John Gregory 1724-1773

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John GREGORY 1724-1773

Biographical Note

Born in Aberdeen, he was the youngest son of John Gregory and Anna Chalmers. He was educated at King’s College, Aberdeen between 1736 and 1740. In 1742 he enrolled at the university of Edinburgh to study medicine, afterwards moving to Leiden in 1745 to further continue his studies. He returned to Aberdeen in 1746, where he was elected Regent of Philosophy at King’s College. In 1749 he resigned his position to focus on practicing medicine in Aberdeen, later moving to London for the same purpose. In the same year he married Elizabeth Forbes. In 1756 he returned to Aberdeen to take up the position of chair of medicine, left vacant by the death of his brother James, and was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. After the death of his wife he moved to Edinburgh with his family, where he became a celebrated author of philosophical texts.


John’s books formed part of the family library of the Grants, of which he was “by far the largest contributor.” (Lawrence, Vol.1, p.300) Around 277 books inscribed by John- more than half of the total owned by him – were of a scientific nature. These include books on mathematics, astronomy and physics. He also owned a number of philosophy books, especially those written by friends such as James Beattie and Thomas Reid.

At some point the Gregory family library became the property of the Forbes-Leith family of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, who eventually donated the library – mingled with their own – to Aberdeen University Library, where it remains.

Characteristic Markings

Signed his books “Jo.Gregory” often with the date of acquisition.


  • Aberdeen University Provenance Database.
  • Lawrence, Paul David. 'The Gregory family: a biographical and bibliographical study to which is annexed a bibliography of the scientific and medical books in the Gregory Library, Aberdeen University Library'. PhD thesis, Aberdeen University, 1971.