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John Hill Burton


1809 - 1881

Historian, writer and lawyer. Born in Aberdeen, the son of a junior army officer, Burton was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Marischal College in the city. His younger sister was the reformer Mary Burton (1819 - 1909). He qualified as a lawyer and was admitted as an Advocate, although practised little and turned instead to writing. He gained attention through his Manual of the Law of Scotland (1839). He contributed to Blackwood's Magazine and the Scotsman, serving for a time as Editor of the latter.

Burton associated with the group of philosophers including Sir William Hamilton (1788 - 1856), John Cairns (1818-92) and James Ferrier (1808-64) and published a Life of Hume in 1846. He wrote a series of historical works including The Scot Abroad (1864) and History of Scotland (published in seven volumes; 1867-90) and biographies of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, (1847), Duncan Forbes of Culloden (1847) and Alexander Carlyle (1860).

Burton was appointed Historiographer Royal of Scotland in 1867.

Burton died at his home, Morton House in South Edinburgh, and was buried at Dalmeny. He is remembered by a monument in Dean Cemetery.


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