Howie, John (DNB00)

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HOWIE, JOHN (1735–1793), author of 'Scots Worthies,' was born on 14 Nov. 1735 at Lochgoin, about two miles from Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. Tradition derives him from one of three brothers Huet, who came from France as persecuted Albigenses in the twelfth century, and settled respectively in the parishes of Mearns and Craigie, and at Lochgoin. Several generations of Howies farmed Lochgoin, and staunch devotion to religious freedom was a family characteristic. Owing to his father's death Howie lived from childhood to early manhood with his maternal grandparents on the farm of Blackshill, Kilmarnock, and attended two country schools.

About 1760 Howie married and became farmer of Lochgoin. The soil of Lochgoin did not demand incessant work, and Howie devoted his leisure to literary pursuits, gradually forming a small library, and collecting antiquarian relics chiefly connected with the covenanters. His miscellaneous collection included specimens of typographical work by Barker, the early newspaper printer, and Captain Paton's sword and bible, besides a flag and a drum, and various manuscripts connected with the covenanting cause. His health had never been robust, and he died on 5 Jan. 1793, and was buried in Fenwick churchyard. His first wife, Jean Lindsay, having borne him a son, died of consumption, and he married again in 1766 his cousin, Janet Howie, by whom he had five sons and three daughters.

Howie's 'Scots Worthies,' first published in 1774, contains short, pithy biographies of Scottish reformers and martyrs from the Reformation to the English Revolution. Though somewhat intolerant, he is throughout severely earnest and candid. He revised and enlarged the work, 1781-5, and this edition was reissued, with notes by W. McGavin, in 1827. In 1870 the Rev. W. H. Carslaw revised Howie's text and published it, with illustrations and notes, and a short biographical introduction; and in 1876 a further illustrated edition appeared, with biographical notice compiled from statements made by Howie's relatives, and an introductory essay by Dr. R. Buchanan. 'A Collection of Lectures and Sermons by Covenanting Clergymen' was issued by Howie in 1779, with a quaint introduction by himself. He edited in 1780 Michael Shields's 'Faithful Contendings Display'd,' an account of the church of Scotland between 1681 and 1691; wrote on the Lord's Supper, patronage, &c., and prefaced and annotated various religious works of ephemeral interest.

[Biographies prefixed to editions of Scots Worthies mentioned in the text; Irving's Eminent Scotsmen.]

T. B.