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Significant Scots
George Fulton

FULTON, GEORGE, the author of an improved system of education, was born, February 3, 1752. He served an apprenticeship to a printer in Glasgow, and afterwards worked as journeyman with Mr Willison of Edinburgh. He also practised his profession for a time at Dumfries. In early life he married the daughter of Mr Tod, a teacher in Edinburgh. His first appearance as a teacher was in a charity school in Niddry's Wynd, which he taught for twenty pounds a-year. There an ingenious and original mind led him to attempt some improvements in what had long been a fixed, and, we may add, sluggish art. Adopting his ideas partly from the system of Mr Sheridan, and partly from his late profession, he initiated his pupils with great care in a knowledge of the powers of the letters, using moveable characters pasted on pieces of wood, (which were kept in cases similar to those of a compositor in a printing house,) the result of which was, a surprising proficiency generally manifested by his scholars, both in the art of spelling, and in that of pronouncing and reading the English language.

Having thus given full proof of his qualifications as an instructor of youth, Mr Fulton was appointed by the town council one of the four teachers of English under the patronage of the city corporation, in which situation he continued till about the year 1790, when a dispute with the chief magistrate induced him to resign it, and set up on his own account. He then removed from Jackson’s Close in the Old Town, to more fashionable apartments in Hanover Street, where he prospered exceedingly for more than twenty years, being more especially patronized by Thomas Tod, Esq., and the late Mr Ramsay of Barnton. In teaching grammar and elocution, and in conveying to his pupils correct notions of the analogies of our language, Mr Fulton was quite unrivalled in his day. Many teachers from other quarters became his pupils, and were successful in propagating his system; and he had the honour to teach many of the most distinguished speakers of the day, both in the pulpit and at the bar. During the long course of his professional life, he was indefatigable in his endeavours to improve his method, and simplify his notation; and the result of his studies was embodied in a Pronouncing Dictionary, which was introduced into almost all the schools of the kingdom.

Mr Fulton was an eminent instance of the union of talent with frugal and virtuous habits. Having realized a considerable fortune by teaching, he resigned his school to his nephew, Mr Andrew Knight, and for the last twenty years of his life, enjoyed otium cum dignitate, at a pleasant villa called Summerfield (near Newhaven,) which he purchased in 1806. In the year 1820, Mr Fulton married for the second wife, Miss Eliza Stalker, but had no children by either connection. He died, September 1, 1831, in the 80th year of his age.

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