Simpson, Jane Cross (DNB00)

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SIMPSON, Mrs. JANE CROSS (1811–1886), hymn-writer, daughter of James Bell, advocate, was born at Glasgow on 12 Nov. 1811. Educated by her father, she studied the classics as well as the ordinary subjects of a girl's training, and travelled much on the continent. For some years, from 1822 onwards, Bell was assessor and town-clerk of Greenock, when his daughter contributed frequently to the ‘Greenock Advertiser’ under the pseudonym of ‘Gertrude.’ In 1831, as ‘Gertrude,’ she wrote a noteworthy hymn on prayer, ‘Go when the morning shineth,’ for the ‘Edinburgh Literary Journal,’ then edited by her brother, Henry Glassford Bell [q. v.] She also contributed frequently, both in prose and verse, to the ‘Scottish Christian Herald.’ In 1837 she married her half-cousin, J. Bell Simpson, an artist and bibliographer, who was librarian of the Stirling Library, Glasgow, from 1851 to 1860; he published in 1872 ‘Literary and Dramatic Sketches,’ and died on 17 Dec. 1874. After her husband's death Mrs. Simpson resided with her married daughter, Mrs. Napier, successively at Portobello in Midlothian, Newport in Fifeshire, and Aberdeen. In her later years she wrote frequently for ‘Good Words,’ the ‘Christian Leader,’ and other periodicals. She died at Aberdeen on 17 June 1886. She was survived by two daughters out of a family of eight.

Mrs. Simpson published: 1. ‘Piety of Daily Life,’ tales and sketches, 1836. 2. ‘April Hours,’ a poem, 1838. 3. ‘Woman's History,’ 1848. 4. ‘Linda, or Beauty and Genius,’ 1859; 2nd edit. 1884. 5. ‘Household edition of Burns's Works in Prose and Verse, edited by Gertrude,’ 2 vols. 8vo, 1870. 6. ‘Picture Poems, and Linda and other Poems,’ 1879. Her best hymns appeared in Rogers's ‘Lyra Britannica,’ 1867; Martineau's ‘Hymns,’ 1873; Prout's ‘Psalmist,’ 1878; and the ‘Scottish Evangelical Hymnal,’ 1878. Those on prayer, on the death of children, for those at sea, and for use at sea, are deservedly popular. Her longer poems are earnest and graceful.

[Information from Mrs. Simpson's daughter, Mrs. Napier (Aberdeen), and Mr. Beatson (Royal Exchange, Glasgow); Edwards's Modern Scottish Poets, 8th and 9th ser.; Christian Leader, 24 June 1896; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology.]

T. B.