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Dr. James Anderson


1739 - 1808

Inventor, agricultural economist and author. Born at Long Hermiston (Edinburgh), Anderson was a gentleman farmer whose father had died when he was young. He therefore took on the running of the family farm at the age of fifteen, but found time to attend lectures at the University of Edinburgh. He was later to move to a larger farm in Aberdeenshire.

Anderson invented a small two-horse plough, which became known as the 'Scotch Plough'.

He formulated a theory of agricultural rents being dependent on the fertility of the land, presenting this is his An Enquiry into the Nature of the Corn Laws (1777). This theory was later propounded by Malthus and Ricardo. Anderson moved into Edinburgh in 1783. In 1784, he was requested by the government to survey the fisheries of the west of Scotland and the results were published the following year as An Account of the present state of the Hebrides and Western Coasts of Scotland.

His works include various essays on agriculture and rural affairs, a practical essay on Chimneys (1776), books such as Observations on the Means of Exciting a Spirit of National Industry (1777), which proposed the development of Highland Scotland through stimulation of industry and the building of roads, and his six-volume Recreations in Agriculture, Natural History, Arts and Miscellaneous Literature (1799 - 1802). In addition, he edited a literary and scientific magazine, The Bee (1790-94).

Anderson contributed an article on monsoons to the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1773 and was able to accurately predict that Captain Cook would discover no further major land-masses in the Southern Hemisphere, beyond Australia.

In recognition of his work, Anderson was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen in 1780.

He moved to London in 1797 and died in Essex (England).


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