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Significant Scots
William Dunlop


DUNLOP, WILLIAM, principal of the university of Glasgow, and an eminent public character at the end of the seventeenth century, was the son of Mr Alexander Dunlop, minister of Paisley, of the family of Auchenkeith, in Ayrshire, by Elizabeth, daughter of William Mure of Glanderston. One of his mother’s sisters was married to the Rev. John Carstairs, and became the mother of the celebrated principal of the college of Edinburgh; another was the wife, successively of Mr Zachary Boyd, and Mr James Durham. Being thus intimately connected with the clergy, William Dunlop early chose the church as his profession. After completing his studies at the university of Glasgow, he became tutor in the family of William, lord Cochrane, and superintended the education of John, second earl of Dundonald, and his brother, William Cochrane of Kilmarnock. The insurrection of 1679 took place about the time when he became a licentiate, and he warmly espoused the views of the moderate party in that unfortunate enterprise. Though he was concerned in drawing up the Hamilton declaration, which embodied the views of his party, he appears to have escaped the subsequent vengeance of the government. Tired, however, like many others, of the hopeless state of things in his own country, he joined the emigrants who colonized the state of Carolina, and continued there till after the revolution, partly employed in secular, and partly in spiritual work. He had previously married his cousin, Sarah Carstairs. On returning to Scotland in 1690, he was, through the influence of the Dundonald family, presented to the parish of Ochiltree, and a few months after, had a call to the church of Paisley. Ere he could enter upon this charge, a vacancy occurred in the principality of the university of Glasgow, to which he was preferred by king William, November, 1690. Mr Dunlop’s celebrity arises from the dignity and zeal with which he supported the interests of this institution. In 1692, he was an active member of the general correspondence of the Scottish universities, and in 1694, was one of a deputation sent by the church of Scotland, to congratulate the king on his return from the continent, and negotiate with his majesty certain affairs concerning the interest of the church. He seems to have participated considerably in the power and influence enjoyed by his distinguished brother-in-law. Carstairs, which, it is well known, was of a most exalted, though irregular kind. In 1699, he acted as commissioner for all the five universities, in endeavouring to obtain some assistance for those institutions. He succeeded in securing a yearly grant of 1200 pounds sterling, of which 300 pounds was bestowed upon his own college. While exerting himself for the public, principal Dunlop regarded little his own immediate profit or advantage; besides his principalship, the situation of historiographer for Scotland, with a pension of 40 pounds a year, is stated to have been all that he ever personally experienced of the royal bounty. He died in middle life, March, 1700, leaving behind him a most exalted character: "his singular piety," says Wodrow, with whom he was connected by marriage, "great prudence, public spirit, universal knowledge, general usefulness, and excellent temper, were so well known, that his death was as much lamented as perhaps any one man’s in this church."

Principal Dunlop left two sons, both of whom were distinguished men. Alexander, who was born in America, and died in 1742, was an eminent professor of Greek in the Glasgow university, and author of a Greek Grammar long held in esteem. William was professor of divinity and church history in the university of Edinburgh, and published the well known collection of creeds and confessions, which appeared in 1719 and 1722 (two volumes), as a means of correcting a laxity of religious opinion, beginning at that time to be manifested by some respectable dissenters. To this work was prefixed an admirable essay on confessions, which has since been reprinted separately. Professor William Dunlop, after acquiring great celebrity, both as a teacher of theology and a preacher, died October 29th, 1720, at the early age of twenty-eight.


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