best known as author of ‘The Sabbath, viewed in the light of Reason, Revelation, and History,’ which was published in 1861, and rapidly gained favour. He had it in hand for twenty years, and expended on it an enormous amount of labour. In 1866 the university of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of D.D. In 1869 he demitted the charge of his congregation, and went to reside at Portobello, near Edinburgh, where he died on 28 Jan. 1874.
[Obituary notices; United Presbyterian Magazine, September 1874.]
GILFILLAN, ROBERT (1798–1850), Scotch poet, was born 7 July 1798 at Dunfermline, and was the son of a master weaver. In 1811, on the removal of the family to Leith, Gilfillan was there apprenticed to a cooper, whom he served, with a somewhat languid interest, for seven years. For three years after 1818 he was a grocer's shopman in Dunfermline, mingling freely with contemporaries interested like himself in literature, and receiving generous appreciation of his growing poetical gift. This time he considered the happiest part of his life. Returning to Leith he was successively clerk to a firm of oil and colour merchants, confidential clerk to a wine merchant, and collector of police rates. This last post he held from 1837 till his death, 4 Dec. 1850. During the same period he was grand bard to the grand lodge of freemasons in Scotland, being in this respect a successor of Burns. Gilfillan never married, and a niece reared under his care kept house for him in his latter years.
Beginning his poetical career in local newspapers while still an apprentice, Gilfillan speedily came to be recognised as a genuine Scottish singer. Favourable references to him in the ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ,’ and especially to his ‘Peter m'Craw,’ a clever humorous satire of 1828, induced him to publish, and he issued a small volume of ‘Original Songs’ in 1831. Two other enlarged editions appeared in his lifetime, and several of his best songs were aptly set to music by Peter m'Leod. Gilfillan contributed in his later years to the ‘Dublin University Magazine’ and the ‘Scotsman,’ and also to the Scottish anthology, ‘Whistle-Binkie.’ After his death a collective edition of his works (1851), with a prefatory biography, was prepared by William Anderson (1805–1866) [q. v.] Besides ‘Peter m'Craw,’ Gilfillan's best songs are his touching ‘Fare thee well’ and his plaintive and melodious emigrant's song, ‘Why left I my Hame?’ which instantly won and retained a wide popularity.
[Anderson's Scottish Nation, and edition of Gilfillan's Poems; Whistle-Binkie; Wilson's Poets and Poetry of Scotland.]
GILFILLAN, SAMUEL (1762–1826), secession minister, son of a merchant in the village of Bucklyvie, Stirlingshire, was born there on 24 Nov. 1762. He was the youngest of a family of fifteen children. In his early years he displayed great fondness for reading, and the habit was encouraged by his mother, with a view to his entering upon the work of the ministry. In November 1782 he went to the university of Glasgow, passed through the arts course, and afterwards studied theology under Professors William Moncrieff of Alloa and Archibald Bruce of Whitburn, of the antiburgher secession church. During his period of study Gilfillan maintained himself principally by teaching. He was licensed to preach by the associate presbytery of Perth in June 1789, and shortly afterwards received calls from the congregations at Barry in Forfarshire, and Auchtergaven and Comrie in Perthshire. The synod sent him to Comrie, a small village in the upper part of Strathearn, and he was ordained on 12 April 1791.
In July 1793 he married Rachel, eldest daughter of the Rev. James Barlas of the adjacent parish of Crieff, known for her beauty and other charms as ‘the star of the north.’ Gilfillan himself was a handsome man of stately bearing. His income was at first 50l. a year, and his congregation numbered only sixty-five members. Within a few years his popularity doubled that number, but his stipend never reached 100l. The Gilfillans managed on this to bring up a large family and educate three sons for the ministry. Gilfillan preached with much success both in Gaelic and English. His son says that he had ‘little logical faculty,’ but a powerful memory, a lively fancy, and a power of moving the hearts of his hearers. He was a strict Calvinist.
His published writings, most of which had been used as sermons, include numerous articles contributed to the ‘Christian Magazine,’ a periodical conducted by ministers of his church, which, says Hugh Miller, ‘was not one of the brightest of periodicals, but a sound and solid one’ (My Schools and Schoolmasters, p. 543). His articles were signed ‘Leumas’ (Samuel reversed). A number of these were included in 1822 in a volume of ‘Short Discourses on various important subjects for the use of families.’ His ‘Essay on the Sanctification of the Lord's Day,’ published in 1804, passed through ten English editions, and was translated into various foreign languages. Another small treatise on ‘Domestic Piety’ was published in 1819,