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Greenlaw, Close to where Grisell Baillie was Born
Greenlaw, Close to where Grisell Baillie was Born

Lady Grisell (or Grizel) Baillie, lived from 25 December 1665 to 6 December 1746. She was a songwriter and poet. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Grisell Hume (or Home) was born at Redbraes Castle in the Scottish Borders, a couple of miles north east of Greenlaw. She was the eldest daughter of Sir Patrick Hume (or Home) of Polwarth. In 1676, at the age of 11, Grisell was sent by her father to carry a letter to his close friend Robert Baillie of Jerviswood, imprisoned in Edinburgh Tolbooth for helping his Covenanting brother-in-law escape the authorities. While there she met his son, George Baillie, for the first time. Robert Baillie was arrested again in 1683, and Sir Patrick Hume himself went into hiding in the vault of Polwath Kirk. After Baillie's execution, Hume and his family left Scotland to live in Holland, Here Grisell met George Baillie again.

After the accession to the throne of William and Mary in January 1689, Grisell Hume declined a position in the royal household so she could be with George Baillie in Scotland. The two married on 17 September 1692 and settled in the Baillie ancestral home, Mellerstain House in the Scottish Borders.

At Mellerstain, Grisell developed as a songwriter and poet. She also managed all the accounts and business affairs of the Mellerstain Estate. The detailed records she kept over a period of over 40 years remain an important source for social historians today. Grisell and George had three children, of whom two daughters survived into adulthood. Grisell died in 1746 and was buried at Mellerstain House.

This biography draws on research first published in "The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women".

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