John Caird (theologian)

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John Caird

Black and white photograph of John Caird, seated wearing a graduation gown
Born(1820-12-15)15 December 1820
Greenock, Scotland
Died30 July 1898(1898-07-30) (aged 77)
Greenock, Scotland
OfficePrincipal of the University of Glasgow (1873–1898)
Isabella Glover
(m. 1858)
RelativesEdward Caird (brother)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Presbyterian)
ChurchChurch of Scotland
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
InfluencesG. W. F. Hegel
Academic work
School or traditionBritish idealism
InstitutionsUniversity of Glasgow
Notable worksAn Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (1880)

John Caird[a] FRSE (1820–1898) was a Scottish theologian. He entered the Church of Scotland, of which he became one of the most eloquent preachers. He served as the Principal of the University of Glasgow from 1873 until 1898.


He was born in Greenock on 15 December 1820, the son of John Caird of Caird and Co. and Janet Young. His younger brother was Edward Caird.

He was educated at Greenock Grammar School, and then attended the University of Glasgow (MA 1845).

After being a minister at Newton-on-Ayr, at Lady Yester's Church, Edinburgh (1847–1849), and at Errol, Perthshire (1849–1857), Caird was transferred to Park Church, Glasgow (1857–1862). He married Isabella Glover in 1858.

In 1862 he became Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow, and in 1873, following the death of Thomas Barclay,[1] became Principal of the university, a post he held for 26 years, until 1898.[2]

The University of Glasgow made him a Doctor of Divinity in 1860 and the University of Edinburgh awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1884.

A sermon on Religion in Common Life, preached before Queen Victoria, made him known throughout the Protestant world. He wrote An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (1880), and Spinoza (1888).[3]

Caird delivered the 1892–1896 Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow, entitled The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity.

In 1897 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

He died on 30 July 1898 in Greenock and is buried in Greenock Cemetery.[2]


  1. ^ Pronounced /kɛərd/.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Bayne, Thomas Wilson (1901). "Caird, John" . Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Alexander Hill
Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
William Purdie Dickson
Preceded by
Thomas Barclay
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
of the University of Glasgow

Succeeded by
Robert Story
Preceded by
Max Müller
Gifford Lecturer at the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
Alexander Balmain Bruce