Rev. John Ross 1
- Born: Abt 1789
- Marriage (1): < > < > [Mrs. Ross] about 1815 1
- Died: 27 Jul 1826 about age 37 2
Eldest child of Walter Ross and Elizabeth Wallace and nephew of George A. Wallace. Died at sea (see below), leaving a widow and three children (2 boys and 1 girl). After his death his widow and youngest child went to live with the widow's father in Edinburgh. The other two children were cared for by Catherine Ross and her husband, Mr. Young, probably in London.
The following obituary was penned by Mr. Young, husband of John's sister, Catharine Ross, editor of "The Sun" newspaper in London.
From Lack Family Genealogy (http://www.lackfamily.net/genealogy/names/wallace_name/d1.htm#i620):
General Notes: From: "The Sun" Dec 21 1826
Died at sea, on 27 July, on board the 'Eclipse', an American vessel bound from La Gunya to Philadelphia, the Rev. John Ross. He left this country last year as leader and pastor of an English colony which the Colombian Agricultural Association have planted in the Vale of Test(?) near La Gunya and on his return for England was sudenly carried off by an attack of apoplexy. Few men have led a more ... varied life. When at college, and in other situations, there were differences of opinion as to the propriety of some parts of his conduct. All agreed however in ascribing to him abilities of the very first class. He was a man of strong passions, capable of undergoing any fatigue of body or mind, of a noble and generous character, and ever more ready to serve his friends rather than himself. His uncompromising and fearless disposition raised him some bitter enemies. His goodness of heart and social qualities procured him the most sincere friends. A little more worldly prudence alone was wanting to have raised him to the first rank in any situation. In early years he was left by the death of his father and mother the only support of a young family. By his individual exertion he gave his brothers and sisters a liberal education, and got them respectably settled in life. His widow and three children are now left to trust to the same generosity and brotherly affection which the father so eminently displayed.
To the above correct description of character, little can be added; the portrait may, indeed, be enlarged, but cannot be improved. Of all men, Mr Ross was the best for depicting the character of others, while his own presents no ordinary difficulty, from its near approach to the extremes of passion in all its waywardness and fascinating influence over the mind. His abilities were as varied as the occasions which called them into action, and he was always superior to the task, whether it demanded personal exertions or mental energy - he was in both pre-eminent, and possessed the rare faculty of communicating his own enthusiasm to his compeers, while he excited the emulation of less gifted individuals, and commanded the applause of all. But we are not portraying an ordinary character - the public must recollect the Reporter of the Times at the far-famed inquest at Oldham. The stern integrity and fearless intrepidity displayed on that occasion were not more conspicuous than the singular ability and surprising memory with which the proceedings were reported, although the Coroner prohibited the reporter from taking any notes, and would scarcely allow him to be a passive spectator at the inquest, for he could not help betraying his alarm at Mr Ross's presence, and even designated him "a dangerous man". But his fame was not circumscribed to Oldham - the Northern circuit, and many public bodies, will bear ample testimony to his extraordinary talents and superior attainments.
In reporting the proceedings of Parliament he was deservedly conspicuous. His faithful adherence to the speaker, was not more felicitous than, from his extensive reading and ready apprehension, he was remarkable for catching the meaning of the orator when his ideas were obscurely expressed, and thereby clothed them, as if by intuition, in the speaker's own phraseology. On other occasions if a profuse orator required condensation, no man could do him more justice than Mr Ross, whose comprehensive genius would not give disjointed parts, but a luminous miniature of the original, and such as the speaker himself would be proud to admire.
One circumstance will do credit to Mr. Ross's accuracy in reporting, and reflect honour upon the first orator in the House of Commons. Some few years ago when a ticklish subject was agitated, and the conduct of Ministers was called into question, Mr. Canning in explaining the point said "that Ministers did not contemplate such an intention for a quarter of an hour," and as this unlucky word "contemplate" seemed to imply that Ministers had really entertained the idea, the Courier, in the plenitude of its official wisdom, at once denounced the correctness of the report, and charged the Times with a wilful misrepresentation. The Times felt indignant at the charge, and after referring to the reporter of the speech, flung back the accusation, with scorn, in the teeth of its sage assailant. Public attention was naturally directed at the circumstance, and the Courier, secure in its infallibility, reiterated the original charge with aggravated malignity - backing its assertion by the presumptive proof that no other paper had used the word contemplate in reporting the passage. Things had gone so far that the gentlemen of the stock exchange took up the question and betted freely upon the result of the dispute. In the meantime, Mr. Ross proceeded to Gloucester Lodge - his character was at stake, and though it was a delicate point on the other side, he requested an audience of Mr Canning. His reception was most flattering. He said that he differed in politics to the Right Hon. Gentleman, but he was an ardent admirer of his transcendant talents, and threw himself upon his justice, but asked for no favour - he had reported his speech in the Times, and might have misunderstood one word, which had unfortunately given rise to so much observation, but he felt almost certain it was contemplate. "Why", said the Right Honourable Gentleman, with a frankness peculiar to great minds, "I remember it perfectly - the word was unfortunate, but in the fervour of the debate, it rushed upon my mind, and feeling its import, I paused a moment, seeking for a correspondent but less significant epithet, and finding none, contemplate hung upon my tongue all the while, like a torrent on the brink of a precipice, and I gave it utterance, unconscious of the event." The Right Hon. Gentleman then complimented Mr Ross upon the fidelity of his report, and expressed his astonishment how, under all the difficulties of the occasion, reporters were able to do half the justice they did to the debates in Parliament. Mr Ross departed with tearful gratitude at the magnanimity of his illustrious host, who entertained him for upwards of an hour.
But he had scarcely reached home when an express arrived from Gloucester Lodge, bearing a letter from Mr. Canning, who said , that so great was the impression produced on his mind by the extraordinary abilities of his visitor, that he could not rest contented with the oral expression of his testimony to the correctness of Mr. Ross's report, and begged to confirm it by his own hand. The letter was couched in the most flattering terms. On the same evening the Courier appeared, adding personal insult to infallible assertion - its staunch supporters were in the zenith of their glory - and the proprietors of the Times were musing in their "doubts," when Mr Ross entered and confirmed the correctness of his report by the applauding letter of Mr. Canning, which Mr. Walter retains to this day as a trophy - not less creditable to the reporter than honourable to the distinguished orator.
No man had suffered more the vicissitudes of fortune than Mr. Ross, and no man could more patiently endure them. The temperament of his mind was always in the ascendant, and though adversity could not humble the elevation of his spirits, prosperity whirled them to a delirious ecstasy, that still threatened his destruction. He was imperiously happy - diffusing all his intoxicating joy around, and blind to all consequence but the exhilarating impulse of the moment. Yet no man could be more sedate on the proper occasion, or more learned in argument, or more happy in illustrating his own views, or more keen in defending particular points, or more provoking in shifting his position if the ice was too weak to support his argument, for such was the elasticity of his mind, that
"E'en tho' vanquish'd he could argue still;"
the ground was not lost while he could stand upon it.
He was for some time Editor of the British Press, after which he was connected with the Globe and Traveller, and subsequently with the Morning Herald, before his departure for America. In the latter journal his characters of the most distinguished men in both Houses of Parliament, signed Jonathan, were struck off with a masterly hand - displaying a graphic fidelity of expression, with an irresistible similitude to the original - at once elegant and striking.
He was the author of several works, emanating from the spur of the moment, and consequently tinged with the predominating bias of his mind, which did not often wait to weigh matters in the scales of prudence; if they ensured éclat, or conveyed the unquenchable hostility of his passion for the time being - it was sufficient. At College he was not more conspicuous for a certain waywardness of opinion, than for an enviable ability in maintaining the absurdity of his position. Of him it might be said, that
--------------- if himself deceived
He argued till his fees believed.
He was eminently learned in various languages, and deeply read, but dogmatic to a fault. His style was terse but elegant. His epithets were occasionally strained, but the effect of his writing was forcible - conclusive. He delighted in satire; - his sarcastic irony was unsparingly vehement and pointed - his tirade in print resembled Mr Brougham's in the Senate. But his mind was imbued with kindly sentiments, and enriched with storied beauty from the best authors. His imagination was wild, original and romantic, still best pleased with indulging the tender association of his youth, while roaming amid the varied and sublime scenery of his native mountains. His feelings were keenly alive to the beauties of composition, and he delighted in dreams of public good, till his sensibility frequently ran away with his judgement. Tacitus was his favourite author, and Cowper his holiday recreation. He was honoured with the friendship of Mr. Brougham, Sir James Mackintosh, the late Mr. Ricardo - and he enjoyed the confidence of other perhaps equally worthy, though less distinguished individuals. The goodness of his heart knew no bounds, his revenge no limit. Generous to profusion, he took to fits of prudence when economy was bankrupt. He was most eager to serve a friend and more eager to retaliate a supposed insult. The impetuosity of his passions frequently hurried him beyond the line of decorum - but his unruly temper was to blame, not his heart, which overflowed with kindness, and melted in being able to communicate to others a portion of that transporting joy which mocked utterance. His precipitate temper often defeated the best aim of his ardent ambition.
But there might be good reason for its acerbity - one false step in early life embittered his future destiny and destroyed the hope of comfortable or even respectable retirement, which, to a man of his sensibility, was worse than death. This secret feeling preyed upon his mind, and often urged him to drown his sorrows with more congenial spirits, but the elevation frequently consequent on this partiality for company occasioned him much grief when the excitement had subsided. He is gone! - let us not scan too harshly the failings of a man who might have been the first ornament as he was the master spirit of whatever society he honoured with his presence. Those who have known him, will bear testimony to the truth of this feeble delineation of his character; but perhaps the best proof of its sincerity will be found in the circumstances that the writer of this article, though glowing with brotherly affection, has laboured under the ban of his unaccountable displeasure for three years. As it is, he sincerely laments in having to perform an act of justice to the memory of a man whom he, for a time, so exclusively esteemed , and the generous qualities of whose heart so transcendently eclipsed the common failings of our nature.
Died of apoplexy at sea aboard the 'Eclipse,' an American vessel sailing from La Guayra, Colombia, to Philadelphia.
Note: According to Geni.com, he died on 31 December 1826 "on passage to Philadelphia."
Noted events in his life were:
• Occupation: Editor of the British Press.
• Occupation: Journalist for the Globe and Traveller.
• Writer: for the Morning Herald.
• Emigrated: from Scotland to America, 1825, La Guayra, Colombia (Venezuela).
John married < > < > [Mrs. Ross], daughter of < > < > [father of Mrs. John Ross] and Unknown, about 1815.1