Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boyd, Robert (1578-1627)

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BOYD, ROBERT, of Trochrig (1578–1627), theological writer, was the eldest son of James Boyd, archbishop of Glasgow, great-grandson of Robert Boyd (d. 1469) [q. v.], and owner of an estate in Ayrshire, which is variously spelled Trochrig, Trochridge, and Trochorege. He was connected by birth with the noble family of Cassilis, and enjoyed a good social position. He studied at the university of Edinburgh, taking his divinity course under Robert Rollok, first principal of the university, for whom he had an extraordinary reverence and affection. The profound religious impressions made on him under Rollok led him to associate himself with the earnest presbyterians of the day. In compliance with the custom of the times he went abroad to complete his studies, and in 1604 was chosen pastor of the church at Verteuil, and in 1606 professor in the university of Saumur, both in France. Along with the duties of the chair he discharged the office of a pastor in the town, and was afterwards called to the chair of divinity. While at Saumur he married a French young lady, though he had always the hope of returning to his native country. The university of Saumur had been founded some years before by the celebrated Philip de Mornay (Seigneur du Plessis-Mornay), with whom, as with many more of the eminent men whom the reformed church of France then possessed, he was on terms of intimacy.

The fame of Robert Boyd having reached the ears of King James, he offered him the principalship of the university of Glasgow. In 1615 Boyd removed to Glasgow, to the great loss and sorrow of the people and professors of Saumur; in addition to the duties of principal he had to perform those of a teacher of theology, Hebrew, and Syriac, and those also of preacher to the people of Govan. 'His exemplary holiness,' says his earliest biographer, Dr. Rivet, 'singular learning, admirable eloquence; his gravity, humility, unaffected modesty, and extraordinary diligence, both in his ecclesiastical and scholastical employment, above the rate of ordinary pastors and professors, drew all to a reverence, love, and esteem for, and many even to an admiration of him.' Boyd delivered extemporaneous lectures in Latin with all the flow and elegance of a written discourse. His preaching at Saumur in French had been admired by the natives. In his lectures, all his quotations from the Greek fathers, which were very frequent and sometimes very long, were repeated by heart. He himself used to say that, if he were at liberty to select a language for his public discourses, he would choose Greek, as the most appropriate to express his thoughts.

As it was known to the bishops that Boyd was not in favour of the 'five articles of Perth,' he began to experience annoyance. The mind of the king was poisoned against him, and in 1621 he resigned the principalship and retired to the family house of Trochrig. But, being invited by the magistrates and people of Edinburgh in 1622 to be principal of the university there and one of the ministers of the city, he accepted the invitation. The king, on hearing this, reproved the magistrates for the appointment, and ordered them not only to deprive him of his office, but to expel him from the city unless he should conform absolutely to the articles of Perth. As Boyd refused to comply with this condition, he was deprived and expelled accordingly. Afterwards he had some hope of being restored to his office in Glasgow, and was induced to sign a qualified declaration of conformity. But, after all, the appointment was given to another. In 1626-7 he was called to be minister of Paisley, but owing to disturbances fomented by a bitter enemy, the Marchioness of Abercorn, who had recently gone over to the church of Rome, he was obliged to leave Paisley. In 1627, on a visit to Edinburgh, he was seized with his last illness, and died there, in much bodily pain but great mental serenity, in the forty-ninth year of his age.

Boyd's chief work was a large and very elaborate 'Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians,' published after his death. Dr. Walker thus describes it in his 'Theology and Theologians of Scotland:' 'A work it is of stupendous size and stupendous learning. Its apparatus criticus is something enormous. . . . Much more properly it might be called a theological thesaurus. You have a separate discussion of almost every important theological topic.'

Boyd excelled in Latin poetry, and his 'Hecatombe ad Christum Salvatorem' was included by Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet in his 'Delicias Poetarum Scotorum.' This was afterwards reprinted at Edinburgh by the well-known naturalist, Sir Robert Sibbald, M.D., nephew of Dr. George Sibbald, who married Boyd's widow.

[Life of Robert Boyd by Dr. Rivet, prefixed to Bodii Praelectiones in Epist. ad Ephes. 1652; Wodrow's Life of Mr. Robert Boyd of Trochrig (Maitland Club), 1848.]

W. G. B.