JOHN CAMPBELL, author of the Lives of the Admirals, a miscellaneous writer of considerable merit, was born at Edinburgh, March 8, 1708; and when five years old his mother removed with him to England. Being intended for the law, he was articled to an attorney; but his taste leading him to literature, he did not pursue the legal profession. His early productions are not known. In 1736 he published, in 2 vols. folio, The Military History of Prince Eugene and the Duke of Marlborough. The reputation he acquired by this work led to his being engaged to assist in writing the ancient part of the Universal History, which extended to sixty vols. 8vo. The first two volumes of his Lives of the English Admirals and other Eminent Seamen, the work by which he is best known, he published in 1742, and the two remaining volumes appeared in 1744. He wrote many of the articles in the Biographia Britannica, which was commenced in 1745; his contributions to which work, extending through four volumes, and marked by a strain of almost unvarying panegyric, are distinguished by the initials E and X.
For the Preceptor, published by Dodsley in 1748, Mr. Campbell wrote the introduction to Chronology, and the Discourse on Trade and Commerce. He was next employed on the modern part of the Universal History. In 1756 he had the degree of LL.D. bestowed on him by the university of Glasgow. After the peace of Paris in 1763, he wrote, at the request of Lord Bute, a pamphlet in defence of it, pointing out the value of the West India islands which had been ceded to this country. For this service he was, in March, 1765, appointed in his majesty's agent for the province of Georgia in North America. He was the author of many other publications, a list of which is subjoined. Dr. Campbell died at London, December 28, 1775.