Malcolm, James Peller (DNB00)


MALCOLM, JAMES PELLER (1767–1815), topographer and engraver, son of a merchant in Philadelphia, was born there in August 1767. He was admitted into the quaker school in his native city, but as his family, to avoid the revolutionary war, fled soon afterwards to Potts-town, it was there that he received the greater part of his education, ‘at an enormous expense.’ He returned with his parents to Philadelphia in 1784, after the conclusion of peace. While at school he had devoted his leisure to drawing and painting; and acting on the advice of Mr. Bembridge, a relative and fellow-student of Benjamin West, he came to London, and pursued his artistic studies for two years in the Royal Academy; but finding that no sufficient encouragement was given to history and landscape-painting, he took to engraving and the compilation of books on topographical and historical subjects. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Many specimens of his skill as an engraver are to be found in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ from 1792 to 1814; but his more finished productions appeared in his ‘Excursions through Kent’ and in Nichols's ‘History of Leicestershire,’ on which he worked as a draughtsman and an engraver for nearly twenty years. He also engraved and published three views of Leathersellers' Hall, on the site of the monastery of St. Helen's, London, and two large plates of the inside of the Middle Temple Hall, and one external view, under the auspices of the society. He died in Gee Street, Clarendon Square, London, on 5 April 1815, leaving his mother and wife wholly unprovided for.

Malcolm's chief work was ‘Londinium Redivivum, or an Antient History and Modern Description of London, compiled from Parochial Records, Archives of various Foundations, the Harleian MSS. and other authentic Sources,’ 4 vols. Lond. 1802–7, 4to. This is by far the best parochial history of the metropolis, as it is compiled from original records, like vestry-books, churchwardens' accounts, and parochial registers. The dean and chapter of St. Paul's gave him free access to their archives. The work is accompanied by forty-seven plates. Malcolm's other publications are:

  1. Seventy-nine plates to illustrate Lysons's ‘Environs of London,’ 1797–1800.
  2. ‘Twenty Views within Twelve Miles of London,’ Lond. 1800, vol. i. 4to.
  3. ‘Letters between the Rev. James Granger, M.A., and many of the most eminent Literary Men of his Time,’ Lond. 1805, 8vo.
  4. ‘First Impressions, or Sketches from Art and Nature, Animate and Inanimate,’ Lond. 1807, 8vo.
  5. ‘Excursions in the Counties of Kent, Gloucester, Hereford, Monmouth, and Somersetshire in 1802, 1803, and 1805; illustrated by Descriptive Sketches,’ Lond. 1807, 8vo; 2nd edit. Lond. 1814, 8vo, with twenty-four beautiful plates.
  6. ‘Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London during the Eighteenth Century; including the Charities, Depravities, Dresses, and Amusements of the City of London during that Period; with a Review of the State of Society in 1807. To which is added a Sketch of the Domestic and Ecclesiastical Architecture, and of the various Improvements in the Metropolis, illustrated by fifty Engravings,’ Lond. 1808, 4to; another edit. Lond. 1810, 8vo.
  7. ‘Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London, from the Roman Invasion to the Year 1700, illustrated by eighteen Engravings,’ Lond. 1811, 4to. This and the previous work were reprinted, 5 vols. Lond. 1811, 8vo.
  8. ‘Miscellaneous Anecdotes, illustrative of the Manners and History of Europe during the Reigns of Charles II, James II, William III, and Queen Anne,’ Lond. 1811, 8vo.
  9. ‘An Historical Sketch of the Art of Caricaturing, with graphic Illustrations,’ Lond. 1813, 4to.

[Gent. Mag. 1797 pp. 144, 507, 1798 pp. 48, 327, 1800 p. 1271, 1815 i. 379, 467; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. vii. 245, ix. 111; Nichols's Illustr. of Lit. vii. 57; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn) p. 1455.]

T. C.