Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 624

George Chalmers collection of manuscripts

Manuscripts acquired from the library of George Chalmers, a Scottish-born British colonial administrator, writer, and antiquarian. Some papers are in his hand and are original documents, some are copies of documents, and some are in unidentified hands.


  • 1760-1825

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Collection is predominantly Chalmers's notes and his manuscript transcriptions of documents. Some materials are in the hand of George Chalmers, but not all. Types of materials included are copies of letters, financial records, reports, lists, as well as original research notes. Documents primarily concern exploration of North America, British relations with her colonies (especially America), trade and mercantilism, plantation life, the American Revolution and British loyalists claims, Irish concerns, and many other topics. Time period covered in these materials is 1507 through 1816, but the manuscript transcripts were probably produced circa 1760-1825.

Biographical / Historical

George Chalmers (1742-1825) was a British historian, civil servant, antiquarian, and author. He was born at Fochabers, Moray, Scotland, educated at the parish school at Fochabers and at King's College Aberdeen. He went on to study law in Edinburgh and moved to Maryland in 1763 to practice law in Baltimore. As a devout loyalist, he returned to London in September of 1775 when revolutionary discontent grew in the American colonies. He was appointed chief clerk of the committee of the Privy Council for trade and foreign plantations. He held this post for 40 years, a position that allowed for abundant leisure time to devote to his studies, writings, and antiquary interests. He devoted his life to writing books about Ireland, affairs of America and the British monarchy. He collected a vast library of books, original manuscripts, notes, and manuscript copies of documents used in his research.


Arranged alphabetically by title of document.

Physical Location



George Chalmers never married. When he died in London in 1825, his extensive library was bequeathed to his nephew. Upon the nephew's death in 1841, the library was sold in three parts between September 1841 and November 1842.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Purchased with Donation fund: 1847 Sept. 20.

Papers have been titled Chalmers manuscripts since receipt at repository.

Related Materials

There are papers of George Chalmers among the Jared Sparks manuscripts and papers at Houghton Library (MS Sparks 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). From 1839-1849 Sparks was the McLean professor of ancient and modern history at Harvard College and he also collected manuscripts and wrote on historical topics. The Jared Sparks papers were not officially donated to Harvard until 1866, but the Chalmers materials within them include notes by Sparks dating from 1843 and identify Chalmers's hand. It is possible that Sparks was instumental in having the Harvard Library purchase this group of papers (MS Am 624) in 1847. The materials described here are similar to what is bound up in various volumes in the Sparks papers, and one of the folder wrappers holding some papers here was marked: "To go with the American Papers." "American Papers" is one of the headings of the bound volumes of Chalmers's manuscripts in the Sparks Papers.

George Chalmers manuscripts are held in collections all over the world. A few of the repositories include: Beinecke Library at Yale University, Bodleian Library at Oxford University, British Library, Edinburgh University Library, Glasgow University Library, Library of Congress Manuscript Division, National Library of Scotland, New York Historical Society, New York Public Library, Pierpont Morgan Library, and many others.

For additional information concerning the library of George Chalmers, see: Messrs. Evans (Firm). Catalogue of the very curious, valuable and extensive library of the late George Chalmers...which will be sold by auction by Messrs.Evans... London: Evans, 1841-1842.
  • Messrs. Evans (Firm). Catalogue of the very curious, valuable and extensive library of the late George Chalmers...which will be sold by auction by Messrs.Evans... London: Evans, 1841-1842.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt
Link to catalog
Chalmers, George, 1742-1825, collector. George Chalmers collection of manuscripts, circa 1760-1825: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

Harvard Yard
Harvard University
Cambridge MA 02138 USA
(617) 495-2440