Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drysdale, John

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DRYSDALE, JOHN, D.D. (1718–1788), Scottish divine, third son of the Rev. John Drysdale, by Anne, daughter of William Ferguson, was born at Kirkaldy on 29 April 1718, and educated at the parish school in that town. Among his schoolfellows was Adam Smith, with whom he formed a friendship which was preserved throughout life. In 1732 he proceeded to the university of Edinburgh, where he read classics, philosophy, and theology, but took no degree. In 1740 he took orders in the established church of Scotland. For some years he officiated as assistant to the Rev. James Bannatyne, minister of the college church, Edinburgh, and in 1748 he obtained, through the interest of the Earl of Hopetoun, the living of Kirkliston in Linlithgowshire, of which the presentation was in the crown. In 1762 he was presented by the town council of Edinburgh to Lady Yester's Church. A lawsuit took place upon his appointment, the House of Lords ultimately deciding against the claim of the ministers and elders to have a joint right with the council. The call was sustained in the general assembly, even by the opponents of the claim, and Drysdale was admitted 14 Aug. 1764. On 15 April 1765 he received from Marischal College, Aberdeen, the diploma of D.D. In 1767 he vacated Lady Yester's Church to succeed Dr. John Jardine as one of the ministers of the Tron Church, Edinburgh. He was afterwards preferred, on the recommendation of Dr. Robertson, the eminent historian, to a royal chaplaincy, to which was attached one-third of the emoluments of the deanery of the Chapel Royal. In 1773 he was elected moderator, and in 1778 assistant-clerk, of the general assembly, of which in 1784 he was re-elected moderator, and, by the death of Dr. Wishart in the following year, became principal clerk. He died on 16 June 1788 at his house in Princes Street, Edinburgh. In ecclesiastical politics Drysdale belonged to the ‘moderate’ party. He was reputed a master of pulpit eloquence. He married the third daughter of William Adam, architect, and was survived by his wife and two daughters, the eldest of whom married Andrew Dalzel [q. v.], professor of Greek in the university of Edinburgh, who edited two volumes of his father-in-law's sermons, with a highly laudatory biography prefixed, Edinburgh, 1788, 8vo.

[Gent. Mag. 1788, p. 565; Life by Dalzel; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Scott's Fasti, i. 60, 63.]

J. M. R.