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David Steuart Erskine

(1742—1829) antiquary and political reformer


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Eleventh Earl of Buchan (1742–1829), Scottish writer and founder of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Buchan was a reform-minded nationalist who actively promoted the Enlightenment ideals of liberty and the popular dissemination of learning. Unfortunately, his flamboyance, dandified posturing, and shameless self-promotion have diminished his reputation. He was notoriously mocked by James Boswell, Horace Walpole, Lord Cockburn, and Sir Walter Scott, among other distinguished contemporaries, with the result that scholars undervalue his contributions to the political and intellectual character of modern Scotland. Buchan inherited his family's Whig sympathies, but his own liberal instincts received their chief encouragement at Glasgow University (1762–1763), where he was a student of Adam Smith and John Millar, and attended the Academy of Art established by Robert and Andrew Foulis. He had previously studied at the universities of Saint Andrews (1755–1759) and Edinburgh (1760–1762), eventually also associating himself with Aberdeen University, a testimony to his lifelong commitment to Scottish learning.

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From Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945).


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