Skip to main content

Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Abbey is no longer open for public worship, general visiting or private prayer. Meanwhile, the community of Abbey clergy, privately and following guidance given, will sustain the worship of a building that has been a witness to God’s grace and glory for over a thousand years.

Find out more

James Macpherson

Writer and Poet

Writer James Macpherson is buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey. His grave adjoins that of fellow Scot Robert Adam. The inscription (which has been re-cut) reads:

JAMES MACPHERSON Esqr. M.P. Born at Ruthven county of Inverness, the 27th October 1736. Died 17th February 1796.

He was the son of Andrew Macpherson, a farmer, and his wife Ellen, who were both related to the chief of the clan Macpherson. He was educated in Aberdeen and contributed poems to the Scots Magazine. Touring Scotland he collected manuscripts of native songs and ballads and in 1758 published his poem The Highlander. For a while he lived in America and was later agent in London for John Macpherson, governor general in India. He became Member of Parliament for Camelford in Cornwall. His work Fingal was well received by the public but the authenticity of his Poems of Ossian was questioned by Dr Johnson and others (after James' death a committee found he had inserted passages of his own and greatly edited the Gaelic poems). He died unmarried at his house in Inverness and was buried in the Abbey by his own wish (one of his London residences was near the Abbey). Of his five illegitimate children James succeeded to his estates and Juliet married David Brewster.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Born

27th October 1736

Died

17th February 1796

Occupation

Writer; poet

Location

South Transept

Memorial Type

Grave

James Macpherson
James Macpherson grave

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2020 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Related commemorations

William Vincent & Family

William Vincent & Family

1739-1815
Writer , Dean and Priest/Minister
Richard Cumberland

Richard Cumberland

1732-1811
Writer and Playwright
William Cowper

William Cowper

1731-1800
Poet
Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith

1731-1774
Writer
John Leake

John Leake

b.1729
Writer and Physician
Robert Adam

Robert Adam

1728-1792
Architect

At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

Twitter logo Tweet this