Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boyd, James

BOYD, JAMES, LL.D. (1795–1856), schoolmaster and author, the son of a glover, was born at Paisley on 24 Dec. 1795. After receiving his early education partly in Paisley and partly in Glasgow, he entered Glasgow University, where he gained some of the highest honours in the humanity, Greek, and philosophical classes. After taking his degrees of B.A. and M.A., he devoted himself for two years to the study of medicine, but abandoned this pursuit; entered the divinity hall of the university of Glasgow, and was licensed to preach the gospel by the presbytery of Dumbarton in May 1822. Towards the close of that year he removed to Edinburgh, where for three years he maintained himself by private tuition. In 1825 he was unanimously chosen house governor in George Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh. The university of Glasgow conferred on him the honorary degree of doctor of laws.

Boyd became classical master in the high school of Edinburgh 19 Aug. 1829. The largely attended classes which he always had decisively proved the public estimate of his merits. For many years before his death he held the office of secretary to the Edinburgh Society of Teachers. He died at his house, George Square, Edinburgh, on 18 Aug. 1856, having nearly completed an incumbency of twenty-seven years in the high school. He was interred at New Calton, Edinburgh, on 21 Aug. The affectionate respect which all his pupils entertained towards Boyd is evinced by the number of clubs formed in his honour by his classes. In the Crimea, during the Russian war, two 'Boyd clubs' were formed by British officers in acknowledgment of their common relation to him as their preceptor. Within two months after his death a medal, to be named the Boyd medal, and to be annually presented to the 'dux' of the class in the high school taught by Boyd's successor, was subscribed for at a meeting held in Edinburgh by his friends and pupils. He married on 24 Dec. 1829 Jane Reid, eldest daughter of John Easton, merchant, Edinburgh, by whom he was the father of nine children.

Boyd's literary talents were confined to the editing of classical and other school books. They include: 'Roman Antiquities,' by A. Adams, 1834, which was reprinted fifteen times during the editor's lifetime; 'Q. Horatii Flacci Poemata,' by C. Anthon, 1835, which passed through three editions; 'Archæologia Græca,' by J. Potter, Bishop of Oxford, 1837; 'Sallustii Opera,' by C. Anthon, 1839; 'Select Orations of Cicero,' by C. Anthon, 1842; 'A Greek Reader,' by C. Anthon, 1844; 'A Summary of the Principal Evidences of the Christian Religion,' by B. Porteus, Bishop of London, 1850; and 'The First Greek Reader,' by Frederic Jacobs, 1851.

[Colston's History of Dr. Boyd's Fourth High School Class, with biographical sketch of Dr. Boyd, 1873; Dalgleish's Memorials of the High School of Edinburgh (1857), pp. 31, 46-7, with portrait.]

G. C. B.