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ADAM, a surname belonging to a family of come antiquity in Scotland. Duncan Adam, son of Alexander Adam, lived in the reign of Robert the Bruce, and had four sons, Robert, John, Reginald, and Duncan, from whom all the Adams, Adamsons, and Adies in Scotland, are descended. (Burke's Landed Gentry.) From the youngest son, Duncan Adam, who accompanied James, Lord Douglas, in his expedition to Spain on his way to the Holy Land, with the heart of King Robert, is stated to have descended, JOHN ADAM, who was slain at Flodden in 1513. His son CHARLES ADAM was seated at Fanno, in Forfarshire, and his descendant in the fourth degree, ARCHIBALD ADAM, of Fanno, sold his patrimonial lands in the time of Charles I., and acquired those of Queenamanour in time same county. His great-grandson, JOHN married Helen Cranstoun, of the family of Lord Cranstoun, by whom he left one son, WILLIAM ADAM, an eminent architect, who purchased several estates, particularly that of Blair, in the county of Kinroes, where he built a house and village, which he named Mary-burgh. He married Mary, daughter of William Robertson, Esq. of Gladney, and, with other issue, had JOHN ADAM, his heir (the father of the Right Hon. WILLIAM ADAM, Lord Chief Commissioner of the Jury Court in Scotland, the subject of a subsequent biography), and ROBERT and JAMES ADAM, the celebrated architects, of both of whom notices are here given :—

ADAM, ROBERT, a celebrated architect, was born at Kirkaldy in 1728. He was the second son of Mr. William Adam of Maryburgh, who, like his father, was also an architect, and who designed Hopetoun house, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and other buildings. After studying at the university of Edinburgh, Robert, in 1754, proceeded to the continent, and resided three years in Italy, studying his art. From the splendid monuments of antiquity which that country presents to the traveller, he imbibed that scientific style of design by which all his works are distinguished. But it was only from fragments that he was enabled to form his taste, the ravages of time and tile hands of barbarians having assisted for the destruction of those noble specimens of ancient architecture, the ruins of which only remain to attest their former grandeur and magnificence.

      With the intention of viewing a more complete monument of ancient splendour than any he had seen, accompanied by M. Clerissean, a French artist, and two expert draughtsmen, in July 1757 he sailed from Venice to Spalatro in Dalmatia, to inspect the remains of the palace to which the emperor Dioclesian retired from the cares of government. They found the palace much defaced; but as its remains still exhibited time nature of the structure, they proceeded to a minute examination of its various parts. Tiseir labours, however, were immediately interrupted by the interference of tile government of Venice, from a suspicion that they were making plans of the fortifications. Fortunately, General Graeme, commander-in-chief of the Venetian forces, interposed; and, being seconded by Count Antonio Marcovich, they were soon allowed to. prosecute their designs. In 1762, on his return to England, he was appointed architect to the king, an office which he resigned six years afterwards, on being elected M.P. for the county of Kinross.

      In 1764 he published, in one volume folio, a splendid work, containing seventy-one engravings and descriptions of the ruins of the palace of Dioclesian at Spalatro, and of some other buildings. In 1773 he and his brother James, also an eminent architect, brought out ‘The ‘Works of R. and J. Adam,’ in numbers, consisting of plans and elevations of buildings in England and Scotland, erected or designed, among which are the Register House and the University of Edinburgh, and the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, in Scotland, and Sion House, Caen-Wood, Luton Park House, and some edifices at Whitehall, in England.

      Mr. Adam died 3d March, 1792, by the bursting of a blood-vessel, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The year before his death he designed no less than eight public buildings and twenty-five private ones. His genius extended itself beyond the decorations of buildings, to various branches of manufacture; and besides the improvements which he introduced into the architecture of the country, he displayed great skill and taste in his numerous drawings in landscape.—Annual Reqister, vol. xxxiv.—Scots Mag. 1803. Of the Register House at Edinburgh it is remarked by Telford, in his contribution on Civil Architecture to the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, that only a part of this masterly plan has been executed, but even this composes an apparently complete building. The original design as given in the works of H. and J. Adam, has in the centre a magnificent circular saloon, covered and lighted by a dome. This saloon is surrounded by small apartments, and the whole of these are enclosed by buildings in the shape of a parallelogram, by which ingenious contrivance access to all the apartments and an effective lighting of the whole is perfectly accomplished. Even as it is, this building, both internally and externally, reflects great credit on the architect, and from the chasteness of the details, it is evident that the external features have been the result of much attention. A greater degree of magnificence," he adds, "might have been obtained by keeping the basement of the principal front lower, by adding to the magnitude of the order," and by a few modifications of other details.

Among the private edifices pertaining to Scotland connected with the name of Robert Adam, are, Hopetoun House, on the south bank of the estuary of the Forth, to which magnificent edifice he added the graceful wings; Melville Castle, on the banks of the Esk near Lasswade, which was by his ingenuity rendered a magnificent and appropriate feature in that part of the kingdom; Culzean Castle, on a bold promontory on the coast of Ayrshire, where, with his usual fertility of invention, the same architect has rendered this seat of the marquis of Ailsa a just resemblance of a Roman villa as described by Pliny; and last, but. not least, Gosford House in East Lothian, perhaps the most extensive and superb of modern Scottish structures, built by the earl of Wemyss from one of his designs. Of Sion House, the mansion of the duke of Northumberland, in the county of Middlesex, the chief features of novelty are in the style of Spalatra and the Pantheon at Rome, but the interior arrangements are in every respect as good as can well be imagined. Luton park in Bedfordshire, the seat of the marquis of Bute, is the most original of all his works, and although not in all respects the happiest, may be considered—the façade especially—as designed in his best manner.

ADAM, JAMES, the brother of the preceding, held, at one period, the office of architect to his majesty George III. He was the designer of Portland Place, one of the noblest streets in London, and died on the 17th October, 1794. From the two brothers the Adelphi Buildings in the Strand derive their name, being their joint work.

ADAM, WILLIAM, Right Hon., nephew of the two foregoing gentlemen, lord chief commissioner of the jury court in Scotland, on its first introduction there for the trial of civil causes, the son of John Adam of Blair Adam, and his wife Jean, the daughter of John Ramsay, Esq., was born 21st July 1751, O.S. He was educated at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Oxford, and in 1773 was admitted a member of the faculty of Advocates, but never practised at the Scottish bar. In 1774 he was chosen M.P. for Gatton; in 1780 for Stranraer, &c.; in 1784 for the Elgin burghs; and in 1790 for Ross-shire. At the close of Lord North’s administration in 1782, in consequence of some family losses he became a barrister-at-law. In 1794 he retired from parliament to devote himself to his profession. In 1802 he was appointed counsel for the East India Company, and in 1806 chancellor of the duchy of Cornwall. In the same year he was returned M.P. for Kincardineshire, and in 1807, being elected both for that county and for Kinrossshire, he preferred to sit for the former. In 1811 he again vacated his seat for his professional duties. Being now generally esteemed a sound lawyer his practice increased, and he was consulted by the prince of Wales, the duke of York, and many of the nobility. In the course of his parliamentary career, in consequence of something that occurred in a discussion during the first American war, he fought a duel with the late Mr. Fox, which happily ended without bloodshed, when the latter jocularly remarked, that had his antagonist not loaded his pistol with government powder, he would have been shot. Mr. Adam generally opposed the politics of Mr. Pitt. In 1814 he submitted to government the plan for trying civil causes by jury in Scotland. In 1815 he was made a privy councillor, and was appointed one of the barons of the Scottish exchequer, chiefly with the view of enabling him to introduce and establish the new system of trial by jury in civil cases.

      In 1816 an act of parliament was obtained, instituting a separate jury court in Scotland, in which he was appointed lord chief commissioner, with two of the judges of the court of session as his colleagues. He accordingly relinquished his situation in the exchequer, and continued to apply his energies to the duties of the jury court, overcoming, by his patience, zeal, and urbanity, the many obstacles opposed to the success of such an institution. In 1830, when sufficiently organized, the jury court was, by another act, transferred to the court of session, and on taking his seat on the bench of the latter for the first time, addresses were presented to him from the Faculty of Advocates, the Society of Writers to the Signet, and the Solicitors before the Supreme Courts, thanking him for the important benefits which the introduction of trial by jury in civil cases had conferred on the country. In 1833 he retired from the bench; and died at his house in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on the 17th February 1839, in the 89th year of his age.

After his appointment to the presidency of the jury court, he spent a great part of his time at his paternal seat in Kinross-shire. "Here," says Lockhart, in his Life of Scott, "about Midsummer 1816, he received a visit from his near relation William Clerk, Adam Fergusson, his hereditary friend and especial favourite, and their lifelong intimate, Scott. They remained with him for two or three days, in the course of which they were all so much delighted with their host, and he with them, that it was resolved to re-assemble the party with a few additions, at the same season of every following year. This was the origin of the Blair-Adam club, the regular members of which were in number nine; viz., the four already named,— the chief commissioner’s son, Admiral Sir Charles Adam; his son-in-law, the late Mr. Anstruther Thomson of Charleton, in Fifeshire; Mr. Thomas Thomson, the deputy register of Scotland; his brother, the Rev. John Thomson, minister of Duddingstone, one of the first landscape painters of his time; and the Right Hon. Sir Samuel Shepherd, who became chief baron of the court of exchequer in Scotland, shortly after the third anniversary of this brotherhood. They usually contrived to meet on a Friday; spent the Saturday in a ride to some scene of historical interest within an easy distance; enjoyed a quiet Sunday at home,—’ duly attending divine worship at the Kirk of Cleish (not Cleishbotham)’—gave Monday morning to another antiquarian excursion, and returned to Edinburgh in time for the courts of Tuesday. From 1816 to 1831 inclusive, Sir Walter was a constant attendant at these meetings." It was during one of these visits to Blair-Adam that the idea of ‘The Abbot’ had first arisen in Scott’s mind, and it was at his suggestion that the chief commissioner commenced a little book on the improvements which had taken place on his estate, which, under the title of ‘Blair-Adam, from 1733 to 1834,’ was privately printed for his own family and intimate friends. "It was," says the Judge, "on a fine Sunday, lying on the grassy summit of Bennarty, above its craggy brow, that Sir Walter said, looking first at the flat expanse of Kinross-shire (on the south side of the Ochils), and then at the space which Blair-Adam fills between the hill of Drumglow (the highest of the Cleish hills) and the valley of Lochore—’ What an extraordinary thing it is, that here to the north so little appears to have been done, when there are so many proprietors to work upon it; and to the south, here is a district of country entirely made by the efforts of one family, in three generations, and one of them amongst us in time full enjoyment of what has been done by his two predecessors and himself! Blair-Adam, as I have always heard, had a wild, uncomely, and unhospitable appearance, before its improvements were begun. It would be most curious to record in writing its original state, and trace its gradual progress to its present condition." Lockhart adds, "upon this suggestion, enforced by the approbation of the other members present, the president of the Blair-Adam club commenced arranging the materials for what constitutes a most instructive as well as entertaining history of the agricultural and arboricultural progress of his domains in the course of a hundred years, under his grandfather, his father (the celebrated architect), and himself. And Sir Walter had only suggested to his friend of Kinross-shire what he was resolved to put into practice with regard to his own improvements on Tweedside; for lie began at precisely the same period to keep a regular journal of all his rural transactions, under the title of ‘Sylva Abbotsfordiensis.’” (See Lockhart’s Life of Scott, chapter 50.)

Mr. Adam was a personal friend of George IV., and at one period held a confidential office in the royal household at Canton House, when the latter was prince regent. He married in 1777 a daughter of the tenth Lord Elphinstone, and had a family of several Sons: viz. John, long at the head of the council in India, who died in 1825; Admiral Sir Charles, M.P., one of the lords of admiralty, and governor of Greenwich Hospital; died in 1854; William George, an eminent king’s counsel, afterwards accountant - general in the court of Chancery, who died 16th May 1839, three months after his father; and the Right 1-Ion. General Sir Frederick, who distinguished himself in the Peninsular war, held a command at Waterloo, where he was wounded, was afterwards high commissioner of the lonian islands, and subsequently governor of Madras; died 17th August 1853. A younger son died abroad.

ADAM, ALEXANDER, an eminent scholar, and author of a standard work on ‘Roman Antiquities,’ was born at Coats of Burgie, in the parish of Rafford, county of Elgin, on the 24th June, 1741. (Uoates or Cots, meaning a house or enclosure for sheep.) His parents, who rented a small farm, were in humble circumstances; and, like many of his countrymen who have afterwards raised themselves to distinction, he received the first part of his education at the parish school. His constant application to his book induced his father to have him taught Latin. Before he was sixteen, he had borrowed, from a clergyman in the neighbourhood, a copy of Livy in the small Elzevir edition, and we are told used to read it before daybreak, during the mornings of winter, by the light of splinters of bogwood dug out of an adjoining moss, not having an opportunity of doing so at any other period of the day. In 1757 he endeavoured, but without success, to obtain a bursary or exhibition at King’s college, Aberdeen. In 1758, a relative of his mother, the Rev. Mr. Watson, one of the ministers of the Canongate, Edinburgh, advised him to remove to that city, "provided he was prepared to endure every hardship for a season ;" and hardships of a severe nature.

      He did endure, but nothing could deter him from the pursuit of knowledge. Through Mr. Watson’s influence he obtained free admission to the lectures of the different professors, with, of course, access to the college library; and while attending the classes, it appears that all his income was only the sum of one guinea per quarter, which he received from Mr. Alan Maconochie, afterwards Lord Meadowbank, for being his tutor. At this time he lodged in a small room at Restalrig, for. which he paid fourpence a-week. His breakfast consisted of oatmeal porridge with small beer, and his dinner was often no more than a penny loaf and a drink of water. After about eighteen months of close study, at the early age of nineteen lie was fortunate in being elected, on a comparative trial of candidates, head master of Watson’s Hospital, where he continued to improve himself in classical knowledge, by a careful perusal of the best authors.

      Three years afterwards he resigned this office, on becoming private tutor to the son of Mr. Kincaid, subsequently lord provost of Edinburgh. In April 1765 he was, by that gentleman’s influence, appointed assistant to Mr. Matheson, rector of the high school, whose increasing infirmities compelled him to retire, on a small annuity, paid principally from the class-fees; and on the 8th June 1768 lie succeeded him as rector. He now devoted himself assiduously to the duties of his school, and to those literary and classical researches for which he was so peculiarly qualified. To him the high school of Edinburgh owes much of its reputation, and is entirely indebted, for the introduction of Greek, which he effected in 1772, in spite of the opposition of the Senatus Academicus of the university, who, considering it an encroachment on the Greek chair, presented a petition and remonstrance against it to the town council, but without success. Having introduced into his class a new Latin grammar of his own compiling, and recommended its adoption in the other classes, instead of Ruddiman’s which had been heretofore in use, a dispute arose between him and the under masters, and the matter was referred by the magistrates of Edinburgh, the patrons of the school, to Dr. Robertson, the historian, principal of the university, who decided in favour of Ruddiman’s. The magistrates, in consequence, issued an order in 1786 prohibiting the use of any other grammar of the Latin language; but this, and a subsequent order to the same effect, Dr. Adam disregarded, and continued to use his own rules, without being further interfered with. In 1772 he had published the work in question, under the title of ‘The Principles of Latin and English Grammar;’ the chief object of which was to combine the study of English and Latin grammar, so that they might illustrate each other, in order to avoid the inconvenience to pupils of learning Latin from a Latin grammar, before they understood the language. One of the most active opponents of the new grammar was Dr. Gilbert Stuart, who was related to Ruddiman, and who inserted several squibs in the papers of the day against Adam and his work, to the author’s great annoyance.       

      In 1780 the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon Mr. Adam by the college of Edinburgh, chiefly at the suggestion of Principal Robertson; and before his death, he had the satisfaction of seeing his grammar adopted in his own seminary. Among the more celebrated of his pupils was Sir Walter Scott, who joined the rector’s class at the high school in 1782. It was from Dr. Adam, he says, that he first learned the value of the knowledge he had till then considered only as a burdensome task. As he gained some distinction by his poetical versions from Horace and Virgil, the rector took much notice of Scott, and when he began afterwards to be celebrated in the literary world, Dr. Adam never failed to remind him of his obligations to him. "The good old Doctor," says Sir Walter, "plumed himself upon the success of his scholars in life, all of which he never failed (and often justly) to claim as the creation, or at least the fruits, of his early instructions. He remembered the fate of every boy at his school, during the fifty years he had superintended it, and always traced their success or misfortunes, entirely to their attention or negligence when under his care." One of the under-masters at the high school, a person of the name of William Nicol, the hero of Burns’ famous drinking song of "O Willie brew’d a peck o’ maut," is said to have been encouraged by the magistrates of Edinburgh to insult the person and authority of Dr. Adam, at the time of the famous dispute with him about his grammar.

      "This man," says Sir Walter Scott, "was an excellent classical scholar, and an admirable convivial humorist (which latter quality recommended him to the friendship of Burns); but worthless, drunken, and inhumanly cruel to the boys under his charge He carried his feud against the rector within an inch of assassination, for he waylaid, and knocked him down in the dark," one night in the High School Wynd. The rector’s scholars, at the instigation of the future author of Waverley, took a schoolboy’s revenge. Exasperated at the outrage, the next time that Nicol went to teach the rector’s class, they resolved on humbling him. "The task," says Mr. James Mitchell, Sir Walter’s tutor at this time, "which the class had prescribed to them was that passage in the AEneid of Virgil, where the queen of Carthage interrogates the court as to the stranger that had come to her habitation— ‘Quis novus hic hospes successit sedibus nostris?’

      Master Walter having taken a piece of paper, inscribed upon it these words, substituting vanus for novus, and pinned it to the tail of the master’s coat, and turned him into ridicule by raising the laugh of the whole school against him." (Lockhart’s Life of Scott.]

      Dr. Adam’s principal work was the ‘Roman Antiquities,’ or, an account of the manners and customs of the Romans, published in 1791, which was translated into various foreign languages, and which is now used as a class-book in many of the English schools. For this work he got £600. In 1794 appeared his ‘Summary of Geography and History,’ in one thick volume of 900 pages, having increased to this size from a small treatise on the same subject, printed, for the use of his pupils, in 1784. The least popular of his works is the ‘Classical Biography,’ published in 1800; and the last of his laborious and useful compilations was an abridged Latin Dictionary, entitled ‘Lexicon Lingum Latinae Compendiarum,’ 8vo., which was published in 1805, and intended for the use of schools. Dr. Adam’s books are valuable auxiliaries to the student, from the mass of useful and classical information which they contain. He had commenced a larger dictionary than the one published, but did not live to complete it.

      Having been seized in the high school with an apoplectic attack, he was conducted home, and put to bed, where he languished for five days, and, as death was approaching, fancying himself; during the wanderings of his mind, with his pupils, he said, "But it grows dark, boys, you may go!" and almost immediately expired, on the 18th of December, 1809, at the age of 68. Possessed of an ardent and independent mind, and liberal in the extreme in politics, he took a great interest in the progress of the French Revolution, believing it to be the cause of liberty, and even went so far as to introduce political matters into his school, for which he was much censured at the time, and that by many of his friends; but after the first excitement had passed away, he soon regained the respect even of those who had been most embittered against him. He was universally regretted, and the magistrates of Edinburgh honoured his memory by a public funeral. His portrait by Raeburn, taken shortly before his death at the desire of some of his old pupils, was placed in the library of the high school. (see woodcut at right)

      "His features," says his biographer, " were regular and manly, and he was above the middle size." He was twice married, and left a widow, two daughters, and a son. One of his daughters married a Dr. Prout, and at one time resided in Sackville Street, London. His son, Dr. Adam, for many years resided in Edinburgh.—Henderson’s Life of Dr. Adam; Edin. Monthly May. 1810. The following is a list of his works:

      The Principles of Latin and English Grammar. Edin.       1772, 8vo. 7th Edit, improved, 1809, 12mo.

A Summary of Geography and History, both Ancient and Modern, designed chiefly to unite the Study of Classical Learning with that of General Knowledge. Edin. 1784, 8vo. 1794, 8vo. 1809, 8vo.

Roman Antiquities, or an Account of the Manners and Customs of the Romans, their Government, Laws, Religion, &c. Edin. 1791, 8vo. 2d edit, enlarged. 1792, 8vo. 1807, 8vo.

Geographical Index, containing the Latin Names of the principal Countries, Cities, Rivers, and Mountains, mentioned in the Greek and Roman Classics, with the Modern Names subjoined; also, the Latin Names of the Inhabitants, being a Summary of the Ancient and Modern Geography. Edin. 1795, 8vo.

Classical Biography; exhibiting alphabetically the proper Names, with a short Account of the several Deities, Heroes, &c. mentioned in the ancient Classic Authors; and a more particular Description of the most Distinguished Characters among the Romans, the whole being interspersed with Occasional Explanations of Words and Phrases, designed chiefly to contribute to the Illustration of the Latin Classics. Edin. 1800, 8vo.

Dictionary of the Latin Tongue. Edin. 1805, 8vo. 2d edit. greatly improved and enlarged. Edin. 1815, 8vo.

ADAM, ROBERT, the Rev., B.A. author of ‘The Religious World Displayed,’ was born in the parish of Udny, Aberdeenshire, of poor but respectable parents, about the year 1770. He was educated and took his degree of M. A. at Aberdeen. He was afterwards sent, by some persons interested in his welfare, to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he took the degree of bachelor of arts. Subsequently he was ordained deacon and priest by Dr. Beilby Porteus, bishop of London. About the year 1801 he was appointed assistant to Dr. Abernethy Drummond of Hawthornden, titular bishop of Glasgow, whom he succeeded as minister of Blackfriars’ Wynd episcopal chapel, Edinburgh. He was also chaplain to the earl of Kellie.

       In 1809 he published an elaborate and comprehensive work in three volumes, entitled ‘The Religious World Displayed, or a View of the Four Grand Systems of Religion, Judaism, Paganism, Christianity, and Mahomedanism, and of the Various Denominations, Sects, and Parties in the Christian World; to which is subjoined, a View of Deism and Atheism;’ which he inscribed to the memory of Bishop Drummond, formerly senior minister of his congregation. He was subsequently appointed to a church in the Danish island of St. Croix, where he was much annoyed by the Danish authorities, and ultimately ordered to leave the island. His conduct met with the full approbation of our own government, and he proceeded to Denmark to procure redress, which it appears he never obtained. After his return from Copenhagen to London, he accompanied the newly appointed bishop of Barbadoes to the West Indies in 1825, and was appointed interim pastor of the island of Tobago, where he died on the 2d July 1826.

ADAM, SCOTUS, one of the doctors of the Sorbonne, and a canon regular of the order of Premonstratenses, flourished in the twelfth century. He was born in Scotland, and edncated in the monastery of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, in the county of Durham. He afterwards went to Paris and taught school divinity in the Sorbonne. In his latter years he became one of "the monks of Melrose." He afterwards retired to the Abbey of Durham, where he wrote the Lives of St. Columbanus, and of some other monks of the sixth century, and also of David I. king of Scotland. He died in 1195. His works were printed at Antwerp in folio, in 1659.—Biog. Dic.

More Biographies on this name from the Dictionary of National Biography

See also Scots Francis Adams and John Adams

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