Papers of Zachary Boyd, 1585-1653, minister, rector of the University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

A transcript of part of Zion's Flowers by Zachary Boyd. Contents: Pharaoh's tyrannie and death, The storie of Jephthah, The history of Samson, David and Goliath, The history of Jonah, The history of John Baptist, Nebuchadnezzar's Ferie Furnace

Administrative / Biographical History

Zachary Boyd was born about  1585 , and was first educated at Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland and then at the  University of Glasgow, Scotland, from  1601 . He also attended the  University of St Andrews from  1603 , graduating MA in 1607. Subsequently, he attended the Protestant college of Saumur, France, and was offered, but declined, the principalship of that college. He resided in France for sixteen years, and seems to have left it on account of the religious troubles. In  1623  he returned to Scotland, and was appointed minister of the Barony parish in Glasgow. He died in  1653 .

The latter part of his life was spent in the management of his parish and of the affairs of the University of Glasgow in which he took a deep interest, and in literary pursuits. Only a part of his writings were printed; some still remain in manuscript in the possession of Glasgow University, to which he left them, along with a money bequest, which not only assisted in providing new buildings, but served to establish some bursaries. Boyd served the offices of dean of faculty, rector, and vice-chancellor in the university during several years. His printed prose works appeared between 1629 and 1650; the printed poetical works between 1640 and 1652. The Battell of the Soul in Death (1629), dedicated to Charles I, and in French to Queen Henrietta Maria, while the second volume contains a dedicatory letter to Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, on the death of her son Frederick, is a sort of prose manual for the sick. In 1640, he published Four Letters of Comforts for the Deaths of Earle of Haddington and of Lord Boyd. The Psalms of David in Meeter, with metrical versions of the songs of the Old and New Testament, was published in  1648 .

Some of his surviving manuscripts have been published, the chief portions are the Four Evangels in verse, and a collection of poetical stories, taken chiefly from Bible history, which he calls Zion's Flowers, and which, having been commonly called Boyd Bible, gave currency to the idea that he had translated the whole Bible. The stories are often absurd enough in style and treatment, but the general notion of their absurdities has been exaggerated from the fact that they were abundantly parodied by those whose object was to caricature the Presbyterian style which Boyd represented. He seems to have been inclined to oppose the policy of the royalist party even in earlier days; for though he wrote a Latin ode on the coronation of Charles I at Holyrood in  1633 , his dedication of the Battell of the Soul to the king contained what must have been taken as a reflection on the want of strict sabbatarianism in the Episcopal church. In later years he became a staunch covenanter, but did not relish the triumph of Cromwell. Reflecting many of the oddities and absurdities of style which were characteristic of his time, Boyd seems nevertheless to have been a man of considerable energy and shrewdness, and to have won a fair amount of contemporary popularity as an author.

Source: Dictionary of National Biography (1885).


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift : Bristol Public Libraries : 1969 : ACCN 4199

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections website, searching by the call number MS Gen 151

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, March 2003

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0247 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

GB 0247 MS Gen 1059 Papers of Gabriel Neil, including his introduction to his edition of Boyd's work Zion's Flowers

Location of Originals

This material is original


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