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Significant Scots
William Maitland

MAITLAND, WILLIAM, an antiquarian writer of some note, is generally represented as having been born at Brechin in the year 1693, though there is reason to suppose the date of his birth to have been somewhat earlier. He does not appear in his writings to have been a man of liberal education. His first employment was that of a hair merchant; in the prosecution of which business, he travelled into Sweden and Denmark, to Hamburg, and other places, and appears to have realized considerable wealth. At length he settled in London, and applied himself to the study of English and Scottish antiquities. In 1733, he was elected a member of the Royal, and in 1735, a fellow of the Antiquarian Society, which latter honour he resigned in 1740, on going to reside in the country. His first publication was his History of London, which appeared in 1739, and was chiefly valuable for a reason little creditable to the author,—namely, its being in a great measure a reduction of the ancient and scarce work of Stow. In 1740, he retired to Scotland; and in 1753, published his "History of Edinburgh," which is by far the most useful and creditable of all his works. He was not here assisted to any considerable degree by preceding authorities: the volume is chiefly compiled from original documents, and must have been accordingly a work of very great labour. In point of composition, it is very deficient. The style is mean, and the whole tone of the work that of a plain, dull old man. It also bears in some parts the traces of credulity and narrowness of understanding on the part of the author. As a compilation of facts, it is, nevertheless, very valuable. In 1757, Maitland published a "History of Scotland," in two volumes folio, a work absolutely destitute of reputation. He died at Montrose, July 16, 1757, "at an advanced age," say the obituary notices, and possessed of above 10,000.

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