Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1676-1755)

Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (1676-1755)

Politician and antiquary

Sir John Clerk of Penicuik was educated at the universities of Glasgow and Leiden before embarking on the Grand Tour. Between 1697 and 1699 he visited the courts of Germany and the cities of Vienna, Venice, Rome, Naples, Florence and Paris. While in Rome he came under the tutelage of the composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli and became highly proficient at violin and harpsichord. He went on to compose five cantatas. In 1700 he was called to the Bar and acted as one of the commissioners for the Treaty of Union seven years later. His appointment as Baron of the Exchequer ensured that he had the freedom to pursue other interests such as collecting Roman antiquities from Scottish excavations, landscape gardening, improvement of his landed estates, poetry and writing. He encouraged the architect William Adam, who built his fashionable house at Mavisbank. He was popular in Scottish society for his largesse and impeccable taste.

Birth in 1676

John Clerk of Penicuik was baptised on 26 February 1676, the son of John Clerk of Pennycook and Elizabeth Henderson. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) of births and baptisms for Edinburgh includes the names of several witnesses.

Baptism entry for John Clerk of Penicuik

Baptism entry for John Clerk of Penicuik (102 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/80, page 20

Testament of Sir John Clerk

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/117 pp 148-154

View transcript (16 KB PDF)

The images of the original document are in jpeg format (approximately 140 KB):

View page 1 of the actual document
View page 2 of the actual document
View page 3 of the actual document
View page 4 of the actual document
View page 5 of the actual document
View page 6 of the actual document
View page 7 of the actual document