Wylie, James Aitken (DNB00)

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WYLIE, JAMES AITKEN (1808–1890), protestant writer, son of James Wylie and his wife, Margaret Forrest, was born at Kirriemuir on 9 Aug. 1808. He was educated at the parish school, and for three years was a student at Marischal College, Aberdeen, completing his arts course by a session at St. Andrews under Thomas Chalmers [q. v.] In 1827 he entered the Original Secession Divinity Hall in Edinburgh, and attended the classes of Thomas McCrie (1772–1835) [q. v.], the biographer of Knox. In 1828 Wylie was one of eleven divinity students who, with twenty-one ministers and seven probationers of the original secession synod, ‘renewed the covenants’ in Edinburgh. He was licensed on 1 Dec. 1829, and he was ordained at Dollar on 20 April 1831. In 1846 he became sub-editor (under Hugh Miller [q. v.]) of the Edinburgh ‘Witness,’ in which eight hundred of the leading articles from 1846 to 1864 were from his pen. In 1851 he obtained the Evangelical Alliance prize of 100 guineas for his work, ‘The Papacy: its History, Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects.’ In 1852 he joined the Free Church of Scotland, and became editor of the ‘Free Church Record,’ a post which he held for eight years. In 1856 he received the degree of LL.D. from Aberdeen University. In 1857 he secured a prize of 150l. for a competitive essay on ‘The Gospel Ministry: the Duty and Privilege of supporting it.’ In 1860, on the foundation of the Protestant Institute, Wylie was appointed lecturer on popery, and this appointment he held for thirty years. On the occasion of his jubilee in 1881 he was presented with his portrait—now in the Protestant Institute—and a sum of 300l. In 1882, at the age of seventy-four, he took a tour in Egypt and Palestine. He died in Edinburgh on 1 May 1890, and his remains were interred in Newington cemetery. In 1842 Wylie married Euphemia Gray, who died in 1846. He was survived by two daughters.

Wylie devoted his life in every possible way to ‘the exposure of papal errors and the clear and fervid counter exposition of the principles of the Reformation.’

Besides the works cited above, he was the author of: 1. ‘The Modern Judea,’ Glasgow, 1841, 12mo. 2. ‘Scenes from the Bible,’ Glasgow, [1844], 12mo. 3. ‘A Journey over the Region of Unfulfilled Prophecy,’ Edinburgh, 1845, 12mo, 4. ‘Ruins of Bible Lands,’ London, 1845, 12mo. 5. ‘Pilgrimage from the Alps to the Tiber,’ Edinburgh, 1855, 8vo. 6. ‘Wanderings and Musings in the Valleys of the Waldenses,’ London, 1858, 8vo. 7. ‘Tercentenary of the Scottish Reformation,’ Edinburgh, 1860, 8vo. 8. ‘The Great Exodus,’ London, 1863, 8vo. 9. ‘Home and Civil Liberty,’ Edinburgh, 1864, 8vo. 10. ‘The Awakening of Italy and the Crisis of Rome,’ London, [1866], 8vo. 11. ‘The Seventh Vial,’ London, 1868, 8vo. 12. ‘The Road to Rome viâ Oxford,’ London, 1868, 8vo. 13. ‘The Household Bible Dictionary,’ Glasgow, 1870, 2 vols. 8vo. 14. ‘The Impending Crisis of the Church and the World,’ London, 1871, 8vo. 15. ‘Daybreak in Spain,’ London, [1872], 8vo. 16. ‘The History of Protestantism,’ London, 1874–7, 3 vols. 8vo. 17. ‘The Papal Hierarchy,’ London, 1878, 8vo. 18. ‘The Jesuits,’ London, 1881, 8vo. 19. ‘Egypt and its Future: a Visit to the Land of the Pharaohs,’ London, 1882, 8vo. 20. ‘Over the Holy Land,’ London, 1883, 8vo. 21. ‘Which Sovereign: Queen Victoria or the Pope?’ London, 1887, 8vo. 22. ‘History of the Scottish Nation,’ London, 1886–1890, 3 vols. 8vo. Wylie also edited Howie's ‘Scots Worthies’ (1875), ‘Life and Missionary Travels of the Rev. J. F. Ogle’ (1873), and ‘Disruption Worthies’ (1881). Many of the above works ran through more than one edition.

[Free Church of Scotland Monthly (with portrait), 1 Aug. 1890; Scotsman, 2 May 1890; Allibone's Dictionary; Brit. Mus. Cat.; information supplied by Miss Wylie.]

G. S-h.