an eminent grammarian and scholar, the son of a respectable farmer, was
born in the parish of Boyndie, Banffshire, in October 1674. He received
the grammatical part of his education at the parish school, and, in
November 1690, he obtained, by his superior knowledge of Latin, the
first bursary in King’s College, Aberdeen. In June 1694 he took the
degree of M.A., and soon after was engaged by Mr. Robert Young, of
Auldbar, as tutor to his son. In February 1695 he was appointed
schoolmaster of Laurencekirk, in Kincardineshire, where he remained
about three years and a half. About the end of 1699, the celebrated Dr.
Pitcairn being detained for a night by bad weather at the village inn,
sent for the schoolmaster to partake of his dinner, and spend the
evening with him, when he was so much pleased with his conversation and
attainments, that he invited him to Edinburgh, with the promise of his
patronage. Ruddiman accordingly repaired to the metropolis about the
beginning of 1700, and on his arrival Dr. Pitcairn procured him
employment in the Advocates’ Library. In 1701 he married Barbara Scollay,
the daughter of a gentleman of Orkney, and May 2, 1702, he was formally
appointed assistant librarian in the Advocates’ Library, with the
insignificant salary of £8 6s. 8d. sterling per annum. He contrived to
assist his income, however, by copying chronicles and chartularies for
the university of Glasgow, and revising and editing works for the
booksellers. His first publication of this kind was Sir Robert Sibbald’s
‘Introductio ad Historiam Rerum a Romanis Gestarum in ea Boreali
Britanniae parte quae ultra Murum Picticum est;’ and he next revised
‘The Practiques of the Laws of Scotland,’ by Sir Robert Spotiswoode. In
1707 he published an edition of the ‘Animi Tranquillitate Dialogus,’ by
Volusenus, or Wilson, with a new preface, and a sketch of the author’s
life. The same year he commenced practicing as a book auctioneer,
confining himself principally to the sale of learned works and
school-books. In 1709 he published a new edition, with notes, of
‘Johnstoni Cantici Solomonis Paraphrasis Poetica,’ which he dedicated to
Dr. Pitcairn. To an edition of the translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, by
Gavin Douglas, published in 1710, Mr. Ruddiman added a glossary,
explanatory of the difficult words, and serving for a dictionary to the
old Scottish language. A vacancy happening soon after in the grammar
school of Dundee, the magistrates invited him to fill the office of
rector, but the faculty of advocates voluntarily increased his salary,
and he declined the offer. In 1711 he aided in preparing for publication
a new edition of the works of Drummond of Hawthornden, and assisted
Abercromby in publishing the first volume of his ‘Martial Achievements
of the Scots Nation.’ In 1713 he published a new and improved edition of
the Latin Vocabulary of John Forrest; and, on the death of his friend,
Dr. Pitcairn, the same year, in his character of auctioneer, he managed
the sale of his library, which was purchased by Peter the Great, emperor
Ruddiman published his ‘Rudiments of the Latin Tongue,’ which at once
superseded every work of a similar nature, and continues to be the
standard elementary class-book for the Latin language in the schools of
Scotland. In 1715 appeared his accurate and valuable edition of the
works of Buchanan, with notes, in two volumes folio; but his free
strictures on Buchanan’s character and political principles involved him
in a lengthened controversy with various persons. In the same year
(1715), he commenced printer, in partnership with his brother Walter,
who had been brought up to the business, and the first production of
their press was the second volume of ‘Abercromby’s Martial
Achievements.’ IN 1725 he published the first part of his ‘Grammaticae
Latinae Institutiones,’ and the second part appeared in 1732.
In 1724 he began to print ‘The Caledonian
Mercury;’ and in 1729 he acquired the whole property of that newspaper,
which continued in his family till 1772, when it was sold by the
trustees of his grandchildren. In 1728 he was nominated, conjunctly with
James Davidson, printer to the university; and in 1730, on the death of
Mr. John Spottiswood, he was appointed principal keeper of the
Advocates’ Library. In 1739 he edited the ‘Diplomata et Numismata
Scotiae,’ a work left incomplete by the death of the author, Mr. James
Anderson, to which he prefixed an admirable introduction in Latin. In
1745 he published a ‘Vindication of buchanan’s Version of the Psalms,’
in opposition to an English gentleman of the name of Benson, who had
preferred the version of Dr. Arthur Johnston. During the summer of that
year he retired from the disturbed scenes of Edinburgh to the
sequestered quiet of the country, where he wrote, but without any view
to publication, ‘Critical Observations on Burman’s Commentary upon
Lucan’s Pharsalie.’ Which that eminent scholar had published at Leyden
in 1740. He afterwards issued several small treatises on disputed parts
of Scottish history, to which he was impelled by the abusive attacks of
his adversaries. He contributed his assistance to various other works
than those mentioned, and also printed many of the classics, which are
still sought after. His portrait is subjoined.
[portrait of Thomas Ruddiman]
In 1751, at the age of 77, his eyesight
began to fail, a misfortune, however, which did not prevent him from
continuing his correspondence with his friends, or pursuing his studies,
with his accustomed ardour; and, in the course of the same year, he
brought out at Edinburgh his edition of Livy, in four volumes 12mo,
which Harwood declares is one of the most accurate ever published. He
resigned his charge of librarian to the faculty of advocates, January 7,
1752, and was succeeded by David Hume. Ruddiman died at Edinburgh
January 19, 1757, aged 83, and was interred in the Greyfriars
churchyard, where a monument was in 1806 erected to his memory. His
Voluseni de Animi Tranquillitate, Dialogus. To which he prefixed a Life
of Volusenus (or Wilson). Edin. 1707, 8vo.
Johnstoni Cantici Solomonis Paraphrasis Poetica. Edin. 1709, 8vo.
New edition of Virgil’s Aeneid, by Gawin Douglas, with Corrections and a
Glossary. Edin. 1710, fol.
He also published a valuable and accurate edition of George Buchanan’s
Works, printed by R. Freebairn, 1715, 2 vols. Fol. This edition was
republished, with a Preface, and a few additional Notes, by the learned
Peter Burman, at Leyden, 1725, 2 vols, 4to.
Rudiments of the Latin Tongue with Notes, explaining the terms and rules
of Grammar, Edin. 1714, 12mo. 17 edition. Edin. 1769, 8vo. With
Additions by Mr. Moir. Edin. 1779, 8vo. New stereotype edition by J.
Dymock. Grammaticae Latinae Institutiones, facili, atque ad Puerorum
captum accommodate, methode perscriptae; additae sunt, in provectiorum
gratiam, notae perpetuae; quibus non solum Latini sermonis praecepta
plenius explicantur, sed et ea pleraque omnia, quae a summis grammaticis
aliisque ad hanc artem illustrandum sunt observata, succincte simul
perspicueque traduntur. Perfecit, et suis animadversionibus auxit,
Thomas Ruddimannus, A.M., duobus partibus, Edinburgi; in aedibus
auctoris. Edin. 1725-31, 2 vols. 8vo. Grammaticae Latinae Institutiones,
(sine Notis perpetuis). Edin. 1740, 12mo. It has since passed through
Anderson’s Diplomata Scotiae. 1739. Begun by Anderson, but finished and
published by Ruddiman, who wrote the admirable Introduction, a
translation of which was published separately at Edinburgh, 1773, 12mo.
A Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Book of Psalms,
against the objections of William Benson, Esq. Edin. 1745, 8vo.
An Answer to the Rev. G. Logan’s late Treatise on Government. Edin.
A Dissertation concerning the Competition for the Crown of Scotland
betwixt Bruce and Baliol in 1291, wherein is proved that the right of
Bruce was preferable to that of Baliol. Edin. 1748, 8vo.
Animadversions on a late pamphlet, entitled, A Vindication of Mr. George
Buchanan, &c. Edin. 1749, 8vo.
An edition of Livy. Edin. 1751, 4 vols, 12mo. This is said to be the
most accurate edition of Livy ever published.
Anticrisis; or, a Discussion of Mr. Mann’s scurrilous and malicious
Libel published against him. Edin. 1754, 8vo.
Andi Alteram Partem; or, a farther Vindication of his edition of
Buchanan’s Works, against Mr. James Mann. Edin. 1756, 8vo.
A Catalogue of his own Library, which, after his death, was sold by
auction; ent. Bibliotheca Romana, Catalogus Auctorum Classicorum. Edin.
Besides writing or editing the above works, Ruddiman contributed his
assistance to a great many others, such as: Sibbald’s ‘Introductio ad
Historium Rerum a Romanis gestarum,’ &c. – Spottiswood’s ‘Pratiques of
the Law of Scotland.’ – Drummond of Hawthornden’s ‘Works.’ –
Abercrombie’s ‘Martial Achievements.’ – Ame’s ‘Topographical
Antiquities,’ &c. &c.