Macvicar, John Gibson (DNB00)

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MACVICAR, JOHN GIBSON (1800–1884), author, born at Dundee on 16 March 1800, was second son of Patrick Macvicar, minister of St. Paul's, Dundee, by his first wife, Agnes, daughter of John Gibson, minister of Mains, Forfarshire (Hew Scott, Fasti Eccl. Scot. vol. iii. pt. ii. p. 696). After being educated privately he entered in 1814 the university of St. Andrews, where he won a prize for mathematics and the medal for natural philosophy. Then proceeding to Edinburgh he studied chemistry, anatomy, and natural history, besides the ordinary subjects. He was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Dundee, but before receiving a call was appointed in 1827 to a new lectureship in natural history instituted at St. Andrews, which Dr. Chalmers had been instrumental in founding. Here he commenced to form a museum, and lectured vigorously. In 1831 the royal commission recommended the change of the lectureship into a chair. Subsequently he was engaged as assistant to Dr. Candlish [q. v.] in St. George's parish, Edinburgh. In 1839 he became pastor of a newly established branch of the Scottish church in Ceylon. He came home on furlough in 1852, and in July 1853 was inducted into the parish of Moffat, Dumfriesshire, on the presentation of John James Hope Johnstone of Annandale. There he died on 12 Feb. 1884. On 2 Jan. 1840 he married Miss J. R. Macdonald of Kinlochmoidart, Inverness-shire, granddaughter of Dr. William Robertson the historian. She survived him, together with a large family. He was D.D. of Edinburgh and LL.D. of St. Andrews.

While a student at Edinburgh Macvicar contributed a paper 'On the Germination of Ferns' to vol. x. of the 'Transactions of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society,' and a description of 'A Double-stroke Completely Exhausting Air-pump' to the 'Edinburgh Philosophical Journal,' In 1828 he was appointed editor of the 'Quarterly Journal of Agriculture,' started under the auspices of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. He also issued:

  1. 'Elements of the Economy of Nature; or the Principles of Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1830; 2nd edit. 8vo, London, 1856.
  2. 'Inquiries concerning the Medium of light and the Form of its Molecules,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1833.
  3. 'On the Beautiful, the Picturesque, and the Sublime,' London, 8vo, 1837; reproduced as 'The Philosophy of the Beautiful With Illustrations,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1855.
  4. 'The Catholic Spirit of True Religion,' 1840.
  5. 'An Inquiry into Human Nature,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1853, his best-known work, written in Ceylon.
  6. 'The First Lines of Science Simplified, and the Structure of Molecules Attempted,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1860.
  7. 'A Sketch of a Philosophy,' four parts, 8vo, London, 1868–74.
  8. 'A Science Primer. On the Nature of Things With Illustrations,' 8vo, Edinburgh, 1878;

afterwards embodied in

  1. 'A Supplement to "A Sketch of a Philosophy,"' 8vo, London, 1881.

[Scotsman, 13 Feb. 1884, p. 9; Athenæum, 16 Feb. 1884, p. 220.]

G. G.