1855 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Gillespie

Charles Rogers, in Modern Scottish Minstrel (1855-57) 2:137.



WILLIAM GILLESPIE was born in the manse, of Kells, in Galloway, on the 18th February 1776. His father, John Gillespie, minister of Kells, was the intimate friend of Robert Burns; and likewise an early patron of John Low, the ingenious, but unfortunate author of Mary's Dream. Receiving the rudiments of education at the parish school, William proceeded, in 1792, to the University of Edinburgh, to prosecute his studies for the Church. Obtaining license as a probationer, he was, in 1801, ordained assistant and successor to his father, on whose death, in 1806, he succeeded to the full benefits of the charge. Inheriting from his father an elegant turn of mind and a devotedness to literary composition, he was induced to publish, in his twenty-ninth year, an allegorical poem, entitled The Progress of Refinement. A higher effort from his pen appeared in 1815, under the title of Consolation, and other Poems. This volume, which abounds in vigorous sentiment and rich poetical description, evincing on the part of the author a high appreciation of the beauties of nature, considerably extended his reputation. He largely contributed to various periodicals, especially the agricultural journals; and was a zealous member of the Highland Society of Scotland.

In July 1825, he espoused Miss Charlotte Hoggan. Soon after this event, he was attacked with erysipelas, a complaint which, resulting in general inflammation, terminated his promising career on the 15th of October, in his fiftieth year.