GLEIG, GEORGE (1753–1840), Scottish divine, was born at Boghall, Kincardineshire, on the 12th of May 1753, the son of a farmer. At the age of thirteen he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, where the first prize in mathematics and physical and moral sciences fell to him. In his twenty-first year he took orders in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was ordained to the pastoral charge of a congregation at Pittenweem, Fife, whence he removed in 1790 to Stirling. He became a frequent contributor to the Monthly Review, the Gentleman’s Magazine, the Anti-Jacobin Review and the British Critic. He also wrote several articles for the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and on the death of the editor, Colin Macfarquhar, in 1793, was engaged to edit the remaining volumes. Among his principal contributions to this work were articles on “Instinct,” “Theology” and “Metaphysics.” The two supplementary volumes were mainly his own work. He was twice chosen bishop of Dunkeld, but the opposition of Bishop Skinner, afterwards primus, rendered the election on both occasions ineffectual. In 1808 he was consecrated assistant and successor to the bishop of Brechin, in 1810 was preferred to the sole charge, and in 1816 was elected primus of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, in which capacity he greatly aided in the introduction of many useful reforms, in fostering a more catholic and tolerant spirit, and in cementing a firm alliance with the sister church of England. He died at Stirling on the 9th of March 1840.
Besides various sermons, Gleig was the author of Directions for the Study of Theology, in a series of letters from a bishop to his son on his admission to holy orders (1827); an edition of Stackhouse’s History of the Bible (1817); and a life of Robertson the historian, prefixed to an edition of his works. See Life of Bishop Gleig, by the Rev. W. Walker (1879). Letters to Henderson of Edinburgh and John Douglas, bishop of Salisbury, are in the British Museum.
His third and only surviving son, George Robert Gleig (1796–1888), was educated at Glasgow University, whence he passed with a Snell exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford. He abandoned his scholastic studies to enter the army, and served with distinction in the Peninsular War (1813–14), and in the American War, in which he was thrice wounded. Resuming his work at Oxford, he proceeded B.A. in 1818, M.A. in 1821, and, having been ordained in 1820, held successively curacies at Westwell in Kent and Ash (to the latter the rectory of Ivy Church was added in 1822). He was subsequently appointed chaplain of Chelsea hospital (1824), chaplain-general of the forces (1844–1875) and inspector-general of military schools (1846–1857). From 1848 till his death on the 9th of July 1888 he was prebend of Willesden in St Paul’s cathedral. During the last sixty years of his life he was a prolific, if not very scientific, writer; he wrote for Blackwood’s Magazine and Fraser’s Magazine, and produced a large number of historical works.
Among the latter were (besides histories of the campaigns in which he served), Life of Sir Thomas Munro (3 vols., 1830); History of India (4 vols., 1830–1835); The Leipsic Campaign and Lives of Military Commanders (1831); Story of the Battle of Waterloo (1847); Sketch of the Military History of Great Britain (1845); Sale’s Brigade in Afghanistan (1847); biographies of Lord Clive (1848), the duke of Wellington (1862), and Warren Hastings (1848; the subject of Macaulay’s essay, in which it is described as “three big bad volumes full of undigested correspondence and undiscerning panegyric”).