The correspondence and other material includes: batches covering the periods 1794 and 1832, and 1815 to1828; letters from 1788 to 1823; miscellaneous letters including those requesting loans of books, to publishers, related to billing etc., on scientific instruments, and Tweed suspension bridge; a commission of the Town Council appointing Leslie as joint-Professor of Mathematics with Adam Ferguson, 1805; and, notes of lectures on electricity, circa 1827.
Correspondence and Papers of Sir John Leslie (1766-1832)
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-415
- Dates of Creation1788-1832
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description14 letters, 1 mss volume, 3 portraits, 1 sketch, 1 bundle miscellaneous.
- LocationMic.M.1; Mic.M.4; Phot.1144; Dc.1.101/3-4; Dc.2.57, f. 94, and ff.97-; Gen. 129; Gen. 1429/3; Gen. 1999/1/109; MS 2636
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Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
John Leslie was born in Largo, Fife, on 16 April 1766. He studied at St. Andrews University until 1783 or 1784 after which he studied Divinity at Edinburgh University. With strong interests in science however, in 1787 he abandoned the intention of going into the Church. In 1788 his paper entitled On the resolution of indeterminate problems was published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1789, Leslie was tutoring in Virginia, North America. On his return to Britain he stayed for a time in London before going to Etruria, Staffordshire, between 1790 and 1792. There he translated The natural history of birds by Comte de Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon (1707-1788), and also published Observations on electrical theories. A short stay in the Netherlands followed, after which he returned to Largo where he studied and conducted experimental research. Leslie invented instruments for use in the study of heat and for meteorology. During his stay in Largo he also travelled to London and in Europe - to Germany and Switzerland, observing glaciers in the latter. In 1805, he was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at Edinburgh University, and in 1819 he was elected to the Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University. His publications include Experimental inquiry into the nature and properties of heat (1804), Elements of geometry, geometrical analysis and plane trigonometry (1809), Geometry of curve lines (1813), Philosophy of arithmetic (1817), Elements of natural philosophy (1823), and Mathematical treatises. Leslie was knighted in early 1832, and Sir John Leslie died the same year at his estate, Coates, in Fife, on 3 November 1832.
Conditions Governing Access
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Lecture notes, purchased May 1986, Accession no. E86.36.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.11. Kennett-Lluelyn. 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.