Biography of William Jamieson
William Jamieson Note to Pay Theology Bursary 1691
William Jamieson (Jameson) (fl. 1689-1720), University teacher and religious controversialist, was a theology bursar at the University of Glasgow in 1691. He may also have studied at the University earlier, in 1676. He was appointed lecturer of History in 1692: a position he held for twenty-five years.
William Jamieson, born in the mid-seventeenth century in the Barony of Barochan in Killallan Parish, Renfrewshire, was born blind. This does not seem to have been a barrier for Jamieson as he became a preacher very well respected in academic circles and was known for his great learning.
Jamieson’s intellect was recognised early in his life as he received financial support from local laird William Cunninghame of Craigends who donated considerable funds to support him. William was not from a wealthy family though he was perhaps funded by William Cunninghame and other local lairds to be educated at the University of Glasgow. While at the University, Jamieson received two Theology bursaries for between two and three hundred marks. His blindness was not a barrier to education at the University as examinations were oral. His religious affiliations, as a Presbyterian, did not stand in the way of his studies either as students did not need to swear an oath of allegiance in the Scottish system.
The University appointed Jamieson as a lecturer in History in 1692 for 200 marks per annum and he gave weekly Latin lectures on civil and ecclesiastical history. In December 1692 Jamieson was appointed to give a public lecture on civil history at three o’clock each Thursday in the Common Hall.
A record from 1695 documents the University appealing to the Commission for the Visitation of the Universities to provide William Jamieson with 600 marks per annum, stating that this would be:
“…an act of charitie to a person that has been at such pains to acquire learning, under such outward disadvantages…”
His pay was subsidised by the Crown and increased to £400 Scots in 1696, on the promise of the Visitation that the government would shortly pay the entire amount. This promise was fulfilled in 1705.
Jamieson was a widely respected scholar and wrote a number of works on ecclesiastical history and polemics which continued to be widely read for a century or more including The Fundamentals of the Hierarchy Examined and Disproved (1697) and The Defence of the Church of Scotland (1713).
Jamieson is often referred to as ‘Professor’ though this is not strictly accurate as he did not take part in the administration of the University as a Governor, like other Professors, so his role can be seen as one of the earliest examples of the modern paid lecturer.
William Jamieson died on 20th October 1720.