Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Maccall, William

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MACCALL, WILLIAM (1812–1888), author, born at Largs, Ayrshire, on 23 Feb. 1812, was eldest son of John Maccall, a tradesman of good position, by his wife, Elizabeth Murdoch. He was destined for the presbyterian ministry, and entered Glasgow University in 1837, graduating M.A. in 1833, He then passed two years in a theological academy at Geneva, but, becoming a unitarian, he joined the ministry of that church. He officiated at Bolton, Lancashire (1837–1840), and Crediton, Devonshire (1841–6). Coming to London in 1846, he lived first at 4 Carburton Street, and preached, lectured, and wrote for the press. John Stuart Mill gave him introductions to the 'Spectator' and the 'Critic;' he also wrote for the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' Afterwards he lived in various suburbs of London, and in 1861 settled at Bexley Heath, where he died on 19 Nov. 1888. He had married on 3 March 1842 Alice, daughter of John Haselden of Bolton. She died on 17 April 1878, and left one daughter, Elizabeth. Maccall, whose life was a long struggle with poverty, was a good linguist, and was of independent character. He knew Carlyle, and perhaps derived from his writings those principles of individualism, which were the basis of his system of ethics. He published

  1. 'The Agents of Civilization,' London, 1843, 12mo.
  2. 'The Education of Taste,' 1846, 8vo.
  3. 'The Elements of Individualism,' 1847, 8vo.
  4. 'National Missions,' 1855, 8vo.
  5. 'Foreign Biographies,' 2 vols. 1873, 8vo.
  6. 'The newest Materialism,' 1873, 8vo.
  7. 'Russian Hymns,' 1879, 8vo. A collection of anti-Russian ballads.
  8. 'Christian Legends,' 1881, 8vo.
  9. 'Moods and Memories,' 1885, 8vo. A volume of verses.

He also translated Letourneau's 'Biology,' London, 1877, 8vo, and pamphlets.

[Information kindly furnished by John Burbidge, esq.; Works; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

W. A. J. A.