Weir, William (DNB00)

WEIR, WILLIAM (1802–1858), journalist, was born in 1802 at Mount Hamilton in Ayrshire. His father, who was Mr. Oswald's ‘factor,’ died in 1804; his mother married again, and Mr. Oswald acted as his guardian, sending him to Ayr academy, which he left in August 1817 with the reputation of being ‘talented, honourable, kind-hearted, somewhat eccentric, and a most rapacious reader.’ His education was completed at the university of Göttingen. He became a member of the Scottish bar on 27 Jan. 1827. He was the first editor of the ‘Glasgow Argus’ (Glasgow Citizen, September 1858), and, removing to London, he contributed to the ‘Spectator.’ Many articles in the ‘Penny Cyclopædia’ and in Knight's ‘London’ were from his pen, and he wrote the chapter on manners during the reign of George III in the ‘Pictorial History of England’ (Knight, Passages of a Working Life, ii. 229, 259, 263).

Weir joined the editorial staff of the ‘Daily News’ when it was founded in 1846, and succeeded Frederick Knight Hunt [q. v.] in 1854 as editor. After a few days' illness he died on 15 Sept. 1858. Under his editorship the ‘Daily News’ flourished, the ‘Times’ writing after his death that he had conducted it in a way which ‘made it a worthy representative of the English press.’ The ‘Globe’ wrote ‘that he was master of the library of Europe;’ the ‘Athenæum’ that ‘in the ranks of literature there was not a nobler or more unassuming soldier than he;’ and the ‘Spectator’ that ‘his death is a public loss.’ He was credited by the ‘Glasgow Citizen’ with writing good verse as well as prose. The infirmity of deafness prevented him from playing a more conspicuous part in public life.

[Private information.]

F. R.