BLAIR, HUGH: Church of Scotland; b. in Edinburgh Apr. 7, 1718; d. there Dec. 27, 1800. He studied in the local university; became minister of Colessie, Fifeshire, 1742; second minister of the Canongate Church, Edinburgh, 1743; minister of Lady Yester's 1754; was transferred to the High Church 1758. From 1759 he lectured in the University so acceptably on rhetoric and belles-lettres, that in 1760 he was appointed the town council professor in that department, and from 1762 to 1783 was the royal professor; when on resigning he published his lectures (2 vols.) he became one of the most famous authors of works on rhetoric in the English language and retained the position for a century. In 1780 he received a pension of £200 a year. To his own generation he was a most acceptable preacher and his sermons continued to be read and to be translated far into the nineteenth century. Their simplicity, excellent style, and high morality account for their vogue, but their lack of depth in thought and spirituality have caused them to lose popularity.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sketches of Blair's life were appended to vol. v of his sermons by J. Finlayson, London, 1801; consult also John Hill, An Account of the Life and Writings of H. Blair, Edinburgh, 1807; DNB, v, 160-161.
BLAIR, JAMES: Virginia colonial Episcopal clergyman; b. in Scotland in 1656; d. at Williamsburg, Va., Apr. 18, 1743. He was graduated M.A. at Edinburgh in 1673; became a clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland and was rector of Cranston in the diocese of Edinburgh. In the latter part of the reign of Charles II he went to England and was persuaded by Dr. Compton, bishop of London, to emigrate to Virginia, where he arrived in 1685; he was minister of Henrico parish till 1694, at Jamestown till 1710, and at Williamsburg the rest of his life. In 1689 he was appointed by the bishop of London commissar, for Virginia, the highest church office in the colony, the duties of which were practically those of a bishop exclusive of ordination. After 1793 he was member of the colonial Council and for many years its president. He was a man of sterling character and great ability, and worked with persistent zeal and energy to promote the religious and material welfare of Virginia. He did much to elevate the character of the colonial clergy. With several of the governors he had bitter disputes and was influential in securing their removal. He was founder and first president of William and Mary College, for which he procured a charter in England in 1693, and which he made a success in spite of great difficulties and discouragements. He published four volumes containing 117 sermons on Our Savior's Divine Sermon on the Mount (London, 1722) and with Henry Hartwell and Edward Chilton prepared The Present State of Virginia and the College (London, 1727).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: D. E. Motley, The Life of Commissary James Blair, in Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, series xix, no. 10, Baltimore, 1901; DNB, v, 161-162.
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