William Lindsay Alexander, eldest son of a Baptist wine merchant, was born in Leith on 24 August 1808 and died in Musselburgh on 20 December 1884. Following schooling at Leith and East Linton, he entered Edinburgh University in 1822, but completed his arts course under Thomas Chalmers at St Andrews in 1825. In 1826 he became a member of Leith Congregational Church, and in the following year he entered Glasgow Theological Hall to train for the ministry under Ralph Wardlaw. His course was brief, for by the end of the year, aged only nineteen, he was tutor in classics, Hebrew and mathematics at Blackburn Independent Academy. He seems to have found this to be hack work, for he ‘grew tired of doing the same thing over and over again, and making no progress in the work’ (Congregational Year Book, 1886, p. 146). Accordingly, he resigned in 1831 and had a brief flirtation with medical studies in Edinburgh, but in 1832 took responsibility for Newington Congregational Church, Liverpool, though he was not formally inducted there. In May 1834 he went to Germany for a brief period of study at Halle and Leipzig, and in November he began his 42-year ministry at North College Street Church (later Augustine Church), Edinburgh. He was concurrently Professor of Theology at the Theolgical Hall (1854–82) and Principal (1877–82). He was honoured by the universities of St Àndrews (DD 1846) and, on the occasion of its tercentenary, Edinburgh (LL.D. 1884). He was Chairman of the Congregational Union of Scotland in 1863.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.