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John of Fordun


FORDUN, JOHN OF (d. c. 1384), Scottish chronicler. The statement generally made that the chronicler was born at Fordoun has not been supported by direct evidence. It is certain that he was a secular priest, and that he composed his his tory in the latter part of the 14th century; and it is probable that he was a chaplain in the cathedral of Aberdeen. The work of Fordun is the earliest attempt to write a continuous history of Scotland. We are informed that Fordun's patriotism was roused by the removal or destruction of many national records by Ed ward III. and that he travelled in England and Ireland, collecting material for his history. This work is divided into five books. The first three are almost entirely fabulous. The 4th and 5th books, though still mixed with fable, contain much valuable in formation. The 5th book concludes with the death of King David I. in 1153. Besides these five books, Fordun wrote part of another book, and collected materials for bringing down the history to a later period. These materials were used by a writer in the middle of the 15th century, who is identified with Walter Bower (q.v.), abbot of the monastery of Inchcolm. The additions of Bower form 11 books and bring down the narrative to the death of King James I. in 1437. In addition he did not hesitate to interpolate Fordun's portion of the work with additions of his own, and the whole history thus compiled is known as the Scotichronicon.

Fordun's work was first printed in Thomas Gale's Scriptores quin decim (vol. iii. 1691). This was followed by Thomas Hearne's (5 vols.) edition in 1722. The whole work, including Bower's continua tion, was published by Walter Goodall at Edinburgh in 1759. In 1871 and 1872 Fordun's chronicle, in the original Latin and in an English translation, was edited by Wm. F. Skene in The Historians of Scotland, the preface of which contains full bibliographical details.

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