James Bonar ~ Economist

James Bonar (1852-1941) Economist. Born at Collace (Perthshire), a son of the manse, James Bonar was raised in the Free Church. Bonar was educated at the academy in Glasgow before going up to that city’s university. At university, Bonar excelled, won many prizes and came out with a first-class MA in mental philosophy. Bonar then pursued an academic career at various universities: Edinburgh, Leipzig, Tubingen and Oxford (Balliol College). At Oxford he took another degree, this time in Greats and again attained a first. After Oxford, Bonar took up a lecturing post in economics in London. Here he set up the Adam Smith Club as a debating club for economics. By 1881, Bonar began a fifteen year career in the civil service. Bonar’s support of co-operation led him to found a book-binding co-operative in Bloomsbury (1885). As an economist, Bonar was much taken with the work of Malthus, producing in 1885, Malthus and his Work. He also produced two volumes on the correspondence of the economist Ricardo and an important guide to the work of Adam Smith: Catalogue of Adam Smith’s Library. As well as commentary on the great economists of the day, Bonar wrote for several journals including the Economic Journal and the Journal of Political Economy. Whilst never becoming an eminent economist in his own right, Bonar was a well-known figure: he helped found the Royal Economic Society; was involved with the British Association (president of its economic section); was involved with the Political Economy Club; and the Royal Statistical Society (vice-president). During the First World War, James Bonar was resident in Canada where he was employed in its Royal Mint. His return to England saw more accolades presented to him including in 1935 an honorary LittD from the University of Cambridge for his work on Malthus which coincided with the centenary of the same economist. James Bonar married Mary Mewburn in 1883 and together they had four children (two sons and two daughters). He died at his home in London in 1941.