Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Symington, William (1795-1862)

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SYMINGTON, WILLIAM (1795–1862), divine, younger brother of Andrew Symington [q. v.], was born at Paisley on 2 June 1795. Having early devoted himself to the ministry, at the age of fifteen he entered the university of Glasgow. After the usual four years' course in arts, he attended for another four years the theological hall of the reformed presbyterian church, then under the charge of the Rev. John Macmillan, the third of that name in the ministry at Stirling. He was licensed to preach on 30 June 1818. Called to Airdrie and Stranraer, he accepted the latter, and was ordained there on 18 Aug. 1819. He was popular and successful; many belonging to other denominations and from different parts of Galloway attended the services of the Cameronian meeting-house, and a new church was erected in 1824. He received the degree of D.D. from the university of Edinburgh on 20 Nov. 1838. On 5 March 1839 he was called to Great Hamilton Street reformed presbyterian church, Glasgow, to succeed the Rev. D. Armstrong, and was inducted on 11 July of that year. Here also large audiences gathered to hear him, his Sunday-evening lectures being especially popular. He took a deep interest in bible circulation, home and foreign missions, and other religious movements. One of his missionaries in Glasgow was John G. Paton, D.D., afterwards of New Hebrides. On the death of his brother Andrew in 1853, William was chosen to succeed him as professor of theology in the reformed presbyterian church. The pastorate in Glasgow was still retained, but in March 1859 his eldest son, William, then minister in Castle-Douglas, was inducted as colleague and successor in the ministry. He died on 28 Jan. 1862, and was buried in the necropolis of Glasgow.

In the denomination with which he was connected Dr. Symington exercised for some years a predominant influence. He was a man of noble presence and winning manners, and a speaker of great power and persuasiveness.

He was the author of:

  1. ‘The Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ;’ 2nd edit. Edinburgh, 1834, 8vo.
  2. ‘Messiah the Prince;’ 2nd edit. Edinburgh, 1840, 8vo.
  3. ‘Discourses on Public Occasions,’ Glasgow, 1851, 12mo, besides several tracts and sermons.

He also edited Scott's ‘Commentary on the Bible,’ 1845–9, 4to, and Stephen Charnock's ‘Chief of Sinners,’ 1847, 12mo, besides contributing a life of Charnock to ‘Christian Biography,’ 1853, 12mo.

[Reformed Presbyterian Mag. 1862, pp. 81–9; Funeral Sermon by James m'Gill; Anderson's Scottish Nation.]

T. B. J.