A Famous Trust Deed From History

24th October 2011

Many people assume that personal debt and the use of the trust deed in Scotland is a largely modern phenomenon. In fact the use of a trust deed by Scottish residents to deal with debt that is no longer affordable can be traced back a long way through history. One famous example is that of Sir Walter Scott.

Sir Walter Scott (born 1771) was a historical novelist, playwright, and poet. His fame spread beyond Scottish and British borders, he was well-known and popular throughout most of the world. Titles such as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and The Lady of the Lake remain well-read to this day.

Sir Walter Scott also had business interests. These interests were to ultimately throw him into debt and force him to set up a trust deed to deal with his creditors. He had invested heavily in a printing business that was to collapse following a banking crisis in the City of London and Edinburgh during 1825 and 1826, which was to lead him to take on a trust deed.

According to Reliquiae Trotcosienses, “Instead of sequestration, which would have required the sale of Scott’s property to meet the claims of creditors, Scott signed a trust deed into which his literary earnings were paid. He was expected to live off his official salaries as Principal Clerk of the Court of Session and Sheriff of Selkirkshire”.

Scott also refused the help of his friends, supporters and admirers who wished to help him deal with his debts. Using the trust deed to protect his position, he set-out to write himself out of debt. He died in 1832, whilst still in the trust deed. When he died his creditors had not been fully repaid. However, his enduring popularity meant that the royalties earned from his books eventually fully repaid his creditors via the trust deed after his death.

It would seem that Scott did not find living on his official salaries easy, and became somewhat “creative” in ensuring that he did not miss out on all luxuries during his trust deed. Reliquiae Trotcosienses reports, “The costs of maintaining Abbotsford, of entertaining the innumerable guests that flocked to see him there… plus the habits of affluent living which he had acquired over a lifetime, all combined to prevent him from living on his official salaries. He therefore developed a relationship with his publisher Robert Cadell (of which his Trustees disapproved, but they had to condone)…”!

The use of a trust deed to deal with personal debts in Scotland is no new phenomena. There are also a number of curious parallels between the difficulties that afflicted Scott and the current economic situation in Scotland. A banking crisis and subsequent business failures in recent years have also caused many people to become unable to repay their personal debts as they originally intended to, forcing them into a trust deed. Like Scott, many people are unwilling to call upon the help of family and friends in such circumstances. Also like Scott, many people prefer to avoid sequestration and wish to take steps to protect the property that they live in as part of their trust deed.

Times may change, but it would seem that history repeats itself when the economy takes a turn for the worse.

To learn more about using a trust deed, visit Trust-Deed.co.uk. Our website is full of vital information that you need to know if you are considering a trust deed. On our site you can talk to others in a similar position in our forums, get advice from our professionally qualified trust deed experts or speak directly to our experienced trust deed team on 0800 043 7201.

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