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Arthur James Balfour, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930) by John Singer Sargent, 1908 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Balfour, Arthur James, first earl of Balfour (1848–1930), prime minister and philosopher, was born on 25 July 1848 at Whittingehame House, East Lothian, the third of eight children and eldest son of James Maitland Balfour (1820–1856), landowner (and MP, 1841–7), and his wife, ...

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Balfour, James, of Pilrig (1705–1795), moral philosopher, was born at Pilrig, near Edinburgh, the eldest child of James Balfour (1681–1737), businessman, and his wife, Louisa, née Hamilton (1686–1750), of Airdrie. His brother John Balfour (1715–1795) became a prominent Edinburgh bookseller and papermaker. James...

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James Beattie (1735–1803) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1773 [The Triumph of Truth, with the Portrait of a Gentleman] University of Aberdeen

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Beattie, James (1735–1803), poet and philosopher, was baptized at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, on 25 October 1735, the youngest of six children of James Beattie (d. c.1742), tenant farmer and village shopkeeper, and Jean Watson (c.1692–1772). His father, who died when ...

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Bethune, John (1725–1774), Church of Scotland minister and philosopher, was born on 6 September 1725 and baptized John Beton six days later, the son of Ferchard or Farquhar Beton or Bethune (1694–1746), minister of Croy, Nairnshire, of the Bethunes of Skye, and Margaret Rose (...

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Binning, Hugh (1627–1653), philosopher and Church of Scotland minister, was born at Dalvenan, Ayrshire, the son of John Binning, the proprietor of Dalvenan, and Margaret M'Kell, daughter of Matthew M'Kell (or M'Kail), the parish clergyman of Bothwell, Lanarkshire. Margaret M'Kell's brother Hugh M'Kail...

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Thomas Brown (1778–1820) by Henry Cousins, pubd 1845 (after George Watson, 1806) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Brown, Thomas (1778–1820), philosopher and poet, was born on 9 January 1778 at the manse of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, the youngest of thirteen children of the Revd Samuel Brown (1724–1779), minister of Kirkmabreck and Kirkdale, and of Margaret Smith (1735–1817), daughter of John Smith...

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T. F. Henderson

revised by M. C. Curthoys

Buchanan, Robert (1786–1873), logician and playwright, was a cadet of the clan Buchanan. He was born on 16 February 1786 at Trean, Callander, the son of John Buchanan, a farmer. He graduated MA from the University of Glasgow in 1808, where he specially distinguished himself in the philosophy classes. He was for a period tutor in the family of ...

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James Moore and Michael Silverthorne

Carmichael, Gershom (1672–1729), philosopher, was born in London, the son of Alexander Carmichael (d. 1677), a Scottish presbyterian clergyman who had been deprived of his church in Scotland (at Pittenain) 'for keeping of conventicles' (Reg. PCS, 3.464, 22 Feb 1672...

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Cleghorn, William (1718–1754), moral philosopher and university teacher, was probably born in Edinburgh, the son of Hugh Cleghorn (d. 1734), a brewer and burgess of Edinburgh, and his wife, Jean Hamilton. He entered Edinburgh University in 1731 and graduated MA in 1739. He was probably intended for the ministry, and must have also studied divinity. It appears that he was licensed to preach, but never held charge of a parish. In 1739 and 1740 he was tutor to ...

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Gordon Goodwin

revised by Jeffrey R. Smitten

Doig, David (1718/19–1800), writer on history and philosophy, was born at Monifieth, Forfarshire, where he was baptized on 17 February 1719. His father, also David Doig, who was a small farmer, died while his son was an infant, and his mother remarried. Because of poor eyesight ...

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Donaldson, Walter (bap. 1574), philosopher, was baptized at St Nicholas, Aberdeen, on 11 November 1574, the son of Alexander Donaldson, burgess of Aberdeen, and his wife, Elizabeth Lamb. He perhaps took his degree in arts at King's College, Aberdeen, and it is known that in 1598 he accompanied ...

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Dudgeon, William (1705/6–1743), freethinker and philosopher, is of unknown origins. A tenant farmer who resided at Lennel Hill Farm, near Coldstream, Berwickshire, he was one of several philosophers active in the borders area of Scotland during this period. Other figures in this group include ...

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Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) by Sir Henry Raeburn, 1790s courtesy of the University of Edinburgh's Collections

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Ferguson, Adam (1723–1816), philosopher and historian, was born on 20 June 1723 in the village of Logierait, Perthshire, the youngest of nine children born to Adam Fergusson (1672–1754), the parish minister, and his wife, Mary (b. c.1680), daughter of Patrick Gordon...

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Ferrier, James Frederick (1808–1864), philosopher, was born on 16 June 1808 at 15 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, the eldest son of John Ferrier, barrister and writer to the signet, and Margaret Wilson, sister of John Wilson (the essayist and poet Christopher North). James Ferrier...

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A. R. M. Finlayson

revised by Emma Vincent Macleod

Finlayson, James (1758–1808), Church of Scotland minister and university teacher, was born on 2 March 1758 at his family's farm at Nether Cambushenie, Dunblane, Perthshire, the eldest son of William Finlayson. He was educated first at a local school in Kinbuck, then at the grammar school in ...

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Flint, Robert (1838–1910), philosopher and theologian, born at Applegarth, near Dumfries, on 14 March 1838, was the son of Robert Flint, a farm overseer, and his wife, Grace, née Paterson. His first school was at Moffat. In 1852 he entered Glasgow University, where he distinguished himself in arts and divinity. He won a number of prizes but did not graduate, preferring not to concentrate his studies on preparation for exams. Having been employed as a lay missionary by the ...