Gibson, William (1808–67), presbyterian minister, was born 1 May 1808 in Ballymena, Co. Antrim, son of James Gibson and Mary Gibson (possibly née Cumming), shopkeepers; a brother died as an infant, and he had at least one sister. William received a good education in Ballymena and in the Royal Belfast Academical Institution; in 1829 he was awarded a silver medal in classics and the general certificate of the collegiate department. He attended classes in Edinburgh University from 1829 (it is not known whether he graduated), and was greatly influenced by Thomas Chalmers. In 1832 Gibson was licensed by Ballymena presbytery and preached as a probationer for two years till he was called by First Ballybay, Co. Monaghan. He was ordained 1 January 1834, and moved in 1840 to Rosemary St. congregation, Belfast, as assistant to Samuel Hanna (qv). In 1842 he was chiefly responsible for setting up the newspaper The Banner of Ulster as a forum for topics of presbyterian interest; he wrote many articles for it and for other periodicals. On 15 September 1847 he was elected professor of moral philosophy in the new Presbyterian Theological Faculty; the chair was later renamed ‘Christian ethics’. He had a good reputation as a teacher, and was very active in the general assembly. He served on or was convenor of several of its committees, and was moderator 1859–60, during the celebrated ‘great revival’, of which he later wrote an account, The year of grace (1860). This had several editions, but was criticised by opponents of some of the revival's manifestations. Gibson travelled in 1858 in Canada on behalf of the general assembly and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Princeton, New Jersey. He died suddenly in the street late in the evening of 7 June 1867, after attending a session of the general assembly in Dublin; the assembly adjourned as a mark of respect, and Gibson was buried in Ballymena. He had been greatly interested in student welfare, and had urged the provision of student residences in Assembly's College like those that he had visited in Princeton. As a memorial to him, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland initiated a building programme, paid for by public subscription, which resulted in the opening (12 January 1869) of a new wing of Assembly's College, called the Gibson Memorial Chambers.
Gibson married first (1834) Hannah Young of Ballymena; after her death, aged 32 in August 1840, he married a Miss Cunningham of Monaghan. There were two sons of the first marriage: one died in 1856, aged 19, the other was James Gibson (1836–1912), a well known minister in Strabane and in the United Free West Church, Dundee; there was also a daughter.