Ross, John Merry (DNB00)


ROSS, JOHN MERRY (1833–1883), Scottish writer, was the only child of humble parents in Kilmarnock, where he was born on 21 April 1833. He was educated at the academy there, and in 1851 he entered the university of Glasgow, where ‘he devoted more time to English literature than to the Greek and Roman classics,’ and won the prize for the poem in the class of logic and rhetoric. While at the university he wrote an essay on Philip James Bailey's ‘Festus’ for Hogg's ‘Instructor.’ On leaving the university he entered the divinity hall of the united presbyterian church, but at the close of the third session discontinued his theological studies, and in 1859 was appointed sub-editor of Chambers's ‘Encyclopædia.’ He also at the same time assisted his wife in the management of a school for young ladies in Edinburgh, and in 1866 he was appointed by the town council senior English master of the royal high school.

Ross contributed lives of Milton (1856) and of Cowper (1863) to Nimmo's series of English poets, and in 1872 published an annotated edition of selected portions of Milton for use in secondary schools. He contributed a number of lives to the ‘Imperial Dictionary of Biography,’ and also projected and edited the ‘Globe Encyclopædia,’ 1876–9. In 1874 he received the degree of LL.D. from the university of Glasgow, and in 1875 he was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He died on 2 Feb. 1883. During the later years of his life he had been engaged in the preparation of a work on ‘Scottish History and Literature to the Period of the Reformation,’ which was published posthumously in 1884, with a biographical sketch of the author by James Brown, D.D. Although not displaying much independent research, it is of value as a summary of the characteristics of the principal Scottish writers, viewed in relation to the history of the nation.

[Biographical sketch appended to his Scottish Hist. and Literature; obituary notices in Scotsman and Academy.]

T. F. H.