William Shaw (1749-1831)
William Shaw, who was born on Arran, was a grammarian and lexicographer or compiler of dictionaries. He was a friend of Samuel Johnson, who supported him in much of his work.
Gaelic and English dictionary
In 1778 Shaw published ‘An analysis of the Gaelic language’, the first of its kind. In 1780, his ‘Gaelic and English Dictionary’ appeared. Shaw claimed he had travelled over 3,000 miles around Scotland and Ireland to collect material for this dictionary.
Shaw took an active part in the controversy over the Ossianic poems of James Macpherson. He was sceptical about their authenticity and published a volume about his analysis of the poems, ‘An enquiry into the authenticity of the poems ascribed to Ossian’ (1781).