Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Adair, James Makittrick

ADAIR, JAMES MAKITTRICK (1728–1802), originally named James Makittrick, was a native of Inverness, and took the degree of M.D. at Edinburgh in 1766. He practised before and after that date at Antigua, and one of his works, with the title of ‘Unanswerable Arguments against the Abolition of the Slave Trade,’ was in vindication of the manners of its residents. His medical writings enjoyed a considerable reputation on the Continent; his degree thesis on the yellow fever of the West Indies was reprinted in Baldinger's collection of medical treatises (Göttingen, 1776), and his ‘Natural History of Body and Mind’ was also translated abroad. After returning from Antigua he followed his profession at Andover, Guildford, and Bath, and wrote, for the benefit of those resorting to the latter place, a volume of medical cautions for invalids. Wherever he went he provoked animosity. At one time he was in Winchester gaol for sending a challenge to a duel; at another period he was engaged in controversy with Dr. Freeman and Philip Thicknesse. Thicknesse published an angry letter to him in 1787, and Adair replied with an abusive dedication to a volume of essays on fashionable diseases. When Thicknesse wrote his ‘Memoirs and Anecdotes,’ his opponent replied with a list of ‘Facts and Anecdotes’ which he pretended that Thicknesse had omitted. He assumed the name of Adair about 1783; it was probably his mother's maiden name, but Thicknesse asserted that it was stolen from a physician at Spa. His death occurred at Harrogate, 24 April 1802.

[Adair's works; Gent. Mag. 1802, lxxii. part i. 475, 582.]

W. P. C.