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قراءة كتاب Notes and Queries, Number 170, January 29, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

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Notes and Queries, Number 170, January 29, 1853
A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

Notes and Queries, Number 170, January 29, 1853 A Medium of Inter-communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, etc.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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This work, so often quoted, is familiar to every antiquary; but as the name of the intelligent and laborious editor does not appear in any of our biographical dictionaries, a short sketch may not be unacceptable to our readers.

William Robertson was born at Fordyce, in the county of Banff, in the year 1740. Having gone through the usual course of elementary instruction in reading and writing, he entered the Latin class at the grammar school of his native parish; a seminary then, as now, of great celebrity in the North of Scotland. Among his schoolfellows he contracted a particular intimacy with Mr. George Chalmers, afterwards Secretary of the Board of Trade; so well known by many elaborate and valuable commercial, historical, and biographical publications. The connexion between the schoolboys, originating in a similarity of taste and pursuits, was strengthened at a subsequent period of their lives by the contributions of the intelligent Deputy Keeper of the Records of Scotland to the local and historical information of the author of Caledonia, so honourably recorded in that national work. He completed his academical studies at King's College, Aberdeen, where he was particularly distinguished by his proficiency in the Greek language, under Professor Leslie. He was then apprenticed to Mr. Turner of Turnerhall, advocate in Aberdeen; but had been little more than a year in that situation, when Mr. Burnett of Monboddo applied to Professor Leslie to recommend to him as his second clerk a young man who had a competent knowledge of the Greek language, and properly qualified to aid him in his literary pursuits. The Professor immediately mentioned young Robertson; and Mr. Turner, in the most handsome manner, cancelled his articles of apprenticeship. During his connexion with Mr. Burnett, he accompanied him in several visits to France, on taking evidence as one of the counsel in the great Douglas cause. On his first visit there, he went with him to see the savage girl, who, at that time, was creating a great sensation in Paris; and, at his request, made a translation

of M. Condamines' account of her, to which Mr. Burnett wrote a preface. In the year 1766 he was appointed Chamberlain to James, Earl of Findlater and Seafield, on the recommendation of Lord Monboddo. In 1768 he published, at Edinburgh, The History of Greece, from the Earliest Times till it became a Roman Province, being a concise and particular account of the civil government, religion, literature, and military affairs of the states of Greece, for the use of seminaries of education, and the general reader, in 1 vol. 12mo. At this period, having caught a portion of the jealous nationality of the multitude, he published a political jeu d'esprit entitled A North Briton Extraordinary, by a young Scotsman in the Corsican service, 4to., 1769: designed to repel the illiberal invectives of Mr. Wilkes against the people of Scotland. Some of the popular objections to the Union reiterated by the young Scotsman having been found in the characteristic discussion between Lieutenant Lesmahagon and Matthew Bramble on the same subject, in The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker, the authorship was on that account erroneously attributed to Dr. Smollet, who had then discontinued an unsuccessful opposition to Mr. Wilkes in the The Briton.

In 1773 Mr. Robertson married Miss Donald, only child of Captain Alexander Donald, of the 89th, or Gordon Highlanders. In the year 1777 he received his commission from Lord Frederick Campbell, the Lord Clerk Register of Scotland, as colleague of his brother, Mr. Alexander Robertson, who had been appointed one of the Deputy Keepers of the Records of Scotland some years before. He was now in a situation completely suited to his wishes, and entered on the duties of his office with the utmost enthusiasm. It very early occurred to him, that many ancient records of Scotland, which had been removed by Edward I., might still be recovered; and he suggested to Lord Frederick Campbell, who was as enthusiastic as himself in everything tending to throw light on the early history of Scotland, that searches ought to be made in the State Paper Office in London for the purpose of ascertaining whether some of the earlier records might yet be found. Lord Frederick Campbell entered warmly into his views, and the success with which the search was made may be ascertained by consulting the Preface to the Index of Charters.

The Reports to the Parliamentary Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the records, with the suggestions made by him, and which have been so ably followed up since his death by the late Thomas Thomson, Esq., Deputy Clerk Register, were considered of such importance as to merit a vote of thanks of the Select Committee, which was transmitted to him along with a very friendly letter from Mr. Abbot, then Speaker of the House of Commons, afterwards Lord Colchester. He commenced the laborious work of printing The Records of the Parliament of Scotland, in which he made considerable progress, having, previous to his death, completed one very large folio volume.

Between the years 1780 and 1790, in consequence of a strict investigation into the validity of the claims of several persons to peerages in Scotland, Mr. Robertson was much employed in inquiring into the state of the peerage, both by those who made and those who rejected such claims. This circumstance naturally led him to a minute acquaintance with the subject; and induced him to publish, in 1794, a quarto volume, entitled Proceedings relative to the Peerage of Scotland from 16th January, 1707, to 20th April, 1788: a work which has been found of the greatest service in conducting the elections of the representative peers of Scotland.

In 1798, at the request of Lord Frederick Campbell, he published an—

"Index, drawn up in the Year 1629, of many Records of Charters granted by the different Sovereigns of Scotland, between 1309 and 1413 (which had been discovered by Mr. Astle in the British Museum), most of which Records have been long missing; with an Introduction, giving a State, founded upon Authentic Documents still preserved, of the Ancient Records of Scotland, which were in that Kingdom in 1292."

The object of this publication was to endeavour to recover many ancient records, which there was much reason to believe were still in existence. The labour which he underwent in preparing this volume for the press, and in transcribing a very ancient quarto manuscript, written on vellum, which was found in the State Paper Office, was very great. Every word of this ancient vellum MS. he copied with his own hand, and it is printed along with the volume of the Records of the Parliament of Scotland. The preface, introduction, notes, and appendix to the Index of Charters, show, not only the great labour which this work required from him, but the extensive information also, on the subject of the ancient history of Scotland, which he possessed.

At a general meeting of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, held Jan. 28, 1799, he was elected a member, and placed in the literary class of the Society. He died March 4, 1803, at his house, St. Andrew's Square, Edinburgh, in the sixty-third year of his age.



In the midsummer holidays of 1799,