James was born between 1710–1720, the son of John Ferguson of Belfast. He matriculated "Pharmacopoiæ" from the University of Glasgow in 1739.
Dr. Ferguson married first, Sarah Clark, daughter of Jackson Clark (1698–1754) of Maghera, county Derry. The issue of this marriage was a son, George, who died in 1776.
After his wife's death in about 1757, Dr. Ferguson remarried to Miss Jane Stephenson of Killyfaddy, parish of Armagh (later Lisnadill) and county Armagh.
Dr. Ferguson's interests were not confined to the practice of medicine or apothecary. In 1764, Dr. Ferguson received £300 from the Irish Linen Board for the successful application of lime in the process of bleaching linen. In 1766, he:
published an excellent experimental Essay upon the use of leys and sours in bleaching, in which he has greatly elucidated this subject. With the intention of teaching bleachers to ascertain the quantity of carbonic acid fixed in ashes, and in lime-stone, and consequently of ascertaining the proportional quantity of lime, from different kinds of stone, which should be mixed with any quantity of the different kinds of ashes, and which would require all the gas contained in them, to restore the lime to a mild insoluble state. He ascertained the quantity of the gas in each kind of stone and in each kind of alkili he had an opportunity of trying.
Known issue of this second marriage includes John Stephenson Ferguson (1761–1833) and James Ferguson (d.1834), both linen drapers of Belfast.
Dr. James Ferguson died on the 29th December 1784, aged about seventy years. The Belfast News-Letter published the following death notice (the characters given [within square brackets] were illegible in the original text):
Died, on Wednesday morning last, of a fever, [D]r. James Ferguson of this town. The universal [re]gret of his loss is the best eulogy on his many vir[tu]es.—Every relation in life he supported in a manner becoming and exemplary. As a physician of [--]ng experience, his decease must be severely felt; [--]t more particularly by the poorer classes, to which [h]e paid such a degree of disinterested attention du[ri]ng a life of medical practice, as strongly indicated [by th]at philantropy and general worth by which his [c]haracter was eminently distinguished.
The estimated year of birth is based on having attained the age of 24 or so when he matriculated from the University of Glasgow.
Please note that many family trees cite Mary Ferguson, who married Captain James McCullogh, as a daughter of Dr. James Ferguson. This, however, is incorrect, as the will of Dr. Victor Ferguson (who died c.1723-9) proves.~Kilpatrick-1128
For more information about the Stephenson-Ferguson family, please refer to the following journal article: Kilpatrick, Alison. "The Killyfaddy, County Armagh Connection to the House of York." Familia: Ulster Genealogical Review, No. 33 (2017), pp. 191-213. Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2017.
↑ Addison, W. Innes, ed. The Matriculation Albums of the University of Glasgow from 1728–1858. Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1913. “MDCCXXXIX. Nomina disciplorum Classis Secundae qui hoc Anno Academiam intarunt sub præsidio Mag. Francisci Hutcheson P.P. ... 721. JACOBUS FERGUSON Johannis F. Pharmacopoiæ Belfastiensis in Hibernia.” [Trans. 1739. 721. James Ferguson son of John Pharmacy Belfast in Ireland.] (pg. 21)
↑ 2.02.1 Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. Burke’s Irish Family Records. London: Burke’s Peerage, Limited, 1976. Lineage of John Clarke, of Maghera, co. Derry, who m. 18 Oct 1690, Jane White, of Belfast (pp. 272-3).
↑ Belfast News-Letter, 10 Dec 1776 (pg 3). Death notice: Died on Monday last, Mr. George Ferguson, eldest son to Dr. James Ferguson; he was a young man of good character and amiable disposition, and much regretted by his acquaintance. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick 2016-10-26, by subscription).
↑ Belfast News-Letter, 15 March 1757: Advertisement: “That all sorts of houshold [sic] furniture, belonging to the late Mrs. Ferguson, are to be sold by auction at her house in Waring-Street, Belfast. The auction is to begin on Thursday next at eleven o’clock, and to continue till all be sold. Belfast, March 15th, 1757. N.B. The said house is also to be lett by Doctor Ferguson.”￼
↑The Stranger’s Pocket Guide to Belfast & Its Environs. New ed. Belfast: John Henderson; Dublin: James M’Glashan; 1855 (pg. 38).
↑ Belfast Literary Society. “Lime.” Select Papers. Vols. I - IX. Belfast: Smyth & Lyons, 1808 (pg. 62).
↑ Ferguson, Colin. "Ferguson of Polebrooke Hall, Northamptonshire;" on his website, 'Fergus(s)on DNA Project, Belfast Linen Drapers; online at dna.cfsna.net/GEN/Ireland/Belfast.html (accessed 2014-03-31); citing the following sources: (1.) Supplement to the Records of the Clan and Name of Fergusson, Ferguson and Fergus, by James Ferguson and Robert Menzies Fergusson, Edinburgh, 1899. (2.) The Fergusons of Belfast: A Short Account of the Ancestry of H.R.R. The Duchess of York, by The Mac Carthy Mor., Familia Ulster Genealogical Review, Volume 2, No. 2 1986. Published by the Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild. (3.) June Ferguson’s Royal Genealogy Page, at wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?db=royals. (4.) US Federal Census of IL, KS, MN. (5.) Masterson, J., Ireland: 1841/1851 Census Abstracts (Northern Ireland), Genalogical Publishing Co., 1999.(6.) Registry of Deeds 1818 Vol. 729 No. 465 Memorial 497800 LDS Film 463942. (7.) Ferguson James and Ferguson, Robert Menzies (eds)., Records of the Clan and Name of Fergusson, Ferguson, and Fergus, Edinburgh: 1895. (8.) Fergusons at Fourmileburn, website at dna.cfsna.net/GEN/Ireland/Antrim/Fourmileburn_1st.html. (9.) A History of the Town of Belfast, by George Benn (1880).
↑ Belfast News-Letter, 28-31 Dec 1784 (pg 2). Death notice: for Dr. James Ferguson of Belfast. Digital image online at ancestry.ca (accessed by Alison Kilpatrick 2015-10-20, by subscription).