Irving, Joseph (DNB00)

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IRVING, JOSEPH (1830–1891), historian and annalist, born at Dumfries 2 May 1830, was son of Andrew Irving, joiner. After being educated at the parish school of Troqueer, Maxwelltown, on the opposite bank of the Nith from Dumfries, he served an apprenticeship as a printer in the office of the ‘Dumfries Standard;’ subsequently practised as compositor and journalist in Dumfries and Sunderland; was for a time on the staff of the ‘Morning Chronicle,’ London, and in 1854 became editor of the ‘Dumbarton Herald.’ For some years afterwards he was a bookseller in Dumbarton, published a history of the county, and started in 1867 the ‘Dumbarton Journal,’ which was unsuccessful. In 1860 he became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and in 1864 an honorary member of the Archæological Society of Glasgow, to the ‘Transactions’ of which he contributed an important paper on the ‘Origin and Progress of Burghs in Scotland.’ Disposing of his Dumbarton business in 1869 on the death of his wife, who had helped him much in all his undertakings, Irving, after living a few years in Renton, Dumbartonshire, settled in Paisley in 1880, where he wrote for the ‘Glasgow Herald’ and other journals, and did much solid literary work. He was an authority on Scottish history and an excellent reviewer. After some years of uncertain health he died at Paisley 2 Sept. 1891.

Irving's works are as follows: 1. ‘The Conflict at Glenfruin: its Causes and Consequences, being a Chapter of Dumbartonshire History,’ 1856. 2. ‘History of Dumbartonshire from the Earliest Period to the Present Time,’ 1857; 2nd edit. 1859. 3. ‘The Drowned Women of Wigtown: a Romance of the Covenant,’ 1862. 4. ‘The Annals of our Time from the Accession of Queen Victoria to the Opening of the present Parliament,’ 1869 (new edit. 1871), with two supplements from February 1871 to 19 March 1874, and from 20 March 1874 to the occupation of Cyprus, published respectively in 1875 and 1879; a further continuation brings the record from 1879 down to the jubilee of 1887 (Lond. 1889), and Mr. J. Hamilton Fyfe has undertaken a later supplement. 5. ‘The Book of Dumbartonshire: a History of the County, Burghs, Parishes, and Lands, Memoirs of Families, and Notices of Industries,’ a sumptuous and admirable work, 3 vols. 4to, 1879. 6. ‘The Book of Eminent Scotsmen,’ 1882, a compact and useful record. 7. ‘The West of Scotland in History,’ 1885. He also published: ‘Memoir of the Smolletts of Bonhill’; ‘Memoir of the Dennistouns of Dennistoun,’ 1859; and ‘Dumbarton Burgh Records, 1627–1746,’ 4to, 1860. Irving has sterling merits as a local historian, and his ‘Annals’ is a standard work of reference.

[Information from Irving's son, Mr. John Irving, Cardross, Dumbartonshire, and Mr. George Stronach, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh; Glasgow Herald, 5 Sept. 1891.]

T. B.