He was also a classical scholar who continues to be held in high regard today. His translations of Greek medical books were used by medical students until the 1970s.
He was born in at Auchinhove, Lumphanan, the son of James Adam a local farmer and builder and his wife, Elspet Black. He attended the local parish school and in 1809 won a bursary to Kings College, Aberdeen where he studied classics. Having graduated in 1813 he moved to Edinburgh to study medicine. In December 1815 he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London.
He returned to the North East of Scotland in 1819 and took up the post of medical practitioner in Banchory-Ternan, where he settled and married Elspeth, daughter of William Shaw, a local landowner. Their house is now Bellfield Home.He was a well respected medical practitioner and a skilful surgeon. He regularly visited the surgical wards of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and had an extensive obstetric practice. He published papers on a variety of subjects including burns, adder bites, arsenic poisoning, club-foot, uterine haemorrhage and knee surgery.
Not only was he a busy country doctor, Francis Adams was also a dedicated classical scholar. He was especially fond of greek literature and it is said that he read almost every Greek work available (except the ecclesiastical writers). He wrote several papers and was so eminent in the field that he was offered the Chair of Greek at Aberdeen. His most important work was in the translation of Greek medical literature. This involved reference to important libraries which brought him into contact with many English and foreign scholars. He was awarded an honorary LLD degree from Glasgow in 1846 and an honorary MD from Aberdeen in 1856.
Francis Adams was also an enthusiastic botanist and naturalist and presented a paper to the British Association on the botany and ornithology of Deeside.
Francis and Elspeth had seven children. Their second son, Andrew Leith Adams, (1827 – 1882) became professor of natural history at Dublin and Cork. Francis Adams died from bronchitis at Bellfield in Banchory-Ternan, on 26 February 1861. A monument was erected by public subscription at the entrance to his home.