Material relating to Professor John Millar (1735-1801)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-434
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 manuscript volumes, 2 letters
  • Location
      Dc.2.45-46; Dc.4.41/108; Dk.7.47/15

Scope and Content

The material includes: a letter to Alexander Carlyle, 1782; student's notes of Millar's lectures on the institutions of civil law, 1794; and, a letter addressed to J. Rait 'at Professor Miller's'.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Millar was born in the parish of Shotts, Lanarkshire, on 22 June 1735. He was taught to read by his uncle and he went to school in Hamilton. His studies continued in Glasgow and he attended lectures in moral philosophy. Although it was intended that he become a Minister, he followed a course in law. Millar became an Advocate in 1760 and in 1761 became Professor of Law at Glasgow University. He gave lectures in Government, on Civil Law, Jurisprudence, Scottish Law, and English Law. He supported the American struggle for independence and favoured parliamentary reform at home. He supported the agitation against the slave trade and sympathised with French revolutionaries. His works include The origin of the distinction of ranks, or An enquiry into the circumstances which gave rise to influence and authority in the different members of society (1771), and Historical view of the English government from the settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the accession of the House of Stewart (1787). Professor John Millar died at the family estate of Millheugh, Blantyre, on 30 May 1801.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Letter to J. Rait has Accession no. E59.4.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.13. Masquerier-Myles. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to Millar related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): letter to the Earl of Buchan, 1763, at La.II.588. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: lecture notes, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections Department, see Sturges, Economists papers 1750-1950, 1975, Accessions to repositories 1983; lecture notes, 1779-1781, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 2743, 3930-31; lecture notes, 1782, Aberdeen University, Special Libraries and Archives, see Sturges, Economists papers 1750-1950, 1975; and, letters to William Adam, 1784-1799, Private, Ref. NRA(S)0063 NRA 9954 Adam.


Corporate Names