Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)

Adam Ferguson (1723-1816)

Philosopher and historian

Adam Ferguson was born in Logierait, Perthshire. He gained his first degree from St Andrews and went on to study divinity at Edinburgh. He served as a chaplain in the Black Watch regiment and was present at the battle of Fontenoy in 1745. After a spell as librarian in the Advocate's Library in Edinburgh he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy in 1759 and of Moral Philosophy in 1764 at the university there. He almost lost his position due to prolonged absences in Italy and France, where he made the acquaintance of Voltaire. In 1778 he was appointed secretary to the commission sent by Lord North to Philadelphia to treat with the colonists. His academic output included the 'History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic' (1783), 'Principles of Moral and Political Science' (1792) and 'Essay on the History of Civil Society' (1767). His insights have been seen as the origin of the subject of sociology.

Marriage in 1766

Adam Ferguson, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, married Ketty Burnet, daughter of James Burnet, merchant in Aberdeen. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Aberdeen (her parish) shows they were contracted to to marry on 6 October 1766.

Marriage entry for Adam Ferguson - Aberdeen

Marriage entry for Adam Ferguson in the OPR for Aberdeen (35 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 168A/13, page 488

A second entry in the Old Parish Register for St Cuthbert's (his parish) records the date of marriage as 15 October 1766 and his residence as Lauriston.. Most other details are the same but with College rather than University and Catherine instead of Ketty.

Marriage entry for Adam Ferguson - St Cuthbert's

Marriage entry for Adam Ferguson in the OPR for St Cuthbert's (32 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-2/16, page 62

Death in 1816

The entry in the Old Parish Register for St Andrews and St Leonards states that Dr Adam Ferguson of the University of Edinburgh died here on 23 February 1816.

Death entry for Adam Ferguson

Death entry for Adam Ferguson in the OPR for St Andrews and St Leonards (19 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 453/17, page 190

Testament of Adam Ferguson

National Records of Scotland, CC20/7/8 pp 574-584

View transcript (92 KB PDF)

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