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Sir John Clerk


(Sir John Clerk of Penicuik)

1676 - 1755

Politician, advocate, patron of the arts, antiquarian, author and arbiter of taste. Son of a Member of Parliament, who had been created a hereditary baronet in 1679. Clerk was educated at the Universities of Glasgow and Leyden, followed by an extended 'Grand Tour'. He studied music under the Italian baroque composer Corelli.

Clerk was admitted to the Bar in 1700, became a Commissioner of the Act of Union (1707) and Baron of the Exchequer, who ensured Scotland was paid by England to equalise the National Debts of the two countries. He was also a Member of Parliament for the Whig party.

Clerk was patron to artist Allan Ramsay (1713-84) and architect William Adam (1689 - 1748), the latter designing Mavisbank (Midlothian) for Clerk. Clerk, also an accomplished amateur architect, designed Penicuik House for himself (1761), laid out the planned village of Penicuik (1770) and advised others on the design of their country houses.

Clerk had an unparalleled influence in Scottish society of the time.


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