Jean Adam (or Adams) (28 April 1704 – 3 April 1765) was a Scottish poet born in Cartsdyke, Greenock, Scotland into the maritime family of John Adam and his wife Jean Eddie. Adam’s father died while she was still young, following which she entered into domestic service with the minister of West Kirk, Greenock. There she was encouraged to supplement her limited education by reading not only religious works but also John Milton’s poems and translations of the classics.[1]

Almost all of the little that is known about Adam’s life comes from the recollections of Mrs Fullarton, one of the pupils at a day school Adam set up in the family home in Cartsdyke bequeathed to her by her grandfather. Her best-known work is “There’s Nae Luck Aboot The HooseA song by Scottish poet Jean Adam (1704–1765), set to the music of "Up an' Waur Them A' ". “, but she did not achieve commercial success and died penniless in Glasgow’s Town’s Hospital poorhouse The Scottish poorhouse, occasionally referred to as a workhouse, provided accommodation for the destitute and poor in Scotland. The Scottish poorhouse, occasionally referred to as a workhouse, provided accommodation for the destitute and poor in Scotland. .[1]

Writing career

Inspired by her reading, Adam began to write poetry. Mr Drummond, a collector of customs and excise, helped her to raise subscriptions for the publication of her volume of Miscellany poems, which was printed by James Duncan in 1734.[2] The 150 subscribers included customs officers, merchants, clergymen, local artisans, and the magnate Thomas Craufurd, the Laird of Cartsburn, to whom the book was dedicated. It was prefaced with a sketch of her status and background and consisted of eighty poems, virtually all on religious and moral themes. But sales were disappointing, and Adam’s financial situation was not helped by her using her savings to ship a substantial number of copies to British colonial Boston in North America, where they did not sell well.[1]

Adam went on to work for many years at a day school she set up in Cartsdyke, but she gave it up in 1751 and went back to domestic labour for the remainder of her life. Unable to recapture her fleeting success, Adams died penniless in Town’s Hospital, a poorhouse The Scottish poorhouse, occasionally referred to as a workhouse, provided accommodation for the destitute and poor in Scotland. The Scottish poorhouse, occasionally referred to as a workhouse, provided accommodation for the destitute and poor in Scotland. in Glasgow, on 3 April 1765, after it was reported that she had been wandering about in the streets.[1]

Citations



Bibliography


Weir, D. (1829). History of the town of Greenock. Whittaker & Co.
Williamson, K. (2004). Adam, Jean. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/103