Rothiemay: River Deveron

Local Heroes (and Villains)


James Gregory
MA, FRS (1638-1675), was David Gregorie of Kinairdy’s younger bother, and  one of the most eminent mathematicians of the 17th century. He received his early education from his mother Janet and his brother David, and later went to Aberdeen Grammar School and Marischal College, Aberdeen. He wrote extensively on mathematics and optics and invented the first reflecting telescope. He was the first Professor of Mathematics at St Andrews (1669-1674) and the first Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh from 1774 until his sudden death at the age of 36 less than a year later.

The academic achievements
of the Gregory family were
In all, some 22 related Gregory's were professors over a span of
200 years.

*Gregorie - a rearrangement of the name MacGregor

*Wadset - a loan with property as security

David Gregorie (1625-1720)

David Gregorie's first education was a thorough grounding in mathematics given by his mother; but his father, the Rev. John Gregorie, minister of Drumoak, decided that he should be a merchant so he was apprenticed to a Scottish mercantile house at Kampen in the Netherlands. In 1648 he was elected a Burgess of Aberdeen.

In 1647, his father obtained ownership of the greater portion of the lands of James Crichton of Frendraught, including Kinairdy and Netherdale, in settlement of a wadset of 59,560 merks.

John Gregorie died in 1651, and was succeeded by his oldest son, Alexander.

After his father’s death David Gregorie returned to Scotland and in 1655 settled in Aberdeen. From 1663 to 1669 he was librarian at Marischal College, Aberdeen, corresponding widely on scientific matters.Kinnairdy Castle

The removal of the Crichtons from Kinairdy had proved difficult, and eventually resulted in Alexander being murdered by Francis Crichton, brother of Viscount Frendraught, in autumn, 1663.

David succeeded his brother Alexander, and secured possession of Kinairdy Castle where he went to live, hence the Scottish title "of Kinairdy" attached to his name.

He disposed of a large portion of the estates, including the Mains of Frendraught, the tower and fortalice of Frendraught, etc., to George Morison of Bognie, who gave them in life-rent, on November 5, 1678, to Christian Urquhart, widow of James, second Viscount Frendraught.

Although he had no formal education, David Gregorie was a doctor, inventor and scientist and a mathematician. He charged nothing for his medical consultations and treated both the poor and the affluent people in the area.

He was the first man in Aberdeenshire to have a barometer, and his ability to forecast the weather alerted the suspicions of the local presbytery who suspected him of wizardry.

He moved to Aberdeen where he constructed an improved model of a cannon,with the help of an Aberdeen watchmaker. He forwarding it to his eldest son David, to show to Sir Isaac Newton, who was horrified and held that it was 'for the diabolical purpose of increasing carnage', and urged him to break it up.

David Gregorie married twice and had 29 children. His sons David, James and Charles became Professors of Mathematics at different universities at he same time.

At the outbreak of the first Jacobite rebellion in 1715, he took his family to Kampen in Holland, staying there until shortly before his death in 1720.