Macpherson was born in Edinburgh on 26 October 1746, and died in London on 1 August 1816. His father was a prosperous Edinburgh tailor and clothier. Macpherson was first educated at the Edinburgh High School and then attended the University of Edinburgh, going on to train as a land surveyor. He was successful at this profession, working in Scotland and England and spending several years in the American colonies but returning before the Revolution. Around 1790 he decided to retire, and settled in London with the intention of devoting himself to writing histories. Unfortunately he lost a large part of his savings through bad loans and financial speculations, and was forced to take up several posts in order to support his family; among other things, he was for several years deputy keeper of the public records. His historical works, notably Geographical Illustrations of Scottish History (1796) and Annals of Commerce (1805) were successful, and earned the approval of other writers on history and commerce, notably George chalmers, with whom he became friendly.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.