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The Scottish Nation
Ferguson


FERGUSON, or FERGUSSON, the surname (son of Fergus) of a Highland sept, which had its seat on the borders of the counties of Perth and Forfar, immediately to the north of Dunkeld, and the distinctive badge of which was the little sunflower. In the Roll of 1587, they are named as among the septs of Mar and Athol, where their proper seat as a clan originally lay, having chiefs and captains of their own. In Galloway, the Craigdarroch Fergussons, of whom afterwards, have flourished from an early date, and in Fife the Fergusons of Raith have long held a high position as landholders.

      In Ayrshire, the family of Fergusson of Kilkerran have been settled from an early period. From the loss of most of the early writings of the family, their origin and first settlement in that county has not been ascertained. Robert the Bruce granted a charter to “Fergusio Fergusii filio,” (Fergus the son of Fergus,) and King James the Third granted one, dated 21st April 1466, to “Fergusio Fergusson and Janetae Kennedy,” his spouse, This last is the first clear and undoubted charter of the family to be met with in the public register, and from this Fergus Fergusson, who was the son of John Fergusson of Kilkerran, knight, who was possessed of a large estate in the shire of Ayr, and also of property in Galloway, but having by his adherence to the interest of Charles the First, for which he was knighted, contracted large debts, and his estate being forfeited, the lands of Kilkerran were adjudged from his eldest son, Alexander, and transferred to the lord Bargeny. Honourable mention is made of him in Burnet’s Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton, as one who had firmly adhered to the king, and who had received several marks of his majesty’s favour. He had four sons: Alexander, who succeeded his father; James and John, who were both captains in the army during the civil wars, and died unmarried; and Simon, proprietor of the lands of Auchinwin, and other parts of the estate of Kilkerran, which he acquired by adjudication led at his instance against his brother.

      Simon’s son, John, afterwards Sir John Fergusson, acquired considerable wealth as an advocate, and with the concurrence of his cousin, Alexander Fergusson, and of John Fergusson, son of the latter, he advanced the money necessary for clearing off the adjudication of the lands held by Lord Bargeny; and Alexander, with his sons John and William, having, by a formal declaration in his favour, renounced their right to the estate, or to the reversion thereof, Sir John assumed the title of Fergusson of Kilkerran; of which family, upon the extinction of the male issue of Alexander Fergusson and his sons, his descendants became, of course, the lineal representatives. Nisbet (Heraldry, vol. i. p. 412) states that John, the eldest son of Alexander, the heir to Kilkerran, with his father, sold these lands to Sir John, the first baronet, in the year 1700. He also adds that he saw a separate writ, signed by Alexander, the father and the sons, John and William, by which they renounced all interest and title to the lands, and wished a happy enjoyment thereof to the said Sir John, and his; “yet still the primogeniture and right of blood, as heir male, is in the person of William Fergusson of Auchinblain,” who acquired that property by marriage with the eldest daughter and coheiress of John Kennedy of Auchinblain. In 1703 Sir John was created a baronet, by patent, from Queen Anne, to him and the heirs male of his body. He died in 1729. By his wife, Jean, daughter of James Whiteford of Dinduff, he had two sons, the second of whom, Adam, a major in the army, died in 1770.

      The elder son, Sir James, second baronet, an eminent lawyer, was admitted advocate, 20th February, 1711, and elected member for the county of Sutherland in parliament, in 1734. He was appointed a lord of session 7th November 1735, when he took the judicial title of Lord Kilkerran, and nominated a lord of justiciary, 3d April 1749. He died 20th January 1759, aged seventy-one. He collected the decisions of the court of session from 1738 to 1753, digested in the form of a dictionary, which were published by his son in 1775. Lord Woodhouselee states that he was one of the ablest lawyers of his time, and in his Life of Lord Kames (vol. i.) He gives a very high character of him. By his wife, Lady Jean Maitland, only child of James, Lord Maitland, eldest son of James earl of Lauderdale, he had nine sons and five daughters, but only five of the former attained the age of manhood, namely, John, cornet in Sir John Mordaunt’s dragoons, who died in the 22d year of his age, unmarried; Adam, who succeeded his father; Charles, a merchant in London, who married Anne, daughter of John Fordyce, Esq. of Ayton, and was father of James, who succeeded as fourth baronet; George, a lord of session under the title of Lord Hermand, of whom afterwards; and James, who died in the island of Tobago in 1778. The youngest daughter, Helen, married Sir David Dalrymple, the celebrated Lord Hailes, senator of the college of justice, and lord of justiciary.

      George, already mentioned, the eighth but fourth surviving son, was admitted advocate 17th December 1765, appointed a lord of session, 11th July 1799, when he took the title of Lord Hermand, from a small estate of that name which he possessed about sixteen miles west of Edinburgh, and was constituted a lord of justiciary, 4th August, 1808. He was one of the last of the old race of Scottish advocates, and when on the bench was distinguished by his hasty temper, sarcastic remarks, and other peculiarities. He was a great favourite with the younger advocates especially, and at the convivial board, his vast store of anecdotes and amusing stories, with a vein of dry caustic humour peculiarly his own, rendered his society most fascinating. He was a keep farmer, and during the vacations of the court of session, spent his time entirely in the country. He was, however, a “capital lawyer,” and an honest upright judge. In Peter’s Letters to his Kinfolk it is stated that he was so much delighted with the picture of the life of the old Scottish lawyers in Guy Mannering, that when that novel came out, he carried it about with him, and actually read aloud a passage from it from the bench! He married Miss Graham M’Dowall, daughter of William M’Dowall of Garthland, Esq., but had no issue. He resigned his offices as a lord of session and justiciary in 1826, and died at Hermand 9th August 1827, upwards of eighty years of age. He left the liferent of his estate of Hermand to his widow; and, after her death, to her niece, the wife of Thomas Maitland, Esq., advocate, (afterwards a lord of session under the title of Lord Dundrennan,) and their second son; with special legacies to the second son of each of his other nieces, Mrs. Cockburn and Mrs. Fullerton, the wives of Lords Cockburn and Fullerton, also lords of session.

      The second son of the second baronet, Sir Adam, third baronet, was M.P. from 1774 to 1796, having sat for Ayrshire eighteen years, and for the city of Edinburgh, four. On the death of the last earl of Glencairn in 1796, Sir Adam Fergusson entered a claim to the House of Lords for the titles of earl of Glencairn and Lord Kilmaurs, as lineally descended from, and heir-general to, Alexander Cunningham, created earl of Glencairn in 1488, and to Alexander, earl of Glencairn, who died in 1670, whose eldest daughter, Lady Margaret Cunningham, was the wife of John earl of Lauderdale, and mother of James Lord Maitland, Sir Adam’s grandfather. The judgment of the Lords was: “That Sir Adam Fergusson has shown himself to be heir-general of Alexander earl of Glencairn, who died in 1670, but hath not made out the right of such heir to the dignity of earl of Glencairn.” He died 23d September 1813, without issue.

      His nephew, James, already mentioned, born 22d October 1765, became fourth baronet. He was twice married; first, to his cousin Jean, daughter of Sir David Dalrymple, baronet, Lord Hailes, (by Helen, his wife, daughter of Lord Kilkerran,) issue, a son, Charles Dalrymple, his successor, and two daughters; 2dly, to Henrietta, daughter of Admiral Viscount Duncan, issue, 8 sons and 5 daughters. He died 14th April 1838.

      His eldest son, Sir Charles Dalrymple Fergusson, burn 26th August 1800, became an advocate in 1822. He was a member of the Speculative Society, and at its meetings read two essays, one on the Origin and Progress of Criminal Jurisprudence, and another on the History of Painting. He married Helen, second daughter of Right Hon. David Boyle, lord-justice-general of Scotland, issue two sons and five daughters. On the death of his aunt, Miss Christian Dalrymple of New Hailes, 9th January 1839, he succeeded her in that estate (see DALRYMPLE, Sir David, Lord Hailes), and died in 1851.

      His eldest son, Sir James Fergusson, born in Edinburgh 11th March 1832, became the sixth baronet. Educated at Rugby, and appointed lieutenant and captain of the grenadier guards in 1851, he was wounded at the battle of Inkermann. He retired from the army in 1855, and became lieutenant of the Ayrshire yeomanry, and lieutenant-colonel Royal Ayrshire Rifles in 1858. In 1853 he was appointed a deputy-lieutenant of Ayrshire, and was M.P. for that county from Dec. 1854 to April 1857; re-elected in Oct. 1859. He married Lady Edith Christian, 2d daughter of 1st Marquis of Dalhousie.

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      In Ayrshire were also the Fergussons of Monkwood. John Fergusson of Doonhohn, one of the most enterprising British merchants of his day in Calcutta, where he established an extensive mercantile house, which long continued to perpetuate his name, left the following bequests, namely one thousand pounds, the interest of which to be divided yearly between the two ministers of Ayr, and the same sum for behoof of the public teachers of that town, which formed the germ of the fund for the formation of the Ayr Academy established in 1798; also one thousand pounds for the behoof of the poor of Ayr. His descendant, James Fergusson of Monkwood, born in 1769, passed advocate in 1791, was a member of the Speculative Society, and became one of the principal clerks of the court of session. In 1817 he published ‘Reports of Decisions by the Consistorial Court of Scotland in Actions of Divorce,’ having been previously a judge in that court; and in 1829, ‘A Treatise on the present state of the Consistorial Law in Scotland, with Reports of Decided Cases.’ He died in 1842.

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      The Fergussons of Craigdarroch are of old standing in the parish of Glencairn, Dumfries-shire, and several families derive their origin from them. Burns celebrates them as

“A line that have struggled for freedom with Bruce.”

According to an account of the family inserted in the Appendix to Nisbet’s Heraldry (vol. ii. p. 97), the first charter that is extant among the family muniments was granted by John of Crawford, son of the laird of Dalgarnock, to John Fergusson “dominus de Craigdarroch,” his cousin, “pro suo consilio et auxilio,” of the mill of Balmacannie in Jedburgh, barony of Glencairn, Dumfries-shire. This charter is without a date, but is supposed, from the names of the witnesses, to have been executed in the early half of the fourteenth century.

      From John Fergusson of Craigdarroch who, in 1484, was infeft as son and heir of Matthew Fergusson of Craigdarroch, lineally descended Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch, chosen M.P. in 1717, who married Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Lawrie of Maxwelton, and had, with a daughter, Jean, married in 1731 to Robert Riddell, Esq. of Glenriddel, two sons, James and Robert, from one of whom descended Alexander Fergusson, Esq. of Craigdarroch, an eminent advocate, “so famous for wit, worth, and law,” the hero of Burns’ ballad of ‘The Whistle.’

      His eldest son, the Right Hon. Robert Cutlar Fergusson of Craigdarroch, celebrated as an accomplished lawyer and scholar, was born in 1768. Besides his own family he was the representative also of the old and honourable family of the Cutlars of Orroland in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. One of his ancestors was among the first that signed the solemn league and covenant; another headed a small handfull of men, who, in 1651, defeated a portion of Cromwell’s army at Glencairn; and another fell at the battle of Killiecrankie.

      Mr. Fergusson received a liberal education, and early gave proofs of future eminence. Mrs. Riddell of Glenriddell, writing to Mr. William Smellie, the celebrated naturalist, in 1793, thus mentions him: – “Craigdarroch has a source of happiness and comfort few parents can boast of, in his eldest son, who seems everything that is elegant and accomplished.” From some hints contained in the same letter, and others to be found in ‘Kerr’s Life of Smellie,’ it appears that young Fergusson was an admirer of the writings of Mirabeau and the French Jacobins. His political opinions being liberal in the extreme, he became a member of “the friends of the people,” and connected himself with Lord Daer and the other parliamentary reformers of that period. So early as 1792 he had published a pamphlet entitled ‘The proposed Reform in the Representation of the Counties of Scotland considered.’

      With the intention of studying the English law, Mr. Fergusson entered at Lincoln’s Inn, and was called to the bar in July 1797. Being connected with Arthur O’Connor and others, who were apprehended when going to France with O’Coighly, he was in the court at Maidstone during their trial for high treason, and an attempt having been made to assist O’Connor in his escape, the earl of Thanet and Mr. Fergusson were charted with joining in the rescue; for which they were tried, and being found guilty, were sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment’ his lordship in the Tower of London, and Mr. Fergusson in the King’s Bench prison. On this occasion he published ‘Proceedings against the Earl of Thanet, Robert Fergusson, Esq., and others, upon an information, ex officio, for a Riot; to which are added Observations on his own case,’ 1799, 8vo.

      Mr. Fergusson afterwards proceeded to Calcutta, and commenced there the practice of his profession. His success was so great that he was soon regarded as the head of that bar, and he acted for some time as attorney-general. After a brilliant career of about twenty years, he returned to his native country with a liberal fortune; and at the general election in 1826, was chosen member of parliament for the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, which he continued to represent till his death. In 1834 he was appointed judge-advocate-general, and sworn a privy councillor on the 16th of July. He resigned this office on Sir Robert Peel being nominated prime minister, but was re-installed on the return of Lord Melbourne to power. Late in life he married a french lady, named De Beauchamp, by whom he had two children. He died November 16, 1838, and was succeeded by his son, Robert Fergusson, Esq. of Craigdarroch and Orroland.

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      A family of the name of Fergusson possessed the estate of Auchtererne in Cromar, from the time of David the Second to that of James the Fifth, when it seems to have become extinct. Another family of the name possessed the lands of Badiforrow, near Inverury, in the sixteenth century, and afterwards acquired the estate of Pitfour, in the parish of Old Deer. One of the later members of this family, James Fergusson of Pitfour, was distinguished, in his day, by his agricultural improvements, planting, &c., and was the first to introduce the alternate system of husbandry on his estates.

      A family of the same name possess the lands of Kinmundy, in the same county. The ancestor of this branch of the name is said to have settled in Aberdeenshire about the year 1690.

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      The family of Ferguson of Raith in Fife is also an ancient one. They have possessed that estate since the death of the first earl of Melville, to whom it belonged, in 1797. The uncle of the present representative of the family, Robert Ferguson, Esq. of Raith, M.P. for the Kircaldy district of burghs, and lord-lieutenant of the county of Fife, was the eldest son of William Ferguson, Esq., by Jane, daughter of Ronald Crawford of Restalrig, and sister of Margaret, countess of Dumfries. He was elected in 1806 for Fifeshire, and in 1831 was returned for the Kirkcaldy district of burghs. In 1835 he was chosen for Haddingtonshire, but at the general election of 1837 he was defeated by Lord Ramsay, and again returned for Kirkcaldy. He was a cordial supporter of the measures of the Whig government, and died 3d December 1840. He married Mary, only child and heiress of William Hamilton Nisbet, Esq. of Dirleton, who had previously been countess of Elgin, but had no children by her.

      His brother, General Sir Ronald Crawford Ferguson, colonel of the 79th regiment, and M.P. for Nottingham, succeeded him, but died 10th April 1841, aged 68. He was born at Raith House in 1773, and entered the army at the age of seventeen as an ensign in the 53d foot, and in 1793, with the rank of captain, accompanied his regiment to Flanders. With the 14th and 37th regiments it was formed into a brigade, commanded by Sir Ralph Abercromby, which served at Valencinnes and Dunkirk. In the course of this campaign Captain Ferguson received a severe wound in the knee. In 1794 he became major in the 84th foot. Upon a second battalion being raised, he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of that regiment, and was employed in the reduction of the Cape of Good Hope. In 1800 he attained the rank of colonel, and was employed in the expedition under Brigadier-general Maitland, destined to attack various ports on the French coast. In 1804 he was appointed brigadier-general, with the command of the York district, and at the conclusion of 1805 he was appointed to the command of the Highland brigade, consisting of the 71st, 72d, and 93d regiments, in the expedition under Major-general Sir David Baird, for the recapture of the Cape of Good Hope. On the surrender of Capt Town, 10th February 1806, ill health obliged him to return to England. In 1808, with the rank of major-general, he was appointed to the command of a brigade under Sir Arthur Wellesley, (afterwards duke of Wellington,) who, in his despatches relating to the battles of Roleia and Vimiera, fully detailed the operations of the troops under Major-general Ferguson, and dwelt with high commendation on the conduct of their commander. After the convention of Cintra, he returned to England, and was examined by the court of Inquiry appointed on that business. He was presented with an honorary medal by his majesty for his distinguished conduct, and included in a vote of thanks which both houses of parliament bestowed upon the gallant officers engaged at Roleia and Vimiera. On 25th January 1809, he was appointed colonel of the Sicilian regiment, and in the same year was nominated to a command in the army under Sir David Baird; but he did not arrive at Corunna until the British troops had quitted that place. In the following year he was appointed second in command at Cadiz, but in a few months the return of a liver complaint, to which he was subject, rendered it necessary for him to resign his command and repair to England. On 4th June 1813, he received the rank of lieutenant-general, and in 1814 he was appointed second in command of the troops in Holland. At the enlargement of the order of the Bath in 1815, he was nominated a knight commander, and subsequently a grand cross. He attained the full rank of general 22d July 1830. He first sat in parliament for the Kirkcaldy burghs, and subsequently for Nottingham.

      Sir Ronald’s son, Robert Ferguson, Esq., born in 1802, succeeded to the estate of Raith, and in January 1841 became M.P. for the Kirkcaldy burghs. He married in 1859, Emma, daughter of James Henry Mandeville, Esq.

FERGUSON, DAVID, one of the early ministers of the Church of Scotland, supposed to have been descended from a respectable family of that surname in ‘Ayrshire, was born about 1532, and received his education in the university of Glasgow. In 1559, he was one of the reformed teachers, and appears first to have been settled at Carnock, but in July 1560 the committee of parliament, when distributing ministers to the chief places in the kingdom, alloted Mr. Ferguson to the town of Dunfermline. He was moderator of the Assembly which met at Edinburgh on the 6th of March 1573, and again on the 24th October 1578, and was usually afterwards, for many years, chosen one of the assessors to the moderator, to prepare matters to be treated in the Assembly. He took a prominent part in all the ecclesiastical proceedings of the period, and was one of the ministers who were with the regent Morton previous to his execution, June 2, 1581. On that occasion, with two of his brethren, he was sent to the king at Holyroodhouse, to report to him the exact truth of Morton’s confession. In 1582 he was appointed by the Assembly, commissioner for the west end of Fife, to plant ministers and establish churches in that district, and was often one of the ministers sent to wait upon the king on the affairs of the church. In July 1583, when Mr. Robert Pont, Mr. Robert Lindsay, and Mr. John Davidson were directed, by the presbytery of Edinburgh, to go to the king at Falkland, and admonish him to beware of innovations at court, &c., they were accompanied thither by Mr. Ferguson. On being admitted to the king’s cabinet, his majesty asked “where were all their admonitions that time twelvemonth?” Mr. Ferguson replied, “If it were not for love of your grace, we could have found another place to have spoken our minds than here;” which saying made the king ‘to shrink in his face,’ Fr. Ferguson then merrily said, “Sir, I would there were not a surname in Scotland, for they make all the cummer.” The king answered, “And so would I.” “No, Sir,” he continued in the same strain, “if you go to surnames with it, I will reckon with the best of you in antiquity, for King Fergus was the first king in Scotland, and I am Ferguson-son; but, always, because, Sir, you are an honest man, and hath the possession, I will give you my right,” which put the king in a good humour, and he exclaimed, “See, will you hear him!” He afterwards said, “There was no king in Europe would have suffered the things that he had suffered;” to which Mr. Ferguson answered, “I would not have you like any other king in Europe. What are they all but murderers of the saints of God? the king of France especially; but you have been otherwise brought up.” “I am catholic king of Scotland,’ said the king, “and may choose any that I like best to be company with me, and I like them best that are with me for the present.” Some of the ministers were not well pleased with this speech. Mr. Ferguson, addressing them, said, “No, brethren, he is universal king, and may make choice of his company, as David did, in the 110th Psalm.” He had previously told the king that he had seen his version in metre of that psalm, and, commending it highly, he exhorted him that, as he had acquainted himself especially with it, so he should follow David’s example. On Mr. Davidson making some severe remarks to the king, Mr. Ferguson, fearing that he was going too far, said to his majesty, “There was no wisdom in keeping the murderers that slew his ‘good-schir’ and father, or their posterity, about him.” He subsequently directed his speech to Colonel Stewart, (created earl of Arran,) the king’s favourite at that time, and exhorted him to beware what counsel he gave to the king; “for, assure yourself, said he, “if you counsel him to place and displace the nobility as you please, they will not bear it at your hands, who is but a mean man.” The colonel, we are told, stormed at the first, but was soon glad to cool down. After some fair speeches, they took their leave, the king laying his hands upon every one of them. [Calderwood’s Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 717, and App. vol. viii. pp. 247, 248.] In the following month he and six other ministers were cited by the king to attend a convention at St. Andrews, when they appeared and gave in a paper, in answer to certain allegations made against them, but nothing of importance was done, except the issuing of a new proclamation against those engaged in the Raid of Ruthven.

      On the renewal of the covenant of the synod of Fife, 12th May 1596, after an exhortation and address by the moderator, Mr. Ferguson “spoke,” says Melville, “very pleasantly and comfortably” of the beginning and success of the reformation in Scotland, when the ministers were few in number, only six, whereof he was one, but they went mightily forward in the work, without fear or care of the world, and prevailed, when there was no mention of stipend, and the authorities, both ecclesiastical and civil, opposed themselves, and scarcely a man of name or reputation gave the cause their support; but now it had fallen to that, that the fear of flattery of men, care of getting, or fear of losing stipend and means of life, had weakened the hearts of a multitude of ministers, and others. He concluded by joining to his remarks an exhortation suitable to the occasion. [Melville’s Diary, p. 236.]

      At the meeting of the synod of Fife in February 1597, Mr. Ferguson, the oldest minister at that time in Scotland, spoke ‘gravely, clearly, and at length,’ against the bishops, showing how that the corruptions of that office had been espied by the Church of Scotland from the beginning, and what pains had been taken both in doctrine from the pulpits and in assemblies, for purging and altogether putting away thereof, but now he perceived a design of erecting them again, conveyed in such a manner as he could compare to nothing better than that which the Greeks used for the overthrow of the ancient city and kingdom of Troy, busking up a brave horse, and by a crafty Sinon persuading them to pluck down the walls with their own hands, to receive that in for their honour and welfare, which served for their utter wreck and destruction. Therefore, he would, with the brethren who had given good warning, cry, ‘Equo ne credite Teucri!”

      Mr. Ferguson died the following year (1598). Three years before, his daughter Grizel was married to Mr. John Row, minister of Carnock, one of the sons of Mr. John Row, the eminent reformer. In all the church histories, Mr. Ferguson is spoken of in the most respectful terms. Spottiswood says of him that “he was jocund and pleasant in his disposition, which made him well regarded in court and country,” and that “he was a wise man and a good preacher.” Some of what were called his “wise and merry sayings,” which he directed against the prelates, whom he always opposed, have been recorded. It is supposed that he was the person who first applied the ludicrous name of ‘Tulchan bishops’ to those ministers who accepted of bishoprics, the revenues of which were chiefly enjoyed by the nobles and great barons. A tulchan in the old Scottish language means a calf’s skin, stuffed with straw, set up beside a cow, to make her yield her milk. While the new order of bishops, established in 1572, nominally held the benefices, the greater part of the revenues were drawn by some nobleman or another, and thus the term was a very appropriate one.

      Mr. Ferguson began a History of the Church of Scotland, which was continued by his son-in-law, the minister at Carnock, whose son, Mr. John Row, principal of King’s college, Old Aberdeen, enlarged it with additional information. The work bears the name of Row’s manuscript, and consists chiefly of an abridgment of the acts of the General Assembly. A collection of Scots Proverbs, published at Edinburgh, shortly after his death, were said to have been collected by the minister of Dunfermline, who both in speaking and preaching, used to talk proverbs; and there is no doubt that we owe to him many of those colloquial sayings which have long, in Scotland at least, been ‘familiar as household words.”

FERGUSON, ROBERT, styled “The Plotter,” a famous Independent preacher and political intriguer, was born in Scotland about 1638. It is stated in some of the accounts regarding him that he at one time held a benefice in the county of Kent, from which he was ejected in 1662 for non-conformity. He afterwards taught an academy at Islington, in the neighbourhood of London, and preached at a chapel in Moorsfields. His intriguing disposition, restless and unprincipled character, and great influence as a popular preacher in the city, recommended him to the earl of Shaftesbury as a fit person to engage in the plans then in agitation against the government. His chapel was crowded by fanatics, whom he fired by his political sermons, and occasionally excited by libels and pamphlets, printed from a private press of which he had the management. His style was of that diffuse, coarse, and periphrastic nature, which is most suited to the mob. Among other pamphlets he wrote an ‘Appeal from the Country to the City,’ in which he plainly pointed out the duke of Monmouth as successor to the crown.

      In the Ryehouse plot, and particularly with regard to the ten thousand London boys whom Shaftesbury was to head, Ferguson acted a prominent part, and was intrusted with the secret of that statesman’s place of retirement in the neighbourhood of Wapping, while it was concealed from Russell and Monmouth. In the proclamation, dated August 2, 1683, issued for apprehending the conspirators, he is thus described: “Robert Ferguson, a tall lean man, dark brown hair, a great Roman nose, thin-jawed, heat in his face, speaks in the Scotch tone, a sharp piercing eye, stoops a little in the shoulders. He has a shuffling gait that differs from all men; wears his periwig down almost over his eyes; about 45 or 46 years old.” When Shaftesbury left England, Ferguson was one of the companions of his flight. He soon, however, returned from Holland, and engaged in a new conspiracy for assassinating the king and the duke of York, on their return from Newmarket. As treasurer of those involved in it, he paid for the arms, and by his daring language encouraged them to the enterprise; offering, in mockery, to consecrate the blunderbuss which was to be fired into the carriage. When the plot was discovered, he took leave of his associates with so much gaiety that he was suspected of having correspondence with the Government.

      Ferguson now retired a second time to Holland, where he joined the unfortunate Monmouth, and drew up the declaration issued on his landing. He earnestly entreated Monmouth to assume the title of king; and at their last interview, the duke informed his uncle that Ferguson had been the chief instigator of the whole affair. Ferguson was taken the third day after the battle of Sedgemoor, and James freely pardoned and dismissed hi8m; when he returned to Holland, and took an active part in the intrigues which preceded the Revolution. He secured the support of the Dissenters for the prince of Orange, and endeavoured to press upon William a due sense of the importance of that section of the people. After the Revolution, he was rewarded with the post of housekeeper to the Excise Office, worth five hundred pounds a-year. But he was only in his element when engaged in “treasons, stratagems, and spoils;” and having taken an active share in all the cabals which had for their object the expulsion of James from the throne, he now joined with the same zeal in endeavouring to get him restored to it. In 1689 he became deeply engaged with Sir James Montgomery and the other presbyterians, who, discontented with King William, had united with the Jacobites. The marquis of Annandale having absconded, Ferguson secreted him for several weeks; a kindness which the marquis repaid by betraying him to the Government. With his usual good fortune, he was dismissed without trial or punishment; yet still continued to show himself worthy of the title of “the Plotter,” by engaging in every new conspiracy; and every year published one or two political pamphlets, the last being an attack upon Trenchard, the secretary of state, for the use of blank and general warrants. What was perhaps the most remarkable feature in the character of this extraordinary individual was, that although he was an active agent in all the plots of that period, and was intrusted with the secrets of all parties, he never betrayed any of his associates. He died in 1714. His publications are:

      Justification only upon a satisfaction. Lond. 1668, 12mo.

      Enquiry into the Nature of Moral Virtue, and in distinction to Gospel Holiness. Lond. 1673, 8vo.

      The Interest of Reason in Religion, of the use of Scripture Metaphors, and of the Union betwixt Christ and Believers; with Reflections on a Discourse by Mr. Sherlock. London, 1675, 8vo.

      A just and modest Vindication of the Scots design for the having established a Colony at Darien. Lond. 1699, 12mo.

      Qualifications requisite in a Minister of State. Lond. 1710, 8vo.

      An account of the Obligations the States of Holland have to Great Britain. Lond. 1711, 8vo.

      History of the Revolution. Lond. 1727, 8vo.

FERGUSON, WILLIAM, a painter of some eminence, who flourished in the seventeenth century, was a native of Scotland, and after learning the rudiments of his art in his native country, travelled to Italy and France. He excelled in painting dead fowls, particularly pigeons and partridges, and other subjects of still life. He died about 1690.

FERGUSON, JAMES, an eminent self-taught experimental philosopher, mechanist, and astronomer, was born of poor parents in the neighbourhood of Keith in Banffshire, in 1710. He learned to read by hearing his father teach his elder brother the Catechism, and very early discovered a peculiar taste for mechanics, which first arose on seeing his father use a lever in mending a part of the roof of the house which had become decayed. He afterwards made a watch in wood-work, on being once shown the inside of one. When very young he was employed by a neighbouring farmer to tend his sheep, in which situation he acquired a knowledge of the stars, and constructed a celestial globe. By another self-informed genius, one Alexander Cantley, butler to Thomas Grant, Esq. of Achoynamey, he was taught decimal arithmetic, algebra, and the elements of geometry. His extraordinary ingenuity introduced him to Sir James Dunbar of Durn, and some of the neighbouring gentlemen, who assisted him by their countenance and advice; and having learned to draw, he soon began to take portraits in miniature with Indian ink, by which employment he supported himself and family (for he had married in May 1739) for several years, at first in Edinburgh, and afterwards in London. It appears that having acquired, during his first residence in Edinburgh, some knowledge of anatomy, surgery, and physic, he endeavoured to establish himself as a doctor in that part of the country where his father lived; but to his mortification he found that all his medical theories were of little use in practice, and he soon relinquished the attempt.

      In 1740 he invented his Astronomical Rotula for showing the new moons and eclipses, and having got the plates engraved, he published it; and this ingenious invention sold very well till 1752, when the change in the style rendered it useless. In 1743 he went to London, where he published some Astronomical Tables and Calculations, and afterwards delivered public lectures in experimental philosophy, which were very successful. He was the author of various other works in astronomy, mechanics, &c., a list of which is subjoined. But his greatest work is his ‘Astronomy explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles, and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics.’ His delineation of the complex line of the moon’s motion procured him, in 1763, the honour of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, without the payment of the usual fees. His dissertations and inventions in mechanics and other branches of the mathematics introduced him to the notice and favour of George the Third, who, when prince of Wales, attended his lectures, and on his accession to the throne, conferred on him a pension of fifty pounds a-year. Subjoined is his portrait:


[portrait of William Ferguson]

      Mr. Ferguson died November 16, 1776. By occasional presents, which were privately sent to him, under the belief that he was very poor, as well as by his own frugality and prudence, he had saved money to the amount of six thousand pounds. His works are:

      Description of a new Orrery. Lond. 1746, 4to.

      Dissertation on the Phaenomena of the Harvest Moon; also The Description and Use of a new four-wheeled Orrery; and an Essay upon the Moon’s turning round her own axis. Lond. 1747, 8vo.

      A brief Description of the Solar System; to which is subjoined, An Astronomical Account of the year of our Saviour’s Crucifixion. Lond. 1754, 8vo.

      An idea of the Material Universe, deduced from a Survey of the Solar System. Lond. 1754, 8vo.

      Astronomy explained, upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles, and made easy to those who have not studied Mathematics. Lond. 1756, 1757, 4to. The same; to which is added, A plain Method of finding the distances of all the Planets from the Sun, by the transit of Venus over the Sun’s disk. Lond. 1764, 4to. 5th edit. 1772. A new edit. by Dr. Brewster. 1811, 2 vols. 8vo. And Plates, 4to.

      Lectures on Select Subjects in Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, and Optics; with the Art of Dialling, and the use of Globes, and the Calculation of the mean times of new and full Moons and Eclipses. Lond. 1760, 8vo. 1764, 4to.

      Supplement to Mr. Ferguson’s book of Lectures on Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, and Optics; containing 13 copperplates, with descriptions of the machinery which he had added to his apparatus since that book was published. Lond. 1767, 4to. 4th edit. 1772, 1790, 8vo. Of this work an improved edition was published, Edin. 1805, 2 vols. 8vo, by Dr. Brewster.

      A plain Method of determining the Parallax of Venus, by her transit over the Sun; and from them, by analogy, the Parallax and distance of the Sun, and of all the rest of the Planets. Lond. 1761, 4to.

      A Letter to Mr. John Kennedy, in answer to his Examination of M.F.’s Remarks (inserted in the Critical Review for May, 1763) upon Mr. Kennedy’s System of Astronomical Chronology. Lond. 1763, 8vo.

      Astronomical Tables, and Precepts, for calculating the true times of new and full Moons, &c. Lond. 1763, 8vo.

      Tables and Tracts relative to several Arts and Sciences. Lond. 1767, 8vo.

      An Easy Introduction to Astronomy, for young Gentlemen and Ladies. Lond. 1768, 8vo. 2d edit. Lond. 1769, 8vo.

      Introduction to Electricity, &c. Illustrated with copperplates. Lond. 1770, 8vo. 2d edit. 1775, 1790.

      Select Mechanical Exercises, showing how to construct different Clocks, Orreries, and Sun-dials, on plain and easy principles. Illustrated with plates; to which is prefixed, A short Account of the Author, written by himself. London, 1773, 8vo.

      The Art of Drawing in Perspective, made easy to those who have no previous knowledge of Mathematics. Plates. Lond. 1775, 8vo.

      The Phenomena of Venus, represented in an Orrery. Phil. Trans. Abr. ix. 226. 1746.

      An improvement of the Celestial Globe. Ib. 351. 1747.

      Description of a piece of Mechanism contrived by him, for exhibiting the time, duration, and quantity of Solar Eclipses, in all places of the earth. Ib. x. 456. 1754.

      A Delineation of the Transit of Venus, expected in the year 1769. Ib. xi. 685, 1763.

      Of a remarkable Fish taken in King’s Road, Bristol. Ib. 717. 1763. The Long Angler of Pennant, or Sophius Conubicus of Shaw.

      On the Eclipse of the Sun, April 1, 1764, Ib. xii. 5. 1763.

      Description of a new Crane which has four different powers. Ib. 86. 1764.

      Observations made at Liverpool of the Lunar and Solar Eclipses. Ib. 113. 1764.

      Description of a new Hygrometer. Ib. 151.

      The quantity of time in any number of Lunations, &c. &c. &c. Ib. 197. 1765.

      A new Method of constructing Sun-dials, for any given Latitude, without the assistance of Dialling Scales, or Logarithmic calculations. Ib. 454. 1767.

FERGUSON, ADAM. LL.D., an eminent historian and moral philosopher, was born, in 1724, at Perthshire, of which parish his father was minister. He was the youngest of a numerous family of children, by a lady who was a native of Aberdeenshire. He was educated at the school of Perth, from whence he removed, in October 1739, to the university of St. Andrews, and after obtaining his degree of M.A. he went to Edinburgh to attend the divinity class. The Scottish capital, at this period, seemed justly to merit the appellation, subsequently bestowed by Dr. Johnson, of “a hot-bed of genius;” and soon after his arrival young Ferguson became a member of a philosophical society, which numbered among its members Dr. Robertson, Dr. Blair, Mr. John Home, the author of ‘Douglas,’ Mr. Alexander Carlyle, and other distinguished names. By the influence of Mr. Murray, brother to the celebrated Lord Elibank, Mr. Ferguson obtained the situation of chaplain to the 42d regiment, with which he served in Flanders till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, when he returned home on leave of absence. In 1757 he resigned his chaplaincy, and soon after became tutor in the family of the earl of Bute, in which situation he continued for two years.

      In 1759 he was appointed professor of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, which chair he resigned, in 1764, for that of moral philosophy. In 1767 he published his ‘Essay on Civil Society,’ a work which contributed not a little to raise him in public estimation, and the university accordingly hastened to confer on him the degree of LL.D. Soon after this he married a Miss Burnet, the niece of Dr. Black. In 1773 he accompanied the late earl of Chesterfield in his travels on the Continent. After an absence of a year and a half he resumed his former occupations, the chair of moral philosophy having been, in the meantime, filled by Dugald Stewart.

      In 1778, through the influence of his friend, Mr. Henry Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville, he was appointed secretary to the commissioners sent out to America, to endeavour to effect a reconciliation with the revolted colonies, and accordingly accompanied them to Philadelphia; but the mission, as might have been expected, proved a failure. On his return, Dr. Ferguson resumed the duties of his professorship, and proceeded with the preparation of his ‘History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic,’ on which he had been engaged before going to America. In 1785 he resigned the chair of moral philosophy in favour of Mr. Dugald Stewart; while he himself was permitted to retire on the salary of the mathematical class. The subjoined woodcut is from a portrait by Reynolds:


[portrait of Adam Ferguson, LL.D.]

      Being now in the enjoyment of good health and a competent fortune, he again visited the Continent, with the intention of proceeding to Rome, but was prevented by the events of the first French Revolution. On his return he settled at St. Andrews, where he died, February 22, 1816, at the patriarchal age of ninety-three, leaving three sons and three daughters. He was the last of the great men of the preceding century whose writings did honour to their age and to their native country. His works are:

      An Essay on the History of Civil Society; treating of the general characteristics of human nature, of the history of rude nations, of the history of policy and arts, of the consequences that result from the advancement of civil and commercial arts, of the decline of nations, and of corruption and political slavery. Edin. 1767, 4to. 7th edit. Lond. 1814, 8vo.

      Institutes of Moral Philosophy, for the use of Students. Edin. 1769, 1770, 12mo.

      Answers to Dr. Price’s Observations on Civil and Religious Liberty. 1776.

      The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic. Illustrated with maps. Lond. 1783, 3 vols. 4to. Also in 5 vols, 8vo.

      Principles of Moral and Political Science; being chiefly a retrospect of Lectures delivered in the College of Edinburgh. Lond. 1792, 2 vols. 4to.

      Lectures on select subjects; with Notes, and an Appendix, by David Brewster. Edin. 1805, 2 vols. 8vo.

FERGUSSON, ROBERT, a poet of considerable merit, was born at Edinburgh, September 5, 1750, the third son of William Fergusson, who came originally from Tarland, Aberdeenshire, and Elizabeth, his wife, youngest daughter of John Forbes, tacksman of Templeton, Hillockhead, and Wellhead in the same county, a cadet of the family of Tolquhon. His father was first a clerk to a haberdasher, afterwards to a company of upholsterers, subsequently to a namesake, a writer to the signet, and ultimately he became managing clerk in the linen department of the British Linen Company, now one of the wealthiest banking establishments in Scotland. After being for about six months at the school of a Mr. Philp, a teacher of English in Niddry’s Wynd, of his native city, the poet was removed to the High School, in 1756, where he remained for four years, his attendance being occasionally interrupted by ill health. While yet a mere child, he took great delight in reading the Bible, and as a proof of the impression which at this period its precepts made on his susceptible mind, one of his biographers (Peterkin) relates that one day, after perusing a portion of the Proverbs, he entered his mother’s apartment in tears, calling on her to “whip him.” On his mother asking him why? he answered, “O mother! He that spareth the rod, hateth the child.” Through the influence of the earl of Findlater, then chancellor of Scotland, to whom his uncle, Mr. John Forbes, was factor, a presentation was procured for him by his father, to a bursary, (or exhibition, as it is called in England,) by the Rev. David Fergusson of Strathmartine, which provided for “the maintenance and education of two poor male children,” of the name of Fergusson, at the Grammar school of Dundee and the college of St. Andrews, and he was accordingly removed in 1762 to Dundee, at the school of which town he remained for two years. At the age of fourteen he was transferred, in terms of the bursary, to the university of St. Andrews, and entered in the united colleges of St. Salvator and St. Leonard, with an allowance of ten pounds sterling yearly. He was originally intended for the church, and on matriculating in February 1765, he became a student in the Latin and Greek classes, but although his attainments were respectable, he had no great predilection for the classics. Possessing an inexhaustible fund of wit and good nature, with a natural talent for mimicry, he indulged, whilst at college, in many youthful frolics, one of which caused him to be “extruded” for four days, (not “formally expelled,” as inconsiderately stated by one of his biographers) from the university. From his excellent voice, he was required frequently to officiate as precentor in the college chapel, and to get rid of this to him distasteful employment, he had given up the name of a person to be prayed for, in the following very indecorous terms: “Remember in prayer, a young man (then present) of whom, from the sudden effects of inebriety, there appears but small hope of recovery.” He had also taken part in a riot. It was while at college that he first began to rhyme, and ‘certain Macaronic satires against some of the masters’ were early ascribed to him. His biographers generally have agreed that none of the college productions of his muse are among his published pieces. The author, however, of his life prefixed to the edition of his poems published by A Fullarton and Co. in 1851, thinks the ‘Elegy on the death of Dr. Gregory’ one of these early pieces, written when Fergusson had not attained his fifteenth year, and his has accordingly placed it first in the poems. His superior abilities, playful disposition, and turn for poetry, recommended him to the favour of Dr. Wilkie, author of the ‘Epigoniad,’ then professor of natural philosophy at St. Andrews, who occasionally employed him to transcribe his lectures. While at the university, it seems, that mathematics was his favourite study, and he had made considerable progress in natural philosophy.

      At the close of the session 1767-8, his bursary course being concluded, Fergusson left St. Andrews, and his father having died the previous year, he returned to his ‘widowed mother in Edinburgh,’ He had abandoned the design of becoming a minister, and after some time spent at home undecided what to do, he paid a visit early in 1769 to his uncle (a brother of his mother), Mr. John Forbes, at Round Lichnot, near Aberdeen, who was in good circumstances, in the hope of procuring some employment through his influence. He had previously during a college vacation spent several weeks with him, and he how, in consequence of a renewed invitation, remained with him six months. Much unmerited obloquy has been thrown by Fergusson’s biographers on this uncle for his treatment of the poet. According to Dr. Irving, who seems to have received very incorrect information on the subject, his clothes beginning to assume a shabby appearance, he received a hint that he was no longer considered a proper guest at his uncle’s table, on which, in a highly indignant mood, he retired to a public-house in the neighbourhood, and wrote a letter of remonstrance to his relative, which induced the latter to send him a few shillings to assist him on his return to Edinburgh, which journey he performed on foot. The author (A.B.G.) Of the Life of Fergusson published in 1851, deriving his information from Mr. John Forbes, writer, Old Meldrum, grandson of the poet’s uncle, gives the following account of the real circumstances attending the departure of the poet from his uncle’s house, on the occasion in question: “The earl of Findlater, having occasion to travel north to Mr. Forbes’ residence, wrote to him that he intended to pass his house on a given day, and that he should dine with him. Mr. Forbes, in consequence, invited Keith Urquhart, Esq., of Meldrum, his nearest employer, to meet his lordship; and on the day appointed he instructed Fergusson to dress himself, and to be in waiting to come into the dining-room, along with his own sons, one of whom was the father of the present Mr. Forbes, and my narrator, when he should send for them after dinner, as he was very desirous to introduce his nephew to his guests, who might, from their high station and influence, materially forward his future prospects. Fergusson timeously appeared in his ‘best suit,’ but finding the intervening hours hang heavily on his hands, he proceeded to the Wood of Lichnot at about a quarter of a mile’s distance, and there consumed the time in climbing trees and swinging on the branches. He returned in the nick of time to answer the summons to the dining-room, but without having had a leisure either to brush the ‘green’ and soil from his clothes, or to get some unseemly ‘rents’ repaired. Seeing him appear in such a sorry plight, Mr. Forbes was greatly irritated, and from his disreputable appearance, to a certain extent lost his ‘temper,’ and sharply ordered Fergusson out of the room. On the party rising from table some hours afterwards, it was found that the poet had disappeared. On inquiry being made, a servant remembered seeing him, ‘with a bundle under his arm,’ on the road which led to Aberdeen. His uncle at once surmising, from his peculiarly sensitive nature, that he had ‘left,’ despatched a messenger on horseback after him, to ‘entreat his return;’ or, at all events, his acceptance of the means to carry him comfortably to Edinburgh, which he sent with the servant. The messenger overtook him, a dozen of miles or so on his journey; but he peremptorily declined coming back, nor would he accept the proffered supplies.” It is farther stated that no inn or public-house existed within miles of Round Lichnot, and no letter of remonstrance or otherwise from Fergusson was ever received by Mr. Forbes. “As a proof,” continued the biographer, “that the mother of the poet entertained no ill feeling against her brother for the (apocryphal) ungenerous treatment of her son, it may be mentioned that, after his death, she was accustomed to visit the north, when she invariably resided with her brother at Forresterhill.” He relates, on the authority of his informant above mentioned that while at Round Lichnot, the poet was accustomed to assemble the servants who had been detained from public worship on the Sabbaths; and, taking his stand at the mouth of the peat-stack, he would address them for more than an hour at a time, in language so eloquent and fervid, that Mr. Forbes (the uncle) distinctly remembered to have often seen them bathed in tears. [Life, 1851, p. lxxi.]

      Shortly after his return to Edinburgh he obtained an inferior situation in the commissary clerk’s office, his sole occupation being the copying of law papers at so much per page. This he soon relinquished, and, after some months’ idleness, he accepted a similar situation in the office of the sheriff-clerk, where he continued for the remainder of his life. Before he had reached his twentieth year, many of his poems had made their appearance in Ruddiman’s ‘Weekly Magazine.’ The great merit of his productions soon began to be acknowledged; he became a knight or member of the famous “Cape club,” and as his powers of song and convivial qualities rendered him at all times an attractive companion, his society was eagerly sought after, and he was thus led into habits of excess and dissipation, which impaired his feeble constitution, and brought on, first, religious melancholy, and ultimately insanity. Having experienced a temporary relief from this dreadful malady, he resumed his visits to his friends, but had one night the misfortune to fall down a stair, when he received a severe contusion on the head. He was carried home insensible, but at length in his delirium became so outrageous, that it was not without difficulty that the united force of several men could restrain his violence. The humble circumstances of his mother compelled her to remove him to the public lunatic asylum, or Bedlam. Two of his most intimate friends called and induced him to go into a sedan-chair, as if he had been about to make an evening visit. When they reached the place of their destination, and stopped within the porch, the poor youth discovered instantaneously the deception. He looked with a strange, wild, questioning glance all around; and with choking agony raised such a piteous and fearful cry as never departed from the memory of those who accompanied him. He was restless and desperate the whole of the first night; but in the morning when his mother and sister visited him he was calm and resigned. He had at first imagined himself a king, and had placed on his head a crown of straw neatly plaited with his own hands. This delusion, however, had vanished. He thanked his mother and sister for their kindness. He reminded them of his presentiment of the calamity that was now upon him. He entreated his sister to bring her ‘seam’ and sit beside him. To all which they could only reply with tears. He checked their grief; told them he was well cared for; and expressed a hope that he should soon be restored to them. At other times, however, he was greatly and painfully excited, exclaiming that he ‘should be a minister of the glorious gospel,’ that they ‘should all see him a burning and shining light.’ Frequently too he would sing with a beauty and pathos and tremulous tenderness the ‘Birks of Invermay,’ and other favourite Scottish melodies, such as before he had never reached. At the end of two months he died in the asylum, October 16, 1774, aged only twenty-four. The circumstances of his death are peculiarly touching. “The evening was chilly and damp. His feet felt very cold. He asked his mother to gather up the bed-clothes and sit upon them. She did so. He looked wistfully at his mother, and said, “oh! Mother, this is kind indeed;’ but again he complained that his feet were ‘cold, cold.’ When they prepared to leave he entreated them to remain. ‘O do not go, mother, yet, – do not leave me.’ It was the time however for ‘shutting up.’ They parted. And in the silence of that night, and alone, he died.”

      He was buried in the Canongate churchyard, and his grave remained without a stone to tell the place, till the kindred spirit of Robert Burns led him, in 1787, to erect one at his own expense, with the following inscription:

      “No sculptur’d marble here, nor pompous lay,
      No storied urn, nor animated bust!
      This simple stone directs pale Scotia’s way,
      To Pour her sorrows o’er her poet’s dust.”

      One of Fergusson’s early associates of the name of Burnet, belonging, it is understood, to the Burnets of Kemnay, having prospered in the East Indies, had sent a pressing invitation to Fergusson to go out to India, enclosing a draught of a hundred pounds to defray the expenses of his outfit, but it arrived a few days after the poet’s death. The relatives in Scotland of the generous donor ordered the amount to be retained by his afflicted mother.

      The first edition of Fergusson’s Poems, being a collection of such pieces as had appeared in the ‘Weekly Magazine,’ with the addition of a few others, was published in 1773, the year before his death, and they have often been reprinted. It is gratifying to know that the belief that Fergusson never reaped any pecuniary benefit from his poems, is not founded in fact. According to a statement made by Miss Ruddiman to his biographer of 1851, for his contributions to the ‘Weekly Magazine’ the poet received from the proprietors thereof, W. and T. Ruddiman, “not large but regular payment, and two suits of clothes, an everyday and Sabbath suit every year.” Moreover, his volume of 1773 was published by a subscription obtained the previous year, and “he sold upwards of five hundred copies, many of them at an advanced price. He had a balance remaining of at least 50; a sum which was to him a little fortune.” [Live of, 1851, p. lxxxv.] An edition of his poems published at Glasgow in 1800, contains an account of his life by Dr. Irving. A Life by Peterkin is also prefixed to the London edition of his Poems, which appeared in 1807.

      Fergusson is represented by all his biographers as being of a humane and amiable disposition. To the most sprightly fancy, we are told, he joined the more engaging qualities of modesty, a gentle temper, and the greatest goodness of heart; and such was the benevolence of his disposition that he would often bestow the last farthing upon those who solicited his charity. His poems are admired by all who are capable of appreciating true poetry, and he is justly considered the third of Scotland’s national poets, Burns and Ramsay only being classed before him.

      Of his personal appearance, Sommers, one of his biographers, who knew him personally, has left the following account: – He was about five feet six inches high, and well-shaped. His complexion fair, but rather pale. His eyes full, black, and piercing. His nose long, his lips thin, his teeth well set and white. His neck long, and well proportioned. His shoulders narrow, and his limbs long, but more sinewy than fleshy. His voice strong, clear, and melodious. Remarkably fond of old Scots songs, and the best singer of the ‘Birks of Invermay’ I ever heard. When speaking, he was quick, forcible, and complaisant. In walking he appeared smart, erect, and unaffected.” “Fergusson’s manners,” says the author of the Life prefixed to his Works published in 1857, “were always accommodated to the moment; he was gay, serious, set the table in a roar, charmed with his powers of song, or bore with becoming dignity his part in learned or philosophical disquisition.” “In short, he had united,” remarks Alexander Campbell (Life. p. 300), “the sprightliness and innocence of a child, with the knowledge of a profound and judicious thinker.”

      The poet had a brother, Henry, who was at one time a teacher of fencing and sword exercise in Edinburgh. His class book, entitled, ‘A Dictionary, explaining the terms, guards, and positions, used in the art of the small sword. By Hary Fergusson,’ was ‘Printed [at Edinburgh] in the year MDCCLXVII.Tract, pp. 23,’ with the motto,

      “Ah me! What perils do environ,
      The man who meddles with cold iron.”

Not meeting, it appears, with anything like adequate success as a teacher, he became a sailor, and served as master-at-arms on board the Tartar man-of-war, on the breaking out of hostilities with America. He procured his discharge from the Tartar on 12th Feb. 1776, and it is believed that he settled in America, where he is supposed to have died. One sister, Barbara, was married to Mr. David Inverarity, cabinetmaker, Edinburgh, whose son was father of Miss Inverarity, afterwards Mrs. Martyn, a vocalist of some eminence in her day, who died at Newcastle in 1846, and was considered to bear a striking resemblance to her unfortunate grand-uncle. Margaret, another sister of the poet, married a Mr. Alexander Duval, purser in the navy. She also had a taste for poetry.


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