A BORDERER by descent, only son of Captain Edward Neilson, who died in 1861, and his wife, Jannet Paterson, who died in 1903, Dr. Neilson was born at Horseclose, Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, 7th December, 1858. He was sent first to Cummertrees Parish School, and thereafter to King William's College, Isle of Man. After an apprenticeship to law in Dumfries, from 1873 until 1879. he went to Glasgow and was in 1880 and 1881 a prizeman in Scots law and conveyancing at the University. Passing as law agent in the last-named year, he started business as a writer in 1884, and was in 1891 elected Procurator Fiscal of Glasgow. His chief functions are those of Public Prosecutor in the Police Courts and Dean of Guild Courts of the City, with miscellaneous legal and administrative tasks incident to office. He has been associated on the boards of management of Stirling's Library and the Baillie Library. His studies appear from his publications, such as "Trial by Combat," "Annals of the Solway," and "Huchown of the Awle Ryale." The last of these, concerning the poetical career of Sir Hew of Eglintoun, he reckons his most important contribution to history, and when invited to deliver a course of Scottish historical lectures in Glasgow University in 1902, he made that subject his central theme. The University next year conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. He was also editor of the memorial volume of the George Buchanan Quater-centenary published at Glasgow in 1907.
An antiquary and occasional collector of old manuscript, and specially a student of the Scottish Middle Ages, he has contributed to various periodicals, notably to Scots Lore in 1895 and to the Scottish Historical Review founded in 1903. He is President of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, and has been a Vice-President of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. His wife is Jane Ann, second daughter of Mr. Thomas Richardson, Hexham.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)