Scottish Ports and their Customs Officers, 1743

Copyright © Iain Kennedy 7th-9th February 2008

Updated 9th February with Kennedy customs officers, see further down page!

I recently examined an interesting document at the National Archives which details all the ports in Scotland in 1743 along with all the customs and excise staff. I was searching for two Kennedys, Lewis Kennedy of the Culzean family who was supposed to have held the role of Customs Officer at Irvine until his death in 1743. The other later Kennedy doing this work was a Matthew Kennedy who after marrying in Guernsey, had a child at Fort Charlotte near Lerwick in the Shetland Isles, before moving to Ayr to have two more children then vanishing. He flourished in the 1850s and I have been advised by the National Archives that post 1829 all Customs records are held at Kew, even if they worked in Scotland.

Before the age of the train these ports would be used more than we might think for travelling inside Britain. For example the Earl of Cassillis used to travel to and fro between his London residence and Culzean Castle by taking a ship to Leith (near Edinburgh) then travelling overland to Ayrshire.

I have listed all the ports, and the staff at all the Ayrshire and Galloway ports.

GD1/54/10 'Charges of Customs Salt and Excise in Scotland with the names of the Officers 1743'


















Fort William



Port Glasgow

Irvine - Lawrence Nugent, Collector; James Cunninghame, Comptroller; Thomas Boyd, Surveyor; also listed landward searchers (2), tidesmen (10), salt officers (2) and watchmen (1). Lewis Kennedy presumably had died or at least retired by 1743 then.


Air - John Fairlie, Roger Ker and Richard Adserton

Stranraer - Edward Bruce, Charles Innes, Alex Cuningham, William Macdowal

Wigtoun - William Hamilton, David Agnew, John Smith

Whithorn - Henry Mcculloch

Campbeltown - Thomas Fraser

Dumfries - John Young

Kirkcudbright - John Dalziel

Expence of three sloops in the service

Prince William

Princess Caroline

Princess Ann

Edinburgh precint excise salaries

Collectors in the different districts in Scotland

Air - Robert Molison

Aberdeen - James Lidderdale

North Argyle - James Tun

South Argyle - Daniel Campbell

Caithness - Patrick Drummond

Dumfries - Archibald Gordon

Fife - James Stark

Glasgow - John Blackstock

Haddington - William Carse

Linlithgow - John Wood

Perth - Alexander Wedderburn

Inverness - Thomas Wedderburn

Teviotdale - James Murray

Scottish Kennedy Customs Officers 1707-1830 NAS RH4/6/1-2

NAS document RH4/6/1-2 viewable at West Register House details in somewhat cryptic fashion customs officers in Scotland up to 1830. The source relies heavily on abbreviations which can appear baffling, for now I have just typed up what I found. If necessary I will return to it if I can't figure out a particular source. Nine Kennedys are listed, the earliest being a Henry Kennedy working from 1708 onwards. Frustatingly Lewis Kennedy is not in the list. I checked his Irvine successor Lawrence Nugent (fl. 1743) but he wasn't listed either; the Irvine customs and excise records look like they don't start until post 1800.