From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Magister James Gleig - Schoolmaster - 22nd April 1606



The date of the admission of JAMES GLEIG as a Burgess marks a strange episode in the history of the Burgh. After the office of Master of the Grammar School had been finally resigned by DAVID LYNDESAY, on his appointment as Minister of Dundee (vide page 95), application was made for the post by ROBERT NAIRNE, "ane bairne of the toun," who had been engaged "in the teaching and bringing up of youth" at Linlithgow and St Andrews. He had numerous testimonials and special letters of recommendation to PROVOST SCRYMGEOUR and the BAILIES, and was at once adopted by the ruling party in the Council as a suitable candidate. The Presbytery examined him and reported favourably as to his ability, and he was about to be appointed to the place, when the Crafts, who had begun to feel the PROVOST'S rule irksome, protested against the undue haste with which the matter had been settled, and brought forward as an applicant " Mr JAMES GLEG, ane of the Regents of S. Salvator's College." Like his rival, he " wes ane native bairne of the Burgh," and was willing to undergo an examination as to his qualifications by the Presbytery; but that reverend body, probably desiring to gratify the PROVOST, declined to give any other report than that which they had presented in favour of NAIRNE. In these circumstances, GLEIG desired to retire from the contest, and at the meeting of the Council, on 22nd April, NAIRNE was appointed after a protracted discussion. On this very day the Lockit Book was opened, and the name of Magister JAMES GLEIG inscribed on the Burgess Roll, apparently as a reward for his discretion in retiring. NAIRNE did not long retain the place, for on 18th December, 1610, he was superseded for some undescribed offence, and GLEIG was at length installed as Master of the Grammar School of Dundee. That post he retained with credit and distinction for the succeeding forty three years. During this long period the Council repeatedly made gifts of sums of money to him as tokens of their approbation, and on one occasion (9th August, 1636) they decided that, "knawing he is of present intention to put THOMAS, his eldest son, to the College, of quhom they have good hopes that he may in progress of time prove profitable to the commonweill," they would "freely grant his son ane hundred pounds yearly during his abode in the Philosophy College in St Andrews. "The anticipations of the Councillors in this instance were fully realized, for THOMAS GLEIG rose to be one of the foremost medical men of the time, was associated with the first proposal for a Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, and was regarded as a Latinist of very great ability. The last gift bestowed upon the aged Schoolmaster was an addition of two hundred merks to his stipend in 1649, which was expressly declared to be granted because of "his personal deservings, and long and useful service." He seems to have only survived this date for four years, as a successor was appointed in 1653.
JAMES GLEIG occupied a high position amongst the Scottish Latin scholars of his time, although few of his works have been preserved. The most remarkable of his Latin poems which have come down to us is transcribed amongst the MSS. of SIR JAMES BALFOUR of Demnyln, now in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and is described as having been " written by J. A. GLEGE, Schoolmaster of Dundee, in Appryle 6. 1638." It is entitled Pasquillus contra Episcopos, and is a violent attack upon the Prelates of that period several of them being townsmen of his own. This poem will be found, together with a contemporary translation, in MAIDMENT'S Book of Scotish Pasquits, p. 15..