Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Maccormick, Joseph

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MACCORMICK, JOSEPH (1733–1799), Scottish divine, son of John Maccormick, a minister at St. Andrews, was born in that town 22 Jan. 1733. He graduated M.A. at St. Andrews University in 1750 and was granted a bursary in theology from the university exchequer in the same year. After serving for some years as tutor in the Hepburn family he entered in 1756 upon trials before the presbytery of Dalkeith; this body found itself unable to overlook Maccormick's attendance at a theatre, but it gave him a testimonial to the presbytery of Edinburgh, by which he was licensed 30 March 1757, and ordained minister of Kilmany 17 April 1758. He was presented by Robert Hepburn of Bands to the living of Temple in 1760, and while there had the degree of D.D. conferred upon him by his university of St. Andrews. Transferred to Prestonpans, through the favour of Janet, countess of Hyndford, in 1771, he edited there 'The State Papers and Letters addressed to [his grand-uncle] William Carstarea … to which is prefixed the Life of William Caratares,' 4to, Edinburgh, 1774, The valuable documents included in this collection had come into the bands of Charles Macky, professor of civil history in the university of Edinburgh, OS trustee to Mrs. Carstares,' by him they were entrusted to Maccormick, who also received from Macky some materials for the 'Life.' Prefixed to the 'Letters' are memoirs of the correspondents taken from the manuscript of 'The Characters of the Court of Great Britain,' in the Earl of Hyndford's library [see Macky, John]. In May 1782 Maccormick was elected moderator of the general assembly, and in the following July was presented by George III to the charge of St. Leonards in his native presbytery, in conjunction with the principality of the United College of St. Andrews, he was appointed one of the deans of the Chapel Royal on 19 July 1788, and died at Edinburgh on 17 June 1799. He married, on 7 May 1770, Mary (d. 1822), daughter of Joseph Simson, a Bristol merchant. The only son, Joseph, became an advocate, while of the three daughters, the youngest, Elizabeth, married the Rev. William Ferrie, professor at St. Andrews and author of a 'Life of Rev. Colin Carslaires.'

Maccormick's own 'Life' of his grand-uncle, which has been extensively used by Kippis and by subsequent biographers of the secretary to William III, is ably constructed. The writer, who was a stranger to the severity which many thought proper to his profession, left many good sayings, though Alexander Carlyle [q. v.] says of him in his autobiography that he was 'rather a merry-andrew than a wit.'

(St. Andrews University Register; Hew Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, pt. i. pp. 308, 352, 396, pt. iv. pp. 400. 493: Scott's Journal. il. 340; Cent. Mag. 1793, ii. 622; Scots Mag. vols. l. and lxi.]

T. S.