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William Neilson (1774 - 1821):
Teacher and writer

William Neilson was born in Rademon, County Down, and was educated in his father's school, Patrick Lynch's Irish school at Loughinisland, and Glasgow University. He became a schoolmaster and later a Presbyterian minister in Dundalk, where he opened his school, the Classical and Mercantile Academy, which admitted children of every religion and class. He often preached in Irish and in 1805 was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity by the University of Glasgow. While a student he had written an English grammar, Elements of English Grammar Expressed in Easy Language, which became a textbook in English schools and his Greek Exercises in Syntax, Ellipsis, Dialects, Prosody and Metaphrasis passed through eight editions in forty-two years. Among his other works are an abridgment of Begley's and McCurtin's English - Irish Dictionary; An Introduction to the Irish Language (specifically County Down Irish); Greek Idioms; and Elementa Linguae Graecae. In 1810 he published, Cead Leabhar na Gaoidheilge. He was Moderator of the General Synod of Ulster at the age of thirty-one and a member of the Royal Irish Academy. In 1818 he moved to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where he was appointed headmaster of the Classical School and Professor of Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Irish and Oriental Languages. He was a member of Belfast Literary Society and served as its President from 1809 to 1820, and as a dedicated musician he revived the Harp Society. He was a leading member of the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge. In 1821 he learned that he had been appointed Professor of Greek at Glasgow University, but died before he could take up the post.

Born: 12 September 1774
Died: 7 April 1821
Kate Newmann