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The Scottish Nation
Tilloch


TILLOCH, ALEXANDER, LL.D., an ingenious writer on science and mechanics, the son of a respectable tobacconist in Glasgow, was born there, February 28, 1759. He was intended by his father to follow his own business, but a strong bias towards science and mechanics soon led him away from commercial pursuits. Having in 1781 directed his attention to the improvement of the mode of printing, he was fortunate enough to discover the art of stereotyping, and flattered himself with many advantages that would result from his successful labours, being at the time ignorant that, so early as 1736, Mr. Ged, a jeweller of Edinburgh, had exercised the art, having published an edition of Sallust printed from metallic plates. From the want of encouragement, however, Ged’s method perished with him, and to Dr. Tilloch belongs the merit of having of new invented the art, and carried it to the state of practical utility which it now exhibits. In this new process, Mr. Foulis, the printer to the university of Glasgow, joined him, and a joint-patent in their names was taken out both in England and Scotland. Circumstances, however, induced them to lay aside the business for a time, and it never was renewed by them as a speculation.

Dr. Tilloch afterwards entered into the tobacco trade at Glasgow, in conjunction with his brother and brother-in-law, but, not finding the business succeed, it was finally abandoned. He then turned his attention to printing, and, either singly or in partnership, carried on this trade for some time in his native city. In 1787 he removed to London, and two years afterwards, in connection with others, purchased ‘The Star’ evening newspaper, which he continued to edit till within four years of his death. In 1797, being forcibly struck with the great increase of the crime of forgery, Dr. Tilloch presented to the Bank of England a specimen of a plan of engraving calculated to prevent the forgery of bank-notes, respecting which he had been previously in communication with the French government, but, like all similar proposals, it was declined; and in 1820 he petitioned parliament on the subject, but without any practical result. In June 1797 he projected and established ‘The Philosophical Magazine;’ and, only fifteen days before his death, he obtained a patent for an improvement on the steam-engine. Amidst his other avocations, he found leisure to apply himself to theological studies with no common perseverance, the fruits of which appeared in a volume of ‘Dissertations on the Apocalypse,’ published in 1823, besides a series of detached essays on the Prophecies, collected in one volume under the name of ‘Biblicus.’ His great object in the former work appears to be to prove that the Apocalypse was written at a much earlier period than commentators suppose, and prior to most of the Epistles contained in the New Testament. The last work which he was engaged to superintend was ‘The Mechanic’s Oracle,’ published in numbers at the Caxton Press. In his religious opinions Dr. Tilloch was supposed to belong to the sect of Sandermanians, and preached occasionally to a congregation who assembled in a house in Goswell Street Road. He died at his house in Barnsbury Street, Islington, January 26, 1825. He married previous to quitting Glasgow, but his wife died in 1783, leaving a daughter, who became the wife of Mr. Galt, the novelist.


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