Chalmers, Patrick (DNB00)

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CHALMERS, PATRICK (1802–1854), Scottish antiquary, was born at Auldbar Castle, near Brechin, on 31 Oct. 1802. He was the son of Patrick Chalmers, by Frances, daughter of John Inglis, East India director and was the representative of an ancient family, Chalmers of Balnacraig, which had held lands in Aberdeenshire in the middle of the fourteenth century. He was educated in Germany and at Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree. He entered the army and rose to the rank of captain, serving for some years with the 3rd dragoon guards, chiefly in Ireland. On the death of his father in 1826 he sold out and went to live at his seat at Auldbar. In 1835 he was chosen to represent in parliament the united burghs of Montrose, Arbroath, Brechin, Forfar, and Bervie, being re-elected in 1837 and also in 1841. He was actively engaged on several parliamentary committees, particularly the committee on the penny postage; but a disease of the spinal column compelled him to retire from parliament in 1842. Chalmers was always greatly interested in Scottish antiquities, and ready to spend money in producing antiquarian publications. In 1848 he published, at his own cost, and presented to the Bannatyne Club, a work on the ‘Ancient Sculptured Monuments of the County of Angus, including those at Maigla in Perthshire, and one at Fordoun in the Mearns’ (Edinburgh, folio). This book had been written by Chalmers chiefly during illness; another edition of it in quarto form was subsequently published ‘with the addition of a number of monuments of the neighbouring counties of the Mearns and Aberdeenshire,’ the expenses being borne by some Aberdeenshire gentlemen and by Chalmers himself, under whose direction the work was published. Until the appearance of Chalmers's work, ‘few examples of the sculptured standing stones (in Scotland) had been engraved of a size sufficient to give either accuracy of representation or the necessary details.’ ‘The Cartulary of the Abbey of Arbroath’ (Liber S. Thorne de Aberbrothæ, 1848, &c. 4to) was another antiquarian work with which Chalmers was connected. He was too ill to write the first volume, which was chiefly the work of Mr. Cosmo Innes, but he contributed the preface and prepared the whole of the second volume. He also contemplated another work on the cartulary of the church of Brechin, and was engaged in editing it from the original manuscript in the possession of Lord Panmure. Chalmers was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London) in January 1850, and made two communications to the ‘Archæologia:’ ‘On the Use of Masons' Marks in Scotland’ (xxxiv. 33), and ‘An Account of the Seal of the Chapter of the Holy Trinity at Brechin’ (xxxv. 487). He was also a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, to the ‘Transactions’ of which he made various contributions. He joined the British Archæological Association in 1849, and wrote for its ‘Journal’ (vi. 323–9) a paper on the ‘Resignation of the Kingdom of Man to the Pope, A.D. 1219.’

In the spring of 1854 Chalmers left Scotland for a tour on the continent, but an attack of small-pox, from which he suffered on his arrival in Italy, was followed by a renewal of his spinal complaint, and he died at Rome on 23 June 1854. His body was taken home to Scotland and buried in the ancient church at Auldbar, the rebuilding of which he had just completed. Besides occupying himself in antiquarian research, Chalmers ‘spent time and money in improving the dwellings and gardens of the labourers on his estate,’ and wrote various ‘pamphlets on the improvement of statute labour, roads, and other county matters.’ He married the daughter of Herbert Foley of Rudgway, Pembrokeshire, widow of Thomas Taylor Vernon.

[Journal of the British Archæological Association, xi. (1855) 164–70; Archæological Journal, index to vols. i–xxv.; Proceedings of the Soc. of Antiq. iii. (1853–6), 182; Annual Register, vol. xcvi. (1854), 23 June.]

W. W.