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Material relating to Donaldson's Hospital, Edinburgh, and including 4 x letters from W. H. Playfair

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-1532
Identifier: Coll-1732

Scope and Contents

The material gathered together by the foreman plumber working on the renovations to Donaldson's Hospital in the late-1950s and early-1960s is composed of...:

  1. 4 x letters from W. H. Playfair to John Irving, written Edinburgh, 28 November 1942, 24 May 1844, 27 May 1847, and 1 December 1848
  2. 1 x printed item, being candidacy of Ann Robertson for 'situation of 'Under Female Teacher in Donaldson's Hospital', dated Rockville [near North Berwick], May 1850
  3. 1 x ms document, 'Copy, claim, difference American and Memel Timbers', Donaldson's Hospital, 8 February 1850 (1853). 'No.381 of process', Cook, W.S.

The W. H. Playfair letters to John Irving, Treasurer, talk of...:

  1. 28 November 1842 - a 'request that you will have the goodness to make arrangements for making me, in the course of next month, a payment (say 300 pounds) to account of my percentage in connection with the expenditure on Donaldson's Hospital'
  2. 24 May 1844 - an enclosed 'letter from Young and Trench containing the account of [Messrs] Ferguson and Davidson for wood furnished by them at Leith...'
  3. 27 May 1847 - 'last night received your letter [e]nclosing [Messrs] Young and Trench's application to the Committee of Donaldson's Hospital and I am writing my report thereon. I am going out of town [...] in search of health, but I am quite ready to meet the Committee tomorrow or Saturday...'
  4. 1 December 1848 - 'I agree with you in thinking that it will be best to have the time of completion as it now stands [...] and it may be that, as you suggest, you acquaint [Messrs] Hadin, that although it does remain, no penalty can or will be inflicted as they have been kept back by the delay of Young and Trench to whom any blame must attach...'

The candidacy document addressed by Ann Robertson to the 'Honourable The Board of Directors of Donaldson's Hospital', 1850, contains testimonials from: the Governors of the Trades' Maiden Hospital (September 1847); Mary Palmer, Hill Terrace, Arbroath (July 1845); Thomas Oliphant, Edinburgh Normal School (September 1844); Robert Kinniburgh, Institution for Deaf and Dumb, Edinburgh (April 1847); C. G. Keith, Treasurer to the Ladies' Auxiliary Deaf and Dumb Society, Edinburgh (April 1847); Jane M. Hope, Secretary to the Ladies' Auxiliary Deaf and Dumb Society, Edinburgh (May 1847); Sam Kerr, Minister, Yester (May 1847); Marion Wright, matron, Trades' Maiden Hospital (May 1847); and, John Clark, Treasurer of Trades' Maiden Hospital (May 1850).

The ms document, 'Claim. Difference between American and Memel Timbers on undernoted Items', is a list with columns showing lengths (Yards/Feet/Inches) and costs for various wood items, from wall straps and plugs, ceiling joists, standards over oriels, to pavement boarding, deafening boards, and frames, and the like.


  • Creation: 1842-1853


Content Description

Donaldson's School (now located in Linlithgow, West Lothian) was founded in 1851 and was originally housed in the Donaldson's Hospital Building in West Coates, Edinburgh. The school and building had been financed by Sir James Donaldson (1751–1830), who was sometime publisher of the Edinburgh Advertiser a city newspaper (1764-1859) which later merged with the Edinburgh Evening Courant.

Applications to the School on behalf of deaf children were encouraged, and from 1938 pupils were exclusively deaf. In 1938, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Dumb, Edinburgh (founded in 1824), was merged into Donaldson's School.

The A-listed Donaldson's Hospital building was designed by architect William Henry Playfair in the Gothic style inspired by Elizabethan manor houses. The building is built round a quadrangle in Tudor architecture style with large corner towers which themselves are each made up of four smaller towers. The Hospital was opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.

The new Donaldson's campus opened in Linlithgow in January 2008.


1 folder

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired by donation, April 2016. Accession no: SC-Acc-2016-0058.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie, 8 April 2016.

Material relating to Donaldson's Hospital, Edinburgh, and including 4 x letters from W. H. Playfair
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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