Charles Selkrig

17th Jul 1757 - 14th Nov 1837

Claimant or beneficiary


Son of Robert Selkrig ('merchant in Edinburgh') and accountant in Edinburgh. Inherited an interest in Marionville estate from his brother, also called Robert. Acted as trustee following the failure of Alexander Houstoun & Co., in 1795.

  1. Family monument in St James and St Cuthberts graveyard Edinburgh gives his death in 1837 age 80 and that of his wife Jane Tod in 1849 age 86. Charles' siblings are also named: a brother Robert (died 1823) (q.v.), and sisters Christian (1823) and Marion (1831). It's not clear that this transcription is accurate: the will of Charles Selkrig mentions his sister Marion who died in 1831 and his brother Robert died in 1823.

  2. His brother Robert Selkrig published 'Ans. Robert Selkrig to pet. William Coats. Answers for Robert Selkrig of the Island of Nevis and Charles Selkrig Accountant in Edinburgh, sons of Robert Selkrig merchant in Edinburgh, to pet. William Coats merchant in Glasgow' (Edinburgh 1788). Robert was active in Demerara from at least 1810 and had previously co-owned Marionville estate with his partner Hugh Fraser.

  3. “... Mr. Charles Selkrig, who had one of the largest practices in Edinburgh from 1786 till his death in 1837... Mr. Selkrig acted as trustee on many large estates, the owners of which had got into difficulties, and his name is said to occur more frequently in the title-deeds of properties in Scotland than that of any other accountant. He was on one occasion awarded what was then considered to be the largest fee ever earned by an accountant, something like £20,000. His partner was Mr. Patrick Cockburn [q.v.], who died in the same year.” A bust of Selkrig was presented to the Society of Accountants in Edinburgh by his nephew John Robert Tod in 1864. Wrote several pamphlets on legal issues particularly to do with laws of entail - see Historical legacies.

  4. Due to his work as an accountant he is mentioned in numerous reports of bankruptcies and legal disputes, for example, see four cases in Decisions of the Court of Session 1781-1822 in the form of a Dictionary where he acted as trustee. He appears in 'A List of Scots appeals, determined by the House of Lords during the last Session of Parliament' in 1814: "Charles Selkrig, trustee for the creditors of Fairholme, v. Davis, Stevenson, Salt, and others.- A very important question,- whether in the case of a bankrupt having effects in England and Scotland, the effects in Scotland are to be distributed under the English commission? or, whether that may not be prevented by subsequent arrestment in Scotland? The subject in dispute respected several shares of the Carron Company’s stock belonging to the late Mr Garbutt and his creditors." He also published several pamphlets.

  5. Unsourced Pedigree Resource File gives him as the son of Robert Selkrig (1731-?) and Susan Hay (1731-1814).

  6. Director of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1815, 1816, 1821.

  7. Admitted as a member of the Highland Society 09/01/1810.

  8. Appointed trustee following the failure of the West India merchant house Alexander Houston & Co. in 1795: 'So great a failure Glasgow had never seen, not even in the crash of the American war.'

  9. Two letters to Charles Selkrig from James Wright (1786) and Duncan Mclean (1786) are available for sale on ebay 02/01/2012.


T71/887 British Guiana claim no. 2518 (Marionville); T71/856 St Mary claim no. 244 (Heywood Hall Estate); T71/869 St George claim no. 327 (Iter Boreale).

  1. [accessed 28/02/2011]. See under 'Will details'.

  2. [accessed 09/08/2012].

  3. Richard Brown, History of Accounting and Accountants (London, Routledge, 1905) p. 194, includes a photograph of the bust. For example,

  4. David Hume, Decisions of the Court of Session 1781-1822 in the form of a Dictionary (Edinburgh, Blackwood and Sons, 1839) pp. 277, 337, 351, 500. Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany (November 1814), Vol. 76 Part 2 p. 809.


  6. Edinburgh Annual Register (March 1815) Vol. 8 p. xxii. Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany (March 1816) Vol. 78 Part 1 p. 236. Sir George Mackenzie, Royal Naval and Military Calendar: and National Record for 1821 (London, for the author, 1821) p. 254.

  7. Prize-essays and Transactions of the Highland Society of Scotland (Edinburgh, Archd. Constable & Co., 1824) p. 648.

  8. George Stewart, Curiosities of Glasgow citizenship as exhibited chielfy in the business career of its old commercial aristocracy (Glasgow, James MacLehose & Sons, 1881) p. 225. See also separate entry for Andrew Houston.

  9.; [both accessed 02/01/2012].

We are grateful to Iain Old for his help compiling this entry.

Further Information

Jane Tod

Source: SC70/1/57 Edinburgh Sheriff Court Inventories.

Accountant in Edinburgh, died 14 November 1837.


Presented to Commissary commissioner on 18th January 1839 by Mrs Jane Selkrig, the sole trustee and executor.

Cash in house; house contents; Royal Bank stock (large holding - £8372); Edinburgh Water Company stock Reference to 1823 disposition document and properties at York Place and Spylaw.

Total value of moveable estate in Scotland - £9707.

Trust and Settlement Document (Will)

Presented to Court 14 December 1838 by John Hope, advocate.
Made 11 March 1824; codicil 22 July 1831; codicil 18 April 1832.

Lived in York Place, Edinburgh and Spylaw.

1823: Selkrig made a disposition document in favour of Mrs Janet Tod or Selkrig (which is copied at end of document). This conveyed his York Place and Spylaw houses, contents etc to her if she survived him Document is hard to read but seems to set up separate Trust for his property in the United Colonies of Demerara' for the purposes after mentioned'.

Trustees are Thomas Tod, advocate; John Tod WS; John Romanes, writer in Edinburgh; Patrick Cockburn, accountant in Edinburgh. Relates to all properties other than those covered by the 1823 Disposition.

First - debts, funeral expenses.

Second - to pay any legacies and annuities.

Lastly - to pay any residue 'of my said property real or personal as well that which may accrue from my said estates in the United Colonies of Demerara'. Three fourths to Mrs Janet Tod or Selkrig, and one fourth to 'Marion Selkrig my only surviving sister'. Various conditions. Reference to allocation of proceeds of estate of his late brother Robert Selkrig. Powers / obligations etc of the Trustees.

Signed 11th March 1824.

Codicil 22 July 1831

'Considering that my dear sister Marion Selkrig has predeceased me...' Trustees to pay over any residue, and from what accrues from his Demerara properties, to his wife. If she predeceases him it is to be paid to whomsoever he shall direct (not specified at this point) ...

Codicil 18 April 1832

Mrs Jane Tod or Selkrig to replace Patrick Cockburn as a trustee.
In view of this decision, and Marion Selkrig having died, the other trustees resigned 14 December 1837 (ie after Selkrig's death) as they saw no need for them to do anything. Mrs Jane Selkrig was thus now the sole trustee.

1823 Disposition document

Reference to marriage contract 1 June 1807 with Jane Tod, daughter of late Thomas Tod of Drygrange. Had house at Park Place. Extends contract to include new house etc., in York Place. Also his Spylaw house. These properties conveyed to Mrs Jane Selkrig.

Wealth at death

Associated Claims (3)

£8,668 19s 7d
£4,942 15s 8d
£2,936 10s 11d
Awardee (Trustee)

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1826 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (3)

Senior partner
Charles Selkrig
notes →
Named as a director in 1815, 1816 and...
Firm Investment
notes →
Owned £8472 of Royal Bank shares on his death in...

Historical (3)

Remarks upon the report of the committee appointed at a meeting of proprietors of entailed estates in... 1827 
1828. March 10. Draught of a Bill to alter and amend the law concerning entails in... 1828 
Copy of a letter, Mr Selkrig to the Marquis of Queensberry of 9th March... 1830 

Relationships (1)


Addresses (1)

Edinburgh, Midlothian (Edinburgh), Central Scotland, Scotland