William John Watson (1865-1948)

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Professor of Celtic, 1914-1938

Early Life

William John Watson was born in 1865 and was the son of a blacksmith in Easter Ross. He studied at Aberdeen University, graduating with the degree of M.A., a Classical First. He was Rector of the Royal Academy in Inverness, 1894 to 1909, and then Rector of the Royal High School, Edinburgh, from 1909 until 1914.

Celtic Scholar

As a native speaker of Gaelic he was also interested in Celtic Studies and to the revival of Gaelic teaching in Scotland. In 1914 Watson was appointed Professor of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities at Edinburgh University, a post which he held until 1938.


Watson's publications include Place names of Ross and Cromarty (1904), Gaelic prose (1915), Gaelic poetry (1918), History of the Celtic place-names of Scotland (1926), and Scottish verse from the book of the Dean of Lismore (1937).