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William Smellie (1740–1795) by John Brown, 1783 The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland; photograph courtesy the Scottish National Portrait Gallery


Smellie, William (1740–1795), printer, editor, and author, was born in the Pleasance, a suburb of old Edinburgh, the second among six children of Alexander Smellie (1699–1752), a mason and master builder. His mother's identity is unknown and his own birth date uncertain because his father followed the Cameronians, an outlawed Presbyterian sect that eschewed record keeping for fear of persecution. His religious practices estranged ...