Macleod was born in Edinburgh on 31 March 1821, the son of a major landowner, and died at Norwood, Surrey on 16 July 1902. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1843 with a degree in mathematics. He first came to the public eye in 1849, when he wrote a report on the administration of poor relief in nine parishes of Easter Ross, The report led to the establishment of a poor-house. In 1854 Macleod joined the directorate of the Royal British Bank and wrote a memorandum on the bank's position under the Joint Stock Banking Act of 1845. This foray into banking law led Macleod to enter upon the study of the economics of money and banking. He was sorely disappointed with what he found but perceived that ‘the greatest opportunity that had come to any man since the days of Galileo had come to me’ (1896: 143). Thereafter, Macleod devoted his life to ‘the construction of a real science of Economics on the model of the already established physical sciences (1896: 143). He twice attempted, without success, to obtain the chair of political economy in Cambridge University. His originality and strident personality contributed to the lack of acceptance of his work.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.