1791 - First Statistical Account of Scotland

This 29-volume parish-by-parish description of Scotland, published between 1791 and 1799, was a work of great vision and organization. 'No Publication of equal information and curiosity has appeared in Great Britain since Dooms-day Book', noted one observer. The idea of a general census is supposed to have come from the Statistical Account.

The Statistical Account of Scotland was organized by Sir John Sinclair (1754-1835), who asked church ministers to send in descriptions of their parishes. In 1793 he proposed a similar account for England but abandoned it after opposition from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The work's importance is shown by the publication of a German translation beginning in 1794.

The volume shown here belonged to David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, and was part of his library at Newhailes, now held in the National Library of Scotland, and the finest surviving Scottish 'Enlightenment' library.

Sinclair, Sir John. The Statistical Account of Scotland. Drawn up from the communications of the Ministers of the different parishes. Volume first. Edinburgh: printed and sold by William Creech, 1791. Nha.V27

First Statistical Account of Scotland


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