Patterson, John Brown (DNB00)

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PATTERSON, JOHN BROWN (1804–1835), divine, born at Alnwick, Northumberland, on 29 Jan. 1804, was son of Robert Patterson of Croft House, Alnwick, who died while John was a child. His education devolved therefore upon his mother, a daughter of John Brown of Haddington (1722–1787) [q. v.], editor of the ‘Self-Interpreting Bible.’ Mrs. Patterson was with her children in Edinburgh from 1810 to 1814, and her son attended a classical academy there. From 1815 to 1818 they lived in Haddington, Patterson making rapid progress in scholarship. Then they returned to Edinburgh, and for a year he was at the high school, under James Pillans [q. v.], achieving singular distinction.

From 1820 to 1824 Patterson studied in the arts classes of Edinburgh University, excelling both in the class-rooms and the debating society, and displaying an unusual facility in composing Greek and Latin hexameters, and creditable English verse. Completing at Edinburgh his course for the ministry of the church of Scotland, he secured in 1827 the prize of one hundred guineas offered by the commissioners for visiting the universities and colleges of Scotland for an essay ‘On the National Character of the Athenians and the Causes of those Peculiarities by which it was distinguished.’ This essay, which is marked by learning and considerable literary merit, was published in 1828.

In the spring of that year Patterson became tutor to Lord Cranstoun, whom he accompanied to Oxford. His diary and letters of this time exhibit an earnestness and wisdom remarkable in so young a man. At the Christmas recess of 1828–9 he was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Kirkcudbright; in 1829 he was presented to the vacant parish of Falkirk, and he was ordained to his charge by the presbytery of Linlithgow on 26 Feb. 1830. Here he proved himself an able, faithful, and zealous pastor. He died of overwork at his mother's house in Edinburgh on 29 June 1835, and was buried in the vestibule of Falkirk parish church. He was survived by his widow—a daughter of George Atkin of Morpeth, Northumberland—and an infant son.

Contributions which Patterson made to periodicals while he was between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four displayed true literary instinct and vigour of intellect. In 1824–5 he provided classical translations for Williams's ‘Views in Greece;’ he contributed the memoir of Dr. John Brown to a Glasgow edition of the ‘Self-Interpreting Bible;’ he edited ‘Beauties of Jeremy Taylor,’ with introductory essay, in 1835, and he furnished notes to the ‘Self-Interpreting Bible’ of 1836. His main literary achievement is the university prize essay on the Athenians, which was reissued, with a memoir, in 1860. Patterson's discourses, with prefatory biography, were published in two volumes in 1837. A volume of ‘Lectures on St. John xiv.–xvi.’ appeared in 1840, 2nd edit. 1859.

[Memoirs as in text; information from Patterson's son, Mr. R. J. B. Patterson, Langside, Glasgow.]

T. B.