CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 2081
TitleGeorge Chalmers, antiquarian and historian: papers on families of Gordon and Gregory and the history of Aberdeen
Date1784 - 1816
Extent10 items (0.01 linear metres)
Creator NameChalmers; George (1742-1825); Scottish antiquary and historian
Administrative HistoryThomas Gordon was born in 1714, the son of George Gordon, Professor of Hebrew at King's College, 1693 - 1730. Thomas Gordon graduated MA there in 1731 and held various university appointments from 1734 until his death in 1797, as Humanist, Regent, and finally Professor of Greek. His collections of manuscripts relating to staff and students formed a valuable source of information for the compilation of the works on the history of the universities of Aberdeen and their alumni edited by P. J. Anderson (c. 1850-1926).

William Kennedy was probably born in 1759 and attended Marischal College, Aberdeen, from 1774 to 1775/6. He was an advocate in Aberdeen from 1783 and sometime town clerk. He published the 'Annals of Aberdeen' in 1818, and compiled an index to the first 67 volumes of the Aberdeen Council Register, 1398 - 1800, in 1813. He died in 1836.

George Chalmers (1742-1825) was born at Fochabers in Moray, a descendant of the family of Pittensear, and was educated at the parish school of Fochabers and King's College, Aberdeen. He afterwards studied law in Edinburgh. When twenty-one he accompanied his uncle to Maryland and practised as a lawyer at Baltimore. Returning to Great Britain at the outbreak of war, he settled in London in 1775, and devoted himself to literature. His first publications were political, and chiefly connected with the colonies. In 1786 he was appointed chief clerk of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations. He next turned to biography, and published lives of Defoe, Thomas Paine (under the pseudonym of Oldys), and Thomas Ruddiman, the Scottish grammarian and printer. In the beginning of 19th century he was attracted to Scottish poetry and history, and he printed editions of the poems of Allan Ramsay and Sir David Lyndsay, with lives of these poets. In 1807 he issued the first volume of his ‘Caledonia,’ designed to encompass the antiquities and history of Scotland in six volumes, but only three were published, although he did publish other works on Scottish historical topics. Besides his published works, Chalmers left large manuscript collections for the completion of the ‘Caledonia’ and other works, most of which are now in the National Library of Scotland or Edinburgh University Library (Laing Bequest). He died on 31 May 1825.
SourceThe papers were presented to the library by William L. Davidson, professor of Logic, Aberdeen, in 1912. They were given to him by Elsie McWilliam, Elgin, in the same year: she was the great great granddaughter of George Chalmers.
DescriptionLetters sent to George Chalmers, Scottish antiquary and historian, by Thomas Gordon and William Kennedy, and other papers regarding the genealogy of the families of Gordon and Gregory and the history of Aberdeen and neighbourhood.
AppraisalThis material has been appraised in line with normal procedures.
AccrualsNone expected.
ArrangementThe MSS fall into two groups. The first, MSS 2081/1-7, consists of letters and papers relating to or by Professor Thomas Gordon and the families of Gordon and Gregory, 1784-1797; the second, MSS 2081/8-10, consists of three letters by William Kennedy to Chalmers requesting information and discussing points raised in connection with his researches for his forthcoming 'Annals of Aberdeen'.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsThe records are available subject to the signed acceptance of the Department's access conditions.
Physical DescriptionNo physical conditions affecting use of collection.
Related MaterialMS 595 - An Alphabetical Index to the first 76 volumes of the Council Register of the City of Aberdeen from 1398 - 1800, compiled by William Kennedy (1826).
Publication NoteLetters 1794-96 of Thomas Gordon (1714-97), Kings College, to George Chalmers, Board of Trade Office. Northern Scotland, Volume 3, No. 1 (1977-78), p.96.
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