Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
William John Watson, Rector 1895 to 1909
EXTERNAL ID
PC_ROYALACADEMY_004
PLACENAME
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
PERIOD
1890s; 1900s
SOURCE
Inverness Royal Academy
ASSET ID
29925
KEYWORDS
people
rectors
teachers
schools
publishing
books
William John Watson, Rector 1895 to 1909

William J Watson was the fourteenth Rector of Inverness Royal Academy. The school was founded in 1792, replacing a former grammar school in the town. He was the last Rector to serve in the original building (still standing) in Academy Street, and the first to serve in the new building opened in 1895 in the Crown area of the town.

Watson was born in Kindace, Easter Ross, in 1865, and was a native Gaelic speaker. He was educated at the local school and the Grammar School of Old Aberdeen, before getting a scholarship to King's College, part of Aberdeen University. He gained a first class honours degree in classics and the Gold Medal for the best Latin scholar of the session in 1886. A further degree followed from Merton College, Oxford, where he also earned a 'blue' for shot put. A 'Blue' is an award earned for competing at the highest level of university sport at Oxford or Cambridge.

His teaching career started at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow. He was appointed to Inverness Royal Academy in 1895. The various candidates for the post of Rector were given a recent report on the state of the school written by George Bruce, the resigning Rector, and were asked to comment. Watson was appointed on the casting vote of the Chairman, and became the first native Gaelic speaker to serve as Rector.

He soon persuaded the Directors that girls and boys should be educated together, as classes in the Academy Street building were segregated. He introduced Gaelic classes for pupils in 1903, and tried to have Gaelic introduced as a subject in the recently-established Leaving Certificate Examinations. With the help of other staff and some pupils he produced his first major book, The Place-names of Ross and Cromarty, in 1904. School sports were introduced, and were held for the first two years in the Northern Meeting Park.

Watson was appointed as Rector of the Royal High School in Edinburgh in the summer of 1909 at probably twice the salary he earned in Inverness. From 1914 until 1938 he was Professor of Celtic at Edinburgh University, as he was by then a leading scholar in Celtic Studies. His best-known book, The History of Celtic Place-names of Scotland, was published in 1926. He also edited books of Gaelic prose (Rosg Gàidhlig, 1915) and poetry (Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig, 1918), and was general editor of the series Leabhraichean Sgoile Gàidhlig (c. 1920-1923). He also founded the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, and was honorary secretary of the Gaelic Society of Inverness for 44 years, and at various times secretary and president of the Inverness Field Club.

He died in 1948, aged 83, and is buried in Tomnahurich Cemetery in Inverness. He regarded that town as his 'spiritual home'.

(thanks to Robert Preece for this information)

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

William John Watson, Rector 1895 to 1909

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

1890s; 1900s

people; rectors; teachers; schools; publishing; books

Inverness Royal Academy

Inverness Royal Academy (photographs)

William J Watson was the fourteenth Rector of Inverness Royal Academy. The school was founded in 1792, replacing a former grammar school in the town. He was the last Rector to serve in the original building (still standing) in Academy Street, and the first to serve in the new building opened in 1895 in the Crown area of the town.<br /> <br /> Watson was born in Kindace, Easter Ross, in 1865, and was a native Gaelic speaker. He was educated at the local school and the Grammar School of Old Aberdeen, before getting a scholarship to King's College, part of Aberdeen University. He gained a first class honours degree in classics and the Gold Medal for the best Latin scholar of the session in 1886. A further degree followed from Merton College, Oxford, where he also earned a 'blue' for shot put. A 'Blue' is an award earned for competing at the highest level of university sport at Oxford or Cambridge.<br /> <br /> His teaching career started at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow. He was appointed to Inverness Royal Academy in 1895. The various candidates for the post of Rector were given a recent report on the state of the school written by George Bruce, the resigning Rector, and were asked to comment. Watson was appointed on the casting vote of the Chairman, and became the first native Gaelic speaker to serve as Rector.<br /> <br /> He soon persuaded the Directors that girls and boys should be educated together, as classes in the Academy Street building were segregated. He introduced Gaelic classes for pupils in 1903, and tried to have Gaelic introduced as a subject in the recently-established Leaving Certificate Examinations. With the help of other staff and some pupils he produced his first major book, The Place-names of Ross and Cromarty, in 1904. School sports were introduced, and were held for the first two years in the Northern Meeting Park. <br /> <br /> Watson was appointed as Rector of the Royal High School in Edinburgh in the summer of 1909 at probably twice the salary he earned in Inverness. From 1914 until 1938 he was Professor of Celtic at Edinburgh University, as he was by then a leading scholar in Celtic Studies. His best-known book, The History of Celtic Place-names of Scotland, was published in 1926. He also edited books of Gaelic prose (Rosg Gàidhlig, 1915) and poetry (Bàrdachd Ghàidhlig, 1918), and was general editor of the series Leabhraichean Sgoile Gàidhlig (c. 1920-1923). He also founded the Scottish Gaelic Texts Society, and was honorary secretary of the Gaelic Society of Inverness for 44 years, and at various times secretary and president of the Inverness Field Club.<br /> <br /> He died in 1948, aged 83, and is buried in Tomnahurich Cemetery in Inverness. He regarded that town as his 'spiritual home'.<br /> <br /> (thanks to Robert Preece for this information)