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TITLE
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
EXTERNAL ID
QZP40_914_117_P003
DATE OF IMAGE
1852
PERIOD
1770s
SOURCE
Highland Libraries
ASSET ID
31346
KEYWORDS
lords
eccentrics
judges
lawyers
monkeys
names
James Burnett, Lord Monboddo

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714-1799) was one of the most respected judges of the Edinburgh Court of Session during the 18th century. After being educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, Edinburgh University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, he was admitted to the Scottish Bar in 1737. When he later became a Lord of Session he took the name of his father's estate at Monboddo in Kincardineshire.

As well as being an eminent lawyer, Lord Monboddo was also an eccentric. He led a simple life due to his philosophy that if the Ancient Greeks didn't use it then neither would he. Another of his eccentric beliefs was that babies were all born with tails and that midwives cut them off at birth. He wrote a book, 'The Origin and Progress of Language', which charted how mankind had come to lose their tails. This belief that humans were closely related to apes predated Darwin's theories of evolution.

This illustration was taken from 'Boswell's Journal of the Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson' (1852 edition)

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James Burnett, Lord Monboddo

1770s

lords; eccentrics; judges; lawyers; monkeys; names

Highland Libraries

Fraser Mackintosh Collection (illustrations)

James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714-1799) was one of the most respected judges of the Edinburgh Court of Session during the 18th century. After being educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, Edinburgh University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, he was admitted to the Scottish Bar in 1737. When he later became a Lord of Session he took the name of his father's estate at Monboddo in Kincardineshire.<br /> <br /> As well as being an eminent lawyer, Lord Monboddo was also an eccentric. He led a simple life due to his philosophy that if the Ancient Greeks didn't use it then neither would he. Another of his eccentric beliefs was that babies were all born with tails and that midwives cut them off at birth. He wrote a book, 'The Origin and Progress of Language', which charted how mankind had come to lose their tails. This belief that humans were closely related to apes predated Darwin's theories of evolution.<br /> <br /> This illustration was taken from 'Boswell's Journal of the Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson' (1852 edition)