Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Maclauchlan, Thomas

MACLAUCHLAN, THOMAS (1816–1886), Scottish presbyterian divine and Gaelic scholar, born at Moy, Inverness, in January 1816, was youngest son of James Maclauchlan, minister of Moy. He was educated at the parish school and Aberdeen University, where he graduated M. A. in 1833. After studying divinity at Aberdeen and Edinburgh he was licensed to preach in 1837, and was appointed colleague and successor to his father. During the ecclesiastical disputes which led to the disruption Maclauchin supported the non-intrusionists, and was one of the body of ministers who walked from St. Andrew's Church, where the general assembly of the church of Scotland met, to Tanfield, where the first assembly of the disruption was held (1843). He subsequently visited Canada as a representative of the church. In 1844 he was minister at Stratherrick, Loch Ness, Inverness-shire, and in 1849 at Free St. Columba's, Edinburgh. He was a zealous supporter of the educational work of the free church in the highlands, and in 1850 succeeded Dr. Candlish [q. v.] as convener of committee on highlands and islands. In 1876 he was moderator of the free church assembly. He died at Edinburgh on 21 March 1886.

Maclauchlan took considerable interest in Celtic antiquities and literature, and for his work in this field the university of Aberdeen made him an LL.D. in 1864. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries for Scotland in 1866, served on its council from 1875 to 1878, and was vice-president from 1879 to 1882. He joined in the Ossianic controversy, maintaining that the poems were authentic, though occasionally altered and supplemented by Macpherson; and in 1859 he published at Edinburgh a Gaelic version of Ossian. His claims as a Celtic scholar rest mainly on his 'Book of the Dean of Lismore,' published in Edinburgh in 1862. He not only edited the original, but translated it into English and modern Gaelic. His 'History of the Early Scottish Church,' which appeared in Edinburgh in 1865, sketches the ecclesiastical history of Scotland from the first to the twelfth century. He is the author of the article on 'Gaelic Literature' in the 'Encyclopædia Britannica' (9th edit.) and of the chapter in Keltie's 'History of the Scottish Highlands' (vol. ii.) on 'Gaelic Literature, Language, and Music' His other published works are:

  1. 'The Depopulation system in the Highlands,' 1849; a series of papers contributed to the 'Witness' newspaper.
  2. 'Celtic Gleanings,' Edinburgh, 857; four lectures delivered before Edinburgh University students.
  3. 'The Book of Common Order,' translated into Gaelic, 1878.
  4. Two sermons—'The Way to God' (1868) and 'The Wrath and the Refuge,' sermon as moderator of the free church assembly (1877). He also edited the third edition of Stewart's 'Rudiments of Gaelic Grammar,' Edinburgh, 1876.

[Scotsman, 22 March 1886; Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December 1886; Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries for Scotland, 1886–1887, &c.; Dr. Brown's Annals of the Disruption; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. B. M.