LOW, DAVID, D.D.
and LL.D., a distinguished prelate of the Scottish Episcopalian church,
the son of a tradesman, was born in Brechin, in November 1768. He was
educated in his native town and at Marischal college, Aberdeen, and
during the college vacations he was employed as tutor to the family of
Mr. Carnegie of Balnamoon, chief heritor of the parish of Menmuir, by
whose influence he was appointed parochial schoolmaster, and was
admitted by the presbytery to the office, June 15, 1785. He afterwards
studied under Bishop Gleig at Stirling, and, on his recommendation,
became tutor to the family of Mr. Patullo of Balhouffie, in the east of
Fifeshire, where he remained about eighteen months. On December 5, 1787,
he was ordained a deacon, and appointed to the charge of a small non-juring
congregation at Perth. After being fifteen months there, he was, on Feb.
4, 1789, admitted to full orders, and, in September of the same year,
was settled as pastor of the Episcopal congregation at Pittenweem. For
nearly sixty-six years he fulfilled the duties of the ministerial office
in that town, officiating every third Sunday at Crail, till 1805, when
St. Johns chapel was built on the grounds of the priory at Pittenweem.
ON Nov. 14, 1819, he was consecrated bishop of the four united dioceses
of Ross, Moray, Argyle, and the Isles, and in 1820, the degree of LL.D.
was conferred on him by Marischal college, his alma mater. In 1847, he
effected the disjunction of Argyle and the Isles from his Episcopal
charge, and their erection into a separate see, executing a deed, by
which property to the amount of £8,000 was conveyed to trustees for the
new diocese, the annual income arising from which being appropriated for
ever towards the support of the bishops of that see; formally
relinquishing, at the same time, to the new bishop, all the income
hitherto received by himself as a member of the Episcopal college. In
1848, he received from two of the American colleges the honorary degree
of doctor in divinity. The increasing infirmities of advancing age
induced him, on Dec. 19, 1850, to resign his diocesan authority, and the
Rev. Robert Eden, rector of Lee in Essex, was consecrated, March 9,
1851, his successor as bishop of Ross and Moray.
Three of Bishop Lows
charges to his clergy were published at their request, but otherwise he
did not distinguish himself as an author. He was no controversialist,
and his theology was simply evangelic truth and apostolic order.
Bishop Low has been truly
called a bishop of a primitive type. He was the last survivor of the
Scottish Episcopal clergy, who, on principle, declined to pray for the
reigning family, till the death of Prince Charles Edward, in 1788,
released them from their allegiance to the house of Stuart. He lived and
died in the old priory of Pittenweem, in a state of celibate simplicity,
and out of an income never exceeding, including a small patrimony, from
£400 to £500 a- year, set apart fully two-thirds for objects connected
with his church. While denying himself all but the barest necessaries of
life, and turning the envelopes of his correspondents to enclose his
answers to them, he yet was enabled to devote £8,000 to the endowment of
a bishopric, and gave nearly £3,000 more to other ecclesiastical
His appearance, says
Lord Lindsay, in a graceful obituary notice, which appeared shortly
after the bishops death, was most striking thin, attenuated, but
active his eye sparkling with intelligence his whole appearance that
of a venerable French abbé of the old régime. His mind was eminently
buoyant and youthful, and his memory was a fount of the most interesting
historical information, especially in connexion with the Jacobite and
cavalier party, to which he belonged by early association and strong
political and religious predilection. Born and bred in a district
pre-eminently (at that time) devoted to the cause of the Stuarts, almost
under the shadow of Edzell castle, the ancient stronghold of the
Lindsays in Forfarshire, and having lived much from time to time, in his
early years, in the Western Highlands, among the Stuarts of Ballachulish
and Appin, he had enjoyed a familiar intercourse with the veterans of
1715 and 1745, and detailed the minutest events and adventures of those
times with a freshness and a graphic force which afforded infinite
delight to his younger auditors. Nor was his traditional knowledge
limited to the last century it extended to the wars of Claverhouse and
Montrose, to Bothwell Brig, and to the (attempted) introduction of the
service-book in 1637, and was of the most accurate description, the
bishop being well-nigh as familiar with the relationships,
intermarriages, and sympathies of families who flourished 150 or 200
years ago as he was with those of his own parishioners. The most
valuable of these traditions have been collected and embodied by Mr.
Robert Chambers, in his Histories of the Rebellions in 1638=60, 1689,
1715, and 1745. Of the bishops anecdotes of old Scottish manners of
which he possessed a most abundant and curious store few, it is to be
feared, are preserved, although some were likewise taken down by Mr.
Chambers, and published by him in a collection of Scottish anecdotes
several years ago. But the above form the least of the late bishops
claims to regret and remembrance. A most kind and noble heart gave a
charm to his daily intercourse inexpressible by words, while the
devotion of his every thought to the cause of religion and the special
interests of the Episcopal church of Scotland, gave a consistent
dignity, amounting to grandeur, to his whole life and conversation.
He died January 26, 1855,
in his 88th year. Among his other public benefactions he left £1,200 to
St. Johns chapel, Pittenweem, which was laid out in the purchase of
lands, now yielding about £60 of free yearly rent. A memoir of Bishop
Low, by the Rev. W. Blatch, was published at London, in 1 vol. 12mo, in
1855. A smaller Biographical Sketch by Matthew Foster Conolly,
town-clerk of Anstruther, formerly agent and churchwarden of the bishop,
appeared at Edinburgh in 1859.
LOW, DAVID, an eminent professor of agriculture, was the eldest
son of Alexander Low of Laws, Berwickshire, a gentleman extensively
employed in the management of landed property, both as a general adviser
and a land agent. The subject of this notice, born in 1786, was educated
at Perth academy, and studied at the university of Edinburgh. Close
application to his studies affected his health, which led to his
spending one winter in Portugal, as he afterwards did a second season in
Italy. On his return to Scotland he assisted his father, who occupied
extensive farms in Berwickshire, in the duties of his profession and the
general management of his land. He showed great facilities for business,
and a special aptitude for the profession of a land agent and valuator.
In 1817 Mr. Low first
appeared as an author. The termination of the war with France, two years
before, had produced a sudden and great lowering of prices of farm
produce throughout the country, and created a serious embarrassment
among the farmers generally. In these circumstances Mr. Low published a
work entitled Observations on the present state of Landed Property, and
on the Prospects of the Landholder and the Farmer, which was written
with the view of impressing upon the attention of the landed gentlemen
the good policy of endeavouring to preserve, as far as a lenient
exaction of rents could effect the object, those funds of the tenants
which were destined to cultivation and the business of the farm.
About 1825 Mr. Low
removed to Edinburgh, where he afterwards permanently resided. In 1826
the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture was commenced, mainly at his
suggestion. The first number contains two articles from his pen, and the
first volume no fewer than sixteen. In 1828 he became editor of the
Journal. Much of the high character to which that periodical attained
was due to t he value of his own communications, and the general ability
with which it was conducted. In 1831 he was appointed successor to Mr.
Coventry as professor of agriculture in the university of Edinburgh. In
1832 he was succeeded in the editorship of the Quarterly Journal of
Agriculture by Mr. MacGillvray.
Soon after his
appointment to the chair of agriculture, Mr. Low directed his attention
to the formation of a museum to illustrate his lectures. He presented a
memorial to the Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Manufactures
in Scotland, pointing out the advantages which would result from the
establishment of an agricultural museum, accessible to farmers and
others interested in rural economy, and expressing the hope that the
Board would see fit to assign a sum sufficient for the purpose of
forming an agricultural museum in Edinburgh. The Board, however, did
not consider the object to fall within their sphere, and Mr. Low, in
consequence, applied to the government, during the time that Lord
Viscount Althorp was the chancellor of the exchequer. The answer
returned was favourable. The communication, dated December 17, 1833, was
signed by Mr. Spring Rice, afterwards Lord Monteagle. It stated that the
Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, being prepared to acknowledge the
utility of such an establishment, by which the science of agriculture
may be advanced by promoting the study of it, with all the aid of
illustration and experiment, and especially in connexion with the
science of chemistry, they have resolved to recommend to his majesty
that an annual issue of £300 should be made for the purpose, for five
successive years, out of the funds of the trustees for improving
fisheries and manufactures in Scotland, to be paid to the professor of
agriculture for the time being, and to be applied by him, under the
authority of this Board, for such purposes connected with an
agricultural museum, as shall be authorized by this Board, upon a
specific estimate and proposal to be laid before my lords, by the
professor of agriculture, at the commencement of each successive year
for that purpose.
So satisfied was Mr. Low
of the importance of the museum, says an obituary notice of him which
appeared in the North British Agriculturist, and of its being
indispensable to the success of his agricultural teaching, that
immediately on entering on the duties of his chair, he had commenced the
formation of the museum. His private collection of implements formed the
nucleus. He obtained, besides, specimens of plants, seeds, soils, &c.,
and numerous drawings of machines, farm-buildings, and the like. He also
employed Mr. Shiels, R.S.A., to travel all over England, Scotland, and
Ireland, to take the portraits of the best specimens of the different
breeds of the domesticated animals, for the purpose of illustrating the
form of the animals and the principles of breeding. The result was a
very superior museum, specially rich in the collection of animal
portraits, but, unfortunately, it was little followed up by further
efforts, which might have rendered it more complete and beneficial to
the university and the agriculturists of Scotland. The entire sum
expended on the museum was nearly £3,000. Of this, £1,500 was given by
government, and £300 out of the Reid fund belonging to the university.
The remainder was paid by Professor Low himself. The attendance at his
class was, in consequence of the formation of the museum, largely
increased, and a desire was evinced on the part of practical
agriculturists to take advantage of the system in the education of their
sons. From seventy to ninety was the average attendance in the earlier
part of the professors career, and not a little of the enlightened zeal
on behalf of improved practice and the extension of agricultural
education which began to prevail among the more intelligent farmers of
Scotland was mainly due to the influence of the teaching of Professor
One of the most arduous
and important parts of his professional duties was in connexion with
arbitrations; and, in his awards, there were always presented
indications of a careful and impartial investigation. He was also much
engaged in the valuation of farms with the view of a renewal of lease.
During those intervals when not professionally engaged, his scientific
studies engrossed his attention. To chemistry especially he was greatly
devoted. For years he had a laboratory at his residence at Craigleith,
near Edinburgh, and afterwards at Mayfield, employing an assistant to
aid him in carrying out his investigations.
Professor Low died in
January 1859. Besides his connexion with the agricultural societies of
Great Britain, he was a member of the Royal Academy of Agriculture of
Sweden, and of the Royal Economical Society of Saxony; Honorary and
Corresponding Member of the Economical Society of Leipzig and of the
Society of Agriculture and Botany of Utrecht; Corresponding Member of
the Conseil Royale dAgriculture de France, of the Société Royale et
Centrale, &c., &c. He was an accomplished French scholar, and
corresponded with many men of science both in France and Germany.
His works are:
Observations on the Present State of Landed Property, and on the
Prospects of the Landholder and the Farmer. Edinburgh, 1817.
The Elements of Practical Agriculture, 1834. Translated into French and
The Breeds of the Domesticated Animals of the British Islands. 2 vols.
4to, 1842. Illustrated with coloured plates of the animals painted by
Mr. Shiels, R.S.A., for the Agricultural Museum, the portraits reduced
by Nicholson. Longman & Co., London, £16 16s. Translated for the French
government immediately upon its appearance.
The Domesticated Animals of the British Islands, &c., with Observations
on the Principles and Practice of Breeding. 1845, being a fuller
treatise than that appended to the illustrated edition.
Landed Property, and the Economy of Estates. 1846.
An Inquiry into the Nature of the Simple Bodies of Chemistry. 1844, 2d
edit. 1848, 3d edit. 1856.
An Appeal to the Common Sense of the Country regarding the Condition of
the Working Classes.
Various Contributions to the Quarterly Journal of Agriculture, from 1826
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