John Clerk of Eldin

1728 - 1812

Politician, artist and author. Born at Penicuik, the son of the wealthy Sir John Clerk (1676 - 1755) and a great great grandson of William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585 - 1649), Clerk mined coal at Lasswade and had business interests in Edinburgh. He went on to take various positions in government. He wrote a controversial essay on naval tactics (1782), which was said to have influenced Lord Nelson, but is perhaps best known as a prodigious amateur artist at the time of the Scottish Enlightenment. Clerk accompanied architect Robert Adam (1728-92) on drawing trips and married Susannah, Adam's younger sister. He sketched around Edinburgh with Jacob More (1740-93) and Alexander Runciman (1736-85), and was deeply interested in portraying Scottish landscapes and architecture. He produced drawings to illustrate the important The Theory of the Earth written by his friend James Hutton (1726-97). Clerk was a founding fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783.

He lived at Eldin House (now Nazareth House, Lasswade), where he died, and lies buried in Lasswade Old Churchyard.

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