Railway engineer. Born in Edinburgh, the son of a famous optical instrument manufacturer of the same name, Adie was educated at the High School and University in the city. He was apprenticed to civil engineer James Jardine (1776 - 1858) and went on to become the Resident Engineer for the Bolton, Chorley and Preston Railway in 1836 and then Engineer to the Monklands Railway. Around 1863, he was appointed engineer and manager of Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway.
Adie was also noted for his experiments on the expansion of stone by heat, using a steam pyrometer of his own design, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1846.
He died at his home, Rockville near Linlithgow, in West Lothian.