Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Reverend John Jamieson, D.D. (March 3, 1759 – July 12, 1838) was a Scottish lexicographer, son of a minister, born in Glasgow.
He was educated at the University of Glasgow, and subsequently attended classes at the University of Edinburgh After six years' theological study, Jamieson was licensed to preach in 1789 and became pastor of an Anti-burgher congregation in Forfar, Angus; and in 1797 he was called to the Anti-burgher church in Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. The union of the Burgher and Anti-burgher sections of the Secession Church in 1820 was largely due to his exertions. He retired from the ministry in 1830, spending the rest of his life in Edinburgh.
Dr Jamieson had a strong literary bias and keen interest in antiquarian research. His name stands at the head of a tolerably long list of works in the Bibliotheca britannica; but by far his most important book is the laborious and erudite compilation, best described by its own title-page:
An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language [i.e. Lowland Scots, not Scottish Gaelic]; illustrating the words in their different significations by example from Ancient and Modern Writers; shewing their Affinity to those of other Languages, and especially the Northern; explaining many terms which though now obsolete in England were formerly common to both countries; and elucidating National Rites, Customs and Institutions and their Analogy to those of other nations; to which is prefixed a Dissertation on the Origin of the Scottish Language.
This appeared in 2 vols quarto, at Edinburgh in 1808, followed in 1825 by a Supplement, in 2 vols., quarto, in which he was assisted by scholars in all parts of the country. A revised edition by Longmuir and Donaldson was issued in 1879-1887. These volumes remained the reference work of choice regarding the Scots language until the publication of the Scottish National Dictionary in 1931.
Jamieson was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, of the American Antiquarian Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. In 1789, he published Sermons of the Heart, and around the same time authored a pamphlet on the African slave trade entitled, The Sorrows of Slavery.
In 1781, Dr Jamieson married Charlotte, daughter of Robert Watson, Esq., of Easter Rhind, Perthshire, and had seventeen children, of whom only two daughters and one son survived. His son, Robert Jameson, Esq., advocate, became a distinguished member of the Faculty of Advocates.
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