William Robinson Pirie was born at the manse of Slains in Aberdeenshire on 26 July 1804 and died in Aberdeen on 3 November 1885. He went up to University and King's College, Aberdeen in 1817 but did not graduate. While working in a lawyer's office, however, he took theological classes and was licensed to preach in 1825. He was minister of Dyce from 1830 to 1843, when he was appointed Professor of Divinity at Marischal College and University in Aberdeen. When Marischal and King's were brought together in 1860 Pirie was given the Chair of Divinity and Church history. Pirie was an influential figure in the Church of Scotland, becoming moderator in 1864. The church had split in the 1840s, when a large number of congregations and clergy left over the issue of patronage in the appointment of clergy. Pirie took a leading part in the campaign within the established church to abolish patronage and was finally successful with a motion in the Assembly in 1869. He was also a leading figure in the newly reunited Aberdeen University, acting as Principal from 1876 until his death.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.