He attended the Stedelijk Gymnasium Haarlem and studied law in Leiden, whereupon he joined the family business in Haarlem and brought historical typefaces back into fashion.
He became city archivist in 1857 where he wrote an inventory of the archives, still useful today. He wrote several publications on the history of Haarlem, finding inspiration in his work as city archivist publishing the first inventory of the archives of Haarlem. He was a driving force behind the restoration of the Saint Bavochurch for which he donated many historical objects including historical stained-glass windows from other locations, and also for the restoration of the ruin of Castle Brederode.
After his death, Adriaan Justus left a significant collection of paintings, drawings, prints, coins, and books behind.
He left his Roman coins to the Teylers Museum.
Enschedé printing company, philanthropist and a member of Teylers Tweede Genootschap (Teylers Second or Scientific Society).