Alexander Jamieson

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Alexander Jamieson (1782–1850) was a Scottish writer and schoolmaster, now best known as a rhetorician. He has been described as effectively a professional textbook writer.[1] After the failure of his school, he worked as an actuary.[2]


Some of Jamieson's background is obscure.[3] He was born at Rothesay, Bute, to William Jamieson, a wheelwright, and Margaret Stewart. In 1821 he obtained a degree of M.A. from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and an LL.D. there in 1823.[2] In 1825 he was admitted as a sizar at St John's College, Cambridge, and became a ten-year man.[4] In 1826 he became a member of the Astronomical Society of London.[2]

Jamieson was active in the period 1814–46 writing textbooks and running a school. In 1824 it was teaching at Heston House on Hounslow Heath, where some Hindustani was on the syllabus. From 1826 to 1838 it was at Wyke House Academy in Middlesex, which was advertised as a preparation for the Army, Navy, civil engineers, architects and surveyors.[2][5][6] Among his pupils there was George Windsor Earl;[7] John Rouse Bloxam also taught there.[8]

Jamieson was declared bankrupt in 1838.[9] He then worked as an actuary. Towards the end of his life he suffered a stroke, then moved to Bruges in Belgium with his wife Frances (née Thurtle), known as a writer, whom he had married in 1820. She was the author of the relatively successful Ashford Rectory; or, The Spoiled Child Reformed. Containing a short introduction to the sciences of architecture and heraldry....[10] He died in Bruges in 1850.[2][11]


Jamieson was the author of two highly successful grammars: A Grammar of Rhetoric and Polite Literature (1818, at least 53 American editions) and A Grammar of Logic and Intellectual Philosophy (1819 and at least ten American editions).[3] The former drew on Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, and the Philosophy of Rhetoric of George Campbell, of which Jamieson published an abridgement in 1823.[12][13] Jamieson also abridged the Elements of Criticism by Lord Kames.[1]

All these Scottish authors, along with Alexander Bain, were widely used in 19th-century American colleges for rhetoric texts;[14] and the Grammar of Jamieson went through 24 editions by 1844.[15] It quoted freely from Joseph Addison and Mark Akenside, as well as sources such as Shakespeare and John Milton,[16] and was a typical text of the female education of the period.[17] The Grammar of Rhetoric combined Blair, Campbell, and Kames with the Lectures on Belles Lettres and Logic (1806) of William Barron and the grammar of Lindley Murray.[1]

Other works were:

Cover of A Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson
  • A Treatise on the Construction of Maps[1][18]
  • A Grammar of Universal Geography (1820?, 1823)[19]
  • A Celestial Atlas (1822)[1][20] This work was inspired by the star atlas of Johann Elert Bode, but restricted itself to stars that could be seen with the naked eye. It further inspired Urania's Mirror, a work that has been attributed to Richard Rouse Bloxam.[21][22]
  • Conversations on General History, exhibiting a Progressive View of the State of Mankind (2nd edition 1823)[23]
  • A Dictionary of Mechanical Science, Arts, Manufactures, and Miscellaneous Knowledge Volume 1 (1827),[24] Volume 2 (1829)[25]
  • Mechanics of Fluids for Practical Men (1837)[1][26]
  • Report on the Constitution and Operations of Life Assurance Societies (1841)[2]
  • A Manual of Map-making and Mechanical Geography (1846)[27]
  • Elements of Algebra[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Jean Ferguson Carr; Stephen L. Carr; Lucille M. Schultz (2005). Archives of Instruction: Nineteenth-century Rhetorics, Readers, And Composition Books In The United States. SIU Press. pp. 42–3. ISBN 978-0-8093-2611-2. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Alexander Jamieson, celestial map maker (abstract), by Ian Ridpath.
  3. ^ a b Gavin Budge et al. (editors), The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Philosophers (2002), Thoemmes Press (two volumes), article Jamieson, Alexander (fl. 1818), p. 591.
  4. ^ "Jamieson, Alexander (JMY825A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ James Silk Buckingham, ed. (1825). The Oriental herald and colonial review. p. 379. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Margaret Elizabeth Bryant (1986). The London Experience of Secondary Education. Athlone. p. 156. ISBN 0485113023. 
  7. ^ Reece, R. H. W. "Earl, George Samuel Windsor". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/59850.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^  Sidney Lee, ed. (1901). "Bloxam, John Rouse". Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  9. ^ Comprising Reports of Cases in the Courts of Chancery, King's Bench, and Common Pleas, from 1822 to 1835: And Law Journal Reports Divided into Equity and Bankruptcy Cases. Common Law Cases 1836–1858. 1838. p. 14. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  10. ^ 3rd e. corrected and enlarged (London: G. and W. B. Whittaker, 1820). See the bookseller catalogue Women Writers R–Z (London: Jarndyce, 2012). ISBN 9781900718899.
  11. ^ Sylvanus Urban (1820). The Gentleman's Magazine: Historical Chronicle. p. 369. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  12. ^ James J. Murphy (2012). A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to Contemporary America. Routledge. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-415-89745-7. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  13. ^ George Campbell; Alexander Jamieson (1823). The Philosophy of Rhetoric ... Abridged for ... Schools. London. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Lynee Lewis Gaillet; Winifred Bryan Horner (15 March 2010). The Present State of Scholarship in the History of Rhetoric: A Twenty-first Century Guide. University of Missouri Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-8262-7218-8. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Brett Zimmerman (1 September 2005). Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style. McGill-Queen's Press – MQUP. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-7735-7291-1. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Sharon Crowley (1998). Composition in the University: Historical and Polemical Essays. University of Pittsburgh Pre. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-8229-7190-0. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Heidi Brayman Hackel; Catherine E. Kelly (2008). Reading Women: Literacy, Authorship, and Culture in the Atlantic World, 1500–1800. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-8122-0598-5. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1814). A Treatise on the Construction of Maps; in which the Principles of the Projections of the Sphere are Demonstrated, and Their Various Practical Relations to Mathematical Geography, Deduced and Explained ... with an Appendix ... By Alexander Jamieson. for C. Law ... etc.!. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  19. ^ O F G Sitwell (1 January 2011). Four Centuries of Special Geography: An Annotated Guide to Books That Purport to Describe All the Countries in the World Published... UBC Press. p. 327. ISBN 978-0-7748-4457-4. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Ian Ridpath. "Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Ian Ridpath. "Urania's Mirror". Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Nick Kanas (5 June 2012). Star Maps: History, Artistry, and Cartography. Springer. pp. 185–6. ISBN 978-1-4614-0917-5. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  23. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1823). Conversations on General History, exhibiting a progressive view of the state of mankind from the earliest ages ... to the beginning of the year 1819. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1829). A Dictionary of Mechanical Science, Arts, Manufactures, and Miscellaneous Knowledge. H. Fisher, Son & Company. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  25. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1829). A Dictionary of Mechanical Science, Arts, Manufactures, and Miscellaneous Knowledge. H. Fisher, Son & Company. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1837). Mechanics of fluids for practical men: comprising hydrostatics, descriptive and constructive; the whole illustrated by numerous examples and appropriate diagrams. William S. Orr. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  27. ^ Alexander Jamieson (1846). A Manual of Map-making and Mechanical Geography: Illustrated by 60 Engravings: Comprising Projections of the Sphere, General and Particular Maps, and Topographical Plans, for the Purpose of Facilitating Practical Education, and the Operations of Land-surveying, Military and Naval Surveys. A. Fullarton and Company. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

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