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CHALMERS George - from Scottish Nation


"The Scottish Nation" - George Chalmers

The following extract was taken from "The Scottish Nation" (1874) by William Anderson. My thanks to Charles D. Chalmers for originally bringing the book to my attention.


"CHALMERS, GEORGE, a distinguished historical, political, and antiquarian writer, descended from the family of Chalmers of Pittensear, in the county of Moray, was born at Fochabers in the end of the year 1742. He received the early part of his education at the grammar school of his native town, and afterwards removed to King's college, Old Aberdeen, where he had as one of his preceptors the celebrated Dr. Reid, then professor of moral philosophy. From thence he went to Edinburgh, where he studied law for several years. In 1763 he sailed to America with an uncle, to assist him in the recovery of a tract of land of considerable extent in Maryland. He subsequently settled at Baltimore, where he practised as a lawyer till the breaking out of the revolutionary war. On his return to Britain in 1775 he settled in London, where he applied to literary persuits, and in 1780 produced his 'Political Annals of the United Colonies;' and in 1782 his 'Estimate of the Comparative Strength of Great Britain during the Present and four Preceding Reigns.' These works are said to have recommended him to the notice of the government, and in August 1786 he was appointed chief clerk of the Committee of Privy Council, for the consideration of all matters relating to trade and foreign plantations. He also acted as colonial agent for the Bahama islands. A list of various works of Mr. Chalmers, who was a member both of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, as well as an honorary member of the Antiquaries of Scotland, and of other learned bodies, is subjoined. His greatest production is his 'Caledonia,' the first volume of which appeared in 1807, and which he himself styled his "standing work." This truly national publication was intended to illustrate the antiquities, the language, the history, civil and ecclesiastical, and the agricultural and commercial state of Scotland from the earliest period, and displays a vast amount of research and erudition. It was left unfinished, only three out of four volumes having appeared. He had for many years been engaged in collecting materials for a 'History of Scottish Poetry,' and 'A History of Printing in Scotland.' Under the name of Oldys he published a Life of Thomas Paine. His Life of Ruddiman the grammarian, throws much light on the state of literature in Scotland during the earlier part of the eighteenth century, and his Life of Mary, Queen of Scots, is a work of great labour and research, but it is understood not to have been entirely original. Mr. Chalmers published various pamphlets, apologising for those who, like himself, believed in the authenticity of the Shakespeare manuscripts of Voltigern and Rowena, forged by Mr. Ireland. He died May 31, 1825, aged 82 years. His publications are:

An Answer from the Electors of Bristol to the letter of Edmund Burke, Esq., on the affairs of America. London, 1777, 8vo.

The Propriety of allowing a qualified Export of Wool discussed historically. London, 1782, 8vo.,

An Introduction to the History of the Revolt of the Colonies, vol i only printed, which was cancelled. London, 1782, 8vo, 500 pages, ending with the reign of George the First.

Three Tracts on the Iriash Arrangements. Lond., 1785, 8vo.

A Collection of Treatise between Great Britain and other Powers. Lond. 1790, 2 vols. 8vo.

Political Annals of the present United Colonies, from the Settlement to the Peace of 1763. Compiled chiefly from records. Ending at the Revolution, 1688. Lond. 1780, 4to.

An estimate of the comparative strength of Great Britain during the present and four preceding reigns, and of the Losses of her Trade from every War since the Revolution. To which is added, An essay on Population, by Judge Hale. Lond. 1782 4to. 1786 8vo. 1794 8vo. A new edition corrected and continued to 1812 8vo.

Opinions on intersting subjects of Public Laws and Commercail Policy, arising from American Independence. Lond., 1784 8vo.

Historical Tracts, by Sir John Davies, with a Life of the Author, 1786, 8vo.

Life of Daniel De Foe. Lond. 1786, 1790 8vo.

Life of Thomas Paine, the author of the seditious work entitled Rights of Man. (Tenth edition) London, 1793, 8vo., published under the assumed name of Francis Oldys, A.M., of the University of Pennsylvania.

Prefatory Introduction to Dr. Johnson's Debates in Parliament. London, 1794, 8vo.

Life of Thomas Ruddiman M.A. To which are subjoined new Anecdotes of Buchanan. Lond., 1794, 8vo.

Vindication of the Privilege of the People in respect to the Constitutional Right of Free Discussion; with a Retrospect of various proceedings relative to the violations of that right. London, 1796, 8vo. (Anonoymous)

Apology for the Believers in the Shakespeare Papers which were exhibited in Norfolk Street. london 1796, 8vo.

A Supplemental Apology for the Believers in the Shakespeare Papers, being a Reply to Mr. Malone's Answer, which was early announced, but never published, with a Dedication to George Steevens, and a Postscript to T.J.Mathias, London, 1799, 8vo.

Appendix to the Supplemental Apology; being the Documents for the Opinion that Hugh Boyd wrote Junius' Letters. 1800 8vo

The Poems of Allan Ramsay, with a life of the Author. Lond. 1800, 2 vols. 8vo.

Observations on the State of England, in 1696, by Gregory King; with a life of the Author

Life of Sir David lindsay of the Mount, Lyon King at Arms under James V with Preatory Disserations and a Glossary of his Poetical Works. Lond.. 1806, 3 vols. 8vo.

Caledonia; or an Account, Historical, and Topographical, of North Britian, from the most ancient to the present times, with a Dictionary of Places, Chronographical and Phililogical. Vol. i Lond 1807, 4to. Vol. ii 1810, 4to. Vol. iii 1824, 4to.

A Chronological Account of Commerce and Coinage in Great Britain, from the Restoration till 1810. 1810 8vo.

Considerations on Commerce, Bullion and Coin, Circulation and Excahnges. 1811 8vo.

An Historical View of the Domestic Econonomy of Great Britain and Ireland, from the earliest to the present times. New edition of 'The Comparative Estimate,' corrected and enlarged. Edin 1812, 8vo.

Opinions of Eminent Lawyers on various points of English Jurisprudence, chiefly concerning the Colonies, Fisheries, and Commerce of Great Britain. London 1814, 8vo.

A Tract, privately printed, in answer to Malone's account of Shakespeare's Tempest. London 1815, 8vo.

Comparative Views of the State of Great Britain and Ireland before and since the war. London, 1817, 8vo.

The Author of Junius Ascertained, from the concatenation of circumstances, amounting to moral demonstration. 1817.

Churchyard's Chips concerning Scotland; being a Collection of Pieces realtive to that Country; with Historical Notices, and a Life of the Author. London 1817, 8vo.

Life of Mary Queen of Scots drawn from State papers, and six subsidiary Memoirs. London 1818, 2 vols. 4to. Reprinted in 3 vols. 8vo. From the preface of this work we learn that the Rev. John Whitaker, the Historian of manchester, and the vindicator of the Scottish queen, had left at his deathbed an unfinished life of Mary. His papers were put into Mr. Chalmers's hands by his widow and daughters fro publication, but his avocations, and some years of ill health, had prevented him from executing their desires, and he had found it necessary 'to re-write the whole.'

The Poetical Remains of some of the Scottish Kings, now first collected. London, 1824, 8vo.

Robene and Makyne, and the Testament of Cresseid, by Robert Menryson, edited and presented by Mr. Chalmers as his contribution to the Bannatyne Club. Edin., 1824, 4to.

A Detection of the Love Letters lately attributed to Hugh Campbell's work to Mary Queen of Scots. London, 1825. 8vo. These fictitious letters purported to be 'originals' of love letters from Queen mary to the earl of Bothwell.

Besides these works he had prepared for the press an elaborate History of the Life and reign of David I.

In 1812, on the murder of Mr. Perceval, Chancellor of the Exchequer, a pamphlet appeared entitled, "An Appeal to the generosity of the British nation on behalf of the family of the unfortunate Bellingham," with Mr. Chalmers's name as the author; but it was an impudent forgery, as he knew nothing of it till it was published. Nevertheless, in Watt's Bibliothea Britannica, it is mentioned as one of his works.


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This page was updated 29-Apr-2001