Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MACLAY, Archibald, clergyman, born at Killearn, Scotland, 14 May, 1776; died in New York city, 2 May, 1860. He was only nine years old when his father died, and when twelve years old was thrown upon his own resources, and became the support of the family. He was educated in the University of Edinburgh, began to preach before he left, had calls to seven different churches, and became pastor in Kirkcaldy in 1802. In 1804 he was appointed missionary to India, but insuperable obstacles prevented his acceptance. He emigrated in 1805 with his wife and children to New York, where he was soon in charge of a Congregational church, but in 1809 his views on the scriptural mode and subjects of baptism underwent a change, and he became pastor of a Baptist church in New York city, with which he continued for thirty years. When sixty-one years of age he retired from the pastorate, became general agent of the American and foreign Bible society, and travelled extensively throughout the United States, Great Britain, and the British provinces. He was instrumental in organizing the Bible translation society of England, and in 1850 in forming the American Bible union, becoming general agent of this organization. His views of revision were not at first generally accepted even by his own denomination, but he was successful in overcoming opposition and winning co-operation. He procured the subscription of large sums for this purpose, and obtained also an endowment for a Baptist literary institution in Canada, called Maclay college, of which he was offered the presidency, but declined. He was elected president of the Bible union, but soon resigned. Dr. Maclay compiled a "Hymn-Book" supplemental to Watts's "Psalms and Hymns," and preached a sermon on the "Importance of the Bible," which was published in English and Welsh.--His son, William Brown, member of congress, born in New York city, 20 March, 1812; died there, 19 February, 1882, was graduated at the University of the city of New York in 1836, filled temporarily the chair of Latin in that institution, and was afterward associate editor of the " New York Quarterly Review." He studied law, was admitted to the bar, began practice in New York city, and was elected to the legislature in 1839, and re-elected for the two succeeding terms. He introduced and procured the passage against a powerful opposition of the act that established the present system of public schools in New York city. He was elected to congress as a Democrat in 1842, and re-elected for the two following terms, serving from 4 December, 1843, till 3 March, 1849. In congress he was instrumental in securing the reduction of letter-postage. In 1856 and in the succeeding election he was again returned, serving from 7 December, 1857, till 3 March, 1861.--Archibald's grandson, William Walter, civil engineer, born in New York city, 27 March, 1846, was graduated at the United States naval academy, and commissioned ensign, 28 May, 1863. He was attached to the steam sloop "Ticonderoga," and participated in both attacks on Fort Fisher. After the war he made a cruise of four years with Commander Louis M. Goldsborough as his navigating officer, being promoted lieutenant on 10 November, 1866. He was commissioned as lieu-tenant-commander on 12 March, 1868, and, while acting as fleet-captain of the Asiatic squadron, was selected by the Japanese government to survey and designate sites for light-houses. He was subsequently appointed assistant professor of mathematics in the naval academy, but resigned in order to pursue the study of civil engineering, and received the degree of C.E. from the University of the city of New York in 1873. In the same year he was appointed assistant engineer in the department of docks in New York city. He served on a committee of the American society of civil engineers that recommended a uniform system of tests for cement, and conducted during a period of several years a series of experiments, the results of which he digested in a treatise, entitled "Notes and Experiments on the Use and Testing of Portland Cement," that received the Norman gold medal of the American society of civil engineers (New York and London, 1877; German translation, Leipsic, 1877).
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