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The Scottish Nation

HORSLEY, JOHN, an eminent historian and antiquarian, of English parentage, usually described as a native of Northumberland, was born at Pinkie House, in Mid-Lothian, then the property of the earl of Dunfermline, in 1685. After receiving the elementary part of his education at the grammar school of Newcastle, he studied for the ministry at the university of Edinburgh, being admitted master of arts in 1701. Returning to England, he preached for several years without a charge, and, in 1721, was ordained minister of a congregation of protestant dissenters at Morpeth. In 1722 he invented a simple and ingenious mode of determining the average quantity of rain that fell, by means of a peculiarly constructed funnel, and soon after he was elected a member of the Royal Society, and commenced delivering public lectures on hydrostatics, mechanics, &c., at Morpeth, Alnwick, and Newcastle; in connection with which he published a small work on experimental philosophy. His great work, ‘Britannia Romana,’ or the Roman Affairs of Britain, in three books, folio, illustrated with maps of the Roman positions, &c., appeared in 1732. He had also designed a History of Northumberland, which he did not live to finish. He died at Morpeth, January 15, 1732, aged 46. By his wife, a daughter of Professor Hamilton, at one time minister of Cramond, he had a son, of whom nothing is known, and two daughters, one of whom was married to a Mr. Randall, clerk in the Old South Sea House, London, and the other to Samuel Halliday, Esq., an eminent surgeon at Newcastle. The greater part of Mr. Horsley’s unfinished manuscripts, correspondence, &c., fell after his death into the hands of John Cay, Esq., of Edinburgh, and from these was printed at Newcastle in 1831, a small biographical work by the Rev. John Hodgson, vicar of Whelpington in Northumberland.

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