Ogilvie, James (DNB00)

OGILVIE, JAMES (1760–1820), scholar, claimed connection with the Ogilvys, earls of Findlater. He was born in 1700 in Aberdeen, and was educated there. He may be the James Ogilvie who graduated at King's College, Aberdeen, in 1790. Emigrating to America, he for some time conducted a classical academy in Richmond, Virginia, leaving the impression of being 'a man of singular endowments,' gifted with the power of rousing the mind from its torpor and lending it wings' (Southern Literary Messenger, vol. xiv.) Of a philosophical temperament, Ogilvie developed from a school rhetorician into a public lecturer, rebutting the theories of Godwin, of which in youth he had been enamoured. For a time he rented a room in a remote Kentucky cabin, where he wrote his lectures, depending to some extent for his living on pecuniary help from former pupils (ib.) He is said to have lectured with great success throughout Virginia and the Atlantic states. He returned to Scotland to claim the lapsed earldom of Findlater as a relative of James Ogilvy, the last earl of Findlater and Seafield of the Ogilvy line, who had died at Dresden in 1811 [see under Ogilvy, James, (1714?-1770)]. Ogilvie's pretensions, however, were not entertained. Constitutionally sensitive and excitable, and worn out with narcotics, he is said to have committed suicide in Aberdeen on 18 Sept. 1820.

Ogilvie's 'Philosophical Essays' appeared at Philadelphia in 1816. The book is summarily discussed in 'Blackwood's Magazine,' xvii. 198, and it is criticised at length by E. T. Channing in the 'North American Review,' vol. iv.

[Autobiographical Sketch in Philosophical Essays; Recollections by a Pupil in Southern Literary Messenger, vol. xiv.; Irving's Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen; information from Mr. George Stronach, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and Mr. P. J. Anderson, University Library, Aberdeen.]

T. B.