Blaikie, William Garden (DNB01)

BLAIKIE, WILLIAM GARDEN (1820–1899), Scottish divine, born at Aberdeen on 5 Feb. 1820, was the second son of James Blaikie (1786-1836) of Craigiebuckler, advocate, and provost of Aberdeen from 1833 to 1836, by his wife, the daughter of William Garden, a land surveyor. His aunt, Jane Blaikie, married Alexander Keith (1791–1880) [q. v.] In 1828 he entered the Aberdeen grammar school, then under James Melvin [q. v.] He was one of Melvin's most brilliant scholars, and entered Marischal College in November 1833. His third divinity session (1839-40) was spent at Edinburgh, and in 1841 he was licensed to preach by the Aberdeen presbytery. On 22 Sept. 1842, on the presentation of the Earl of Kintore, he was ordained minister of Drumblade, the early home of Dr. George Macdonald. On 18 May 1843 he signed the deed of demissionand joined the Free Church of Scotland. Most of his congregation seceded with him, and a church was erected for their use.

Early in 1844 Blaikie was invited to undertake a new charge at Pilrig, in the rising district of Leith Walk, Edinburgh. He was inducted on 1 March, and continued there for twenty-four years. During this period he manifested a strong concern for the welfare of the poor. He promoted the foundation and took part in the management of the model buildings which still form a feature of the district. In 1849 he published 'Six Lectures to the Working Classes on the Improvement of their Temporal Condition' (Edinburgh, 16mo), which in 1863 he transformed into 'Better Days for the Working People' (London, 8vo), a publication which attained remarkable popularity, and which was praised by Guizot. The latest edition appeared in 1882. He had also other literary interests. From May 1849 to 1853 he edited 'The Free Church Magazine,' and from 1860 to 1863 'The North British Review.'

In 1868 Blaikie was chosen to fill the chair of apologetics and pastoral theology at New College, Edinburgh, the duties of which he continued to discharge until 1897. His relations with the students were closer and more friendly than those of an ordinary professor, and his practical power of organisation was displayed in the institution of the New College dining-hall. In the general work of the free church he took an ample share, particularly in connection with home mission work, temperance, and church extension. In 1888 he was Cunningham lecturer, choosing as his theme 'The Preachers of Scotland from the Sixth to the Nineteenth Century' (Edinburgh, 1888, 8vo). In 1892 he filled the office of moderator of the general assembly.

In the field of literature Blaikie was equally indefatigable. He edited 'The Sunday Magazine' in 1873 and 1874, and 'The Catholic Presbyterian' from 1879 to 1883. In the field of theology he produced several noteworthy works, but his most important achievements were in the field of biography. His 'Personal Life of David Livingstone' (Edinburgh, 1880, 8vo; 3rd edit. 1882), compiled chiefly from his unpublished journals and correspondence, has been long held in high repute, and his memoir of David Brown (London, 1898, 8vo), the principal of the Free Church College, Aberdeen, is an admirable biography.

In 1864 Blaikie received the honorary degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University, and in 1872 that of LL.D. from the university of Aberdeen. He died on 11 June 1899, at his residence, 2 Tantallon Terrace, North Berwick. On 20 May 1 845 he married Margaret Catherine Biggar. His wife and six children survived him.

Besides the works already mentioned, his principal publications were : 1. 'David, King of Israel,' Edinburgh, 1856, 8vo ; 2nd edit. 1861. 2. 'Bible History in connection with the General History of the World.' London, 1859, 8vo. 3. 'Outlines of Bible Geography,' London, 1861, 8vo. 4. 'Heads and Hands in the World of Labour,' London, 1865, 8vo. 5. 'The Head of the House,' London, 1866, 12mo. 6. 'The Work of the Ministry : a Manual of Homiletical and Pastoral Theology,' London, 1873, 8vo ; 2nd edit. 1878. 7. 'Glimpses of the Inner Life of our Lord,' London, 1876, 8vo. 8. 'The Public Ministry and Pastoral Methods of our Lord,' London, 1883, 8vo. 9. 'Leaders in Modern Philanthropy,' London, 1884, 8vo. 10. 'Robert Rollock, first Principal of the University of Edinburgh,' London, 1884, 8vo (New Biographical Series of the Religious Tract Society, No. 5). 11. 'After Fifty Years ; or. Letters of a Grandfather on occasion of the Jubilee of the Free Church of Scotland,' London, 1893, 8vo. 12. 'Heroes of Israel,' London, 1894, 8vo. 13. 'Thomas Chalmers,' Edinburgh, 1896, 8vo (Famous Scots Series). He edited : 1. 'Memorials of the late Andrew Crichton' [q. v.], London, 1868, 8vo (with Norman Lockhart Walker). 2. 'The Theology and Theologians of Scotland,' by James Walker, Edinburgh, 1872, 8vo ; 2nd edit. 1888. He was the author of a memoir of Islay Burns [q. v.], prefixed to his 'Select Remains' (1874) ; contributed to the 'Pulpit Commentary;' and wrote several of the 'Present Day Tracts.' He also prepared 'The Book of Joshua' for the 'Expositor's Bible' (1893), and was a contributor to the earlier volumes of the 'Dictionary of National Biography.' He was one of the founders of the Alliance of the Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System, which is accustomed to hold triennial pan-presbyterian councils in the British Isles or in America.

[Unpublished reminiscences of Dr. Blaikie, kindly communicated by his son, Mr. W. B. Blaikie ; Scotsman, 12 June 1899 ; Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August 1899.]

E. I. C.