Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pope, Alexander (d.1782)

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POPE or PAIP, ALEXANDER (d. 1782), minister of the church of Scotland, was the son of Hector Paip of Loth, Sutherlandshire. He was educated at the university and King's College, Aberdeen, where he graduated M.A. 15 April 1725. A contribution was recommended to be made for him by the synod in 1720, to enable him to prosecute his studies with the purpose of entering the ministry of the national church. On 28 July 1730 he was elected session clerk and precentor of Dornoch, where probably he was also a schoolmaster. He is said to have in the summer of 1732 ridden on his pony from Caithness to Twickenham to visit his namesake the poet Pope, who presented him with a copy of the subscribers' edition of his ‘Odyssey,’ in five volumes, and a handsome snuff-box. If the date of a letter of the poet's to him, 28 April 1728 (Pope, Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope), be correct, the visit took place some time before 1728, but not improbably the date should be 1738. In it the poet refers to the ‘accidental advantage which you say my name has brought you,’ which would seem to indicate that there was no blood relationship between them.

Pope was licensed as a preacher of the kirk of Scotland by the presbytery of Dornoch, 19 Feb. 1734, and having been unanimously called to the church of Reay, Caithness-shire, was ordained there on 5 Sept. He was remarkably successful in reforming the habits of the semi-barbarous population of the parish, his great bodily strength being an important factor in enabling him to win their respect and deference. He is said to have enlisted some of the worst characters as elders, in order that they might be the better induced to curb their vicious tendencies; and he was accustomed to drive to church with a stick those of his parishioners whom he found playing at games on Sundays. He died on 2 March 1782. By his first wife, Mary Sutherland, he had three sons; and by his second wife he had also three sons, the youngest of whom, James, became his assistant. He translated a large part of the ‘Orcades’ of Torfæus, extracts from which are published in Cordiner's ‘Antiquities.’ He also wrote the account of Strathnaver and Sutherland in Pennant's ‘Tour,’ and a description of the Dune of Donadilla in vol. v. of ‘Archæologia.’

[New Statistical Account of Scotland; Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scot. iii. 367; Pope's Works.]

T. F. H.