National Records of Scotland

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James Tytler (1745-1804)

James Tytler (1745-1804)

Editor second edition of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica'

James Tytler was born on 17 December 1745. After studying at the University of Edinburgh and with William Cullen he set up as an apothecary. He also started publishing and made his own printing-press. In 1776 he was appointed editor of the second edition of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica', writing many of the new articles himself. In August 1784 he was the first person to undertake a manned flight on British soil in his Grand Edinburgh Fire Balloon. 'Balloon Tytler' as he became known went on to publish a new periodical 'Historical Register' and became involved in campaigns for constitutional reform. He was charged with seditious libel (see below) in 1792. He left for Belfast before emigrating to Salem, Massachusetts in the United States in 1795. He died there on 9 January 1804.

Marriage in 1765

James Tytler, son to the Rev[eren]d Mr Geo[rge] Tytler, min[iste]r at Fern, married Eliz[abe]th Rattray on the Sabbath 27 October 1765. The Old Parish Register for Edinburgh records that she was the daughter of the deceased Ja[me]s Rattray Writer [to the Signet] in Edinburgh.

Marriage entry for James Tytler

Marriage of James Tytler (43 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/49, page 211

Divorce in 1788

Process of Divorce: Elizabeth Rattray v James Tytler, 1788, Commissary Court of Edinburgh (National Records of Scotland, CC8/6/803). The National Records of Scotland online public catalogue record gives this description: Elizabeth Rattray, spouse of James Tytler, sometime druggist in Leith, now chemist in Edinburgh, against the said James Tytler, married 1765, and had issue five children.

Court of Session case in 1792

In 1792 at the Court of Session: Proprietors of the Historical Register Edinburgh Monthly Intelligencer (James Tytler and another) v Cornelius Elliot (National Records of Scotland, CS271/40382)

High Court of Justiciary case in 1793

On 7 January 1793 at the High Court: Trial papers relating to James Tytler for the crime of sedition (National Records of Scotland, JC26/1793/52). The National Records of Scotland online public catalogue record provides this description:

Libelled that in November 1792, James Tytler, chemist residing in Kings Park, Edinburgh, composed a seditious writing addressed '"To the People and their Friends". First day of trial 7th January 1793. Failed to appear, decerned and adjudged to be an outlaw and fugitive from His Majesty's Laws, put to the horn, all moveable goods escheat. Papers include: Indictment; declaration of James Tytler; list of witnesses; list of assize; printed address "To the People and Their Friends"; trial executions.