Colin Macfarquhar (1744 or 1745? – 2 April 1793 or May 1793, Edinburgh?, Scotland)[1][2] was a Scottish bookseller and printer who is most known for co-founding Encyclopædia Britannica with Andrew Bell, first published in December 1768.[3][4] The dates of his birth and death remain uncertain, even to Britannica itself.[1]



Macfarquhar was born in Edinburgh to his father James Macfarquhar who was a wigmaker and his mother Margaret.[2][5] His formal education ended when he was apprenticed to a printing firm and achieved the status of a master printer in 1767.[5] On 13 December 1767 Macfarquhar married Jane whose father, James Scruton, was an accountant in Glasgow.[2][5] Macfarquhar and Jane had one son and four daughters.[2]

Macfarquhar opened a printing shop in Edinburgh one or two years after getting married.[5] The first edition of Britannica was sold at his printing office in Nicolson Street.[1] Macfarquhar also contributed heavily to the second and third editions of Britannica.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Colin Macfarquhar | Scottish printer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Macfarquhar, Colin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004.
  3. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Prefatory Note" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. vi.
  4. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Encyclopaedia" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 377.
  5. ^ a b c d Kafker, Frank A. (1 October 2008). "The achievement of Andrew Bell and Colin Macfarquhar as the first publishers of the Encyclopaedia Britannica". Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies. 18 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1111/j.1754-0208.1995.tb00185.x. ISSN 1754-0194.
  6. ^ "Bell, Andrew". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2004.