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The Scottish Nation

LESLIE, a surname, derived from lands of that name in Aberdeenshire. During the 17th century there were at one time three general officers of the name in different European services; namely, Walter, Count Leslie, in the service of the emperor of Germany; David Leslie, created Lord Newark in 1661, in that of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden; and Alexander, earl of Leven, commander of the Scots army. Several counts of the name are settled in Germany, and there are many families named Leslie in France, Russia and Poland.

      The Leslies derive their descent from one Bartholomew, a Flemish chief, who settled with his followers in the district of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, in the reign of William the Lion. He obtained the barony of Lesly or Leslyn, in that district, from which his posterity adopted the name. The fourth in descent from him, Norman de Lesley, obtained from Alexander III., in 1283, a grant of the woods and lands of Fetkill, now called Leslie, in Fife. He swore fealty to Edward I. for lands lying in different counties. He was one of the magnates Scotiae who renounced the confederation with France 15th July 1296, and was by Edward I. appointed in 1305 sheriff of the county of Aberdeen.

      His son, Sir Andrew de Lesley, signed the letter to the Pope in 1320, asserting the independence of Scotland. He had four sons, namely, Norman, who succeeded him; Walter, earl of Ross; Andrew, who succeeded Norman; and George, ancestor of the Lesleys of Balquhain, from whom descended Alexander, first earl of Leven. (See LEVEN, earl of.) Norman witnessed the commission issued by the steward of Scotland for treating of the liberation of David II., 10th May 1356. Two years afterwards he and Sir Robert Erskine were sent as commissioners to solicit the Pope for a grant of the tenth part of the ecclesiastical revenues of Scotland, towards payment of the ransom of that monarch, which they obtained for three years. They were also appointed, 10th May 1359, plenipotentiaries to treat with Charles the dauphin, regent of France, with whom they concluded an alliance. He died before 11th February 1366, and was succeeded by his brother Andrew, whose son, another Norman, made an entail of the lands in 1390. The son of the latter, David de Lesley, was one of the hostages for James I. He had a daughter, who, as he had no male issue, inherited the barony of Lesley, and married a gentleman of the same name, ancestor of the Leslies of Leslie. The other estates went to the heir-male, supposed to have been David de Lesley’s cousin-german, Sir George Leslie of Rothes, ancestor of the earls of Rothes (see ROTHES, earl of).


      The family of Leslie of Wardes and Findrassie, Elginshire, descend from Robert Leslie of Findrassie, son of George, 3d earl of Rothes. John Leslie, Esq. of Wardes, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia Sept. 1, 1625, with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever. He succeeded his father in 1620. His grandfather, William Leslie, Esq., was king’s falconer, and his great-great-great-grandfather, Alexander Leslie, was receiver-general to James IV. The son of the latter, John Leslie, was five times married, and died April 1, 1546. His first wife, Stewart, daughter of the bishop of Moray, was great-granddaughter of James II., and his 2d, through whom the family descends, was Margaret, daughter of William Crichton, Esq. of Frendraught. By his 3d wife he was ancestor of the Leslies of Warthill.

      On the decease, unmarried, of Sir John, 2d baronet, the son of the first, the title reverted, without the estates, to his uncle, (Sir) William. This gentleman declined to assume it, and his four sons dying without issue, the baronetcy, after his decease, was inherited by his kinsman, Sir John Leslie, 4th baronet, great-great-grandson of Norman Leslie, Esq., youngest brother of first baronet. Sir John married Caroline-Jemima, only daughter and heiress of Abraham Leslie, Esq. of Findrassie; issue, 3 sons and 3 daughters. He died in 1825. His eldest son, Sir Charles Abraham, 5th baronet, was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Norman-Robert, 6th baronet. The latter, born Dec. 10, 1822, a lieutenant 19th Bengal Native Infantry, was killed at Rohnee in India, during the Sepoy mutiny, June 12, 1857. By his wife, Jessie-Elizabeth, 3d daughter of Major Robert Wood Smith, 6th Bengal Light Cavalry, he had a son and 5 daughters. The son, Sir Charles Henry, born at Lahore, Bengal, in 1848, succeeded his father as 7th baronet.


      The family of Leslie of Warthill, Aberdeenshire, derive from John Leslie of Wardes, grandson of William, 4th baron of Balquhain, who, by his 3d wife, the daughter of Forbes of Echt, had 2 sons, William and Alexander. The elder son, William, married, 1st, a daughter of William Rowan, burgess in Aberdeen, and their only son, John, was slain at the fatal battle of Pinkie in 1547; 2dly, in 1518, Janet Cruickshank, heiress of Warthill, and was thus the first Leslie possessing the estate. He died in 1561, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Stephen; William, 5th of Warthill, married a grand-niece of the famous Bishop Elphinstone, founder of King’s college, Aberdeen, and his 2d son, William, became bishop of Laybach, and metropolitan of Carniola, a prince of the empire, and privy councillor to his imperial majesty. During nine generations the succession passed from father to son till 1799, when Alexander, 9th of Warthill, died without issue, and was followed by his nephew William, born June 29, 1770, son of George Leslie of Folla, the lineal male representative of the family. Mr. Leslie held the estate for 58 years, and died in 1857, and was succeeded by his eldest son, William, born March 16, 1814; elected in 1861 M.P. for Aberdeenshire.

LESLEY, GEORGE, of Monymusk, a Capuchin friar, supposed to have lived in the 17th century, is the hero of a romantic Italian work, by John Benedict Rinuccini, archbishop of Formo, a French translation of which was published at Rouen in 1660, but the greater part of which is pure invention.

LESLIE, JOHN, bishop of Ross, a distinguished statesman and historian, and a devoted adherent of Mary queen of Scots, born 29th September, 1526, is said to have been the son of Gavin Leslie, an eminent lawyer, fourth son of Alexander Leslie of Balquhain, in Aberdeenshire. There is reason to believe, however, that he was the illegitimate son of a priest of the same name. Knox, in his Historie (p. 283) calls him a “priest’s get and bastard,” and Bishop Keith, in his Catalogue of Scottish Bishops (p. 194), from documents quoted from the originals in the charter chest of Balquhain, inclines to think that he was the natural son of Gavin Leslie, parson of Kingussie. He was educated for the church at the university of Aberdeen, and in 1538 he obtained a dispensation, whereby he was allowed to hold a benefice, notwithstanding the defect in his birth. On 15th June 1546, he was appointed an acolyte, or inferior church officer, in the cathedral church of Aberdeen, and in the following year he was made a canon and prebendary. In 1549 he went to France, and studied the civil and canon laws at the universities of Poictiers, Toulouse, and Paris, at which latter place he took the degree of doctor of civil law and canon law. In 1554 he was ordered home by the queen regent, and on 15th April 1558 he was appointed official and vicar-general of the diocese of Aberdeen. On 2d July 1559 he became parson of Oyne in the same county.

      When the doctrines of the Reformation began to spread in Scotland, Leslie distinguished himself as a zealous advocate for the Romish church, and in the famous disputation held at Edinburgh, in 1560, he had for an antagonist no less a personage than John Knox, according to whom (Hist. p. 283), he was forced to confess that the only authority for the mass was that of the Pope. After the death of Francis II. of France, he was deputed by the chief men of the Popish religion to proceed to France to interest Queen Mary in their favour, and to invite her to Scotland, and arriving before the Protestant lords, he vainly endeavoured to prejudice her mind against them and their cause. After a short stay he embarked in the retinue of the young queen at Calais, August 19, 1561; and on her majesty’s return to Scotland, he was sworn of her privy council on 19th January 1564, and appointed one of the senators of the college of justice. shortly afterwards he was made abbot of Lindores, and on the death of Sinclair, bishop of Ross, in January 1565, he was promoted to that see. He was one of the sixteen commissioners appointed to form the Collection of the Laws and Statutes of the Realm, commonly called ‘The Black Acts,’ from the Saxon character in which they were printed, in 1566.

      After Queen Mary’s flight into England, Bishop Leslie was called by his ill-fated mistress into that kingdom to manage and advise in her affairs. He was one of the commissioners chosen, in 1568, to defend her cause in the conference at York, which he did with consummate ability. He was subsequently sent as her ambassador to Elizabeth; but finding that no attention was paid to her complaints, he began to form projects for Mary’s escape, and engaged in the unfortunate negotiation for her marriage with the duke of Norfolk, which led to that nobleman’s execution for treason. Leslie himself, notwithstanding he pleaded his character and privileges as an ambassador, was, in May 1571, committed prisoner, first to the Isle of Ely, and afterwards to the Tower of London. In January 1574, at the request of the king of France, he was set at liberty, when he retired to the Continent. In 1575 he went to Rome, by the advice of his mistress, where he remained three years, and published there his History of the Scottish nation, in Latin, dedicated to the then Pope Gregory XIII. He afterwards went to France, in the hope of being serviceable to Queen Mary. He next proceeded into Germany, and fruitlessly endeavoured to enlist the emperor and several other princes in her cause. On this occasion he acted as temporary nuncio from the Pope. In 1578 he was thrown into prison at Falsburgh, in mistake for the archbishop of Rosanna, an Italian prelate, who was proceeding to cologne as legate from the Pope; and was only released on payment of 3,000 pistoles. His portrait, from one in Pinkerton’s Scottish Gallery, is subjoined:

[portrait of John Leslie]

      Having returned into France, he was, in 1579, made vicar-general of the archbishopric of Rouen, and in 1590 was again arrested during a visitation of that diocese, and obliged to pay a large ransom, to prevent his being delivered up to Queen Elizabeth. In 1593 he was advanced to the vacant bishopric of Coutances, in Lower Normandy, but he never got peaceable possession of the see, and at length he retired from the cares and disappointments of the world into the monastery of Guirtenburg, near Brussels, where he died, May 31, 1596. A monument to his memory was erected, by his nephew, over his grave in that monastery. Part of his wealth he appropriated to the foundation of three colleges at Rome, Paris, and Douay.

      His works are:

      Defence of the Honour of Mary Queen of Scotland; with a Declaration of her Right, Title, and Interest, to the Crown of England; and concerning the Regiment of Women. Liege, 1571, 8vo. This was immediately suppressed.

      Pro Libertate Impetranda, Oratio ad Elizabetham angliae Reginam. Paris. 1574, 8vo.

      Afflicti Animi consolationes, et Tranquilli Animi conversatio, libri duo ad D. Mariam Scotorum Reginam. Paris, 1574, 8vo.

      De Origine, Moribus, et Rebus Gestis Scotorum. romae, 1575, 1578, 4to. With this History, which is carried down to Queen Mary’s return from France in 1561, were published, Paraenesis ad Nobilitatem Populumque Scotorum; and Regionum et Insularum Scotiae, Descriptio.

      De Titulo et Jure Sereniss. Principis Mariae Scotorum Reginae, quo Angliae Successionum Jure sibi vindicat. Rheims, 1580, 4to. The same in English, entitled A Treatise touching the Right, Title, and Interest, as well of the most excellent Princease, Marye Queene of Scotland, and the most noble Kyng Iames, her Grace’s Sonne, to the Succession of the Croune of England. And first, touching the Genealogie and Pedegrue of suche competitors as pretend Title to the same Croune, 8vo. in French, under the title of du Droit et Titre de la Sereniss. Princesse Marie, Royne d’Escosse, et Prince Jacques VI. Roy d’Escosse, à la Succession du royaume d’Angleterre. Rouen, 1587, 8vo.

      De Illustrium Foeminarum in Republica Administranda, Authoritate. Rhem. 1580, 4to.

      The History of Scotland, from the Death of James I. in 1436, to the year 1561; written in the Scottish vernacular, during his confinement in the Tower, for the use of Queen Mary. This work was published, with a portrait of Leslie, for the Bannatyne Club in 1830, from a manuscript in possession of the earl of Leven and Melville.

LESLIE, JOHN, a venerable prelate, whose life exceeded a hundred years, was born at Balquhain in Aberdeenshire, some time after the middle of the sixteenth century. He received the first part of his education at the university of Aberdeen, and concluded it at Oxford. He afterwards visited Spain, Italy, Germany, and France, and acquired a thorough knowledge of the languages of all these countries. He had such a command of the Latin language that it was said of him, while in Spain, “Solus Leslieus Latine loquitur.” He was present at the siege of Rochelle, and accompanied the duke of Buckingham on the expedition to the Isle of Rhé. On his return to Britain, after a residence of more than twenty-two years abroad, he was created D.D. at Oxford, and admitted by James VI. a member of his privy council in Scotland. By Charles I. he was, in August 1628, appointed bishop of the Isles. In 1633 he was translated to the Irish see of Raphoe, where he built a handsome palace, which he defended against the troops of Cromwell, being the last who held out against the parliamentarians in Ireland. He subsequently went to reside in Dublin. After the Restoration he came over to England, and in 1661 was translated to the see of Clogher, where he died in 1671, having been a bishop for more than half a century.

      His second son, CHARLES LESLIE, author of ‘A Short and Easy Method with the Diests,’ and other controversial and political works, was born in Ireland in 1650. He was educated at Trinity college, Dublin, and afterwards became a student in the Temple, but relinquished law for divinity, and entered into holy orders in 1680. In 1687 he was appointed chancellor of Connor, in which capacity he firmly resisted the measures of the Popish party, and withstood the admission of a roman Catholic high sheriff of the county of Monaghan, although nominated by James II. himself. At the Revolution, however, he declined taking the oaths to the new government, which necessarily deprived him of all his preferments, on which he withdrew with his family into England. By his writings he zealously endeavoured to promote the interests of the Pretender, whom, on the termination of the Rebellion of 1715, he accompanied into Italy; but being treated by the exiled family with ingratitude and neglect, he returned to Ireland, and died at his own house at Glaslough, in the county of Monaghan, April 13, 1732. His theological works, which chiefly consist of Treatises against the Deists, Socinians, and Quakers, have been printed in two volumes folio. One of these, ‘The Snake in the Grass,’ composed against the Quakers, first published at London in 1696, is highly spoken of by Bayle. His ‘Short and Easy Method with the Deists,’ by far the most popular and useful of his writings, first appeared in 1697, and has often been reprinted. During the reign of Queen Anne. Mr. Leslie wrote a weekly paper called ‘The Rehearsal,’ which has been collected in four vols. 8vo. A list of his political pieces, which are very numerous, and written principally in opposition to Burnet, Locke, and Hoadley, on the principles of civil Government and the question of Hereditary Right, will be found, with the names of his other publications, in Watt’s bibliotheca Britannica.

LESLIE, ALEXANDER, first earl of Leven, the celebrated general of the Presbyterian army during the civil wars, was the son of Captain George Leslie of Balgonie, commander of the castle of Blair, by Anne, his wife, a daughter of Stewart of Ballechin. Having early adopted the profession of arms, he served as a captain in the regiment of the lord de Vere, then employed in Holland in assisting the Dutch against the Spaniards, when he obtained the reputation of a brave and skilful officer. He then entered the service of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, by whom he was promoted first to the rank of lieutenant-general, and afterwards to that of field-marshal. In 1628, General Leslie defended Stralsund, then besieged by the Imperialists under count Wallenstein, and acquitted himself with so much gallantry and skill, that, though the plague had broken out in the city, and the outworks were in a ruinous condition, he compelled the besiegers to retire with considerable loss. So sensible were the citizens of his great services on this occasion, that they rewarded him with a valuable present, and caused medals to be struck in his honour. In 1630 he drove the Imperialists out of the isle of Rugen; and he continued to serve in the Swedish army, with great distinction, until after the death of Gustavus; but in the beginning of 1639 he was invited back to Scotland by the Covenanters, to take the chief command of their forces. He accordingly returned home, with many of his countrymen, who had, like him, acquired military experience on the Continent; and his first achievement was the capture of the castle of Edinburgh by assault, at the head of 1,000 select musqueteers, March 23, which he effected without the loss of a man.

      In May 1639, when Charles I. advanced with his army to the borders, the Scottish forces, under General Leslie, marched to meet them, and to the amount of 24,000 men encamped on Dunse Law. The appearance they made here is said to have been “a spectacle not less interesting to the military than edifying to the devout.” The blue banners of the Presbyterians were inscribed with the arms of Scotland, wrought in gold, with the motto, “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.” The soldiers were summoned to sermon by beat of drum, and at sunrise and sunset their tents resounded with the voice of psalms, reading the Scriptures, and prayer. The clergy, of whom there were great numbers present, many of them armed like the rest, were assiduous in preserving discipline; and the ambition of the nobles was restrained by the greatness of the cause in which they were engaged, aided by the discretion of the general, who, though an unlettered soldier of fortune, of advanced age, diminutive stature, and deformed person, was prudent, vigilant, experienced, skilful, and enterprising. The pacification of Berwick, in June 1639, caused both armies to be disbanded, without having recourse to hostilities.

      In April 1640 the Scots found it expedient to re-assemble their army, and the command was again conferred on General Leslie. In August of that year he marched into England, at the head of at least 23,000 foot and 3,000 cavalry; and on the 28th he attacked and completely routed the king’s troops at Newburn, which gave him possession of Newcastle, Tynemouth, Shields, and Durham, with large magazines of arms and provisions. This success was followed by the treaty of Ripon, afterwards transferred to London, and not ratified by parliament till 1641. As it was now Charles’ object to conciliate his northern subjects, in August of that year he went to Scotland, and, passing through Newcastle, where the Scots army were quartered, he was received with great respect by General Leslie, whom he raised to the peerage, by the title of Lord Balgonie, and October 11th of the same year, created him earl of Leven. His portrait subjoined is from a miniature in oil colours, upon copper, in the possession of the earl of Leven and Melville, painted by Jansen, or Jameson, probably the latter, engraved for Pinkerton’s Iconographia Scotia:

[portrait of General Leslie]

      In 1642 the earl was sent over to Ireland as general of the Scots forces, raised for the suppression of the rebellion there; but was recalled in 1643 to take the command of the troops despatched to England to the assistance of the parliament. At the battle of Marston-Moor, July 2, 1644, he commanded the left of the centre division of the parliamentary forces, when the royal army was totally defeated. He afterwards, with the assistance of the earl of Callander, took the town of Newcastle by storm; and, having sent to the parliament a copy of the overtures made by the king to the Scots generals, he received in return a vote of thanks, with a piece of plate as an accompanying present. While in command of the united Scots and English army, engaged in the siege of Newark, the unfortunate Charles came to him privately, May 5, 1646. The arrival of the king seemed to surprise him and his officers very much, and they treated him with becoming respect, the commander tendering his bare sword upon his knee; but when Charles, who had retained Leven’s sword, indicated his intention to take the command of the army, by giving orders to the guard, the earl unhesitatingly thus addressed him: – “I am the older soldier, Sir, your majesty had better leave that office to me.” He was one of a hundred officers who afterwards on their knees entreated his majesty to accept the propositions offered him by the parliament, but in vain.

      In 1648 he was offered the command of the army raised for the rescue of Charles I., which he declined, on the score of his age and infirmities. On the failure of the Engagement, however, he was restored to his place at the head of the army. At the battle of Dunbar in 1650, he served as a volunteer. August 28, 1651, he attended a meeting of some noblemen and a committee of the Estates, at Eliot in Forfarshire, to concert measures in behalf of Charles II., when all present were surprised and taken prisoners, by a detachment from the garrison of Dundee, and conveyed to the Tower of London. At the intercession of Christina, queen of Sweden, he was released by Cromwell, and returned to Scotland in May 1654. He subsequently went over to Sweden, personally to thank the queen for her kind interference in his favour He died at Balgonie, April 4, 1661. His lordship acquired extensive landed property, particularly Inchmartin, in the Carse of Gowrie, which he purchased from the Ogilvies in 1650, and called it Inch-Leslie. He was twice married; and by his first wife had, with five daughters, two sons, who both predeceased him, and he was succeeded by his grandson. The earldom of Leven is now held in conjunction with that of Melville. (see LEVEN, earl of.)

LESLIE, DAVID, first Lord Newark, a celebrated military commander, was the fifth son of Sir Patrick Leslie of Pitcairy, commendator of Lindores, by his wife, Lady Jean Stuart, second daughter of the first earl of Orkney. In his youth he went into the service of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, and having highly distinguished himself in the wars of Germany, rose to the rank of colonel of horse. When the civil wars broke out in Britain, he returned to Scotland, and was appointed major-general of the army, which, under the earl of Leven, marched into England to aid the parliamentary forces, in January 1644. He mainly contributed to the defeat of the king’s troops at Marston-Moor, in July that year; the Scots cavalry, under his command, having broken and dispersed the right wing of the royalists. In 1645, after the defeat of General Baillie at Kilsyth, General David Leslie was recalled with the Scottish horse from the siege of Hereford, to oppose the progress of the marquis of Montrose, whom he overthrew, after a sanguinary engagement, at Philiphaugh, near Selkirk, September 13 of that year. For this victory the committee of Estates afterwards voted him a gold chain, with 50,000 merks out of the fine imposed on the marquis of Douglas, one of the royalists officers engaged in the action. Leslie subsequently rejoined the Scots army under the earl of Leven, then lying before Newark-upon-Trent; and on its return into Scotland, he was declared lieutenant-general, and had a pension settled upon him of £1,000 a-month, over and above his pay as colonel of the Perthshire horse. With a force of about 6,000 men he proceeded into the northern districts, and afterwards passed to the Western Isles. He completely suppressed the insurrection in favour of the king, which had been set on foot by Montrose and his adherents in those parts.

      In 1648, when the Engagement was entered upon for the rescue of Charles, then in the hands of the parliament, Leslie was offered the command of the horse on the occasion, but declined to serve, the Church having disapproved of the expedition. Of the army that remained in Scotland, he retained the rank of major-general. In 1650, after Charles II. had taken the Covenant, David Leslie was, on the resignation of the earl of Leven, appointed commander-in-chief of the forces raised in his behalf. By his coolness, vigilance, and sagacity, he repeatedly baffled the superior army of Cromwell, whom he at last shut up in Dunbar; but, yielding to the impetuous demands of the committee of church and state, by whom he was accompanied, and who controlled all his movements, he rashly descended from his commanding position, and in consequence sustained a signal defeat from Cromwell, September 3, 1650. With the remains of his army he retired to Stirling, where he made the most skilful defensive dispositions, and was able for a time to check Cromwell in his victorious career. Being joined by Charles, who himself assumed the command, Leslie marched as lieutenant-general of the king’s army into England, and was present at the defeat of the royal forces at Worcester, September 3, 1651. He escaped from the battle, but was intercepted in his retreat through Yorkshire, and committed to the Tower of London, where he remained till 1660, being fined £4,000 by Cromwell’s act of grace, 1654. His portrait is subjoined.

[portrait of General David Leslie]

      After the Restoration, General Leslie, in consideration of his eminent services and sufferings in the royal cause, was created Lord Newark, by patent, dated August 31, 1661, to him and the heirs-male of his body. He also obtained a pension of £500 a-year. In June 1667 he received a further proof of his majesty’s favour by a letter from Charles, dated the 10th of that month, assuring him of his continued confidence, and that he was fully satisfied of his conduct and loyalty, his lordship’s enemies having endeavoured to impress the king against him. His lordship died in 1682. He married Jean, daughter of Sir John Yorke, knight, by whom he had a son, who succeeded him, and six daughters. Upon the decease, in 1694, of David, second Lord Newark, without heirs-male, the title was assumed by his daughter, and continued to be borne by her descendants till 1793, when it was disallowed by the house of lords, and is considered extinct. (See NEWARK, Lord.)

LESLIE, SIR JOHN, a celebrated mathematician, and professor of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, was born at Largo, in Fifeshire, April 16, 1766, being the son of Robert Leslie, a joiner and cabinet-maker, and Anne Carstairs, his wife. His elementary education was scantily received, first at a woman’s school in his native village, then under a Mr. Thomson at Lundin Mill, with whom he learned to write, and, lastly, at Leven school, which he only attended about six weeks. At the latter place, however, he entered upon the rudiments of Latin, and, while at home, he received some lessons in mathematics from his elder brother, Alexander. His father originally intended to bring him up to some useful trade; but, before he had reached his twelfth year, he had attracted considerable notice by his extraordinary proficiency in geometrical exercises, and he became known to the Rev. Mr. Oliphant, minister of Largo, who lent him some scientific books, and in his 13th year his parents were induced to send him to the university of St. Andrews, with the view of educating him for a learned profession. At the close of the session he obtained a prize, and his abilities introduced him to the patronage of the earl of Kinnoul, then chancellor of the university, who proposed to defray the expenses of his education, provided his father consented to his studying for the church. After remaining six sessions at St. Andrews, in company with Mr., afterwards Sir James, Ivory, he removed in 1783-4 to Edinburgh, where he attended the classes for three years, during which time he was engaged by Dr. Adam Smith to assist in the education of his nephew and heir. Mr. Douglas, afterwards a lord of session, under the title of Lord Reston. While at college he devoted part of his time to private tuition.

      In 1788 he was appointed tutor to two young college friends, natives of America, of the name of Randolph, whom he accompanied to Virginia, and after an absence of about a year, in the course of which he had visited New York, Philadelphia, and other transatlantic towns, he returned to Edinburgh. Having abandoned all intention of entering the church, in January 1790 he proceeded to London, with recommendatory letters from several literary and scientific individuals, and, among others, from Dr. Adam Smith, who gave him some very shrewd advice at parting. His first intention was to deliver lectures on natural philosophy, but finding, to use his own words, that “rational lectures would not succeed,” he had recourse to his pen as the readiest means of supporting himself. He accordingly began to contribute articles for ‘The Monthly Review;’ and, about the same time, was employed by an old college acquaintance, Dr. William Thomson, the continuator of Dr. Watson’s ‘History of the Reign of Philip III. of Spain,’ to furnish notes for an annotated edition of the bible, then publishing in numbers, under the name of Harrison. He was next engaged by Mr. Murray, the book-seller, to execute a translation of Buffon’s Natural History of Birds, published in 1793, in 9 vols. 8vo, the payment for which, with his prudent habits, laid the foundation of his subsequent independence. During the progress of this work he superintended the studies of the Messrs. Wedgwood of Etruria, in Staffordshire, whom he left in 1792. In 1794 he visited Holland, and in 1796 he proceeded through Germany and Switzerland with Mr. Thomas Wedgwood, whose early death he ever lamented as a loss to science. On his return to Scotland, he became a candidate for a professorship at St. Andrews, and subsequently for the chair of natural philosophy at Glasgow, but in both instances was unsuccessful. In 1799 he travelled through Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, in company with Mr. Robert Gordon, a fellow-student at St. Andrews.

      Previous to 1800 he had invented the Differential Thermometer, one of the most beautiful and delicate instruments that inductive genius ever contrived, as a help to experimental research; and the results of his inquiries concerning the nature and laws of heat, in which he was so much aided by this exquisite instrument, were published in 1804, in his celebrated ‘Essay on the Nature and Propagation of Heat.’ The experimental devices and striking discoveries which distinguish this publication are more than a counterbalance for the great deficiency in systematic arrangement and in simplicity of style which characterises this and all the author’s writings. In the following year this work obtained for him the Rumford medals, from the councils of the Royal Society.

      Early in 1805, on the promotion of Professor Playfair from the chair of mathematics to that of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh, Mr. Leslie offered himself as a candidate for the vacant professorship. His election was opposed by the moderate party among the Edinburgh clergy, who were desirous of placing Dr. Thomas Macknight, one of their own body, in the chair. They grounded their objection to Mr. Leslie upon a note in his ‘Enquiry into the Nature of Heat,’ relative to Hume’s Theory of Causation, which they deemed of an infidel nature and tendency. After some keen discussions in the ecclesiastical courts, in which Mr. Leslie was powerfully defended by Sir Henry Moncrieff, the case was dismissed by the General Assembly, and, in consequence, he entered without farther opposition on the duties of his chair.

      In 1809 Mr. Leslie published his ‘Elements of Geometry,’ which has gone through several editions. In 1810, by the aid of another of his own contrivances, the hygrometer, he arrived at the discovery of that singularly beautiful process of artificial freezing, or consolidation of fluids, which enabled him to congeal mercury, and convert water into ice by evaporation.

      In 1819, on the death of Playfair, Mr. Leslie succeeded him in the chair of natural philosophy, and, by the care which he devoted to the state of the instruments required for experimental illustration, he formed for his class by far the finest and most complete set of apparatus in the kingdom. His income for many years was more than sufficient for his wants, and having amassed about £10,000, he expended part of this sum in his latter years upon the purchase of a mansion called Coates, near his native village, where he spent all his leisure time

      In June 1832, on the recommendation of Lord-chancellor Brougham, he was created a knight of the Guelphic order, along with Messrs, Herschel, charles Bell, Ivory, Brewster, south, and Harris Nicholas. He did not, however, long enjoy this honour. In the end of October, while superintending some improvements about his residence, he unfortunately caught cold, the neglect of which brought on erysipelas in one of his legs, and he died at Coates, Fifeshire, November 3, 1832.

      A biography of Sir John Leslie, by Macvey Napier, one of the professors of law in the university of Edinburgh, appeared in the 7th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, of which Mr. Napier was editor, and was inserted in the 23d volume of the New Philosophical Journal, to which periodical Sir John Leslie was a frequent contributor. He was never married. In person he was rather below the middle size and corpulent. His face was large and florid, but there was that about his eyes and forehead which seemed to show that he was no ordinary man. His works are:

      (In Watt’s Bibliotheca Britannica, two poetical works, published in 1772, are erroneously attributed to Sir John Leslie; also a work entitled ‘Method of Calculating Plans and Maps by Proportional Scales and Squares,’ &c. 1780.)

      On the Resolution of Undeterminate Problems. Trans. Edin. Soc. ii. 193. 1790.

      Buffon’s Natural History of Birds, translated, 9 vols. 8vo. London, 1793.

      Description of an Hygrometer and Photometer. Nicholson’s Journal, iii. 461. 1800.

      On the Absorbent Powers of different Earths. Ib. iv. 196. 1800.

      Observations and Experiments on Light and Heat. With some Remarks on the Enquiries of Dr. Herschel, respecting those objects. Ib. 344. 1800.

      An Experimental Inquiry into the Nature and Properties of Heat. 9 Plates. Lond. 1804, 8vo.

      Envy at Arms, or Caloric Alarm in the Church. (in verse.) Edin. 1805, 8vo.

      Elements of Geometry, Geometrical Analysis, and Plant Trigonometry. With an Appendix, Notes, and Illustrations. Being the 1st vol. of a proposed ‘course of Mathematics.’ Edin. 1809, 8vo, 2d edit. improved, 1811, 8vo. 3d edit. improved and enlarged, 1817. Translated into the French and German languages.

      Short Account of Experiments and Instruments depending on the Relation of Air to Heat and Moisture. Edin. 1813, 8vo.

      Philosophy of Arithmetic, exhibiting a Progressive View of the Theory and Practice of Calculation. With an enlarged Table of the Products of Numbers under one Hundred. Edinburgh, 1817, 8vo.

      On Certain Impressions of Cold, transmitted from the Higher Atmosphere; with a description of an Instrument adapted to measure them. Trans. Edin. Soc. vii. 463. 1817. The Æthrioscope, the instrument here alluded to, is, in another place, described, in the poetical language of its author, as “fitted to extend its sensation through indefinite space, and to reveal the condition of the remotest atmosphere.”

      Essay on Heat and Climate. Read before the Royal Society of London in 1793. Published in Dr. Thomson’s Annals of Philosophy. 1819.

      Description of Instruments for Extending and Improving Meteorological Observations. Edin. 1820, 8vo.

      Geometrical Analysis, and Geometry of Curve Lines, being volume ii. of a Course of Mathematics, and designed as an Introduction to the study of Natural Philosophy. Edin. 1821.

      Elements of Natural Philosophy, compiled for the use of his class, 1 vol. Edin. 1823. 2d edit. 1829.

      Rudiments of Plant Geometry, including Geometrical Analysis, and Plant Trigonometry, being an abridgment of his Elements of Geometry. Edin, 1828, small 8vo.

      Observations on Electrical Theories, written in 1791, inserted in Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, vol. xi., p. 1. 1824.

      He was a contributor to the Monthly Review, and to the Edinburgh Review. He also wrote several very valuable articles on different branches of Physics in the Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica. a ‘discourse on the History of Mathematical and Physical Science during the Eighteenth century,’ prefixed to the seventh edition of that national and standard work, may be described as one of the most interesting and masterly of all his compositions.

      With Robert Jameson and Hugh Murray, LL.D., he edited a Narrative of Discovery and Adventure in the Polar Seas and Regions; with Illustrations of their climate, Geology, and Natural History; and an Account of the Whale Fishery. Edin. 1835, 8vo.

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