The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Chalmers, Thomas (1780–1847)

  • D. P. O’Brien
Reference work entry


Chalmers was born in Anstruther, Fife, and died in Edinburgh. Though he was strongly attracted to mathematics and physics in his youth, he is famous as a theologian and economist and as an active worker in the field of poor relief. Appointed to a parish in 1803, he later moved to Glasgow, where he began a famous and influential experiment in the administration of poor relief through dividing up the large parish of St John into small units and relying on a large number of voluntary helpers. He left Glasgow to become Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews in 1823; in 1828 he became Professor of Divinity at Edinburgh and in 1843 he was centrally involved in the famous ecclesiastical divisions which produced the Free Church.


Chalmers, T Malthus’s theory of population Overproduction Over-saving Poor Law 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Blaikie, W.G. 1887. Chalmers, Thomas. In Dictionary of national biography, vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  2. Bonar, J. 1894. Chalmers, Thomas. In Palgrave’s dictionary of political economy, ed. H. Higgs. London: Macmillan, 1925.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. P. O’Brien
    • 1
  1. 1.