James McCosh Scotland United States

Biography of James McCosh

James McCosh, prominent Scottish philosopher and president of Princeton University 1868-88, was born at Carskeoch, Parish of Straiton, 1 April 1811, the eldest son of Andrew, a farmer from Ayr.

McCosh first enrolled at the University of Glasgow in 1824, aged 13, and studied an Arts course over five years, taking classes in Latin, Greek, Logic, Ethics, and Physics. In session 1827-28 he was awarded a prize in the senior division of the junior class of Mathematics. In 1828-29 he gained another prize in Natural Philosophy 'for propriety of conduct, exemplary diligence, and display of eminent ability in examinations on the subjects of lectures, Essays and investigations connected with Physical Science'. He went on to graduate MA from Edinburgh in 1833.

McCosh joined the ministry, serving as minister of Abroath from 1835 to 1839; Brechin from 1839 to 1843, and The Free Church there from 1843 to 1851. In 1851 he was awarded LLD from Marischal College Aberdeen and in the same year took up the appointment as Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at Queen’s College, Belfast, where he remained until 1868.

In 1868 McCosh was appointed President of Princeton College, New Jersey, and Professor of Biblical Instruction and Philosophy therein. That same year, he was awarded honorary degrees from the Universities of Brown (DD), Washington and Jefferson (DD), and Harvard (LLD). From 1888 to 1894, McCosh was Lecturer of Philosophy at Princeton. He died there on 16 November 1894.


Archival Materials


James McCosh
Born 1 April 1811.
Died 16 November 1894.
GU Degree: Arts, 1825-1826;
University Link: Student
Occupation categories: clergy; philosophers
English snippet: Arts student at the University of Glasgow in 1825; prominent philosopher and president of Princeton University 1868-1888
Record last updated: 25th Mar 2014

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Ayr, Carskeoch
Place of Birth

United States United States, Princeton
Place of Death

University Connections

University Roles

  • Student