Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gowan, Thomas

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GOWAN, THOMAS (1631–1683), writer on logic, was born at Caldermuir, Scotland, in 1631. About 1658 he went to Ireland, and became minister of Glasslough, co. Monaghan, enjoying, though a presbyterian, the tithes and other temporalities like others of his fellow-churchmen at the time. He was one of the sixty-one Ulster ministers ejected in 1661 for nonconformity (Wodrow, i. 325); but although he removed in 1667 to the neighbourhood of Connor, co. Antrim, and supplied that congregation with preaching, besides teaching languages and philosophy, the pastoral tie between him and Glasslough was not loosed till August 1672, when he was installed as minister of Antrim. Here he opened a ‘school of philosophy,’ which in 1674 was taken under the care of the church. A divinity school was added to it in 1675, in which Gowan was assisted by the celebrated John Howe, then chaplain at Antrim Castle. Both of these ministers were allowed, through an arrangement made by Lord Massareene, to officiate in the parish church. Gowan died 13 Sept. 1683, and was buried in Antrim churchyard, where a monument to his memory may still be seen.

He was the author of two treatises on logic, viz. ‘Ars Sciendi, sive Logica novo methodo disposita, et novis præceptis aucta’ (pp. 464, 12mo, London, 1681), and ‘Logica Elenctica, sive summa controversiarum quæ circa materiam et præcepta logicæ agitari solent, in qua etiam novæ aliquot quæstiones tractantur’ (pp. 505, 12mo, Dublin, 1683). Appended to the latter work is a small tract of twelve pages, entitled ‘Elementa Logicæ paucis aphorismis comprehensa, per eundem auctorem.’ He bases his logic, he says, ‘on the systems of Keckerman and Burgersdicius, but more particularly on the logic of Claubergius, and a French work, the “Ars Cogitandi,” by an anonymous author.’ He also appears to have written a book against the quakers (Minutes of Laggan, pp. 237, 246), but there is no record of its having been ever printed, and it is now lost.

[Ware's Writers of Ireland; Reid's Hist. of the Presb. Church in Ireland; Witherow's Memorials of Presb. in Ireland.]

T. H.