Alexander Macfarlane Jamaica

Biography of Alexander Macfarlane

Alexander Macfarlane
Alexander Macfarlane

Alexander Macfarlane (d.1755) graduated MA from the University in 1728. He was son of John Macfarlane of Arrochar and brother of Walter, an eminent antiquary.

Afterwards, Macfarlane travelled to Jamaica where he had multiple interests: as a merchant, planter and slave-owner in Kingston and assistant judge and a member of the Legislative Assembly. He was also an astronomer on the island and on his death in 1755, bequeathed instruments to the University of Glasgow. Old College senate minutes reveals a strategy in June 1756 to transport the instruments across the Atlantic. On their arrival in Glasgow, James Watt was paid £5 to clean them. These instruments were said to be of a similar quality as those in the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and initiated the construction of the Macfarlane Observatory in 1757. Though his gift was non-financial, Macfarlane was included in the report ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’ (2018), acknowledging the value of the instruments and the intellectual capital generated from them.


Alexander Macfarlane
Merchant In Jamaica

Born 1703.
Died 23 August 1755.
GU Degree: MA, 1728;
University Link: Alumnus, Benefactor
Occupation categories: merchants; politicians
Record last updated: 1st Jul 2019

Country Associations

Jamaica Jamaica, No Region

University Connections

University Roles

  • Alumnus
  • Benefactor