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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Tennant Ancestry East Neuk of Fife Scotland

William Tennant, (1784-1848). Poet and scholar, was born on 15 May 1784 in Anstruther, East Neuk of Fife, Scotland, and was educated at the University of St Andrews between 1799 and 1801. An accident in childhood left Tennant lame and his early years were spent at home, a period he used to further his study of Hebrew, Arabic and Persian. Between 1813 and 1834, when he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages at St Andrews, he worked as a schoolmaster in various parts of Scotland. Ill health forced him to retire in 1848 and he died that same year on 14 October in Anstruther. Tennant published his Synopsis of Chaldaic and Syriac Grammar in 1840 and it remained a standard textbook for many years. He was a prolific poet but most of his work has been long forgotten: he wrote two historical verse dramas. Cardinal Beacon (1823) and John Baliol (1825), and a long poem couched in heroic terms, The Thane of Fife (1822). His monument is the successful anster FAIR, a long poem about country people celebrating a traditional festival; written in English, with a Scots accent never far away in its comic rhymes, it is also notable for its stanza form, which may have suggested the ottava rima used by Lord byron in his Don Juan. Tennant's other work of note, dedicated to Sir DAVID lyndsay, is Papistry Storm'd, a spirited description of the destruction of St Andrews Cathedral.

Works: Anster Fair (1812); The Dominie's Disaster (1816); editor, The Poems of Allan Ramsay (1819); The Thane of Fife (1822); Cardinal Beaton (1823); John Balliol (1825); Papistry Stormed (1827); Critical Remarks on the Psalms of David. (1830); Synopsis of Chaldaic and Syriac Grammar (1840).

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