James Burnett, Lord Monboddo  

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James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (October 25, 1714 - May 26, 1799) was a Scottish judge, scholar of language evolution and philosopher. He is most famous today as a founder of modern comparative historical linguistics (Hobbs,1992). In 1767 he became a judge in the Court of Session, effectively the supreme court of Scotland in criminal matters, where it was known as the High Court of Justiciary. (Civil cases found their top court in London, in the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords). Thence Burnett adopted a title based on his father's estate, Monboddo House. Monboddo was one of a number of scholars involved at the time in development of early concepts of evolution, and some credit him with anticipating in principle the idea of natural selection that was developed into a scientific theory by Charles Darwin (Watt, 1985), (Bailey, 2005), (Cloyd, 1972).

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