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Autograph letter signed, Adam Ferguson, to John Home, West Lauriston, 9 October 1780

Identifier: Coll-1682

Scope and Contents

This is a letter from Ferguson to Home discussing the attempt by their mutual friend George Johnstone to find a seat in the general election of September 1780. Ferguson mentions a letter addressed to Home that had arrived at Edinburgh in Home's absence, and writes of a meeting on Saturday, 'most of the Day', with the letter's author, 'Our Friend', a political figure aspiring to office who had been overlooked. 'Our Friend' may be George Johnstone, who is mentioned by name later. Ferguson hopes for success from 'the Endeavours which I trust are still making in his Favour.

Ferguson is glad to see J:M: does not drop the Oar'... J:M: probably being James Macpherson, author of the Ossian, and friend of both Ferguson and Home. Macpherson also knew Johnstone, having been secretary to Johnstone when he was governor of West Florida.

There is the possibility too that J:M: could be John Macpherson MP for Cricklade, though he had no obvious connection with Johnstone.


  • Creation: 1780


Language of Materials


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Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

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.

John Home (1722-1808), a close friend of Ferguson, was a Scottish minister, writer and playwright, and graduate of Edinburgh University, 1742. His first play, Agis: a tragedy, founded on Plutarch's narrative, was finished in 1747. His tragedy of Douglas was first performed in 1756 in Edinburgh. Other works were his tragedy The Siege of Aquileia (1760), the tragedy The Fatal Discovery (1769), Alonzo (1773), and Alfred (1778).


1 folder

Physical Location


Other Finding Aids

None created for this collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired 28 October 2015. Accession no: E2015.79.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 9 November 2015

Autograph letter signed, Adam Ferguson, to John Home, West Lauriston, 9 October 1780
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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
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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