Collection FRS - F.R.S. Balfour Collection

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F.R.S. Balfour Collection


  • 1920 - 1946 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 boxes, 28cm

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born Denbighshire 1873; died London 1945
Educated at Loretto School, Musselburgh and gaining a BA at Oxford University in 1896, Frederick Balfour was initially employed in his family firm in London. He travelled extensively on business and made several expeditions to the Pacific coast of North America, on one occasion staying there for 4 years, acquiring a deep knowledge of forest trees. He introduced the cultivation of several pines including Picea brewiana and developed the Arboretum at the family estate at Dawyck near Peebles, which he had inherited from his father in 1886. Dawyck was already a well established estate with trees dating back to the late seventeenth century. In 1916 Balfour was sent to France to liaise with the French Army over supplies of timber, being appointed Lieut. Colonel for the purpose. His interest in forestry continued after the war and he travelled extensively to supplement the Dawyck collection. With many business interests and directorships, Balfour was a member of the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland, Royal Company of Archers and a local Justice of the Peace and Vice Lieutenant of the county in Peeblesshire.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists’; Gardeners Chronicle 1945; RBGE obituary folder.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Papers relating to Colonel F.R.S. Balfour of Dawyck, including Correspondence, papers relating to the Rhododendron Conference due to be held in 1939, and papers related to the Landowners' Co-operative Forestry Society Ltd.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

FRS/1: Correspondence, mainly with William Wright Smith
FRS/1/1/001-221: 221 letters, mainly between Balfour and Smith (but also James Fraser re: James Murray; and A. Bruce Jackson re: William Evans) dating to between 1920 and 1928. Includes information on the Botany of Peeblesshire.
FRS/1/2/001-129: 129 letters mainly between Balfour and Smith (but also Gertrude Balfour; John MacQueen Cowan; Foister; William Gibson and John Andrew) dating to between 1930 and 1935.
FRS/1/3/001-155: 154 letters (024 does not exist) mainly between Smith and Balfour (but also John MacQueen Cowan, William Edgar Evans, David Wilkie?, Gertrude Balfour and Vera Higgins) dating to between 1936 and 1945.

FRS/2: Rhododendron Conference Papers
FRS/2/1/01-43: Rhododendron Conference (1939), papers dating to 1938 including : programme, agenda, correspondence with Fred J. Chittenden, Campbell, Robert Moyes Adam, John MacQueen Cowan, William J. Blackwood, Euan Cox, John Finnie, Donald Wyman, Lionel de Rothschild, Sir John Stirling Maxwell, etc regarding research for paper to be presented by F.R.S. Balfour at the conference – there’s a lot of weather data being passed around. Also copies of the paper “Rhododendron Species in a Cold Situation”
FRS/2/2/001-102: Rhododendron Conference 1939 – folders containing Conference Committee papers and correspondence between F.R.S. Balfour and fellow attendees including Robert Moyes Adam, George Rutherford, George Campbell, Fred J. Chittenden, K.L. Kenneth, Bruce A. Jackson, Herbert Ihrig, John MacQueen Cowan, etc and F.R.S. Balfour’s paper “Rhododendrons in the Western Highlands”
FRS/2/3/01-09: correspondence relating to the cancelled 1939 Rhododendron Conference, dating to 1940

FRS/3: Ephemera
FRS/3/1: Landowners’ Co-operative Forestry Society, Ltd.
FRS/3/1/1: List of Plants and Shrubs for sale, 1927-28
FRS/3/1/2: List No.1 – F.R.S. Balfour’s surplus plant list from nurseries at Dawyck, 1928.
FRS/3/2: copy letters between Samuel Crosse, F.R.S. Balfour and the Curator at Kew Gardens, 1920, regarding the sale of David Douglas’s telescope – originals filed under ‘Douglas’.

Conditions of access and use area

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Conditions governing reproduction

requires permission from RBGE

Language of material

  • English

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Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

original Samuel Crosse letters filed under 'Douglas'

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Archivist's note

description compiled by L.P.

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Physical storage

  • Box: B03
  • Box: B04
  • Box: B05
  • Shelf: C:3:4