Biography of William Jacks
William Jacks (1841-1907) was an ironmaster, politican and author who bequeathed £20,000 to create the chair of German Language and Literature (subsequently renamed Modern Languages) that bears his name. His collection of books on French, German, Italian and French literature was bequeathed to the University Library.
Born in Coldstream, Northumberland, Jacks served his apprenticeship in a shipyard. He studied foreign languages in his spare time and his proficiency helped him pursue a career in the iron and steel industry. He founded the iron and steel merchants William Jacks & Co in 1880 and served as a President of the British Iron Trade Association.
Jacks was the Liberal MP for Leith Burghs, 1885-86, and for Stirlingshire, 1892-95. He was the first Chairman of Commercial College in Glasgow. The University awarded him an LLD in 1899.