James Esdaile (minister)
James Esdaile (1775–1854) was a Scottish minister and writer who spent his working life mainly at the East Church, Perth, Scotland.
Esdaile began as a tutor in the family of James Christie of Durie. He then studied at the University of St Andrews. He was licensed by the presbytery of Kirkcaldy on 15 June 1803; and was ordained to Montrose, on 14 August 1805. He was admitted as minister in Perth in November 1810.
Esdaile wrote the prominent article "Logic" in the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, divided as Part I pneumatology, part II dialectics. Here "pneumatology" is what now would be called psychology, and was handled in line with the natural theology of the Enlightenment. It proved a source of controversy with Thomas Brown, whom Esdaile accused of plagiarism, based largely on the use of the term "Relationist". It also gave the author's opinion that Francis Bacon's influence on the advances of two centuries in natural philosophy was largely restricted to chemistry. Esdaile was considered a candidate for the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh in 1820, on Brown's death, at least in the eyes of some supporters of the Church of Scotland. In the event John Wilson was elected over the claims of Sir William Hamilton.
Esdaile's theological works were:
- Christian Theology: Or, A Connected View of the Scheme of Christianity (Edinburgh, 1823)
- Apocrypha (Perthshire Bible Society, Perth, 1826);
- Lectures on the Shorter Catechism (Perth, 1829).
Two local controversies generated pamphlet wars:
- A Letter to the Rev. W. A. Thomson: In Answer to His "Reply," &c." (1826). Against William Aird Thomson (1773–1863) of the Middle Parish, Perth.
- Dr. Thomson's two last letters to the editor of the Perthshire Courier, exposing the inconsistencies of Mr. Esdaile, and his doctrine of two standards of the Bible: with remarks on the conduct of the editor, and the notes of "a correspondent", respecting two standards of the pound weight and of the word of God (1829).
- Debate with David Young of Perth, who was the junior minister in the North Church, in which Esdaile maintained the orthodox position in the Voluntary Controversy which ran in Scotland from 1829 to the Disruption of 1843:
- Ecclesiastical establishments opposed alike to political equity and Christian law (1833, Young);
- Civil and Religious Institutions necessarily and inseparably connected (Perth, 1833, Esdaile);
- Reply to the Rev. James Esdaile's examination of the Rev. D. Young's pamphlet on ecclesiastical establishments (1833, Young);
- The Voluntary Church Scheme without Foundation in Scripture, Reason, or Common Sense (Perth, 1834, Esdaile);
- A vindication of scripture, reason and common sense in reply to the Rev. James Esdaile's second pamphlet on establishment (Young);
- The Spirit, Principles, and Reasoning of the Voluntaries Exposed (Perth, 1834, Esdaile).
Esdaile married on 3 December 1805, Margaret Blair (died at Rescobie 24 May 1843), daughter of David Blair of Borgue. Their children were:
- James Esdaile M.D., Presidency Surgeon in Calcutta and author on mesmerism, born February 1808, died at Sydenham 10 January 1859;
- David, D.D., minister of Rescobie, born 6 February 1811, who with his brother James founded the Ministers' Daughters' College;
- John, born 9 December 1813;
- Robert, born 21 November 1816, who emigrated to Canada, and was in business there with his brother John.
- Janet (1818–1819).
- Hew Scott, Donald Farquhar Macdonald, Fasti ecclesiæ scoticanæ; the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation vol. 4 (1915) archive.org.
- A Catalogue of the Graduates in the Faculties of Arts, Divinity, and Law, Of the University of Edinburgh, Since Its Foundation (1858), p. 251; archive.org.
- Remarks on Dr. Brown's Physiology of the Mind (1820)
- Hans Aarsleff (1983). The Study of Language in England, 1780-1860. University of Minnesota Press. p. 92 note. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- The United Presbyterian magazine. 1857. p. 89. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- Church of Scotland. Presbytery of Perth (1860). The Presbytery of Perth: or, Memoirs of the members, ministers of the several parishes within the bounds, from the Reformation to the present time. Mrs. C. Paton. p. 224. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- George Penny (1836). Traditions of Perth, containing sketches of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, and notices of public occurrences, during the last century: interesting extracts from old records; notices of the neighbouring localities of historical interest ... Dewar, Sidey, Morison, Peat, and Drummond. p. 185. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
- John C. Johnston (1887). Treasury of the Scottish Covenant. Andrew Elliot. p. 182. Retrieved 3 May 2012.