14 interesting facts about Adam Smith
17 Feb 23
4 MIN READ TIME
04 April 23
History & heritage
2023 marks the Tercentenary of world-renowned economist and philosopher, Adam Smith, who was born in the Fife town of Kirkcaldy in 1723.
Smith, who is affectionately known as the 'father of economics' and 'Kirkcaldy's famous son', has published a range of notable works, including the hugely influential 'Wealth of Nations' which has made a significant contribution to modern day economics and politics.
So why not visit the Lang Toun and follow in his famous footsteps.
A must visit is Kirkcaldy's historic oldest church, the Kirkcaldy Old Kirk. Parish Records indicate that Adam Smith was baptised in Kirkcaldy Old Kirk on 5th June 1723. Only the 15th century tower remains from this time as the main body of the Kirk had fallen into a dilapidated condition and was rebuilt in 1807. Today you can climb the tower (with prior arrangment), for incredible panoramic views of the Lang Toun and beyond.
Smith's mother was Margaret Douglas of Strathendry, daughter of a wealthy landowner. Her house boasted beautifully laid-out gardens, the property stretching down to the sea shore. There were fruit trees and bushes, herbaceous borders and hotbeds for exotic species. Adam enjoyed spending time at home here and throughout his life. The garden is currently being re-developed and will be open to the public in the near future.
Follow the timeline along what was formally known as 'Halkett's Close'. This was typical of many narrow vennels of the time, providing access to the shore from the High Street. Adam would have often walked between these walls. Watch the timeline light up as you follow the path towards the sea.
Adam was educated at home by private tutors until the age of 10 after which he attended the Burgh School where he was taught by Mr David Miller, a teacher of considerable reputation. In 1843 the school was relocated from this site to where the local college of further education stands today.
This 18th century industrial building is situated within the grounds of Adam Smith's former home. It is a rare surviving example of the once common rig buildings in Kirkcaldy. The Heritage Centre was created to celebrate Kirkcaldy’s most famous son, the economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith, in his 18th Century birthplace and tells the story of Smith's life.
Adam would have wandered on the beach here as a boy and in later life he still loved long strolls along the shore. He'd have looked south across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh and eastward, watching ships coming and going to the rest of the world. This surely would have fostered inspiration for his work, "The Wealth of Nations".
Situated in the East End of Kirkcaldy, this is one of the oldest houses in the Town with much of its original ornate decor still surviving. The house was built in the 1590's for a shipping merchant named "Law" and from here, he could watch his ships entering and leaving the harbour. Adam would have passed here regularly, perhaps even stopping in to visit. You can wander through Law's Close to experience the 16th Century architecture to the rear of Merchant's House and enjoy a seat in the courtyard or productive gardens beyond.
Provost Michael Beveridge (d. 1890) left a bequest to build a public hall in memory of Adam Smith. Opened in 1899 by Andrew Carnegie, the theatre is a popular venue, well-loved for its high quality shows, full-scale cinema and long history at the heart of the local arts scene. Following a complete refurbishment, the theatre will re-open June 2023.
When Adam Smith died, he left a huge legacy of ideas but few personal possessions. Kirkcaldy Galleries is lucky enough to have on display his snuff box, a first edition of the Wealth of Nations, his ink stand and, currently on loan, the restored painting of his mother by Conrad Metz (1749 - 1827).
You can find out more about Adam Smith and the Adam Smith Global Foundation
View the full programme of events for the Adam Smith Tercentenary.