William Robertson

Robertson, William, D.D., a distinguished divine, was born in Dublin, 16th October 1705. He was educated chiefly at Glasgow University, where he remained three years. Alone he withstood the Rector in some matters relating to the privileges of the students, and was expelled; but, bringing the question before the Government, he procured a committee of inquiry, and was triumphantly reinstated, the Rector being dismissed. In 1727 he received deacon's orders, and was appointed to the livings of Tullow and Rathvilly, producing about £200 a year. The system of tithes appeared to him so troublesome, wasteful, and cumbrous, that he published a treatise advocating their abolition, and the substitution of a fixed tax upon land — thus anticipating by more than one hundred years the system of tithe-rent charge. He married in 1728, and for a time had the cure of St. Luke's parish, Dublin. In 1759, from conscientious motives, he declined further advancement in the Church, and omitted the Athanasian Creed from his services, and in 1764 resigned all his preferments. He published a tract entitled An Attempt to Explain the words of Reason, Substance, Person, Creeds, Orthodoxy, Catholic Church, Subscription, and Index Expurgatorius. In 1767 the University of Glasgow, on receipt of a copy of this work, conferred upon him the degree of DD. Next year he was appointed master of the Free Grammar School of Wolverhampton, and there he passed the remainder of his days. In 1772 he was one of a committee of ministers who petitioned Parliament that clergymen on their ordination should be relieved from the necessity of subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles and Book of Common Prayer. Living with almost Spartan frugality on a salary of some £40 a year, he survived all his children. He died 20th May 1783, aged 77, and was interred in the parish churchyard of Wolverhampton.


146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.