1774-1821; b. Rademon, Co. Down; ed. locally and Glasgow Univ.; Presbyterian
minister, Moderator of Ulster Synod (1806), and liberal [i.e., interdenominational]
schoolmaster, ed. Glasgow; Holy Orders; ministry and school in Dundalk;
he learned Irish from Patrick Lynch who counselled Bunting; textbook of
English grammar; Greek Exercises in Syntax (Dundalk 1804, and 8
eds.); An Introduction to the Irish Language [first delivered to
the Gaelic Soc. of Dublin, 1 March 1806] (1808, 2nd edn. 1843); Greek
Idioms (1810); Elementa Linguae Graeca (1820). Hebrew Prof.
Belfast; Appointed to Chair of Greek, Glasgow, 1821, but did not occupy
it. ODNB DIW
The Foundation and Nature of the Fear of God, considered, in a discourse
delivered at ... the General Synod of Ulster, Cookstown June 30 1807.
Joseph Nelson, William Neilson DD, MRIA, in Belfast Literary
Society, 1801-1901, historical sketch (Belfast 1902); WT Latimer, Ulster Biographies, relating chiefly to the Rebellion of 1798 (Belfast
1897); W. D. H. Ewen, Funeral Address ... at the grave of the late
Rev. W. Neilson (Belfast 1821); Charles Dickson, Revolt in the
north, Antrim and Down in 1798 (Dublin 1960). The foregoing all cited
in Séamas Ó Saothraí,William Neilson, DD, MRIA,
1774-1831, in Meascra Uladh (Monaghan, 1971); Ó Saothraí, An Minister Gaelach Uilliam Mac Neill 1774-1821 (1992),
138pp. See also under Thomas Stott [Rx.]
W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP
1976; 1984), William Neilson, of Dundalk Grammar School, and later the
Royal Belfast Academical Inst., published Greek Exercises (1804;
8th ed. 1846); Greek Idioms (1810); supplemented ed. of James Moors Elementa Lingua Graecae (1821); he also taught Irish - Introduction
to the Irish Language (1808) - and Hebrew; elected Professor of Greek
at Glasgow but died before taking up the post. 
Introduction to the Irish Language (1808): That the Irish is the best preserved dialect of the ancient and extensive Celtic language, is allowed by the most liberal and enlightened antiquarians. To the general scholar, therefore, a knowledge of it is of great importance; as it will enable him to trace the origin of names and customs, which he would seek in vain in any other tongue. To the inhabitants of Ireland it is double interesting. In this language are preserved the venerable annals of our country, with as much fidelity as is usually found in the primitive records of any nation; while the poetic and romantic compositions, with which the Irish manuscripts abound, afford the finest specimens of elegant taste and luxurious imagination. / But it is, particularily, from the absolute necessity of understanding the language, in order to converse with the natives of a great part of Ireland, that the study of it is indispensible. It ... is surely reasonable and desirable that every person should be able to hold converse with his countrymen; as well as to taste and admire the beauties of one of the most expressive, philosohically accurate, and polished languages that has ever existed. Quoted in Ó Saothraí, op. cit., infra.
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Belfast Public Library holds W. Neilson, Introduction to
the Irish Language in Three Parts (1843).
Douglas Hydes diary records, Studied a good deal of
Irish, chiefly Neilson. (See Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde,