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Letter, 16 November 1815, to James Chalmer, signed by Adam Ferguson

Identifier: Coll-1487

Scope and Contents

The body of the letter is probably in the hand of a secretary, although the signature itself is thought to be that of Adam Ferguson. The letter dated 16 November 1815, St. Andrews, was written only 3-months or so before his death. The letter is to 'Dear Sir' and bears the address, James Chalmer Esq.r. / Abingdon Street / Westminster / London

The letter refers to how on 'the other leaf of this paper' there is 'the original of a letter' which will explain itself. 'How a claim of mine founded upon it has originated is not material'. All he means 'is hereby to empower' James Chalmer 'to receive the contents in my behalf if any such be forthcoming'. He has 'requested the Bankers at Edinburgh to concur in giving' Chalmer 'the same power'. He has no doubt that Coutts (presumably the banking house of Coutts) 'upon the sight of this paper will also concur'.

What Ferguson wanted was that 'whatever money should be so obtained may be laid out in the purchase of an Annuity' for his son, Adam Ferguson, 'and in any Fund either publick or private is properly secured for his life'.

The letter does not include 'the other leaf'.


  • Creation: 1815


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

The philosopher and historian Adam Ferguson was born at Logierait, Perthshire, on 20 June 1723. He was educated at home, locally in Logierait, and in Perth. He studied at St. Andrews University, taking his M.A. in July 1742. Studies in divinity followed, first at St. Andrews, then at Edinburgh University. An army career followed, and then he embarked on a literary career. Briefly Ferguson held the post of Librarian at the Advocates' Library in succession to David Hume (1711-1776). In 1759 he was appointed as Professor of Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University, and in 1764 to the Chair of the now obsolete Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy. In 1778, he was appointed as Secretary to the Commissioners to the American Colonies. Ferguson retired from the Chair of Moral Philosophy in 1785, but so that he could still draw a salary he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics. Professor Adam Ferguson died at St. Andrews on 22 February 1816.


1 letter

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired February 2012. Accession no: E2013.57.

Related Materials

Held within Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, are a number of papers relating to Professor Adam Ferguson. These are known as Coll-138.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 15 August 2013

Letter, 16 November 1815, to James Chalmer, signed by Adam Ferguson
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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