William Wishart "secundus" (c1692-1753)

From Our History
(Redirected from William Wishart "secundus")
Jump to navigation Jump to search

William Wishart "secundus" (c1692-1753) was Principal of Edinburgh University from 1737 to 1753.


The eldest son of William Wishart "primus" (1660-1729), Principal of Edinburgh University, and Janet Murray (d. 1744). He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1709, and studied for the ministry, possibly under the tutelage of William Hamilton, and was licensed in 1717. After matriculating at Leiden in 1718 in philosophy he returned to Edinburgh.

The Town Council appointed Wishart as Principal in 1736, but he did not immediately take up the position because of a charge of heresy that had been levied against him by the Presbytery, which prohibited him also from taking the post at New Greyfriars Church. The heresy allegation sprang from the some early pamphlets he had written and because he had been the officiating minister of a dissenting congregation in London. He argued successfully against this accusation in the General Assembly and was finally allowed to proceed with his offices.

Wishart was a member of the Rankenian Club, one of the earliest literary clubs in Scotland, as was David Hume (1711-1776). When Hume applied for the post of Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh in 1745, Wishart led the opposition against his appointment, as he favoured William Cleghorn (1718-1754).

As Principal, Wishart was a great defender of Edinburgh University as an institution; he began a Library Fund for the University; and insisted that students should submit a literary thesis as part of their graduation in Arts. He was very interested in the students, even attending some of their classes, and produced inexpensive edited works of the Classics for his students. He wrote and published over the course of his life, several of which continued to be published after his death. Wishart died in Edinburgh in 1753 having gained the reputation of being an important contributor to both the University and to the Church.


  • Minister, Skinner's Close Church within the Tron Parish, Edinburgh c1719
  • Minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow 1724
  • Awarded DD at Glasgow 1730
  • Principal, University of Edinburgh 1737-1754
  • Minister of New Greyfriars, Edinburgh 1738
  • Became a manager of the Poor's Hospital 1743
  • Minister, along with his brother George, of Tron Church, Edinburgh 1744
  • Moderator of the General Assembly 1745


  • Short and Impartial State of the Case of Mr John Simson as it comes before the General Assembly 1729, in a letter to a gentleman, a member of the said assembly. (Edinburgh, 1729)
  • Charity the end of the commandment; or, universal love the design of Christianity. A sermon preach'd at the Old-Jewry, April 19, 1731 (London, 1731)
  • The certain and unchangeable difference betwixt moral good and evil. A sermon preach'd before the Societies for Reformation of Manners, at Salters-Hall; on Monday the 3d of July, 1732 (London, 1732)
  • A Vindication of the Reverend D-- B--y [i.e. Dr. Berkeley], from the scandalous imputation of being author of a late book, intitled 'Alciphron', or the Minute Philosopher. To which is subjoined, the predictions of the late Earl of Shaftsbury concerning that book (London, 1734)<
  • Answers for William Wishart, principal of the College of Edinburgh, to the charge exhibited against him before the rev. synod of Lothian and Tweeddale (Edinburgh, 1738)
  • The principles of liberty of conscience stated and defended: in a letter to a friend (Edinburgh, 1739)
  • Edited Ernesti’s “Preface to Cicero”, (1743)
  • A seasonable warning and exhortation of the Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, met at Edinburgh the 15th November 1745’ (Edinburgh, 1745)
  • Publick virtue recommended. A sermon preach’d in the High-Church of Edinburgh, on Thursday, May 8th, 1746. at the opening of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland’ (Edinburgh, 1746)
  • ‘A letter to the Reverend Dr. Doddridge. Occasioned by his life of Col. Gairdner’ (Edinburgh, 1747)
  • Edited: Florentius Volusenus, ‘De animi tranquillitate dialogus.(Edinburgh, 1751)
  • ‘An essay on the indispensable necessity of a holy and good life to the happiness of heaven’ (London, 1753)
  • ‘Discourses on several subjects’ (London, 1753)


  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)
  • M. A. Stewart, 'Wishart, William (1691/2-1753), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)[[1], accessed 24 Sept 2010]