Economist. Born in Whithorn (Dumfries and Galloway), McCulloch's father owned a small estate. He entered the University of Edinburgh in 1807, but never graduated. He became the first Editor of The Scotsman newspaper (1817-21), which he helped found, and then worked with the Edinburgh Review, while giving public lectures on economics in the city. In 1828, he was offered the Chair of Political Economy at University College London, which he held until 1837. He was a supporter of the 'Classical System' of economics propounded by David Ricardo (1772 - 1823), along with James Mill (1806-73) and Thomas De Quincey (1785 - 1859).
In 1838, he took the post of Comptroller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office, and his profound understanding of economics ensured he gained a reputation for reducing wastage.
A prolific author, who earned much from his books, the most popular of which were his Dictionary of Commerce and Commercial Navigation (1832) and Dictionary of Geography (1841), both of which ran to several editions. He edited Adam Smith's 1828 edition of Wealth of Nations.