Hamish Riley-Smith

Rare Books And Manuscripts

William Shaw

A Galic and English Dictionary. 1780 First edition

The First Gaelic/English Dictionary

SHAW, William.
A Galic and English Dictionary. Containing all the words in the Scotch and Irish Dialects of the Celtic, that could be collected from the Voice, and Old Books and Mss.
London, W and A Strahan 1780

2 volumes bound in one, quarto, contemporary tree calf, rubbed, scuffed and worn, contemporary red morocco label lettered gilt, (6) + (186) leaves; (1) + (153) leaves, printed in double columns, ownership inscription in ink on the first title page of J.Hamilton, with the A List of Subscribers in volume I.

Provenance: John Hamilton 1739-1821 of Sundrum Castle, Ayrshire; prominent in local politics in Ayr, he had enlightenment interests typical of his age, was a friend of James Boswell who introduced him to Samuel Johnson in 1773 which is recorded in Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides.

William Shaw 1749-1831 was born at Clachaig in the Isle of Arran and was a graduate of Glasgow University. He went to London, and there met Dr. Johnson. When he told Johnson
of his great scheme for making a collection of Gaelic words, the old Doctor approved. Sir, said he, if you give the world a vocabulary of that language, while this Island stands, your name will be remembered. Recorded amongst the list of subscriber’s are James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. In 1778 Shaw travelled throughout the Highlands of Scotland and the Hebrides and then through Ireland and collected nearly thirty thousand articles for a Dictionary. In the preface Shaw acknowledges help in particular from a minister in Mull for 200 words and Sir James Foulis, and in Ireland Col.Vallancy who had many manuscripts and books and manuscripts in Trinity College Library.

William Shaw - A Galic and English Dictionary. 1780 First edition

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