Thomas Barclay (1792-1873) was the Principal of the University of Glasgow 1858–1873.
Born in Shetland, Barclay went to study at the University of Aberdeen with a view to following his father into the church. He abandoned his chosen career in 1818 in favour of journalism with The Times in London. Barclay was licensed as a minister in Shetland in June 1821. It was during his time there that Sir Henry Holland heard him preach and on the Monday they went sailing. A storm got up, the helmsman panicked and Barclay steered the boat safely to shore.
Dr Duncan Macfarlan, Principal of the University of Glasgow, died in 1858. Barclay was appointed his successor, reputedly on the recommendation of Holland. He had no knowledge of university affairs, but his remarkable resemblance to John Knox immediately made him a popular figure with the students. He died in office in 1873.
Reference: Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow, Glasgow, 1871
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow University Archive Services
journalists, ministers, Principals, University of Glasgow