Kirkwood, James (fl.1698) (DNB00)


KIRKWOOD, JAMES (fl. 1698), Scottish teacher and grammarian, was born near Dunbar. In May 1674 he was acting as tutor or ‘governour’ to Lord Bruce at the college of Glasgow, where he lodged for some time in the same house with Dr. Burnet, and in the same year was offered by Sir Robert Milne of Barntoun, provost of Linlithgow, the mastership of the school in that burgh with a yearly salary of four hundred merks. At first he refused the offer, as he had ‘a good hope of rising to a place of more credit and advantage,’ but on 23 Jan. 1675 he accepted it. After serving for fifteen years, he quarrelled with the magistrates over a suggested reduction of his salary and a refusal on his part to attend the presbyterian ‘meeting-house.’ He was dismissed, and a long litigation ensued. Kirkwood got the better of his employers, who were mulcted in damages to the extent of four thousand merks for forcibly ejecting him and his wife—a Dutch lady, Goletine van Beest—from their house, and throwing his books and papers and Mrs. Kirkwood's fine Dutch furniture into ‘the open and dirty street.’ Kirkwood published an account of the litigation in ‘A Short Information of the Plea betwixt the Town Council of Lithgow and Mr. James Kirkwood, Schoolmaster there, whereof a more full account may perhaps come out hereafter’ [1690], 4to. Among other charges brought against Kirkwood was that he was ‘a reviler of the gods of the people.’ ‘By gods,’ says Kirkwood, ‘they mean the twenty-seven members of the town council.’ Many years afterwards he published ‘The History of the Twenty Seven Gods of Linlithgow; Being an exact and true Account of a Famous Plea betwixt the Town-Council of the said Burgh, and Mr. Kirkwood, Schoolmaster there. Seria Mixta Jocis,’ Edinburgh, 1711, 4to. It was dedicated to Sir David Dalrymple, whose elder brother, the ‘Earl of Stair,’ says the author, ‘not only sent his son, the present earl, to my school at Lithgow, but tabled him in my house.’ The work contains many curious particulars regarding the social and religious state of affairs during the contention for supremacy between the presbyterian and prelatic parties.

Kirkwood left Linlithgow and went, in March 1690, to Edinburgh, where he lived for a year without employment. He then started a school ‘with above sevenscore of noblemen and gentlemen's sons.’ He tells us that he afterwards refused the professorship of humanity in St. Andrews, a call to Duns, another call to be professor of Greek and Latin at Jamestown, Virginia, the mastership of the free school at Kimbolton, and of a free school in Ireland. He also states that he was invited to return to Linlithgow school.

Subsequently Kirkwood became, on the invitation of the Countess of Roxburgh, master of the school at Kelso. Here he was again involved in serious difficulties, which he narrated in ‘Mr. Kirkwood's Plea before the Kirk, and Civil Judicatures of Scotland. Divided into Five Parts,’ London, printed by D. E. for the author, 1698, 4to, dedicated to the Countess of Roxburgh. Kirkwood made a gross attack on the character of the minister, Dr. Jaques, who replied in a ‘Vindication against Master Kirkwood's Defamation.’ Kirkwood sent forth an ‘Answer,’ 4to, without an imprint.

Throughout his pamphlets Kirkwood claims high repute as a grammarian, and in Penney's ‘History of Linlithgowshire’ and Chalmers's ‘Life of Ruddiman’ he is spoken of as the first grammarian of the day. At the suggestion of Lord Stair, president of the court of session, he was consulted by the commissioners for colleges and schools as to the best Latin grammar to be used in Scotland. He pointed out the defects of Despauter, ‘the Priscian of the Netherlands,’ and was requested to edit Despauter's grammar, with the result that in 1695 he produced ‘Grammatica Despauteriana, cum nova novi generis Glossa: cui subjunguntur singula primæ Partis Exempla Vernacule Reddita.’ It was dedicated to the commissioners of schools and colleges, and secured the privy council's privilege for nineteen years. A second edition appeared in 1700, a third in 1711, and a fourth in 1720, all published in Edinburgh. To the fourth edition is appended the note, ‘Cui jam tandem Author postremam apposuit manum.’ The book was superseded by Ruddiman's ‘Rudiments’ (1714). Kirkwood died before 1720, probably at Kelso.

In addition to the works named, Kirkwood was author of: 1. ‘Grammatica facilis, seu nova et artificiosa methodus docendi Linguam Latinam: cui præfiguntur animadversiones in rudimenta nostra vulgaria, et Grammaticam Despauterianam …,’ Glasgow, 1674. 2. ‘Prima pars Grammaticæ in metrum redacta,’ Edinburgh, 1675. 3. ‘Secunda pars Grammaticæ …,’ Edinburgh, 1676. 4. ‘Tertia et quarta pars Grammaticæ,’ Edinburgh, 1676. 5. ‘All the Examples, both Words and Sentences, of the First part of grammar, translated into English by J. K.,’ Edinburgh, 1676. 6. ‘Grammatica delineata secundum sententiam plurium …,’ London, 1677. 7. ‘Rhetoricæ Compendium; cui subjicitur de Analysi Tractatiuncula,’ Edinburgh, 1678.

[Chambers's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (Thomson); Miller's History of Dunbar, pp. 223–4; Waldie's Hist. of Linlithgow; Penney's Linlithgowshire, pp. 78, 215; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. v. 29, 30; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Catalogues of British Museum, Advocates' Library, Trinity College, Dublin, and Aberdeen University.]

G. S-h.