Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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ROBERTSON , EDWARD ( 1880 - 1964 ), professor, linguist, and librarian .

Born 1880 , at Cameron , Fife , Scotland , son of John Robertson , the local schoolmaster . After atteding his father's school in Cameron and Madras College , St. Andrews , where he excelled in mathematics, he went to St. Andrew's University , graduated M.A. and B.D. , and proceeded to the universities of Leipzig , Berlin and Heidelburg ; he also went to Syria for a year to learn Arabic . He returned to St. Andrew's for a year ( 1905-06 ) to assist the professor of Hebrew , and then became a Carnegie Research Scholar and Fellow before being a lecturer in Arabic at Edinburgh University ( 1913-21 ).

He came to Wales as Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at the University College , Bangor ( 1921-34 ), ‘ Jock ’, as he was called, was a popular teacher at Bangor , and he made a gallant attempt at mastering Welsh ; he immortalized himself by making a tiny slip and calling Dr Thomas Richards , the well-known College librarian , llyfrgellydd , a llyfrgollydd — ‘book-loser’. He was vice-principal of the college ( 1926-28 ) and Dean of the Faculty of Theology ( 1922-34 ). He left Bangor for the Chair of Semitic Languages at Manchester University ( 1934-45 ), where he was also pro-vice-chancellor ( 1944 ); he was the Librarian of the John Rylands Library ( 1949-62 ). He gained a D.Litt. degree of St. Andrew's in 1913 , and received a number of honours: he was Gunning lecturer at Edinburgh University ( 1929-32 ), had an hon. D.D. degree of the universities of Wales and St. Andrew , and LL.D. of the University of Manchester , and was made president of the Society for Old Testament Study .

His field was manuscripts in the Semitic languages, on which he published several studies; he also edited the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library . After retiring he emigrated to Canada to be with one of his two daughters, and he d. there 29 Apr. 1964 .


  • Who was who? ;
  • Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester , 45 (1963) , 273-5; 47 ( 1964 ), 1-2.


Rev. Gwilym Henry Jones, M.A., Ph.D., D.D., Bangor / Menai Bridge

Published date: 2001