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work 'n travel but make it academia 

George Turnbull

What is this story? And this project?

George Turnbull is quite an important figure in the Scottish Enlightenment, quite often cited as "overlooked".


He was born in a minister's family in Clackmannanshire, Scotland. Turnbull completed most of his education at the University of Edinburgh, starting his degree in divinity in 1711 and graduating with his Master's in 1721.

Before coming to Groningen, he focused primarily on developing philosophical thought around rational forms of Christianity. George also taught at Marischal College, leaving a lasting influence on some of his pupils, like Thomas Reid, who went on to become some of the famous philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment. At Marischal, Turnbull himself focused his academic works around moral philosophy, publishing some of his known works such as "De scientiae naturalis cum philosophia morali conjunctione".

Closer to 1725 he had a dispute with the principal of the college and even before his formal resignation left to serve as a tutor to the Udney family. It was without the permission of the college that he did so, which made this situation all the more scandalous. With this family he traveled to Groningen for the first time, enrolling at the university at the end of September of that same year.

He enrolled alongside the brothers he was tutoring - Alexander and John Udney, all of the group studying law. After a few months of such study, he was forced to return to Marischal, although noting: “I wish heartily I may be so lucky as to have no more to do with that place.”

Indeed after his resignation in 1727 (obtaining an LLD, a doctorate of law, never awarded prior by Marischal), he focused rather on private tutoring jobs, which involved travel. We can assume that he was very satisfied with the education he received in Groningen in 1725, taking courses alongside the Udney brothers, granted that he returned to the university once again later, now as a tutor of Andrew Wauchope of Niddry, his pupil during the first 5 years after Marischal.

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