Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dunlop, William (1649?-1700)

DUNLOP, WILLIAM, the elder (1649?–1700), principal of the university of Glasgow, born about the middle of the seventeenth century, was son of the Rev. Alexander Dunlop, A.M., minister of Paisley, and his second wife, daughter of William Mure of Glanderstoun. Both parents had suffered by imprisonment from the privy council on account of their sympathy with the covenanter party. The family had a wide and close connection with the more prominent presbyterians. Dunlop devoted himself to the ministry, became a licentiate of the church of Scotland, and for a time acted as tutor in the family of Lord Cochrane. At this time he was employed to carry to the army of the Duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth a declaration of the complaints and aims of the more moderate presbyterians. With a party of his countrymen, eager to find a home of freedom across the Atlantic, he emigrated to Carolina in North America, where he remained till after the revolution of 1688, and where he seems to have combined the functions of soldier and chaplain, having become major of a regiment of militia. On his return from America he got the offer first of an appointment as minister of Ochiltree, and second of the church of Paisley. Almost at the same time the office of principal of the university of Glasgow falling vacant in 1690, William III gave him the appointment, feeling himself indebted both to him and to his brother-in-law, Mr. (afterwards Principal) Carstares.

As principal he was distinguished by his zealous efforts on behalf of the university, for which, in its dilapidated condition, he succeeded in getting a little aid from the king. He was a director of the celebrated Darien Company, in which the university had invested 500l. of their funds; and his experience in Carolina as a planter enabled him to render some service in mitigating the disasters which overtook the company. Dunlop continued to take a lively interest in the church. After his appointment as principal he received ordination, and the position of a minister of Glasgow without charge or emolument. In 1694 he was commissioned by the general assembly, along with Mr. Patrick Cumming, minister of Ormiston, to congratulate the king on his return from the continent, and in 1695 to prepare an address to his majesty on the death of the queen. As a further mark of royal favour he was appointed historiographer for Scotland in 1693.

In the very prime of life he died in March 1700, leaving behind him, says Mr. Denniston of Denniston, 'a name distinguished by the rarely united excellencies of an eminent scholar, an accomplished antiquary, a shrewd merchant, a brave soldier, an able politician, a zealous divine, and an amiable man.' To use the words of Wodrow, 'his singular piety, great prudence, public spirit, universal knowledge, general usefulness, and excellent temper, were so well known that his death was as much lamented as perhaps any man's in this church.' A biographer of his son says of him: 'He had a greatness of spirit that few could equal. He gave proof of it in that undaunted resolution and fortitude of mind with which he bore the persecutions and hardships to which he was exposed for conscience sake, and which sent him as an exile as far as the American plantations; where, while he abode, he was the great support of his countrymen and fellow-sufferers who went along with him.' He had two distinguished sons, Alexander, professor of Greek in the university of Glasgow; and William, professor of church history in the university of Edinburgh, both of whom are separately noticed. An account of the shire of Renfrew, published by the Maitland Club, is the only extant production of his pen.

[Wodrow's Hist.; The Genealogies of Dumbartonshire; Chambers's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen.]

W. G. B.