Moreland Cottage – Professor John Thomson (1765-1846)


Professor John Thomson (1765-1846)
John Thomson was a most remarkable man. Lord Cockburn, who noted
his death on 11 October 1846, at Moreland, wrote:

He began life as a weaver, in Paisley; and ended it, after extensive practice, as a retired professor in the University of Edinburgh, and the most learned
physician in Scotland. To almost his last week he was a hard student,
and not even fourscore years could quench his ardour in discussing
science, morals, or politics! He was a discerning and attached patron of
youthful and friendless merit, and was rewarded by his fruits. There are
men who owe their rise to him, and who bless his memory, all over the
world. Though he did nothing in 1793 and 1794 [during the French
Revolution] but express his Whig opinions boldly, this was enough to
bring him within the proscription of that reign of terror, and to fix him
in his principles, which he was most useful in promoting throughout his
subsequent life. He was one of the marked men of that resolute and
public-spirited class which is now rapidly disappearing, and to which
Scotland owes so much. His peculiar usefulness arose neither from his
talents, his learning, his warmth of heart, nor his steadiness of principle,
but from his enthusiasm. He never knew apathy, and medicine being his
field, he was for forty years the most exciting of all our practitioners and
of all our teachers. Was a right principle, or a right institution, or a right
man, in danger – especially, was any of them in danger from
indifference, get Thomson. He made them blaze. Men, especially young
men of promise, were inspired by his zeal and his confidence in the
triumph of truth. The dullest professor was made ashamed or, if this
was impossible, was properly abused. The most brutish town-council
was defied and spoken true of. John Thomson was always the star.

Journal of Henry Cockburn, being a continuation of the Memorials of his
time 1831-1854, Edinburgh, Edmonston and Douglas, 1874, vol 2, pages