Skip to main content
Personal data

Portrait media

  • Image
    Hugh Blair. Engraving by Francesco Bartolozzi after a painting by Sir Henry Raeburn
Hugh Blair
Born April 07, 1718
in Edinburgh

Died December 27, 1800

Presbyterian preacher. Married (1748) to Katharine Bannatyne. Two children, a boy and a girl, died in infancy and at age 21 respectively. Following his license in 1741, he received the parish of Collessie, Fife. In the following 20 years, he was in charge of the Canongate, Edinburgh (1743-1754), Lady Yester's Church, Edinburgh (1754-1758) and High Church, Edinburgh (1758-1777) - also known as St. Giles Cathedral. He eventually refused the office of the Moderator of the General Assembly, which had been offered to him. Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh (1762-1783). Member of The Poker Club.

He was educated at Edinburgh University where he received his M.A. in 1739 for his dissertation De Fundamentis et Obligehone Legis Naturae. In 1763 he published a Dissertation on James Macpherson's Ossian, and from 1777 and onwards he published his (at the time) wildly popular 4 volume Sermons, which was praised even by Dr. Johnson.

"Learned and ingenious", according to Boswell.1

Life with Boswell

Boswell and Blair visited Thomas Sheridan together in London on April 6, 1763. On April 9, 1763, they went to Covent Garden with William Nairne. Boswell and Blair moved in the same circles in Edinburgh society from the time Boswell returned to that city in 1766 and often met for social and cultural events.


On [Abebooks] you can find both Lectures on Rhetoric, his Sermons and even original engraved portraits of Blair as well as Robert Morell Scmitz' 1948 biography Hugh Blair.