Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/155

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


REV. DR. JAMES MACKNIGHT. 525

Stewart of Gerrard Street, Soho, sister to the Messieurs Stewart, formerly pro- prietors of the " Morning Post," by whom he had issue a son, who died in in- fancy, and three daughters viz., Mary, married to Claudius James Rich, Esq., of Bombay Maitland, married to W. Erskine, Esq. and Catherine, mar- ried to Sir W. Wiseman, Bart. Mrs Mackintosh died in 1797. He was after- wards married to Catharine, daughter of J. B. Allen, Esq. of Cressella, in Pembrokeshire. By this lady, who died at Chesne, near Genoa, on the 6th May, 1830, he had one son and a daughter; viz., Robert Mackintosh, Esq., B.A., fellow of New College, Oxford; and Frances, married to H. Wedgewood, Esq., Staffordshire.

MACKNIGHT, (Dr) JAMES, a learned scriptural commentator, was born on the 17th of September, 1721. His father, Mr William Macknight, minister at Irvine, was a native of Ireland, where his ancestors, descended from the family of M'Naughtane, in the Highlands of Scotland, had resided for more than a century. Mr William Macknight early displayed very popular talents as a preacher ; and having, it is said, accidentally officiated in the chui-ch of Irvine, sometime after the death of the former incumbent, he gave so much satisfaction to the hearers, that, in consequence of a general wish expressed by the parish- ioners to the patron, he was soon appointed to supply the vacant charge. In this situation he continued during life, universally esteemed for genuine piety, purity of morals, and integrity of character.

Mr James Macknight, the subject of this memoir, received the rudiments of education at the school of Irvine; and about the age of fourteen, was sent to the university of Glasgow, where he studied with great approbation from his teach- ers, on account of his diligence and proficiency. The notes he then took from the lectures on logic and moral philosophy, before he was sixteen, still remain among his papers, and afford remarkable indications of the same acuteness and soundness of judgment, which afterwards characterized his theological writings.

Having completed the usual course of academical discipline at Glasgow, Mr Macknight went to Leyden, in order to prosecute the study of theology, to which he had shown an early attachment. While he remained in Holland, he had an opportunity of procuring many valuable books, written by foreign divines, which afterwards assisted his own labours in explaining Scripture. After his return to Scotland, having received from the presbytery of Irvine a license to preach the gospel, he was chosen to officiate at the Gorbals, a district of Glasgow ; a situation which at that time could be held by a licentiate of the church, before being ordained to the pastoral function. On this occasion, one of the candidates was Mr Robert Henry, afterwards the well known historian of Great Britain. It chanced that the gentlemen Avho were thus placed in competition with each other at the commencement of life, were at last, after an interval of many years, associated as colleagues in the charge of the Old Church parish of Edinburgh.

From the Gorbals, Mr Macknight went to Kilwinning, in consequence of an invitation from Mr Fergusson, then minister of that place ; and acted for some time as his assistant in the charge of the parish. Here he conducted himself with such propriety, that his character began to be established ; and on the death of Mr Fisher, at Maybole, he obtained the vacant living there, with the con- curring wish of the heritors and people. Of this charge, accordingly, he was ordained as minister, on the 10th of May, 1753. At Maybole, Mr Macknight continued sixteen years ; and discharged the duties of the pastoral office with such assiduity and kindness, that, when he left it, he carried with him the affec- tions and regret of all his flock. It may be mentioned, as a pleasing evidence of attachment, that when he proposed accepting a presentation to the living of Jedburgh, many respectable inhabitants of the parish of Maybole, joined toge-