Duncan Forbes 1685-1747

From Book Owners Online

Duncan FORBES 1685-1747

Biographical Note

Duncan Forbes was born in 1685 near Inverness to Duncan Forbes of Culloden and Mary Innes. He obtained a law degree at Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 1708, he married Mary Rose (d.1717) with who he had one child. Following the death of his elder brother in 1734, Forbes inherited the family estates of Culloden.

Under the patronage of Duke of Argyll, Forbes was appointed sheriff-depute of Edinburghshire and deputy lieutenant of Inverness-shire. He defended Culloden and Inverness during the Jacobite Rising of 1715.

Forbes served as MP of Ayr Burghs and later Inverness Burghs. He was appointed Lord Advocate in 1725 and Lord President of the Court of Session following his resignation as MP.

The 1745 Jacobite Uprising left Forbes in financial ruin owing to damage done to his estate during the battle and to lack of reimbursement for funds spent on the government’s behalf. He died in 1747 and is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard.


After his death, Forbes' library was sold at auction by A. Kincaid in Edinburgh in 1748. The auction consisted of 1890 lots which included 522 folios, 524 quartos, and 844 octavos, as well as various prints and 23 drawing books. Subjects included plays, poems, classics, history, religion, botany, and law.

Notable selections:

Aristotle Opera, Aldine Press (Lot 766); NLS W.2.30


National Library Scotland Sharratt.054 University of Leeds Library Brotherton Collection Incunabula University of Edinburgh Library SD 4421

Characteristic Markings

National Library Scotland W.2.30 and Leeds University Library Brotherton Collection Incunabula both have Hopetoun Library shelfmarks and are inscribed: "Hunc Librum Nobilissimo D. D. Jacobo Marchioni Annandius Donavit vir eruditissimus ac Causarum Patronus, dissertissimus, Duncanus Forbes"


  • Clan Forbes Society
  • Shaw, John S. "Forbes, Duncan (1685–1747), politician and judge." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • A catalogue of curious and valuable books; being chiefly the library of the Right Hon. Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Esq; late Lord President of Session: which will begin to be sold by auction, on Monday the 12th of December 1748, by A. Kincaid. Edinburgh, 1748, ESTC T162987.