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The Scottish Nation
Ewen / Ewing

EWEN, a surname which appears to be the same as Ewing, though differently spelled, and derived from Eoghan, the Gaelic for Eugenius; hence the name of the Highland clan Eoghan, or Mac Ewen. It seems also to be the same name as Evan, and was borne by a king of the Picts, and two kings of the Scots. Owen is the Welsh form of the name.

      The author of the fine ballad, ‘Weel may the boatie Row,’ John Ewen, jeweller in Aberdeen, was born in Montrose in 1741, of such poor parents that they were unable to give him more than the most ordinary education. Having by frugality and industry saved a few pounds, he went to Aberdeen in 1760, and opened a small shop for the sale of hardware goods. For the first six years he was not particularly prosperous, but on his marriage, in 1766, to Janet, one of the two daughters of John Middleton, yarn and stocking maker in Aberdeen, who was then dead, he became, in right of his wife, possessor of one half of the property, chiefly heritable, of his deceased father-in-law. Mrs. Ewen died soon after giving birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, who married in 1787, a younger son of Graham of Morphie. Mr. Ewen did not marry a second time, and died 21st October 1821, leaving, after payment of various sums to the public charities of Aberdeen, about fourteen thousand pounds to the magistrates and clergy of Montrose, his native place, for the purpose of founding an hospital, similar to Gordon’s Hospital in Aberdeen, for the maintenance and education of boys. This settlement was challenged by his daughter, and after various conflicting decisions in the court of session, was finally set aside by the House of Lords, on appeal, on the 17th November 1830, on the ground that the deed was void, in consequence of its uncertainty and want of precision both as to the sum to be accumulated by the trustees before commencing to build the hospital, and as to the number of the boys to be educated in it when built. A full report of this lawsuit is contained in Wilson and Shaw’s ‘Cases decided in the House of Lords on appeal from the Courts of Scotland,’ vol. iv. pp. 346-361. In the projected hospital he had anticipated a monument to his memory in his native place, but he has a better and more enduring one in his immortal song of ‘The Boatie Rows,’ which has given his name a world-wide reputation. His grandson, Baron Grahame, Esq., inherited Morphie, Kincardineshire, and Ballindarg, Forfarshire.


EWING, an Anglified form of the surname Ewen. Of this name was Greville Ewing, an eminent minister of the Congregational church, son of a teacher of mathematics at Edinburgh and author of a pamphlet against the atheistical doctrines of Thomas Paine. Born in that city, April 27, 1767, he was educated at the High School of his native place, and at an early age was apprenticed to a seal engraver. On the conclusion of his apprenticeship he commenced business on his own account, but impelled by a strong predilection for the ministry, in the winter session of 1787-8 he entered the university of Edinburgh, and applied himself assiduously to the usual course of literary and theological study. In the subsequent May he became tutor to the son of James Lockhart, Esq. of Cambusnethan, attending college always during winter. In 1792, after passing the usual examinations, he was, by the presbytery of Hamilton, licensed to preach the gospel, in connexion with the Established church of Scotland, and became very popular as a preacher. On 17th October of the following year he was ordained assistant to Dr. Jones in Lady Glenorchy’s church, Edinburgh. In the cause of missions he early took a deep interest, and by his exertions and writings contributed much to excite a strong feeling in regard to them. He was one of the small party of Christian friends, consisting principally, besides himself, of the Rev. David Bogue, D.D., of Gosport, the Rev. William Innes, then one of the ministers of Stirling, afterwards of the Baptist church, Elder Street, Edinburgh, and Robert Haldane, Esq. of Airthrey, Stirlingshire, who had formed a plan for proceeding to India, to preach the gospel to the native population, the expenses being to be defrayed by Mr. Haldane. Owing, however, to the refusal of the East India Company and the government to permit their going out, the scheme was abandoned, and Mr. Ewing and his friends, in consequence, resolved to exert themselves for the promotion of evangelical religion at home. A periodical, under the title of ‘The Missionary Magazine,’ was accordingly started in July 1796, of which Mr. Ewing was for three years the editor. It afterwards got the title of ‘The Christian Herald,’ and under that of ‘The Scottish Congregational Magazine,’ ultimately became the recognised organ of the Congregational churches of Scotland. After he had ceased to conduct it, he often sent communications to its pages under the signature of “Onesimus.”

      Finding his efforts cramped in the Establishment, and being prosecuted before the church courts, for pursuing a course incompatible with the established notions of propriety and order, he resolved to quit the national church, and on 29th November 1798, a day appointed for a general thanksgiving, he preached his last sermon in connexion with the Establishment, and shortly after went on an itinerancy to various parts of Perthshire. In July 1799 he commenced his ministry in Glasgow as pastor of a Congregational church, which met in the ‘Tabernacle,’ Jamaica Street, the use of which had been kindly allowed them by Mr. Haldane, to whom it belonged. In this building Mr. Ewing preached, for several years, to crowded congregations. In consequence, however, of an unfortunate misunderstanding with Mr. Haldane, he and his people removed, in 1811, to a neat and commodious place of worship erected for h im in Nile Street, and there he continued to exercise his pastoral duties for the remainder of his life. He had been appointed professor or tutor in the Glasgow Theological Academy by the Congregational Union, an office in which he was associated with Dr. Wardlaw, the venerable pastor of the Congregational church, George Street, Glasgow. The department of study presided over by Mr. Ewing was that of Biblical Criticism and Church History. In 1821 he received from the college of Princetown, New Jersey, the degree of D.D., but as he disapproved of all religious titles, he declined to be addressed as Doctor.

      Mr. Ewing was three times married. His first wife, the sister of his friend Mr. Innes, died soon after their marriage. His second wife, whose maiden name was Jamieson, also died soon. His third wife was a daughter of Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, baronet. In the summer of 1828, she and her husband and a party of friends went on an excursion to the Falls of the Clyde, when the carriage being overturned, the whole party were precipitated  down a steep declivity, and Mrs. Ewing received injuries which caused her death in a few days after. From the shock of this sudden calamity Mr. Ewing never fully recovered, and his health began gradually to decline. He continued, however, of officiate, both as a minister and a professor, for several years afterwards, until his growing infirmities compelled him to resign the latter office, and only occasionally to engage in the duties of the former. At length a stroke of apoplexy destroyed his physical powers, though it did not impair his mental faculties, and on 2d August 1841, “he fell asleep,” so gently, that, says Dr. Wardlaw, who preached his funeral sermon, “it could hardly be called death – it was the imperceptible cessation of life, a breathing out of his spirit == delightful emblem of his entering into peace.” By his second marriage he had one child, a daughter, who published an interesting memoir of her father, and who became the wife of the Rev. Dr. Matheson of London.

      Mr. Ewing’s works are:

      A Defence of Missions from Christian Societies to the Heathen world. A Sermon preached before the Edinburgh Missionary Society. Edin. 1797.

      The Duty of Christians to Civil Government. A Sermon. Edin. 1799.

      A Defence of Itinerant and Field Preaching. A Sermon. Edin. 1799, 8vo. Second edition, Glasgow, 1832.

      Animadversions on some passages of a pamphlet, entitled ‘Lay Preaching Indefensible,’ &c. Glasgow, 1800.

      Remarks in Reply to the Same. Glasgow, 1800.

      The Rudiments of the Greek Language shortly Illustrated; and a Compendious Lexicon. 1801.

      Remarks on a Sermon concerning the call and qualifications of Missionaries. Glasgow, 1801.

      The Ignorance of the Heathen and the Conduct of God towards them. A Sermon preached before the London Missionary Society. 1803.

      A Lecture on part of the Fifteenth Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. 1804.

      An Exposure of some things contained in ‘A Vindication of Presbyterian Church Government.’ 1805.

      An Attempt towards a statement of the doctrine of Scripture on some disputed points, respecting the Constitution, Government, &c. of the Church of Christ. Glasgow, 1807.

      Memorial on Education for the Ministry of the Gospel. Glasgow, 1808.

      Facts and Documents respecting the Connexions which have subsisted between Robert Haldane, Esq. and Greville Ewing. 1809.

      Essays to the Jews. London, 1809, 2 vols.

      The Encouragement due from Christians to Preachers of the Gospel. A Sermon. Glasgow, 1815.

      Sermon preached on the day of the Funeral of the Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales. 1817.

      The Testimony of God against Massacre and Rapine. A Sermon. 1820.

      Two Discourses delivered at the Ordination of the Rev. Archibald Jack. 1820.

      The Duty of Abstaining from Debt. A Sermon. 1821.

      Essay on Baptism, 1823. 2d edition, enlarged, Glasgow, 1824.

      The Sympathy of Christ. A Sermon, 1823.

      Address to the Rev. William Orme, on his settlement at Camberwell, London, 1824. 3d edition.

      Tract relative to the Apocrypha Question. 1826.

      Elements of the Greek Language and a Greek and English Lexicon, for the use of those who wish to make themselves acquainted with the New Testament in the original, as also containing all the words which occur in the Septuagint and apocrypha, as well as the Testament. 2d edition royal 8vo, 1812; much enlarged 1827.

      Memoir of Mrs. Barbara Ewing. 1829.

      The Nursing Fathers and Mothers of the Children of the Church. A Sermon. 1831.

      A Funeral Sermon on William M. Gavin, Esq. 1832.

      A Sermon preached on the occasion of the death of Mr. John Aikman. 1834.

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