Material in the collection relating to James Hall, advocate and painter includes: a letter to his sisters, 1817; class cards, certificates etc while a student at Edinburgh University, 1817-1821; petition to undergo advocate's trials, 1820; act of admission as an advocate, 1821; pencil sketch of the civil law class at Edinburgh University, 1819; and, a letter probably to Sir Archibald Alison, 1839.
Papers of James Hall (circa 1800-1854) and his father Sir James Hall (1761-1832)
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- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-356
- Dates of Creation1817-1839
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description1 letter, 1 envelope containing miscellaneous material.
- LocationDc.1.100/8, f.2-6, 8-9; Gen. 1981/138
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
James Hall was born in 1761. He was the eldest son of Sir John, 3rd Baronet of Dunglass, East Lothian. The younger Hall succeeded to the baronetcy in 1776. In 1777 he entered Christ's College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. He had developed an interest in geology and the work of James Hutton (1726-1797) and tested Hutton's ideas by studying rocks in the Alps, Italy and Sicily. While travelling he studied the architecture of each locality. After his return to Britain in 1785 he submitted papers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on a variety of topics including basalt, carbonate of lime, and strata.
In 1797 he also submitted an introductory Essay on the origin and principles of Gothic architecture in which he argued that Gothic architecture was the reproduction in stone of simple wattle buildings. He showed how its features copied sprouting buds on willow-staves, curling flakes of bark on poles, and roof poles tied together as rafters.
Between 1807 and 1812, Hall was MP for a borough in Cornwall. A machine invented by him for regulating high temperatures was described posthumously to the Geological Society of London by his second son, Captain Basil Hall (1788-1844). Sir James Hall died in Edinburgh on 23 June 1832.
James Hall, advocate and painter, was the youngest son of Sir James Hall. James Hall was born between 1797 and 1800, and was educated for the legal profession. He became better known however as an art patron and amateur portrait-painter. Hall was a student of the Royal Academy and became friends with Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841). He exhibited portraits and scenic works both at the British Institution and the Royal Academy. His works include The real scenery of the bride of Lammermuir, From Burns's monument in Ayrshire - the island of Arran in the distance, The Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Tantallon Castle, and The linn at Ashiesteel, where it enters the Tweed. Hall also attempted a political career, unsuccessfully fighting for the borough of Taunton in 1841 and 1842. James Hall died at Ashiesteel, Selkirkshire, on 26 October 1854.
Conditions Governing Access
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) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 8. Glover-Harriott. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.
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.