Dr. James Dinwiddie (1746-1815) was a respected Scottish scientist and mathematician who lived during the latter part of the Scottish Enlightenment.
Dr. James Dinwiddie spent time in China and India in pursuit of his career, 1778-1815. Born at Kirland, parish of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, he attended the Dumfries Academy before entering the University of Edinburgh where he received an M.A. in 1778 and a Doctor of Law degree in 1792. That year he accompanied Lord Macartney's embassy to China, and in 1794, travelled with the embassy to India. He delivered public lectures and worked as a private tutor before being hired as Professor at Fort William College, Calcutta, in 1800.
At this time, Scottish intellectuals explored many cultural and scientific subjects related to human nature, the sociability of daily life, and the truths of natural religion. Dinwiddie was recognized by his peers when he was elected to the Royal Institution on 6 July 1810 (see below). The University of Guelph collection of approximately one hundred letters illustrates the more practical aspects of Dr. Dinwiddie's professional and personal life, his travels, and business affairs. The payment of lectures, inquires about books, the lending of money, and discussion of experiments highlights the commonplace elements in his life. The Dinwiddie letters were acquired through a donation by Philip Melanson of Sackville, Nova Scotia in May 1989 and by his wife Mrs. Yvonne Melanson in May 1997.
Dalhousie University Archives has a much more extensive collection of James Dinwiddie papers, including correspondence, journals, lecture notes, scientific journals, notebooks, early experiments, manuscripts, and printed material and also the Journal of W.J. Proudfoot.