Lady Grisell Baillie of Jerviswood (born Hume)
(1665 - 1746)

This person was submitted by Edith Kuiper


Full biography

Grisell Hume was born December 25 in 1665 at Redbreas Castle as the daughter of Sir Patrick Hume, the eighth Baron of Polwarth, and her mother Grisell Kerr, daughter of Sir Thomans Kerr of Cavers (Anderson 1857, 547). Grisell Hume was the eldest of eighteenth children, two of which two died in childhood. Her father was a patriot and strongly involved in the religious upheaval and resistance against the rules Charles II had set for the church in Schotland. In 1674 Hume was one of those who went with the Duke of Hamilton to London to protest the treatment of the Scots by the Duke of Lauerdale. His friend Robert Baillie was later imprisoned in Edinburgh. Polwarth himself was arrested and imprisoned for four months in Stirling Castle in June 1676. Back in his country house, he sent Grisell to Edinburgh to hand over messages to Robert Baillie, which she could do without raising suspicion. In 1678 Patrick Hume was made prisoner again and taken to the Edinburgh Toolbooth. Later he was brought over to Dumbarton Castle, where he stayed for more than a year. Also in this period Grisell acted as go-between and exchanged intelligence between the two men. In 1683 Robert Baillie was again arrested for his involvement in the patriotic movement. Hume was left alone this time until the next year, when they decided to arrest him as well. He went into hiding in a vault under ground of Polwarth Church, where Grisell brought him his victuals and clothing during the night. When this became untenable and his friend Robert Baillie was executed, Hume left for Holland.

He fled to France and travelled on by foot to Holland. After another expedition, this time with the Earl of Argyll to Scotland, after the death of Charles II, he took up residence in Utrecht under the name of Dr. Peter Wallace, a surgeon, and lived there with his family under the protection of the Prince of Orange. Patrick Hume as well as the Baillie family had their estates forfeited by the Crown. The Hume family lived with other protestants involved in the movement, and were supported by them when necessary. In Utrecht, Grisell did most of the household work, kept the books and washed and mended the clothes. The children were taught at home by their parents. Patrick Hume and George Baillie - Robert’s son - accompanied the Prince of Orange, William III and Queen Mary when they shipped themselves in and went to England to take over the Throne.

After the Revolution, Patrick Hume was restored in his function, regained his house, became Earl of Marchmont and was assigned the position of Chancellor of Scotland. Grisell Hume and George Baillie married in September 1692. George also regained his former estates and they both lived most of their lives at the House of Mellerstain. They got a boy, who died very young, and two daughters: Grisell, who was born in 1693. She married Alexander Murray of Stanhope in 1710. This marriage did not last long. Murray soon appeared to have a violent and jealous character to such an extent that the parents decided to ask for a divorce to protect their daughter’s life. Rachel, born in 1696, married Charles, Lord Binning, son of the sixth Earl of Haddington. Joanna Baillie, the poet, was Grisell Baillie’s grand child.

Grisell took care of the management of the house of Mellerstain, which contained a few hundred souls. Her daughter Grisell gives account of her mother working very long days, getting up early to do the books, attending problems before they could arise and solving problems were they did occur. Grisell was well involved in the decision making around the place. Her daughter mentions that her father practically always asked advise for major and more minor decisions from his wife, and hardly made inquiries about the state of things and how things where being managed. As a rare exception to this rule, he sometimes asked her ‘whether his debts were being paid’ (Murray of Stanhope 1824). She also took care of the books and business of her father. She went up to Scotland once every two years, and then worked days and nights to get the books in order. “Often I wondered how she found the way to compass so much business, since she was called from it every moment, and got to it but by starts; but she was indefatigable at all times, and even at her great age, to set very thing in a clear light, for the ase of those that were to come after her; and left all things, to the greatest trifles, and memorandums from friends, so marked and write upon, as I found them, in a way that is a sure proof that she never expected to see them again’ (Murray 1824, 96). She also took care of the business and education of the children of Alexander, Lord Polworth, the brother of her husband. She brought his two sons from Scotland to London and found a school for them, arranged their affairs until they were old enough to go to Holland, and hired them a tutor as well.

Both George and Grisell enjoyed themselves in company. They liked music and dancing and social gatherings. Fyfe and Mackie (1942) report of a visit of Grisell to one of the dance houses in Edinburgh when she was already of a considerable age. George Baillie died in 1738 when Grisell is in Oxford, after a very happy marriage of forty-eight years. Grisell died in December 1746.

On her grave stone at Mellerstain House there is an inscription written by Sir Thomas Burnet (reproduced in Anderson 1857, 586-7 and in Lady Murray of Stanhope 1824, Appendix III):

wife of GEORGE BAILLIE of Jerviswood, Esq.
eldest daughter
of the Right Honourable PATRICK, Earl of Marchmont;
a pattern to her sex, an honour to her country.
She excelled in the characters of a daughter, a wife, a mother.
While an infant,
at the hazard of her own, she preserved her father’s life;
who, under the rigorous persecution of arbitrary power,
sought refuge in the close confinement of a tomb,
where he was nightly supplied with necessaries, conveyed by her,
with a caution far above her years,
a courage almost above her sex;
a real instance of the so much celebrated Roman charity.
She was a shining example of conjugal affection,
that knew no dissension, felt no decline,
during almost a fifty year’s union;
the dissolution of which she survived from duty, not choice.
Her conduct, as a parent,
was amiable, exemplary, successful,
to a degree not well to be expressed,
without mixing the praises of the dead with those of the living;
who desire that all praise , but of her, should be silent.
At different times she managed the affairs
of her father, her husband, her family, her relations,
with unwearied application, with happy economy,
as distant from avarice as from prodigality.
Christian piety, love of her country,
zeal for her friends, compassion for her enemies,
cheerfulness of spirit, pleasantness of conversation,
dignity of mind,
Good breeding, good humour, good sense,
were the daily ornaments of an unusual life,
protracted by Providence to an uncommon length,
for the benefit of all who fell within the sphere of her benevolence.
Full of years, and of good works,
she died on the 6th day of December 1746,
near the end of her 81st year,
and was buried on her birth-day, the 25th of that month.



  • Lady Grisell Baillie's Household Book 1692 - 1733 (edited by R. Scott-Moncrieff, 1911, Edinburgh).
  • Poems like Werena My Heart Licht, in Allen Ramsay (1724) The Tea Table Miscellany.


Warena My Heart's Licht I Wad dee
Lady Grisell Baillie's Household Book

Web resources

Online Encyclopedia
The Literary Encyclopedia
Site on House Mellerstain
Literary Encyclopedia on Joanna Baillie

Secondary literature

  • James Anderson (1857) Grisell Hume, Lady Baillie of Jerviswood, in: The Ladies of the Covenant: Memoirs Of Distinguished Scottisch Female Characters, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Blackie & Son, pp. 546-587
  • Lady Murray of Stanhope (1824) Memoirs of the Lives and Characters of the Right Honourable George Ballie of Jerviswood and of Lady Grisell Baillie, Edinburgh, John Pillans
  • Robert Scott-Montcrieff, W.S. (1911) Introduction to Lady Grisell Baillie's Household Book 1692-1733, Edinburgh, University Press for the Scottish History Society.
  • Jasmine MacDonald (2010) The Baillies of Mellerstain: The Household Economy in an Eighteenth-Century Elite Household, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, University Press for the Scottish History Society.

Libraries in which you can find work of Lady Grisell Baillie of Jerviswood (born Hume)

Library of the University of Glasgow.