James Anderson of Hermiston

James Anderson Of Hermiston

James Anderson of Hermiston

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James Anderson FRSE FSA (17 January 1738 – 15 October 1808), was a figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, an agriculturist, inventor of the Scotch Plough, and economist.

Early years

Anderson was born at Long Hermiston, Midlothian. At the age of fifteen, after the death of his parents, he took over the working of the farm, which his family had occupied for several generations.


In 1768 Anderson married Margaret Seton (died 1788), and took over the management of a farm in Aberdeenshire of 1300 acres (5.3 km²). They had thirteen children.

Economic Theorist

Some historians believe Anderson was the root source for Marx's critique of capitalist agriculture. In 1777 Anderson published An Enquiry into the Nature of the Corn Laws in which he introduced what was to become the Malthusian/Ricardian theory of rent. In Marx's view, Anderson's original model was far superior to the variant later offered by the classical economists Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo since it placed strong emphasis on the possibility of continuing agricultural improvement. Rent, Anderson argued, was a charge for the use of the more fertile soil. The least fertile soils in cultivation generated an income that simply covered the costs of production, while the more fertile soils received a "certain premium for an exclusive privilege to cultivate them; which will be greater or smaller according to the more or less fertility of the soil. It is this premium which constitutes what we now...
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