Anderson was born in a village near Edinburgh some time in 1739, and died in London on 15 October 1808. Orphaned as a Young Child, he was reared by a relative who encouraged him, while still in his teens, to take over the management of his father's tenant farm (Mullet 1968). His early education included paid instruction in Edinburgh, which gave him some familiarity with foreign languages. Subsequently he attended the lectures of William Cullen at Edinburgh University in order to understand chemistry in its relation to agricultural improvement. Cullen was a leading member of the scientific school in the Scottish Enlightenment and a formative influence on Anderson. From Cullen, and in related classes at the university, Anderson absorbed an inductive, empirical method which infused his many publications, weighing them down with carefully observed detail.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.