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Colin Campbell Collection

Identifier: Coll-38

Scope and Contents

The Colin Campbell Collection contains Gaelic verse, mainly songs; sermon notes and scripture expositions, the earliest being 1703; manuscript treatises; Colin Campbell correspondence, the earliest being 1664; miscellaneous manuscripts including domestic accounts, medical papers, minutes etc; notebooks, accounts, letters and scraps of Patrick Campbell of Achnaba; letters from mathematicians to Colin Campbell, and mathematical papers; a body of accounts, the earliest being 1553; a body of notebooks; and, bound volumes.

There are also at MS 3099.15 some letters from the renowned Scottish mathematician Colin MacLaurin, and a copy of his thesis De Viribus Mentium Bonipetis ("On the Good-seeking Forces of Minds"), written in 1714 just after he obtained an MA from the University of Glasgow at the age of 16. In this essay, he tries to apply Newtonian principles to morality.

Click HERE to see a handlist.


  • Creation: 1553-1836

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details

Biographical / Historical

Colin Campbell, the son of Patrick (Dubh Beg) Campbell of Innerzeldies, ancestor of the Barcaldine family, was born in 1644. He was educated at St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews, graduating on 27 July 1661. Thereafter he may have studied at one of the English universities either as a companion or tutor to his relative, Robert of Glenorchy (Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy) an ancestor of the marquises of Breadalbane. In 1666 or 1667 he was admitted as minister of the Parish Church of Ardchattan and Muckairn in Lorne. On 12 January 1676 he was suspended from the ministry on a charge of pre-nuptial intercourse but was restored 25 June 1676. In addition to carrying out his professional duties, Campbell had a deep interest in mathematics and astronomy and was a correspondent of Sir Isaac Newton. Indeed, the Dictionary of National Biography (1908) tells us that in a letter to James Gregory, Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh and formerly of St. Andrews, Newton had said of Campbell, 'he would make children of us all'. From his father, Campbell inherited the farm of Drimvuick in the parish, but exchanged these for the farm of Achnaba. Campbell died 13 March 1726.


7 boxes (1 linear metre)

Physical Location

MSS 3096-3102

Custodial History

The Colin Campbell Collection has been preserved and added to by his descendants right down to the modern time. In 1773, his great-granddaughter Elizabeth was married to Angus Gregorson of Ardtornish and their granddaughter, also Elizabeth, was in possession of the Collection until she passed it to her nephew Angus M. Gregorson, circa 1910. Material held on deposit.

Related Materials

The Index to Manuscripts shows references to other Colin Campbell mss at La.II.695/1-5.


A copy of "An early manuscript of MacLaurin's: mathematical modelling of the forces of good; some remarks on fluids" is available to be read by courtesy of Ian Tweddle, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc. This piece deals with the Maclaurin manuscript MS 3099.15.6 in the Colin Campbell Collection, Special Collection, Edinburgh University Library. The copy is contained in the Handlist, H38 which relates to the Colin Campbell Collection.
Colin Campbell Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379