Ferguson, Adam (1771-1855) (DNB00)

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FERGUSON, Sir ADAM (1771–1855), keeper of the regalia in Scotland, eldest son of Professor Adam Ferguson [q. v.], was born in 1771. At Edinburgh University he was one of the companions of Sir Walter Scott, who says that he combined the ‘lightest and most airy temper with the best and kindest disposition’ (‘Autobiography’ in Lockhart, Life of Scott). He was also one of the nineteen original members of the society, ‘called by way of excellence the Club,’ among the members of which, from the accident of a Newhaven fisherman mistaking him for a brother of the craft, he obtained the cognomen of Linton (see anecdote, ib.) It was in company with Ferguson that Scott in 1793 first visited the scenes in Perthshire on the highland border which he afterwards described in his poems and romances. About 1800 Ferguson entered the army; he became captain of the 101st regiment in February 1808, and afterwards he served in the Peninsular campaign under Wellington. Scott was in the habit of relating with special pride that the ‘Lady of the Lake’ having reached Ferguson in the lines of Torres Vedras he read to his company, while lying on the ground exposed to the enemy's artillery, the description of the battle in canto vi. In a letter to Scott in 1811 Ferguson expressed the resolve, should it be his fate to survive the campaign, to try his hand ‘on a snug little farm’ somewhere in Scott's neighbourhood. He was taken prisoner during Wellington's retreat from Burgos in 1812, and was not released till the peace of 1814. On 8 Oct. 1816 he went on half-pay. In 1817 he accompanied Scott in an excursion in the Lennox, and in the following year he and his sisters took up their residence in the mansion-house of Toftfield, which Scott had recently purchased, and on which, at the ladies' request, he bestowed the name of Huntly Burn. In the autumn of this year Ferguson, chiefly through the exertions of Scott, was appointed keeper of the regalia of Scotland, which then had recently been discovered. About this time Sir David Wilkie executed for Scott the picture in which Scott and his family are represented as a group of peasants and Ferguson as a gamekeeper or poacher. In 1819 Ferguson, in the capacity of secretary, accompanied Scott's friend, the Duke of Buccleuch, then in declining health, to Lisbon. In 1821 he married the widow of George Lyon of London, and daughter of John Stewart of Stenton, Perthshire (see humorous letter of Scott on the ceremony). On the occasion of the visit of George IV to Edinburgh he received the honour of knighthood 29 Aug. 1822. He died 1 Jan. 1855. Ferguson was famed as a narrator of Scotch anecdotes.

[Lockhart's Life of Scott; Gent. Mag. new ser. (1855) xliii. 195.]

T. F. H.