Henry Dyer (1848-1918)

Saturday, January 13th, 2018


Henry Dyer

Henry Dyer

Henry Dyer was a Scottish Engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan in the latter half of the nineteenth century through his capacity as founding Principal of the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo. He was born in 1848 in what is now Bellshill about eight miles east of Glasgow. Henry was one of three children of John and Margaret Dyer. After the family moved to Glasgow about 1865 Dyer became an apprentice engineer and attended classes at Anderson’s College, now the University of Strathclyde.

From 1868 until 1873 Henry Dyer attended the University of Glasgow where he graduated with an MA, BSc and CE (Certificate of Engineering). At the age of 24 Dyer received an invitation to become Principal of the Imperial College of Engineering (ICE) being set up in Tokyo by the Japanese Ministry of Public Works. Having accepted the invitation he set sail from Southampton to Japan. A year later he was followed by his wife to be, Marie Ferguson. While in Japan Henry and Marie had five children, the eldest of which died in infancy.

The courses given at the ICE had a strong practical element, the last two years of a six-year course being spent entirely on practical work. The courses were revolutionary at the time and much credit for the rapid industrialisation of Japan at the end of the nineteenth century has been attributed to the work of Dyer’s College as it was often known.

After almost ten years in Japan Dyer resigned from his post at the ICE for personal and family reasons, and on July 14 1882 the family returned home to Glasgow via San Francisco. Before leaving Japan, Dyer was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun for his work in the country and appointed Honorary Principal of the College.  Later when the College became part of the University of Tokyo, he became an Emeritus Professor of the University.

Henry Dyer, still a young man, devoted the rest of his life to a number of activities of an educational and cultural nature. In particular he was a life governor of the Royal Technical College in Glasgow (now the University of Strathclyde) and Chairman of the Glasgow School Board for many years. Throughout the rest of his life he took a strong interest in all things Japanese and befriended many Japanese students who came to study in Glasgow. The University of Glasgow honoured him by awarding Dyer both a DSc and an LLD.

Dyer brought a number of artefacts back from Japan with him, many of which were donated by him or his daughter to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Mitchell Library (both in Glasgow) and the Edinburgh Central. Library. Throughout his life he published many books and papers details of which can be seen in the links below.

Henry Dyer died on 25th September, 1918, aged 70, and was buried in the Necropolis, later to be joined by his wife and daughter.

Henry Dyer - Necropolis

Henry Dyer – Necropolis

For more about Henry Dyer’s life please see


Hunter, R, (with a Foreword by Lesley Hart), Henry Dyer, A Scottish Engineer in Japan, published by Amazon in ebook and paperback, 2017.

Rev Herbert Dunn

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John Mitchell Duff

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Andrew Marshall Downie

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Alfred Donaldson

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Robert Dodds

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John Dick

Friday, March 11th, 2011

John Dick was born in Aberdeen on 18th October 1764, son of the Rev Alexander Dick, a native of Kinross and minister of the Secession Church in Aberdeen, and Helen Tolmie.

John was educated at Aberdeen Grammar school and then to University in Aberdeen, entering Kings College in October 1777 at the age of 13 with a bursary. The advantage of the bursary swayed him towards Kings College rather than Marischal’s College. He studied humanity, Greek and philosophy under Professors Ogilvie, Leslie and Dunbar respectively and on 30th March 1781 was awarded the degree of M.A.

Translation of the greek inscription :
O tell me not the good man dies
Embalmed in sacred sleep he lies
His monument was designed by architect Robert Black and is one of many in the Necropolis based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. It was erected 5 years after his death and is missing and an urn and finial.

On leaving university, some friends attempted to persuade him to join the ministry to the Church of Scotland, others to the Episcopalian Church and his father tried to dissuade him from joining the ministry at all. John however was determined to join the ministry of the Secession church, like his father. He was admitted by the Associate presbytery of Perth and Dunfermline and spent 5 years studying under John Brown in Haddington. During that time he spent most of his holidays with a paternal uncle who ëassisted him to rid himself of the provincial peculiarities by which he was disfigured’.

On reaching the age of 21 in 1785 he became a licensed preacher within the Perth and Dunfermline Presbytery and rapidly gained a reputation for his conduct of services and prowess as a preacher. This soon led to calls from three congregations, Scone, Musselburgh and Slateford. He accepted the invitation from Slateford, a village near Edinburgh and was ordained on 26th October 1786 at the age of 22. For the first year there was no manse and he lodged with Dr Peddie of Edinburgh.

On moving to the new manse at Slateford he also created a fine garden and after a few years married Jane Coventry, daughter of Rev George Coventry of Stitchell in Roxburghshire.

During his fifteen years at Slateford, John had been called twice to his late father’s church in Aberdeen but on both occasions declined. In 1801 he was ëcalled’ to Greyfriars Church in Glasgow. The Synod agreed and though John Dick had not expressed an opinion either way he agreed to be assistant to Rev Alexander Pirie. It was a painful separation for both John and his Slateford congregation. Greyfriars, in Shuttle St, Glasgow, was one of the oldest and wealthiest church in the Secession church and Dr Dick was inducted as colleague and successor to Dr Pirrie on 21st May 1801 and succeeded Dr Pirrie on his death in 1810.

In 1815 John Dick received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the College of Princetown, New Jersey, USA and in 1820 he was appointed Theological Professor to the Associate Synod to replace Dr Lawson of Selkirk who had died in 1819. This position he held single handed till 1825 when a second Professor, Rev Dr John Mitchell was appointed to cover biblical literature.

In 1832 Dr Dick was appointed President of the Auxiliary Bible Society of Glasgow in place of the Earl of Glasgow who had resigned.He also took on the presidency of the Glasgow Voluntary Church Association.

In 1833 Dr Dick became ill with an inner ear infection and died two days later on 25th January 1833 in his 69th year. He was buried at the High Kirk / Glasgow Cathedral and there is a fine memorial to him and his family in Glasgow Necropolis. This was erected by his congregation.

John and Jane Dick had four children including Helen Dick (1792 – 1883) and became the wife of Humphry Crum Ewing (1802 – 1887) who also has a memorial in Glasgow Necropolis.

John Dick’s publications include:-

The Conduct and Doom of False Teachers

Confessions of the Faith shown to be necessary and the Duty of Churches with respect to them Explained

He was a regular contributor to the Christian Magazine under the pseudonym of Chorepiscopus

An Essay on the Inspiration of the Scriptures
(this was so popular in church circles that it was published in 3 editions)

A volume of sermons

4 Volumes of his sermons were published with a memoir prefix.

2 Volumes of lectures on The Acts of the Apostles

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