Bonar, James (DNB00)

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BONAR, JAMES (1767–1821), solicitor of excise, eighth son of John Bonar (1722-1761) [q. v.], minister of Cockpen and afterwards at Perth, was born on 29 Sept. 1757. He was educated at the high school of Edinburgh, and attended the university. He early entered the excise office, but found time to become a distinguished scholar. He was a member of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh university, being admitted 9 Dec. 1777, and elected an extraordinary member on 24 Dec. 1781, and was for several years treasurer of the Royal Society, Edinburgh. He was one of the original promoters of the Astronomical Institution, and one of the founders of the Edinburgh Subscription Library in 1794. He died on 25 March 1821 leaving, by his wife Marjory Maitland (to whom he was married in March 1797), five sons and three daughters. He was author of the article on ‘Posts’ in ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica,’ 1794; the articles on ‘Alphabet Characters,’ ‘Etymology,’ ‘Excise,’ ‘Hieroglyphics,’ &c., in ‘Edinburgh Encyclopædia,’ 1808–18; ‘Disquisition on the Origin and Radical Sense of the Greek Prepositions,’ 1804; he edited the new edition of ‘Ewing's Greek Grammar,’ and contributed many articles to the ‘Edinburgh Magazine,’ ‘Missionary Magazine,’ and ‘Scottish Register,’ 1790-5. He published an English edition of Holbein's ‘Dance of Death,’ 1788, and wrote the memoir of his brother, Archibald Bonar [q. v.], which is prefixed to the second volume of his sermons.

[Family papers in possession of Horatius Bonar, W.S., Edinburgh; History of the Speculative Society (1845); manuscript Life, with list of his writings, written by his son.]

H. B-r.