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David Anderson (1750-1828)
and James Anderson (1758-1833)

East India Company officials and friends of Warren Hastings

David and James Anderson were born in Edinburgh, two of the nine children of the lawyer David Anderson, factor to the Earl of Wemyss, and his wife Mary Mitchelson; David Anderson senior eventually retired to a house on the Wemyss estate at Inveresk as David Anderson of Stoneyhill. David junior and James may have studied at the University of Edinburgh like their elder brother Francis, but only James appears to have graduated. They entered the service of the East India Company, David as a writer or clerk, and James as a cadet in the HEIC army. They became assistants to and close friends of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal, for whom David was a major political diplomat, and James a Persian interpreter. David returned to England with Hastings in 1785, and gave evidence for the defence at Hastings’ impeachment; James returned to England the following year. David helped Hastings prepare his defence for his impeachment, and was one of the few witnesses who refused to be browbeaten by the managers of the prosecution, Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Like Hastings they assembled their own collections of Oriental books and manuscripts. David gifted 113 volumes from his extensive collections of Oriental manuscripts to the University, and James' nephew Adam Anderson gifted his uncle's 54 Persian manuscripts after the latter's death.

It is interesting to note that from 1801 to 1804 David Anderson occupied no. 34 George Square, Edinburgh, one of the houses on the site of the present Main University Library. He seems to have used this as a town house for entertaining guests, including Warren Hastings who is known to have visited him in Edinburgh, more conveniently than at his principal house at St Germains near Tranent; his manuscripts have indeed come home. James purchased Wilton Lodge on the outskirts of Hawick (the house is now Hawick Museum) but died in Bath, not far from Warren Hastings’ house at Daylesford, Gloucestershire.

Both of their collections are listed in "A descriptive catalogue of the Arabic and Persian manuscripts in Edinburgh University Library", by Mohammed Hukk and others (1925) and include some the Library finest oriental manuscripts.

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