William de Burgh, was one of the most eminent scholars of his day—being invited to give the Donnellan Lecture, before Dublin University, on two occasions. As well as his close collaboration with George V Wigram, in devising and compiling The Englishman’s Greek and English Concordance to the New Testament , and The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance to the Old Testament , he also produced his own A Compendium of Hebrew Grammar, designed to facilitate the Study of the Language. Originally issued as a monthly part-work, in 1859, this Commentary would represent his greatest work, and the mature fruit of his study of the original languages of the Bible. Published on behalf of Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony.
‘A second-advent interpreter, and one of the best of his class. Highly esteemed . . .’ was the verdict of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his Commenting and Commentaries. Indeed, he uses several quotes from William de Burgh in his own treatise on the Psalms—The Treasury of David. AR Fausset [of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown] also refers to ‘his valuable commentary on the Psalms’.
As to his family life, William de Burgh was married at St George’s Church, Dublin, on 30 May 1826; sadly, his wife died in 1850, when she was only 46 years old. However, it was not long before he remarried, and he had eighteen children, altogether.
A memorial at St David’s Church, Naas, says of him—’his life of earnest piety, marked also by deep learning employed in the study and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures gave an example of true devotion to his Master’s cause’.
William de Burgh was in the vanguard of the awakening to pre-millennial truth, early in the nineteenth century. In 1820, when just 19 years old, he published, (anonymously), A Discourse on the Coming of the Day of God, in connexion with the First Resurrection—the reign of Christ on Earth—the Restitution of All Things, etc; this stirred up interest in prophetic issues and had a wide circulation. His under-standing grew, and, in the following years, he became convinced from the Scriptures that people should expect the appearance of a personal Antichrist before the return of the Lord; that many prophecies were as yet unfulfilled; and, that a more literal exposition of prophecy was desirable. In 1831 he published Lectures on the Second Advent, which had a profound influence on the development of B W Newton’s under-standing of prophecy. Two years later, they attended one of the prophetic conferences, at Lady Powerscourt’s home. Although as many as 400 leading Evangelicals were present, Mr Newton said that only the two of them ‘took the same view of things’.
It is evident that William de Burgh held his views graciously, and, prayerfully sought to understand the Scriptures. In one book, he states that he never sat down to work upon it without first offering a silent prayer that he might ‘become a fool that he may be wise’, and that he might read the Scriptures in the spirit of a child. When writing about prophetic matters, he was conscious that he stood as an heir to Christian writers of the early centuries, who held substantially the same truth.
An inscription, at Mount Jerome Cemetery, describes him as—‘a very learned, able, and earnest minister of the Gospel’.
William de Burgh [originally Burgh] was born on 8 April 1801, at Oldtown, Naas, in Co Kildare—the youngest son of Thomas Burgh, the MP for Harristown and Athy. He studied Divinity at Trinity College, Dublin, where he gained his BA, and MA; later he was awarded a BD, in 1851, and a Doctorate, in 1857. Ordained in the Anglican Church, in 1824, he worked in Co Wicklow, before returning to Dublin. In 1836, he arranged the building of a new church at Kingstown [now Dun Laoghaire], called ‘The Bethel’, where he was the incumbent for many years. He also served as chaplain, at the Dublin Female Penitentiary, for twenty-one years. The spacious chapel was open to the public, and crowds of people would come, each Sunday, to learn from this gifted teacher of the Scriptures. After spending two years at the Scottish Episcopal Church of St Mary’s, Glasgow, he returned to Dublin, where he was appointed to the newly-opened Church of St John the Evangelist, Sandymount, in 1850. In 1864, he went to his final posting, courtesy of Trinity College; to the rectory at Ardboe, in Co Tyrone. Two years later, on 15 October 1866, he died, and was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery, at Harold’s Cross, Dublin.