JCMF
JCMF

2021: Celebrate JCM's 190th Anniversary!

Birthplace, 14 India Street, Edinburgh


14 India Street

hall
The entrance hallway of the house.

14 India Street, in Edinburgh's ‘New Town' is a substantial terrace house, built for Maxwell's father in 1820. James was born there in 1831. He was only a few months old when the family left Edinburgh to return to Glenlair, their country estate in the south of Scotland; but he came back to Edinburgh to attend school at The Edinburgh Academy and the The University of Edinburgh. He inherited the house on his father's death and retained it throughout his life, finally bequeathing it to his wife on his death in 1879.

The Foundation acquired the house in 1993 and has, to a large extent, retained the original character of the house, while introducing as unobtrusively as possible some alterations that are necessary for its occupancy as a museum and meeting facility, such as central heating, precautions against fire, and security systems. Repairs and restorations were made with the assistance of the Architectural Heritage Fund and the National Heritage Fund.

The former dining room displays memorabilia in the form of portraits, manuscripts, and books associated with Maxwell, his family, and his scientific contemporaries. Descendants on both the paternal and maternal sides of Maxwell's family have donated portraits, furniture, and water colours.

Tours of the house can normally be arranged by prior appointment. Please see our visits page.

Artworks and other items of note on display


JCM Bust

In the entrace hall, we have a copy of the original bronze in Aberdeen University by Charles D'Orville Pilkington Jackson, F.R.B.S., F.R.S.A.. By kind permission of the University of Aberdeen and of the trustees of the late C. d'O. Pilkington Jackson Trust.


Gift of Miss Barbara Wallis.




Maxwell's first cousin, Jemima Blackburn, née Wedderburn, eight years older than he, demonstrated a precocious talent for drawing and painting. She drew in water colours nearly every day, maintaining a visual diary of incidents going on around her. Not much escaped her eye, that of a born diarist and artist, and her young cousin James came to be included frequently in the family groups that she delighted to portray. The early years of his life were those in which the cousins were most frequently together, and consequently we have in her work good representations of family events, showing Maxwell as a small boy, usually in the presence of his father. Many of these sketches of unique biographical interest are now in the possession of the Foundation and are on display in the house. They are:


Another highlight on display is the Stairway Gallery of Illustrissimi: framed engraved portraits of illustrious mathematicians and physicists arranged in chronological order as one ascends the two flights of stairs. Many of these engravings are from the personal collection of Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), which was sold at a Sotheby auction, 3-4 March 1958. Undeniably, because of this source, there is a pro-British bias to the selection of great names.


A COMMEMORATIVE OAK SETTLE OF 1695

The oak settle in the entrance hall bears the following inscription:

THIS 1695 OAK SETTLE WAS KINDLY DONATED
TO
THE JAMES CLERK MAXWELL FOUNDATION
BY
THE BANK OF SCOTLAND
TO MARK THE TERCENTENARY OF THE BANK IN 1995

RESTORATION

An upstairs doorway bears the following inscription:

This restored archway was unveiled on
7th March 1994 by
LORD JAMES DOUGLAS-HAMILTON, M.P.
Minister for Education at The Scottish Office
To mark the generous contribution
Of The Scotttish Office
To the acquisition of this house
By the
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL FOUNDATION

The JCM Foundation is a charity formed in Scotland in 1977. (Registered Charity SC015003)
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