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The Scottish Nation

IRVING, a surname the same as Irvine, being the mode in which some Dumfries-shire families of the name spell it.

      One of these families, Irving of Woodhouse and Robgill Tower, descended from a younger branch of the original family of Irvine of Bonshaw, possessed a baronetcy of the United Kingdom, conferred in 1809.

      Christopher Irvine of Bonshaw, who commanded the light horsemen at Flodden, was killed there with his son, Christopher, Sept. 3, 1513. The son of the latter, also named Christopher, was slain in command of a party of horse at Solway Moss in 1542. His son, Edward Irvine of Bonshaw, lived to a great age. His eldest son, Christopher, predeceased his father in 1582. He had married, in 1566, Margaret, daughter of John Johnstone of that ilk, ancestor of the marquises of Annandale, and had a son, William, who had, among other sons, William, of Rockhillhead, afterwards of Woodhouse, Dumfries-shire, and Herbert, of Bonshaw by purchase.

      William Irving of Woodhouse married, in 1631, Janet, daughter of Jardine of Applegarth, and was father of John Irvine, Esq. of Woodhouse. This John Irvine of Woodhouse marrying Sarah, daughter of Sir William Douglas of Kelhead, was succeeded by his son, William Irvine, Esq. of Bonshaw.

      The eldest son of William continued the line of Bonshaw. A younger son, Paulus Emilus Irving, Esq. of Woodhouse, was a lieutenant-colonel in the army, and governor of Upnor Castle. He died April 22, 1796.

      Colonel Irving’s only son, Lieutenant-General Sir Paulus Emilus Irving, born August 30, 1751, was appointed commander-in-chief in the West Indies, and received the thanks of King George III., through the duke of York, commander-in-chief, November 28, 1795, for the decisive victory he had achieved at La Vigie that year. On September 19, 1809, he was created a baronet of the United Kingdom. He had two sons and a daughter, and died in 1828, when his elder son, Sir Paulus Æmilus Irving, became 2d baronet. On the latter’s death, without issue, in 1837, he was succeeded by his brother, Sir Thomas St. Lawrence Irving, third baronet, born Feb. 18, 1795; died, unmarried, in 1859, when the title became extinct.

      Christopher Irvine, proprietor of Robgill and Annan, and bred to the law in the Temple, London, receiving from James VI. A grant of some lands in Ulster, was ancestor of the Irvines of Castle Irvine, baronets, county Fermanagh, Ireland, and of the Irvines of Rockfield, same county.

      The ancient seat of the Irvines of Bonshaw, the original stock of the family of Irvine, stands on the right bank of the river, in the parish of Annan, Dumfries-shire. The old mansion-house is built near the edge of a steep rock, which rises to a considerable height above the bed of the Kirtle. About half-a-mile from Bonshaw, and on the same side of the river, is Robgill Tower, formerly possessed by Sir Emilius Irving, bart. The scenery around Robgill-house, of which the old tower forms a part, is most picturesque and beautiful.


      The first of the name settled in Dumfries town was Provost Francis Irving, 2d son of the family of Bonshaw. He was educated in France, and on his return to Scotland he married the heiress of the Rainings, by whom he acquired a good fortune of houses in Dumfries, with burgage, and other lands, part whereof remain yet with his posterity. He it was who first imported into that town wines and spirits thither by sea, having settled some kind of correspondence at Bordeaux in France. Upon the sudden arrival of King James VI. On one occasion at Dumfries, Provost Irving presided at an entertainment given to his majesty in a large painted hall belonging to the Cunninghams. His lady likewise assisted. She came at the head of some matrons, and presented his majesty with an Italian broadpiece in gold, according to the usage of the times. At the provost’s death a magnificent tomb or monument was erected, embellished with pillars of the Corinthian order, gilt capitols, and other ornaments. It was much effaced by Cromwell’s soldiers, coming up from the siege of Carlaverock castle, and all the records of the town destroyed they could lay their hands upon. In the lower part of the monument is the following inscription:

                        “The King me first his Baillie named,
                        Dumfries oft since me Provost claimed,
                        God, King, and Country have I served,
                        For which in Heaven a Crown’s reserved.”

      The lands of Kurkledale and others belonging to him continued long in his family. His bailiary is presumed to have been a jurisdiction of the lower parts of Annandale, as all of it was in the gift of the crown, being the prince of Scotland’s patrimony. The king, in speaking to him or of him, usually termed him his own bailie. He left, with a daughter, three sons. 1. John, often elected provost of Dumfries. 2. Edward, who acquired the lands of Logan. 3. Stephen, who possessed the lands of Reddens and others. The daughter Barbara was married to Sir William Maxwell of Gribton, knight. Provost John Irving’s two sons, John and Thomas, were likewise provosts of Dumfries. His daughter, Jannette, married Maxwell of Carnsalloch. The second son represented the town in parliament. The elder son was in the first nomination of justices of the peace in Scotland, not as provost for the time being, but as a landed gentleman, as appears from the printed acts of Charles II. He married Janet, daughter of Sir Thomas Crighton of Ryehill, soon after earl of Dumfries, and had a son, John, who had no family, and 3 daughters. The eldest of whom married Provost Maxwell of Barncleugh, and the youngest Maxwell of Terraughty, grandson of the family of Nithsdale.

      Provost Thomas, the other brother, married, 1st, Elizabeth Craik, daughter of Craik of Stewarton, and 2dly, Elizabeth Maxwell, daughter of the Kirkconnell family, but she had no children. He left three sons, John, Thomas and William. The eldest married a Miss Fergusson, and had John, commonly styled Logan, and 3 daughters. Thomas, the second brother, afterwards of Gribton, married Mary Maxwell, niece of the earl of Nithsdale, and had a son, William Irving, Esq. of Gribton, and a daughter, Margaret, married to Thomas Goldie, W.S., afterwards of Mains, issue, five sons and 2 daughters.

      Provost John Irving of Logan, eldest in succession, was twice married, but leaving only daughters, the male representation of the family devolved upon William, the next in succession.

      William married Katherine, daughter of Captain James Menzies of Enoch, and had eleven sons. James, the eldest, succeeded him. He married Elizabeth Welsh, heiress of Waterside, issue, 2 sons, William and Joseph (who died in Jamaica), and 5 daughters. Thomas, the second son, was inspector-general of exports and imports, at London. He married Marion, daughter of Provost Corbet, and had a son, William, inspector-general, and a daughter, Maryan, who married a West India proprietor, named Furness. Winfred, James’ youngest daughter, married, 1st, Mr. Baird; 2dly, captain Wilson, to whom she had one daughter; and 3dly, Mr. Sweetman. The daughter, Catherine, married Colonel Archibald M’Murdo, and had 11 children. Winfred, the eldest, married Mr. Dinwoodie, one of the judges in the civil court of Ceylon. One of her sons, John, in the Madras army, became Lieutenant-Colonel commandant of the Dumfries, Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Kirkcudbright militia. Another son, Archibald, post-captain in the navy, accompanied Captain Buck, in the Terror, to the North Pole. A daughter, Phillis, married George Hoggan, Esq. of Waterside. Another daughter, Catherine, married Admiral Pennel, R.N. They had a son, Robert, mate of an Indiaman; and another, colonel W. Montague S. M’Murdo, C.B., inspector-general of volunteers. Charles Irving, Esq., surgeon, of the Gribton family, and a native of Holywood parish, Dumfries-shire, some years before 1790, discovered a method of turning salt water into fresh, for which he was rewarded by a grant from government of £500.

      William, eldest son of James Irving of Gribton, married Jane, eldest daughter of David Corrie of Newlaw; issue, 4 children. Mary, one of his daughters, married Sir John Gordon of Earlston, bart. His son, James, went to India as ensign in the Bengal cavalry in 1828, and became through marriage proprietor of Barwhinnock estate.

      The estate of Gribton is no longer in the family, having been sold, and become the property of a gentleman named Maxwell.

IRVING, REV. EDWARD, M.A., a celebrated preacher, was born in the burgh of Annan, August 15, 1792. His father was a respectable tanner in that town, and became owner of a considerable portion of burgage and landed property in the vicinity. After receiving a good elementary education in his native place, he was sent to prosecute his studies at the university of Edinburgh. His proficiency in the mathematics attracted the attention of Professor Leslie, who recommended him, when only in his seventeenth year, as mathematical teacher in an academy at Haddington. This situation he occupied only a year, when he obtained one more lucrative in a larger establishment at Kirkcaldy, where he also kept boarders, and gave private tuition. He remained nearly seven years at Kirkcaldy, during which time he completed his probationary terms, and became a licentiate of the Church of Scotland. In 1819 he removed to Edinburgh, resolved to devote himself to preaching the gospel, and on Dr. Chalmers hearing him preach from the pulpit of St. George’s church in that city, he was so favourably impressed with his abilities, that he subsequently appointed him his assistant in St. John’s church, Glasgow.

      In 1822 Mr. Irving accepted an invitation from the managers of a small congregation of Scots Presbyterians meeting at the Caledonian Asylum, Cross Street, Hatton Garden, London; and shortly after obtaining this living, he married Isabella, daughter of the Rev. John Martin, one of the ministers of Kirkcaldy, to whom he had been previously engaged. The novelty of his style, and the force and eloquence of his discourses, soon rendered him the most popular preacher of his time, and the singularity of his appearance and gesticulation attracted very large congregations. The principal orators and statesmen of the day crowded to hear him; he literally became quite “the rage” among the wealthy and fashionable of the metropolis, and his chapel doors were thronged with carriages, so that it was found necessary to grant admittance only by tickets.

      In 1823 Mr. Irving published an octavo volume of 600 pages, with the singular title of ‘For the Oracles of God, Four Orations – for Judgment to come, an Argument in Nine Parts.’ Such was the demand for this publication, that, though it underwent the most severe and searching criticism, a third edition was called for in less than six months.

      In May 1824 he preached for the London Missionary Society one of their anniversary sermons, and early in the following year he published his discourse on the occasion, dedicated to Coleridge the poet, with whom he had recently formed an intimate acquaintance.

      In 1825 Mr. Irving preached the anniversary sermon for the Continental Society, the substance of which he afterwards published, in a treatise on the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse, dedicated to Mr. Hatley Frere, brother to the British envoy at the court of Madrid, and one of the persons, about twenty in number, who, with Mr. Irving, assembled at Albury Park, the seat of Mr. Henry Drummond, the banker, for the express object of studying or elucidating “the sublime science of sacred prophecy.” An account of this meeting was published by Mr. Drummond in 1827, in a work entitled ‘Diaglogues on Prophecy,’ 3 vols. 8vo. About 1826 Mr. Irving drew up his Introductory Essay to Bishop Horne’s Commentary on the Book of Psalms, published in Glasgow, which is generally considered one of the best of his writings. In 1828 he preached a fast-day sermon before the presbytery of London, which he afterwards printed. In the same year he contributed to an annual then existing under the name of the ‘Anniversary,’ a sketch, entitled ‘A Tale of the Times of the Martyrs.’

      In the course of 1827 he was first observed in his discourses to have departed from the doctrinal standards of the Church of Scotland, by the unusual manner in which he spoke concerning the human nature of our Saviour. On the formation in the metropolis of a society for the distribution of ‘Gospel Tracts,’ Mr. Irving preached a collection sermon in aid of the funds of the new institution, and it is said to have been on the delivery of his discourse on that occasion that some of his hearers were astounded by his assertion of the “sinfulness of Christ’s human nature.” In his ‘Sermons, Lectures, and Occasional Discourses,’ published the following year, his new doctrines were developed at large. The chapel in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, being found too small to contain the large concourse of persons who continued to throng to it, a subscription was entered into, to erect a larger and more commodious church, and the handsome edifice in Regent’s Square was completed in 1829. In the spring of that year, Mr. Irving paid a visit to his friends in Scotland, and while at Edinburgh he delivered a course of fifteen ‘Lectures on the Book of the Revelation,’ which were published in parts, the whole making four volumes duodecimo.– His portrait is subjoined.

[portrait of Rev. Edward Irving]

      In the early part of 1830 the subject of his heretical views was taken up by the Scottish church in London, and at a meeting of the presbytery on November 29 of that year, the report of the committee appointed to examine his work on Christ’s humanity was read. It charged him with holding Christ subject to original and actual sin, and with denying the doctrines of atonement, satisfaction, imputation, and substitution. The exhibition of the “unknown tongues,” uttered by some designing or deluded persons of his congregation, principally females, and pronounced by Mr. Irving from the pulpit to be the “manifestations of the Holy Ghost,” next occupied public attention; and the trustees of the National Scottish Church, Regent’s Square, at last found it necessary to prefer charges against him, in addition to those which were already before the presbytery. On May 2, 1832, the London presbytery unanimously found him guilty of heresy, and thus dispossessed him of his charge as minister of the church in Regent’s Square; and the presbytery of Annan, of which he was a member, on March 13, 1833, formally deposed him from the ministry of the Church of Scotland. After a course of itinerant open-air preaching in his native district, Mr. Irving returned to London, and continued to officiate in what had once been the picture gallery of Mr. Benjamin West, the celebrated painter, in Newman Street, which had been fitted up as a chapel by some of the most enthusiastic of his admirers.

      His laborious and unceasing efforts to propagate his peculiar religious tenets brought on consumption, and in the autumn of 1834 he went to Scotland for the benefit of his health; but rapidly becoming worse, he died at Glasgow, December 6, 1834. He left a widow, with a son and two daughters.

      Mr. Irving was only in his 42d year at the time of his death, although his long grey hair and wrinkled brow made him appear much older. There can be no doubt that the melancholy errors and extravagances, into which he was betrayed in the latter years of his life, were the effects of a diseased imagination, arising from that morbid love of the marvellous, and craving for notoriety, for which he was remarkable, and to which he at last fell a victim.

      With all his eccentricities, however, and “although,” as his successor in Regent’s Square church has well remarked in an article analysing his character, “his practical wisdom did not keep pace with his discursive powers, the might of his genius, and the grandeur of his views, and the prevailing solemnity of his spirit’ left a deep impression on his hearers and contemporaries, and Edward Irving became the founder of a sect, which subsequently took the name of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, from the wealth and influential character of some of its members, was enabled to build large and imposing structures for their peculiar mode of worship.

      His works are:

      For the Oracles of God, Four Orations – for Judgment to Come, an Argument in nine parts. London, 1823, 8vo.

      For Missionaries after the Apostolic School, a series of Orations, in four parts. London, 1824, 8vo.

      Babylon and Infidelity Foredoomed of god; a treatise on the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse. London, 1825, 8vo.

      The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, by Juan Josafat Ben Ezra, a converted Jew; translated from the Spanish. London, 1827, 8vo.

      Apology for the Ancient fulness and Purity of the Doctrine of the Kirk of Scotland; a fast-day Sermon before the Presbytery of London. London, 1828. 8vo.

      A Letter to the King against the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. London, 1828, 8vo.

      Sermons, Lectures, and Occasional Discourses. London. 1828, 3 vols. 8vo.

      The Last Days, a Discourse on the Evil Character of these our Times, proving them to be the “Perilous Times” of the Last Days. London, 1828, 8vo. 2d edit. With preface by the Rev. Horatius Bonar. London, 1840, 8vo.

      Lectures on the Book of the Revelation, published in parts, making 4 vols. Duodecimo. London, 1829.

      The Church and State responsible to Christ and to one another. A Series of Discourses on Daniel’s Vision of the four Beasts. London, 1829, 8vo.

IRVING, DAVID, LL.D., biographer and librarian, was born in the village of Langholm, Dumfries-shier, December 5, 1778. He received his early education in the Grammar school of his native place under a Mr. Telfer. He afterwards attended, for Latin and Greek, a Mr. Little, who, though deprived of sight, was an excellent scholar, and remarkable for grounding his pupils thoroughly in a knowledge of the classics. In 1796, being then in his 18th year, he went to the university of Edinburgh, where he continued till 1803. In the Greek class he distinguished himself so much as to attract the particular notice of Mr. Dalzell, the then professor in that chair. In 1799 he published at Glasgow a short life of Fergusson the poet, dedicated to Dr. Robert Anderson, editor and biographer of the British Poets, to whom he brought a letter of introduction on his first arrival in Edinburgh.

      In 1801 Mr. Irving took the degree of M.A., and the same year he issued another little volume, entitled ‘Lives of Scottish Authors, viz., Fergusson, Falconer, and Russell.’ to this he was encouraged by Professor Dalzell, to whom it was dedicated, and who had assisted him in collecting materials for the two latter biographies.

      Originally destined for the ministry, Mr. Irving was prevented by some religious scruples from entering the Divinity Hall, and resolved to devote himself to literature instead of the church. To fit himself more particularly for this pursuit, he applied himself to a careful study of the structure and powers of the English language. The results he embodied in a short treatise, entitled ‘Elements of English Composition,’ which was published in London in 1801. This treatise, originally written whilst its author was yet a student at college, he had occasion afterwards frequently to revise. It was his most successful work. In England especially it obtained an extensive circulation, and was introduced as a text-book in some of the leading schools. At the time of his death it had reached the 13th edition.

      In 1804 he published ‘The Lives of Scotish Poets,’ 2 vols. 8vo. He considered Scotish, with one t, the right spelling of the word, and Scottish, although in more general use, a corruption. These Lives are said to have been ably but hastily written.

      He now resolved to bestow more care and labour on his future writings. He spent the years 1805 and 1806 in London, paying frequent visits to the library of the British Museum, consulting some rare books for his next publication. This was ‘Memoirs of the Life and Writings of George Buchanan,’ published in 1807, which at once established his reputation. The work included a literary history of the age and contemporaries of Buchanan, and was full of learning and information. Sir William Hamilton (a memoir of whom is given above) pronounced it to be a work “which for curious and recondite erudition has been but seldom surpassed.” He subsequently very considerably improved it, and in the preface to a new edition, which appeared in 1817, he tells us that these “Memoirs have undergone such essential alteration that this may almost be considered a new work.”

      In 1808 Mr. Irving obtained the degree of doctor of laws from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in 1810 he married Anna, Dr. Anderson’s eldest daughter, the lady to whom Dr. Leyden’s ‘Elegy on the Death of a favourite Linnet.’ was originally addressed. She died suddenly in 1812, leaving a son.

      In 1820 Dr. Irving was appointed keeper of the library of the Faculty of Advocates. The vacation after his appointment to this office he spent at Gottingen, that he might become acquainted with the manner in which the library of the distinguished university of that city was managed. Though the greater part of his time was now occupied with his official duties, he still devoted a portion of it to literary pursuits. He wrote the biographical notices prefixed to a collected edition of the poems of Alexander Montgomery, author of ‘The Chery and the Slae,’ published in 1821. His minute acquaintance with the early literary history of Scotland, pointed him out as a fit editor for some of those rare old books and manuscripts which the Bannatyne and Maitland clubs were printing for their members. For the Bannatyne club he edited in 1828-29 the two volumes of Dempster’s ‘Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Scotorum; sive de Scriptoribus Scotis,’ to which he contributed a Latin preface; in 1835, ‘Philotus, a comedy, reprinted from the edition of Robert Charteris, 1603;’ and in 1837, ‘Davidis Buchanani de Scriptoribus Scotis. Libri Duo nunc primum Editi.’ For the Maitland club he edited, in 1830, ‘Clariodus, a Matrical Romance,’ printed from a manuscript of the 16th century; and in 1832, ‘The Moral Fables of Robert Henryson,’ a poet of the later part of the 15th century.

      In earlier life Dr. Irving had given private instructions to candidates for admission into the faculty of advocates; and in 1815 he had published, in the form of a pamphlet, ‘Observations on the Study of the Civil Law.’ Successively reprinted and enlarged in 1820 and 1823, it finally appeared, in 1837, in the shape of a goodly volume, bearing the title of ‘An Introduction to the Study of the Civil Law.’ In the same year the university of Gottengen conferred upon its author the degree of doctor of laws.

      Between the years 1830 and 1842, Dr. Irving was a stated contributor to the 7th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, then in course of publication. To that work the three Treatises on the Canon, Civil, and Feudal Law, and most of the biographies of Scottish authors, were contributed by him. With considerable additions, these biographies were published in a separate form in 1839, in 2 volumes, with the title of ‘Lives of Scotish Writers.’

      In 1849, after 29 years’ service, he retired from the librarianship of the faculty of advocates, and was succeeded in that office by Samuel Halkett, Esq. He still continued to prosecute his literary labours. In 1819 he had edited anonymously an edition of ‘Selden’s Table Talk,’ with notes, a new edition of which was published in 1854. His latter years were dedicated to preparing a connected and comprehensive History of Scotish Poetry, from the middle ages to the close of the 17th century. This he left in manuscript, quite ready for the press.

      Dr. Irving died at Edinburgh May 10, 1860. At the disruption of the church of Scotland in 1843 he joined the Free Church, and was an elder of Free St. John’s church, in that city.

      As a scholar Dr. Irving held the highest rank. “With respect to classical literature,” writes Fir William Hamilton, himself one of the most erudite men of his time, “I believe that there are few men in Scotland who possess so critical a knowledge of the ancient authors, or who are so well read in philology.” His acquaintance with the remains of Greek and Roman literature was minute and extensive. He was so finished a Latin scholar that he once offered himself, and with fair prospects of success, as a candidate for the chair of humanity in the university of Glasgow. His study of the Roman jurisprudence in all its branches was extensive and profound. With literary history, foreign and domestic, he was perfectly familiar, from the middle ages down to the close of the century succeeding the Reformation. His knowledge of books was marvellous, and his love of them intense. His private library numbered about 7,000 volumes, many of them rare and valuable.

      Dr. Irving married, a second time, in 1820, Miss Janet Laing, his second cousin, of which marriage a son and a daughter, with the widow, survived.

      His works are:

      Life of Robert Fergusson. Glasgow, 1799, 12mo.

      Lives of Scottish Authors, viz., Fergusson, Falconer, and Russell. Edin. 1801, 12mo.

      Elements of English Composition; treating of purity, propriety, and precision of style; of synonymous words; of the structure of sentences; of clearness and precision, unity, strength, and harmony, in the structure of sentences; of figurative language in general; of personification, apostrophe, hyperbole, comparison, metaphor, and allegory. London, 1801, 12mo. 8th edition, 1828, 12mo. 11th edition, 1841, 12mo. 13th edition.

      Lives of the Scotish Poets, with Preliminary Dissertations on the Literary History of Scotland and the early Scotish Drama. 2 vols. Edin. 1804, 8vo. The biographies here given are those of Thomas Learmont of Ercildon, called “Thomas the Rhymer,” John Barbour, Andrew Winton, King James the First, Henry the Minstrel, Robert Henryson, William Dunbar, Gavin Douglas, Sir David Lindsay, John Bellenden, D.D., Sir Richard Maitland, Alexander Scot, Alexander Arbuthnot, Alexander Montgomery, King James the Sixth, Allan Ramsay, Alexander Ross, A.M., Alexander Geddes, LL.D., Robert Fergusson, and Robert Burns. With Intermediate Sketches.

      Memoirs of the Life and Writings of George Buchanan. Edin. 1807, 8vo. 2d edition, 1817, 8vo.

      Observations on the Study of Civil Law. Edin. 1815, 8vo. 2d edition, 1820, 8vo. 3d edition, 1823, 8v9. 4th edition, much enlarged, with the title of ‘An Introduction to the Study of the Civil Law,’ 1837, 8vo.

      Lives of Scottish Writers. 2 vols. Edinb. 1839, 12mo.

      Various Contributions to 7th edition of the encyclopedia Britannica, particularly three Treatises on the Canon, Civil, and Feudal Law, and Scottish biographies, afterwards separately published. 1830-1842.

      History of Scottish Poetry from the Middle Ages down to the close of the 17th century. Posthumous. With a memoir of the author. 1861, 8vo.

Electric Scotland Note: Comments by Rupert Irving and Dr. M. A. Irving have been received by us but as there appears to be a dispute between them we have elected to remove all comments from each of them from our site.  We would urge them both to make contact with each other to resolve their issues and look forward to receiving a joint statement from them that we can include in here.

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