewis, Scotland

Identity area

Reference code

GB3002 S


Stornoway Town Council (Burgh of Stornoway), Lewis, Scotland


  • 1863-1979 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

170 volumes

Context area

Name of creator

Stornoway Town Council (1864-1975)

Administrative history

Stornoway's charter as a Burgh of Barony and Regality was granted in 1607 by James VI, entitling the inhabitants to be free burgesses and to elect Bailies.
Despite the Charter, no steps were taken to establish these new rights and the administration of the Burgh of Stornoway remained in the hands of the owners of the island until 1825. The then owner, the Hon. Mary Frederica Elizabeth Stewart-Mackenzie of Seaforth (the former Lady Hood), with the consent of her husband, James Alexander Stewart-Mackenzie, empowered the feu holders of Stornoway to elect nine of their number to be Magistrates and Councillors, two of whom were to be Bailies, one a Treasurer and the other six Councillors. A Directory of 1838, shows that Roderick McKenzie, Kenneth Street, who was a Writer and Notary was also Town Clerk and Clerk to the Baron Bailie Court. The Baron Bailie is listed as being Thomas Buchanan Drummond, Cromwell Street, who was also the Procurator Fiscal.
The Town Council of more recent times, came into being as a result of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1862. In April 1863, fifteen householders of the Burgh petitioned the Sheriff of the Counties of Ross and Cromarty to fix and define the boundaries of the Burgh, which the Sheriff did in a 'deliverance' dated 22nd October 1863. Following the adoption of the Act, nine householders were elected Commissioners of Police for the Burgh at a public meeting 1864. Duties of the Burgh included roads and pavements, lighting, cleansing, water and drainage, regulation of building, public health, public order, licensing and general amenities.
From that date to the present day, local government in Stornoway has followed the pattern of other burghs of similar size, operating under the various Police and Local Government (Scotland) Acts. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892, fixed the number of Commissioners to be elected as nine and brought into being the offices of Provost and Bailies to replace Chief Magistrate and Junior Magistrates. With the Town Councils (Scotland) Act 1900, the office of Town Councillor was established, as distinct from Burgh Police Commissioners.
Following the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, the Counties of Ross and Cromarty were united and many of the functions of the Town Council such as Public Health, Planning, Registration, Valuation and the maintenance of classified roads, were transferred to the County Councils by the Local Government (Scotland) Acts of 1929 and 1947.
Stornoway Town Council was abolished on 15th May, 1975, following the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, which brought in to being the Comhairle nan Eilean (Western Isles Islands Council), now Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
Sources include: Murdoch Macleod, Stornoway Historical Society,

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Internal transfer from Museum nan Eilean (Accn 2011-13)

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Administrative records: Councillors records 1874-1974, minutes 1864-1975, Burgh/Town Clerk letter books 1864-1929, press cuttings 1950s, Society of Town Clerks of Scotland correspondence 1953-1968

Financial records: Treasurer's letter books 1895-1906, abstract of accounts 1901-1975, rates collection 1950-1975, assessment rolls 1904-1973, general assessment account books 1912-1922, assessment ledgers 1864-1922, Council cash books 1922-1972, Treasurer's/Chamberlain's cash books 1894-1974, Treasurer's housing cash books 1927-1947, Town Clerk's department cash books 1948-1958, milk distributing depot cash books 1923-1928, Town Hall lets cash book 1929-1948, ledgers 1898-1974

Common Good Fund records: Account books 1929-1962, Cash books 1929-1975; ledger 1929-1972

Roads records: Minute books 1890-1900, road ledgers 1892-1922

Water records: Ledgers 1892-1922

Public Health records: Minute books 1875-1900, letter books 1874-1903, ledgers 1913-1922

Housing records: Register of new houses 1931-1957, housing registers 1928-1967, register of rents 1953-1969, register of bonds 1872-1969; scheme costs summaries 1944-1974

Dean of Guild Court records: Minutes 1947-1965, registers of plans 1893-1964, forms of application 1930-1947

Police Court: Register of cases 1957-1979

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged into subfonds and then into series. Within series, items are arranged chronologically.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Some records containing personal data are closed for up to 100 years from the last date in the volume.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Paper volumes

Finding aids

Digital and paper item level list available in searchroom of Tasglann nan Eilean Siar

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

GB3002 RC5/1 Records of Landward Committee of the Parish of Stornoway 1895-1930 (held by Tasglann nan Eilean Siar)

GB3002 RC5/3 Records of Stornoway Parish Council 1845-1943 (held by Tasglann nan Eilean Siar)

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Dates of creation revision deletion




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