Lectures of Professor William Cleghorn (d. 1754)

Scope and Content

Notes of lectures on moral philosophy are held in the collection. These were taken down 1746-1747.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1745, William Cleghorn, son of Hugh Cleghorn a merchant burgess of Edinburgh, was appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University on the resignation of physician Sir John Pringle (1707-1782).

Pringle had no particular taste for philosophy and had accepted an appointment by Lord Stair, Commander of the British army, as his physician and later physician to the military hospital in Flanders. When the Duke of Cumberland appointed him Physician-General to the King's forces in the Low Countries in 1744, Pringle resigned his Chair in Edinburgh.

While abroad, Pringle's classes had been taken by William Cleghorn. However, wishing to raise the vacant Chair of Moral Philosophy, Edinburgh's Town Council offered the professorship to Dr. Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746), Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University and founder of the Scottish school of philosophy, rather than offer it to Cleghorn. Hutcheson declined, and David Hume (1711-1776) offered himself for the vacancy. Rather than give the Chair to Hume who was 'deemed a Jacobite' and whose 'philosophical opinions were a bar to his appointment', Cleghorn was elected to the Chair of Pneumatics and Moral Philosophy on 5 June 1745 (Pneumatics - 'the being and perfections of the one true God, the nature of the Angels and the soul of man, and the duties of natural religion').

Professor William Cleghorn died in 1754.

Access Information

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


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Grant, Sir Alexander The story of the University of Edinburgh during its first three hundred years. Vol. 2. pp.336-338. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884. (2) Dalzel, Andrew History of the University of Edinburgh from its foundation. Vol. 2. pp.412-413. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1862.

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.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to Cleghorn (check the Indexes for more details): notice of in a letter of Gilbert Hamilton, 19 July 1749, at S.B. .91(74-752) Ham.

Corporate Names