Prof. John Stuart Blackie

1809 - 1895

Classical scholar. Born in Glasgow, Blackie was the son of a banker who soon gained the post of manager at the Commercial Bank in Aberdeen. It was therefore there that the young Blackie was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Marischal College (University of Aberdeen), before proceeding to the University of Edinburgh. He then studied divinity at Aberdeen, was persuaded to study abroad (at Göttingen, Berlin and Rome) by his father until he was old enough to preach, but his interests were diverted by classical texts. He was appointed the first Regius Professor of Humanities at Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1839 but controversy ensured this appointment was not confirmed until 1841. He applied for the Chair of Greek at the University of Edinburgh but the competition was strong and Blackie was only appointed on the casting vote of Lord Provost Duncan McLaren (1800-86). He became known as a charismatic teacher, giving popular lectures on many subjects, and published widely on language, history, philosophy and the law. Blackie promoted Scottish identity, nationalism and the Gaelic language. He also promoted reform within the Scottish universities, modernising the curriculum, bringing in new subjects, raising standards and introducing tutorial teaching. Almost single-handedly he raised the immense sum of £12,000 to endow a Chair of Celtic at Edinburgh. He also sought reforms within school teaching. He retired in 1882.

Blackie was held in great esteem by the people of Edinburgh, such that his funeral brought the city to a standstill. He lies buried in Dean Cemetery. He left a collection of books and letters to he University of Edinburgh.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better