1822 – Born on the 2nd of December in Aberdeen, Scotland.
1847 – He went to London, where he found wider scope for his energy and knowledge.
1851 – 1852 – He was secretary of the "Society of the Friends of Italy".
1852 – He was appointed professor of English literature at University College, London, in succession to AH Clough.
1858 – 1865 – He edited the newly established Macmillan’s Magazine.
1865 – He was selected for the chair of rhetoric and English literature at Edinburgh, and during the early years of his professorship actively promoted the movement for the university education of women.
1878 – He had known Thomas de Quincey, whose biography he contributed to the "English Men of Letters" series, and he was an enthusiastic friend and admirer of Thomas Carlyle.
1879 – He became editor of the Register of the Privy Council of Scotland.
1893 – Was appointed Historiographer Royal for Scotland.
1896 – He was President of the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club and gave the Toast to Sir Walter at the club’s annual dinner.
1900 – He was Chairman of the Scottish History Society.
1907 – Died on the 6th of October.