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Robert Kerr (writer)

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Robert Kerr (writer)

Robert Kerr (1755 – 11 October 1813) was a scientific writer and translator from Scotland.

Kerr was born in Roxburghshire as the son of a jeweller. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and practised at the Edinburgh Foundling Hospital as a surgeon. He translated several scientific works into English, such as Antoine Lavoisier's work of 1789, Traité Élémentaire de Chimie, published under the title Elements of Chemistry in a New Systematic Order containing All the Modern Discoveries, in 1790.[1] In 1792, he published The Animal Kingdom, the first two volumes of a four-tome translation of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, which is often cited as the taxonomic authority for a great many species. (He never did the remaining two volumes.)

In 1794 he left his post as a surgeon to manage a paper mill. He lost much of his fortune with this enterprise. Out of economical necessity he began writing again in 1809, publishing a variety of minor works, for instance a General View of the Agriculture of Berwickshire. His last work was a translation of Cuvier's Recherches sur les ossements fossiles de quadrupedes, which was published after Kerr's death under the title "Essays on the Theory of the Earth".

His other works included a massive historical study entitled A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels in eighteen volumes. Kerr began the series in 1811, dedicating it to Sir Alexander Cochrane, K.B., Vice-Admiral of the White. Publication did not cease following Kerr's death in 1813; the latter volumes were published into the 1820s.


  • Selected writings 1
  • References 2
  • Further reading 3
  • External links 4

Selected writings

  • Kerr, Robert (1824). A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in Systematic Order: Forming a Complete History of the Origin and Progress of Navigation, Discovery, and Commerce, by Sea and Land, from the Earliest Ages to the Present Time. Edinburgh: William Blackwood. 
    • Volume 01
    • Volume 02
    • Volume 03
    • Volume 04
    • Volume 05
    • Volume 06
    • Volume 07
    • Volume 08
    • Volume 09
    • Volume 10
    • Volume 11
    • Volume 12
    • Volume 13
    • Volume 14
    • Volume 15
    • Volume 16
    • Volume 17
    • Volume 18


  1. ^ Antoine Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry (1790)

Further reading

  • Lavoisier, Antoine (1965). Elements of Chemistry. New York: Dover. - The introduction by Douglas McKie has information on Robert Kerr, the book's translator.

External links

  • Works by Robert Kerr at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Robert Kerr at Internet Archive
  • Contemporary review of the "Essays on the Theory of the Earth"
  • Significant Scots: Robert Kerr from
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