Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macpherson, David
MACPHERSON, DAVID (1746–1816), historian and compiler, son of a tailor and clothier, was born at Edinburgh, 26 Oct. 1746. He was probably educated at the Edinburgh High School and University, and was afterwards trained as a land surveyor. Prosecuting his business in Great Britain and America, he earned a small competence before 1790, about which time he settled with his wife and family in London as a man of letters. Losing money through unfortunate loans, he was occasionally in straitened circumstances afterwards, but worked manfully, receiving encouragement from writers like Joseph Ritson and George Chalmers [q. v.] of the 'Caledonia.' For some time Macpherson was a deputy-keeper of the public records, and assisted in preparing for publication the first and part of the second volume of the 'Rotuli Scotiæ.' He died in London 1 Aug. 1816.
Macpherson edited with adequate scholarship and skill Andrew Wyntoun's 'Orygynal Cronykil of Scotland,' 2 vols. 4to, 1795. This was re-edited, in an enlarged form, by David Laing, for the 'Historians of Scotland' series, 1879. Macpherson's other works are:
- 'Geographical Illustrations of Scottish History,' 4to, 1796.
- 'Annals of Commerce, Fisheries, and Navigation … from the earliest Accounts to the Meeting of the Union Parliament in 1801' (embodying the essence of Anderson's 'History of Commerce'), 4 vols. 4to, 1805.
- 'The History of European Commerce with India,' 4to, 1812.
[Biographical Sketch of Macpherson, by David Laing, in Historians of Scotland, vol. ix.; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]