Record

CodeNA7212
Dates1742-1825
Person NameChalmers; George (1742-1825); Scottish antiquary and historian
SurnameChalmers
ForenamesGeorge
EpithetScottish antiquary and historian
ActivityGeorge Chalmers 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.
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