Obits A

Obituaries: A

 


 

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. THOMAS ADDIS, D.D., MORNINGSIDE

(Died July 18, 1899)
Author: Rev, J. G. Cunningham, D.D.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January, 1900, Obituary, p.18


In the death of Dr. Thomas Addis of Morningside, Edinburgh, another of the swiftly-vanishing band of pre-Disruption fathers of the Free Church passed away. His intimate friendship with Dr. Chalmers, who was a member of the Morningside congregation from 1842 till his death in 1847, made him thoroughly conversant with the great questions at issue in the conflict which came to a crisis on May 18, 1843; and he had an active share in the first steps taken by Dr. Chalmers in launching the Sustentation Fund, by which the church, disestablished and disendowed, was to be maintained by the freewill offerings of her membership.

He was born in London on December 23, 1813, and educated at Perth, to which place his father and mother removed while their only son was still in infancy. From school he passed to St. Andrews University, where his abilities and application to study gained for him conspicuous distinction. When he came to Edinburgh, my father, who had shortly before founded the Edinburgh Institution (now in Queen Street), invited him to work along with him as the classical master—an office in which he proved himself apt to teach, and gained the esteem of not a few pupils, such as Sir William Gairdner of Glasgow University, who subsequently achieved success, and always remembered gratefully what they owed to him. When Professor Smeaton was translated from Morningside to Auchterarder, Mr. Addis, who had been engaged in mission work in connection with Dr. Thorburn’s congregation in Leith, was called to succeed him, and was ordained on December 17, 1841.

The Disruption involved the surrender of the building in which the congregation had worshipped from the time of its being opened by Dr. Chalmers on July 29,1838; but the liberality of a loyal people provided a suitable edifice in 1844, which was superseded thirty years later by a more commodious and handsome structure, destined, after twenty more years had elapsed, to give place to the larger and more completely equipped building in which the congregation have worshipped since 1894. During the fifty-eight years of his pastorate, the district of Morningside underwent extraordinary changes, having been transformed from a quiet suburban village into one of the most populous quarters of the city of Edinburgh, for the spiritual necessities of whose inhabitants twenty churches now make the provision for which in 1841 the one extension church was quite sufficient.

Amidst all these changes Dr. Addis held steadfastly on the even tenor of his way. cheered by the attachment, of a prosperous congregation and the melody of joy and health in his well-ordered home. His determination as a preacher of the gospel was “to know nothing among his hearers save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The words in which he stated this in our hearing, on the occasion of the celebration of his jubilee, were characteristic and memorable:—”I can truly declare that with my whole heart and “soul I recoil from reckoning my present or future life as a, ground of confidence or hope before God : I can truly declare that I would be the most miserable of men if I had not to fall back upon the great Substitute, Intercessor, Priest, and Sacrifice which the Father in His love provided. This is the faith in which I live, the faith in which I have endeavoured to preach, the faith in which I hope it will be my blessedness to die.”

When advancing years made necessary the appointment of a colleague, Dr. Addis was singularly happy in finding himself associated, in the first place, with Dr. Martin, and subsequently, on Dr. Martin’s appointment to professorial duties in the New College, with Mr. Fairweather, his esteemed successor in the pastoral charge. Dr. Addis acquiesced in the arrangements and changes incidental to the position of senior colleague not only with the grace of Christian contentment, but also with the sound common-sense of a manly nature accustomed to look at facts with perfect candour, and resolved to accept the inevitable infirmities of age with a Spartan simplicity of resignation. Some five years before his death he was suddenly conscious in the pulpit of a greater degree of physical weakness than he had previously known. When he came into the vestry, he said, in a sad but firm tone, “That is my warning;” and in answer to affectionate protests against this impression, he quietly said again, “That is my warning,” and recognized without a murmur the narrower circle of duties within which the failure of strength compelled him thenceforward to move. To the last he continued to attempt, so far as he was able, the pastoral visitation which had been during all his ministry a work of faith and labour of love most faithfully attended to. He had the tongue of the learned to speak the word in season to the weary, the heart of the true friend to weep with them that weep, and the hand that did many an act of considerate kindness which awaits the acknowledgment of the King from His throne of glory. The final illness was brief: he was able to participate in the privileges of the communion in South Morningside Free Church within a few days before the stroke of paralysis which, after three weeks of extreme prostration, proved fatal. Dr. Addis leaves behind him his widow, and five sons and five daughters.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. DAVID C. A. AGNEW, J.P., WIGTOWN

(Died March 16, 1887.)
Author: Rev. Charles G. McCrie, Ayr
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1887, Biographical Notice, p.181


The late Sir Andrew Agnew, seventh baronet of Lochnaw, who lived as the champion of the Sabbath, and may be said to have died as a martyr, was born in Ireland and brought up an Episcopalian. On becoming a Scotch proprietor he joined the communion of the Church of Scotland, and from the beginning of the Ten Years’ Conflict he identified himself with the Evangelical party. On the mememorable 18th May 1843, he formed part of the procession to Canonmills, having the arm of the great old man Chalmers locked in his; and from that day to his death his sympathies were with and his support was freely tendered to the Free Church. On returning from witnessing our exodus, Sir Andrew and his lady–daughter of Sir David Carnegie, fourth baronet of Southesk—were gratified to learn that one of their sons had, on the first Sabbath after the Disruption, joined the Free Church gathering on the hillside, and that he had assisted in the service. That son was David Carnegie Andrew, third member of the family, and the subject of this brief tribute.

Born in the family mansion of Lochnaw, Wigtownshire, in 1821, David Agnew’s thoughts were from well-nigh childhood turned toward sacred things, and from boyhood to the sacred ministry. He was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, London, and thereafter studied at Edinburgh University, conspicuous among his professors being Sir William Hamilton, James Forbes, “Delta,” Dr. Welsh, and Dr. Chalmers. Having completed his studies, Mr. Agnew visited relatives and friends in different parts of the country, and it was when doing this that he signed the formula as a licentiate of the Free Presbytery of Ayr on the 15th November 1843. From the first Mr. Agnew’s constitution was not robust, so that it was not every charge for which he felt himself physically qualified. But after ministering as a preacher in Aberdeen and the north of Ireland, he felt justified in undertaking the pastorate of Wigtown Free Church, attracted to that locality all the more from its being in his native county.

From 2nd October 1851 to 2nd March 1875, Mr. Agnew was sole pastor of the flock. At the latter date the state of his health rendered it desirable that Mr. Agnew should be relieved of the greater part of the work, and accordingly a colleague was appointed. Ultimately the Rev. John Brown Reid, M.A., now sole minister, was ordained colleague and successor; and in 1878 Mr. Agnew’s connection with Wigtown became purely honorary by his removal to Edinburgh, where he spent the closing years of his life. Busy to the last with research, Mr. Agnew’s last illness was of brief duration; and it was a surprise to many of even his more intimate friends to learn from the newspaper obituary that he had entered into rest and peace in the sixty-sixth year of his age. All that of him is perishable has been laid in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, not far from the burial-place of Chalmers, within the enclosure that contains the remains of his honoured father. On the Sabbath after the funeral, tributes of respect were paid to the memory of the deceased from various pulpits. The Rev. J. B. Reid of Wigtown Free Church having alluded to the pleasant intercourse which had subsisted between himself and his late beloved colleague, spoke of him as “a preacher of evangelical richness,” while the life he lived there “was one impressive and eloquent sermon;” and the Rev. John Squair of the United Presbyterian Church reminded his hearers how his quondam fellow-labourer had ever held fast “the good old doctrines of the Cross,” and how in private and in his intercourse with others it could be said of him “that he was a gentleman of the truest and highest type—a Christian gentleman—amiable, gentle, humble, kind, and obliging, firm in what he believed to be true, without being harsh in his criticism or cruel in his words.” The character of Mr. Agnew’s preaching can easily be gathered by any one into whose hands there may chance to fall a volume of his sermons, now out of print, but which there is reason to believe has proved of service to some. Published in 1863, the title of the collection is, “The Soul’s Business and Prospects familiarly discussed in several Sermons.”

As already hinted, Mr. Agnew was greatly given to works of historical research. His literary pursuits occupied the leisure hours of his active ministry, and they furnished delightful occupation for the years spent in retirement from public life. He was never more truly in his element than when among his books—of which he had at one time a very valuable collection—or when ransacking the manuscript stores of the Edinburgh Register House. His book-stores and his folklore were generously placed at the service of his friends; and it was a source of genuine delight to him to send away any one who dropped in upon him with a volume of old divinity daintily bound, or with some un-thought of track of research suggested which it might be well to follow. Some of the fruits of his investigations are to be found in works with which his name will always be honourably associated.

A “Memoir of Henri de Ruvigny, Earl of Galway,” published in 1864, was followed by “Protestant Exiles from France,” printed in the first instance for private circulation, and of which a corrected and enlarged edition in three volumes was brought out in 1871. At the time of his death Mr. Agnew was engaged in preparing an edition de luxe of this his favourite publication. Intended for public libraries and literary societies, and printed by subscription, only fifty copies will be issued of what will prove a sumptuous book in two folio volumes. The work by which Mr. Agnew is most widely known as an author is that to which he gave what is apt to be the misleading title of “The Theology of Consolation,” the alternative title, however, being more felicitous, ” An Account of many old Writings and Writers;” a quarto volume valuable to all students of Reformation theology because of the stores of biographical and bibliographical information which it contains.

It only remains to be stated that Mr. Agnew married Eleanora, youngest daughter of George Bell, Esq., F.R.S.E. and F.R.C.S.L. and E., a well-known Edinburgh citizen, celebrated in his day as a surgeon, She survives her husband to cherish his memory and mourn her loss, along with a son and a daughter, the former of whom has been for some years in South Africa. May those of the third generation prove worthy of their connection with one of the best families of our Scottish aristocracy, and hand down to others untarnished the honoured name of Agnew.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. JOHN AINSLIE, D.D., ST. ANDREWS

(Died Nov. 6, 1805)
Author: Rev. J. H. Wilson, D.D., Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1896, Obituary, p.68


Dr. Ainslie was born at Edinburgh on tho 9th August 1808. His father began life as a writer in Duns, but having removed to Edinburgh, his son was educated at the High School and the Edinburgh University. He was brought up as an Episcopalian, but became a Presbyterian when he decided to become a minister. He used to tell that he was eighteen years old before he began to learn the Shorter Catechism, and that he learned it during his walks round Arthur’s Seat. He was ordained as minister of Dirleton parish in 1835. He was much beloved by the people there, and his earnest and evangelical ministry at once attracted and impressed them.

During the Ten Years’ Conflict his sympathies were strongly with the Evangelicals, and when the Disruption took place he at once threw in his lot with the Free Church. Dirleton is one of the most beautiful villages in Scotland, and the giving up of his position as a parish minister, and the leaving of his church and manse and a portion of his flock, were trials of no ordinary kind, all the more as the prospect of getting either a place of worship for those of his people who adhered to him, or a home for himself and his family, was very dark indeed. It may literally be said that, like many others, he went out, not knowing whither he went. The following letter, dated 12th May 1893, gives an interesting account of some of his experiences at that eventful time:—

“In answer to your request to be furnished with some of the particulars of my Disruption story, the case stands thus:—Previous to the Disruption I was sent as one of the seven deputies to Strathbogie, and had to read the sentence of deposition of the Rev. Mr. Allardyce, of Rhyme. We were followed by Mr. Peterkin, with interdicts to arrest us in our work, but though he bribed the driver of the mail to drive much more rapidly than usual, he arrived too late, and only found those he was in search of in their hotel, after they had returned from their work. He was in consequence obliged to serve them with blank interdicts. Mine I still preserve. It is needless to add that, despite the appalling threatenings, not one of us was lodged in the Calton Jail. …

“No house having been found in the village of Dirleton which I could occupy, a small proprietor in the neighbourhood, Mr. Cochrane of Muirfield, a shy and somewhat peculiar man, volunteered to let me have his house, which, of course, I should never have dreamt of asking. His condition was very decided and peremptory, that all the time of my residence (and he put no limit to that) I should pay no rent. After vain remonstrances I agreed, as no other house was to be had. I continued to live there for two years, he taking one of his own cottages to live in during my stay; and, strange to say, all the time of my residence I never once saw him, so peculiarly shy was he. When I left his comfortable home, having found a house in Dirleton, he wrote to me expressing his gratification at having been privileged to show respect and kindness to one who, for the sake of truth and conscience, had made such a sacrifice. He doubtless did not lose his reward. My sacrifice, though not light, was nothing compared with that of many. …

” While my church was being built, I was accommodated with his barn by Mr. Todd, farmer at Castle Mains—a somewhat bold thing to do in the circumstances. Mrs. Todd lined the rough walls with linen, provided the necessary forms, and covered the floor with straw, and there till October we comfortably worshipped. One remarkable thing among many was that during the summer we had scarcely a drop of rain, which, to those worshipping on the highways or hillsides, was no slight blessing.”

Dr. Ainslie had married, in 1841, Miss Katherine Wolfe Duff, who proved a true helpmate to him. I have before me a letter to Dr. Ainslie from Dr. Chalmers, dated 20th September 1844, in which he says: “I cannot adequately express my admiration for the moral heroism of all our ministers’ wives. May the best blessings of heaven descend upon you both!”

In regard to his life and ministry at St. Andrews, a minute of the kirk-session, passed since his death, bears that, after his intention to retire from active duty had been made known, an address was presented to him by his office-bearers, which bore true testimony to his uniform courtesy and kindness of demeanour, to the habitual prudence which had regulated his conduct, to the Christian example furnished by his daily walk, and to the earnest and spiritual character of his ministry. During his retirement he continued to take a warm interest in the congregation to which he had so long ministered, as was particularly shown in an affectionately-expressed pastoral letter which he sent them a few years ago, through his then colleague, Mr. Macrae.”

For years Dr. Ainslie had hung up, above the chimney-piece in his bedroom, pictures of Dirleton and St. Andrews, so that they were the first sight that met his eye each morning; and after he was confined to bed, he had them full in view, and spent much of his time in pleading first on behalf of the one place, and then of the other.

The University of St. Andrews conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on Dr. Ainslie, at the suggestion, it is believed, of Sir David Brewster, who was one of his elders.

Dr. Ainslie left St. Andrews in 1875, and finally settled in Edinburgh in 1879. There he spent a very happy and useful life. Indeed, it might not be too much to speak of the sixteen years that followed as one of the most actively useful periods of his life. No. 65 Leamington Terrace became a well-known house. His first wife having died in 1857, in 1860 Dr. Ainslie had married Mrs. Willoughby, widow of the Rev. Mark Willoughby, of the Episcopal Church, Montreal. His whole family circle were like-minded, and welcomed to their home all whom they thought likely to value or be benefited by intercourse with them—ministers, students, Christian workers, and personal friends. Dr. Ainslie was specially interested in students and young ministers, whom he sought to help by conversation, correspondence, and gifts of books. His great desire was that they should be earnestly evangelical, and intent on the winning of souls. Before each General Assembly, a large number of friends used to be invited to meet weekly in his dining-room, to join in special prayer for a blessing on the Assembly’s proceedings. A most interesting meeting for prayer and the study of the Word was also held once a fortnight—called the “Epaphras Meeting”—consisting almost entirely of aged ministers, several of them bordering on eighty, and a few younger men. Among these were:—Rev. Drs. Elder, Laughton, Robert Macdonald, and Addis; Rev. Messrs. Robert Wilson, George Bain, D. Paton, Alexander Miller, T. S. Anderson, John Matheson, W. Masterton, and T. Stothert; Colonel A. G. Young, Mr. Robert Lumsden, etc. Of these the majority predeceased him. It is interesting to know that the surviving members still continue to meet elsewhere. On the alternate week Dr. Ainslie conducted a Bible reading for ladies, for which he made careful preparation, as the papers he has left behind him show. These may serve as specimens of the actively useful life he lived at an age—between eighty and eighty-seven—when most men would think they needed, and had earned, a time of rest.

He often referred to a remarkable spiritual experience which he had when close on eighty—which he regarded as singular of its kind, and which certainly marked an era in his spiritual history. It was on the Sabbath of our winter communion in the Barclay Church, the 30th October 1886. The subject of discourse that day was Exod. 33:18-23: “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,” etc. During the service he had a wonderful elevation of soul—a rising to a higher platform of Christian experience than he had ever had before—a measure of assurance and liberty and joy which he had never known. He wrote to me in the course of the following week, telling me of it, and as an expression of his gratitude to God, enclosing a sum of money which he wished me to dispense for him. It was not a mere passing emotion or imagination. He never lost it. He observed the anniversary of it. There was a special interest attaching to the return of that communion Sabbath during all the years that followed, down to the last, not many days before he passed away, when his bodily strength was almost gone. At our annual “Thanksgiving Meeting,” on the last Wednesday evening of the year, there was sure to be a lengthened communication from him—written at first in his own hand, and latterly in that of one of his daughters—pouring out his heart in thanksgiving to God for the continuance of the great blessing of his life. These letters were quite a feature in the meeting. I asked him not very long ago if the great flow of joy which he had at first had not subsided. He said: “So far from that, it has only increased.” He said it was not conversion. He had every reason to believe he was a converted man long before. Neither did it seem to be what some of the Keswick brethren describe as an experience to which they have attained by a special act of faith. It was just a Divine communication of grace, which he could only adore and praise God for. I need not say that this gave after-intercourse with him a character of a very peculiar and helpful kind. All the former humour and liveliness which were natural to him remained, but under and through it all was a vein of earnestness which could not be mistaken.

I have referred to the warm and prayerful interest which he never ceased to take in his former charges at Dirleton and St. Andrews. He was specially interested in Gullane, a well-known watering-place in his first parish. Services had been conducted in the village for many years in connection with the Free Church; and when the premises in which the meetings had been held came to be sold, it was felt to be desirable to erect a hall, where these services could be conducted. Dr. Ainslie took the liveliest interest in the movement, and bore a large share of the expense; and as the “Ainslie Hall,” it is now a permanent memorial of his early connection with the parish, and of his unabated interest in its spiritual welfare to the last.

Dr. Ainslie spent much of his time latterly in intercessory prayer. Shortly before last Assembly I called to see him, and, when he was thanking me for my visit, I said I had rather a selfish object in coming. He asked what that was. I said: “To ask your prayerful remembrance in view of the Assembly.” “Pray for you!” he said; “I pray for you six times a day,” adding, “and for all the elders too, by name; but I have not got all the deacons yet!”

Others will miss his intercessions as well as we. Lord Overtoun’s large Bible-class at Dumbarton, which he knew about, had taken a great hold of him. Often when lying silently on his bed, he would suddenly look up and say, “Doesn’t the class number more than six hundred?” “We knew,” his daughters write to me, “we knew he was praying for it.”

Towards the end of October last it became evident that the end was drawing near. His bodily strength rapidly declined, and he was able to speak but little. His favourite text was, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness,” and he often wished to have the hymn sung to him, “I shall be satisfied.” He took great delight in the hymn, “Good-night.” and in Dr. Lindsay Alexander’s two hymns, “The Aged Believer at the Gate of Heaven” and “The Aged Saint entering Heaven.” On the evening of Wednesday, November 6, he passed quietly away.
“Sleep on, beloved, sleep, and take thy rest;
Lay down thy head upon thy Saviour’s breast;
We love thee well, but Jesus loves thee best—
Good-night!
Until we meet again before His throne,
Clothed in the spotless robe He gives His own,
Until we know even as we are known—
Good-night!”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. GUSTAVUS AIRD, D.D.

(Died December 20, 1898)
Author: Rev. A. R. Munro, Alness
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1899, Obituary, p.115


The subject of this notice was born in the parish of Kilmuir-Easter, Ross-shire, in the year 1813. That parish enjoyed the rare privilege of having a succession of able evangelical ministers, whose preaching and influence made Kilmuir a centre of spiritual life. Not far from it lies the parish of Tain, where the Rev. Dr. Angus Macintosh, one of the most eminent of the ministers of Ross-shire, laboured. He exercised great influence over Mr. Aird, who attended his church when a pupil at Tain Academy. It is believed that at that time Mr. Aird came under serious concern about spiritual things.

Mr. Aird passed from Tain Academy to attend the arts classes at King’s College, Aberdeen, where, at the end of his four years’ course, he graduated Master of Arts. There also he studied divinity. He was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Tain in the year 1839, and two years thereafter he was ordained to the Parliamentary Church of Croick, in the parish of Kincardine. His preaching gifts soon became well known, and steps were taken to have him as colleague to the minister of the parish of Creich, in Sutherlandshire. The movement was not successful. But when the Disruption took place in 1843, Mr. Aird was unanimously called to be minister of the Free Church of Creich. He was inducted there in August 1843, the services being conducted in the open air, when Mr. George Kennedy, Dornoch, presided, and Dr. Macdonald, Ferintosh, preached. Then and there began a ministry which extended over half a century in that parish. From Sabbath to Sabbath he preached with faithfulness and power. Every year he visited and catechized his people, taking a census of the adherents, which he carefully preserved, and of which he made frequent use in after days.

Mr. Aird was a laborious student. He read the works of Dr. Owen, Charnock, and Thomas Goodwin extensively, and considered these three to be the leading Puritan divines. He was intimately acquainted also with the writings of John Knox and Calderwood. He knew the history of the Church of Scotland in the south as well as he knew its history in the north. A favourite author of Mr. Aird’s was Thomas Boston of Ettrick, and he resembled Boston in the matter and method of his teaching. Mr. Stewart, Cromarty, called Mr. Aird the “Boston of the North.”

Born and brought up in a farmhouse, Mr. Aird was thoroughly acquainted with agriculture, and was able to take an intelligent interest in the circumstances of the holders of land in the parish of Creich. During his incumbency, the late Mr. Tennant of Well Park presented to the Free Church congregation a glebe, and in connection with its cultivation Mr. Aird found suitable exercise for his knowledge of farming. He was wont to say that the glebe contained “seven hills,” and these he set himself to level—a work which he accomplished successfully. He took a deep interest in the temporal welfare of his fellow-countrymen. In his first charge, Croick, he witnessed the ruthless oppression of the people, and rendered valuable assistance to the crofters by his advocacy of their cause. Latterly he had the satisfaction of seeing them in secure possession of their holdings, no man being able to make them afraid.

Mr. Aird’s services were not confined to Creich. At what he was ever accustomed to call the “memorable Disruption,” he gave valuable assistance to congregations without settled ministers; and at communion seasons he aided his brethren in Ross and Sutherland in an extraordinary measure. Every year, in the month of June, he assisted largely at Dornoch, also at Golspie and Rosskeen. In July he preached at Inverness communion, at Lairg, Tain, Rosehall, Alness, and Urray. In not a few cases he conducted a service on Thursday (the Fast Day preceding the communion Sabbath) in the open air, extending over three hours; he presided at the “question meeting” on Friday; and held on Saturday and Monday a service similar to that on Thursday. On Sabbath his “action” sermon and other services extended over four hours. And never was he heard to complain of being tired. Rarely could he be persuaded to rest in an easy-chair. In August he regularly assisted his beloved friend, Dr. Kennedy, at Dingwall, where there was a gathering of Christian brethren such as was to be met only there, and at Creich on the third week of August, the week of the communion. Thither men and women assembled from nearly every parish in Sutherland and on the mainland of Ross-shire. Among Mr. Aird’s assistants on such occasions were Dr. Macdonald, Ferintosh; Dr. Charles Macintosh, Tain; Mr. John Macrae, Knockbain; Mr. Sage, Resolis; and Dr. Kennedy, Dingwall. These were indeed seasons of the power of the Most High, which gladdened and strengthened the hearts of wayfarers to Zion. Of them many said, “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

In the year 1861 Mr. Aird married Miss Mary Sim, daughter of Mr. William Sim, once of Drummond, Ross-shire. The union was one of great comfort and blessing to Mr. Aird. Mrs. Aird sympathized fully with her husband in his work, and in his love for the past religious history of the north. She proved to him a valuable helpmeet. To the regret of many, her state of health is now very unsatisfactory.

No one sought the honour that comes from man less than Mr. Aird. He dwelt contentedly among his people in patriarchal simplicity and godly sincerity. He loved the Highlands, and possessed vast stores of interesting information about the past religious history of Ross and Sutherland. Every parish had for him bright memories of great and good men, and of events of deep interest; and of this information he made apt use in his sermons.

In the year 1885 Dr. Aird received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Aberdeen; and in 1888 he was chosen to be Moderator of the Free Church General Assembly which met in Inverness. Dr. Aird gratified his friends and surprised many by the striking individuality of character which he displayed as Moderator, and by the simple dignity and the breadth of judgment shown in his addresses from the chair. The magistrates of Inverness did themselves honour by presenting him with the freedom of the burgh, an honour rarely bestowed on a minister of the gospel.

On the occasion of Dr. Aird’s jubilee, in the year 1891, the event was celebrated at Creich, when he was presented with addresses from his own and other congregations, and from the Presbytery of Dornoch, expressing their profound regard and affection for him. At the same time he received from his congregation and friends in the north and south the sum of 600 guineas as a token of esteem. Mrs. Aird also received a handsome gift.

In 1897 Dr. Aird went to reside at Sale, near Manchester, the residence of his nephew, the Rev. W. A. Sim, minister of the Presbyterian Church there. He felt that his work was done. That work had been of a unique and valuable kind. For many years he had occupied a very high place in the estimation of the Highland people. His lofty, personal character, his genuine godliness, his unswerving integrity, won for him a deep place in the hearts of his fellow-countrymen, and gave weight to the message of the gospel which he proclaimed. In prayer he came nearer to his hearers than in his preaching. The reserve of his character was then laid aside, and he poured out the words of a broken and contrite heart communing with the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity. He took great pleasure in fellowship with the “little flock,” and loved to speak to them about the days of the fathers and concerning the things of the kingdom of Christ. He longed for a revival of the work of God.

Dr. Aird’s intercourse with his brethren in the ministry was most pleasant. He was always genial and cheerful. His coming to a manse was a cause of joy to old and young. In his own home he was noted for his stately courtesy and his great hospitality. He possessed features of character rarely combined in one person, and when he left Creich it was felt that a great influence for good had been removed.

Towards the end of last year Dr. Aird’s once strong frame became weak, and having contracted a severe cold in December, he gradually sank, and fell asleep in Jesus on the twentieth day of that month. His remains were interred in Creich on the twenty-fourth December, near to the church where he had for so long a time preached the gospel. Only a few weeks previously Dr. Aird was cheered by hearing of the ordination of the Rev. Norman Campbell to be his colleague and successor.

One generation passeth away after another, but he who doeth the will of God abideth for ever. It was comforting to remember this when the remains of our beloved father were committed to the grave. It was in the sure hope of a glorious resurrection. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: they rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. ANDREW AITKEN, M.A., CAMBUSNETHAN

(Died February 1898)
Author: Rev. H. G. Shepherd, Cambuslang
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1898, Obituary, p.146


Born and educated in Aberdeen, Andrew Aitken, after some years spent at business, set his heart on the ministry of the gospel. A year’s probation was passing away in silence, and his parents concluding that the fancy had gone off, when, at the close of the day’s usual work, Andrew handed the desk-key to his father, and said quietly: “Now the year is out, and I go to college.” It was characteristic: all his work was done with a quiet intensity that escaped all but the most observant, but that cost him more than was suspected.

After college courses in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, he took licence, and for three and a half years did church-extension work at Cambuslang, and for two years more was assistant in Barclay Church, Edinburgh. He was then called to the pastoral charge of Cambusnethan, Presbytery of Hamilton. Here, as elsewhere, his warm interest in their life, his quiet devotion to work, and his impressive, simple preaching won for him the love of his people, and gave the prospect of a ministry of unusual acceptance. It was otherwise ordained. Before two years had passed his health was found to be hopelessly undermined, and after three months he passed quietly away at Forres.

He had in an eminent degree the fine quality of goodness. At college, besides esteem for his natural abilities, he won the affection of his fellow-students for the sincerity and strength of his character, while a distinct aroma of devoutness in his thought and speech impressed them deeply. Few men have so few of the faults that weaken a minister’s influence. Full of the Spirit of Christ, alive to the burdens men have to bear, and overjoyed to be of use, his promised to be a ministry of consolation; and every faculty sanctified and fit for the Master’s use, a long ministry seemed only natural. Its brevity is mysterious; but brief as it has been, it has left stimulating memories of a true and bright Christian character, the fragrance of which will linger long in the locality.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. MARK AITKEN, DYKE

Died June 20, 1869
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 2, 1869, p.184


Another of the honoured fathers of the Free Church has passed away, in the eighty-second year of his age, and the fifty-third of his ministry. Ordained first to the pastoral charge of the Scotch Church in Sunderland, and soon after translated to the parish of Dyke, he proved himself in both places an earnest and laborious servant of Christ. The Presbytery of Forres, to which Dyke belongs, was at the time he joined it thoroughly congenial, all the brethren evangelical, and all knit together in a very close and tender friendship — a friendship which death alone interrupted. It was Mr. Aitken’s lot to survive all these brethren. At the Disruption he joined the Free Church, followed by a large congregation, in the face of many hardships and strong opposition from many valued friends in his neighbourhood, who, while they loved him, disliked the step he was taking. He having been clerk to the Presbytery of Forres till the Disruption, his well-known exactness in business and his intimate knowdege of Church law and form obtained for him the appointment of clerk to the Free Synod of Moray, which he retained till compelled to retire from all public duty about fourteen years ago. He has since that time been residing with his son-in-law, the Rev. P. Maclaren of Brighton; the mild climate, there is no doubt, prolonging his life for years. It was a comfort to him, also, that though unable to raise his voice in public, he could still serve the Church by his counsels in the kirk-session, and still care for the house of his God. His life was singularly blameless; he had many loving friends, and did not know of one enemy in the world. In his active life he was assiduous in pastoral work, studious and painstaking as a preacher, and most accurate and conscientiously thorough in everything he had to do; and he has gone to his rest revered and beloved by all who knew him, peculiarly by those who have witnessed his godliness, patience, and kindliness in the closing years of his worthy life. His remains were conveyed, according to his own desire, to rest among his flock at Dyke; and the love and esteem with which he was regarded there was shown by the large attendance at his funeral—the heritors of the parish and the ministers of the neighbourhood uniting in this last tribute to his memory with those to whom he had been so long a pastor.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. WILLIAM ALEXANDER, DUNTOCHER

(Died 2nd June 1890)
Author: Rev. James Harvey, M.A., Free Lady Glenorchy’s, Edinburgh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January, 1891, Obituary, p.18


The Rev. William Alexander was born on the 23rd March 1808 in the school-house of Fowlis, near Dundee, where his father was parish teacher. Having enjoyed a good education under his father’s tuition, he passed at an early age through the University of Andrews, where he came under the potent influence of Dr. Chalmers, and formed one of a band of young men “whose hearts God had touched,” and whose memories are dear to-day to God’s people. His enthusiass and beliefs were born amid the storm and retained to the end the impress, of the Ten Years’ Conflict”.

Having entered the ministry, Mr. Alexander was immediately recognized as a man of no ordinary ability, and was held in high repute for his keen and decisive preaching. For some time he was assistant to the late Rev. Dr. John Macnaughton of the High Church. Paisley, and thereafter he received a unanimous call to the quoad sacra church of Duntocher, in succession to the Rev. John Pollock, translated to Baldernock. This was in the year 1838 when Duntocher was a busy centre of the cotton industry. His congregation was at that time large and enthusiastic and the early ministry of Mr. Alexander was a strong power for good throughout the whole neighbourhood. Chiefly through his evangelical preaching and impressive personality, the whole body of the people cast in their lot with the Free Church at the Disruption.

For half a century and more Mr. Alexander was a faithful servant of Christ to his congregation and to the Church in Dumbartonshire. Mainly by his exertions the present church and manse of Duntocher Free Church were built soon after the Disruption. In the great revival of 1860-61 he took a foremost place, and was the centre of a spiritual movement the effects of which are still felt in the neighbourhood. When the cotton-mills of the village were closed, and the greater part of his congregation were scattered in search of work, he did not lose heart, but plodded faithfully on; and when the crash of the City Bank in 1878 spoiled him of his savings, he bore the loss with Christian contentment. Although repeated efforts were made to remove him to larger and more important charges, he preferred to remain among his old people at Duntocher. For many years he was clerk to the Presbytery, and for a long time its senior member. Feeling the approach of old age, Mr. Alexander demitted his office as Presbytery clerk, and retired from the active work of the ministry in 1885, when a colleague and successor was appointed. On that occasion he was the recipient of a handsome silver salver and a purse containing £250 from his friends in the congregation and neighbourhood; and a few years afterwards, on the occasion of his jubilee, he was presented with congratulatory addresses from the Presbytery and the congregation. Though in retirement, Mr. Alexander took a lively interest in all the movements of the time—political, social, and religious; and to the end of his days he was a keen observer and critic of the trend of modern thought and life. Nothing delighted him so much or showed his powers so well as a talk about the men and events that made history fifty years ago, or those that are making it to-day.

On the evening of the 2nd June, while conversing cheerily with his wife, he was attacked by apoplexy, and passed away after a few hours’ illness. Some years previously his brother, the Rev. Thomas Alexander of Chelsea, the friend of Carlyle, succumbed to a similarly sudden attack of the same disease. Mr. Alexander leaves behind him a widow and a son to mourn his loss.

In many respects Mr. Alexander was a remarkable man. His physique was commanding. His character was strong and stern. His intellectual grasp was firm and rigid. The spiritual qualities of the man were vivid and deep. He was a strong man all round, but strong especially in the pulpit. It was there that he proved himself to be the keen theologian, the close reasoner, the eloquent pleader, the fearless ambassador, “shrinking not from declaring the whole counsel of God.”

His theology was an outstanding feature of the man. His creed was his very life. In his early years it was the fruit of conviction, and to the end of his days it was part of his being. Through all the transformations of thought and language which recent years have witnessed, the faith of Mr. Alexander remained unchanged in form as well as essence. He was a Calvinist of the Calvinists, and spurned Arminianism in all its shades as dishonouring to God. Had he lived in the early days of the seventeenth century the Remonstrants would have found in him a most uncompromising and irresistible antagonist.

Another characteristic of Mr. Alexander was his intense spiritual feeling. In this respect he was emphatically a Puritan of the Puritans. The passages of his spiritual experience were always striking—at one time bright with “the gleam of the beatific vision,” at another time lurid with the glare of the everlasting fire. One prominent feature in his religion was his absolute submissiveness to God as Sovereign, and his passionate self-abasement before him. He did not spare himself, but earnestly searched into the roots of his being that self might be wholly humbled before the holiness and majesty of God. Another strong point was his devotion and loyalty to the person of Christ, and faith in the merits of his sacrifice. These were the poles of his religious experience, while his common saying was that “love to the brethren” was to him the chief ground of assurance.

Most men who had any intercourse with Mr. Alexander remarked on his frequent spiritual depression and gloom. It may be he searched into his own heart too much and too closely, or soared too far into the thin air of metaphysical and theological speculation; but that was only for a time. His home was in a simple faith, and these experiences were but the restless goings forth of the keen intellect or the penitent heart. These were the shadows of his life in a world of doubt and imperfect vision, and it seems as if the manner of his departure from this earth was designed by his gracious Master to suit his servant’s needs. He was not left lingering long on the brink of the grave, perplexing himself with anxious thoughts about the safety of the journey hence. Almost in a moment the change came, and the heavens were opened, and “the parting of the cloud revealed Him who sometimes hides Himself long, that we may find Him more gladly at last.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. WILLIAM BURTON ALEXANDER

(Died November 25, 1891)
Author: Dr. J. H. Wilson, Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1892, Obituary, p.45


Mr. Alexander was born in Peebles-shire in 1824, and after some business training in Edinburgh, he entered the university, and thereafter completed his theological course at the New College. For some years he was closely associated with myself, and also with Mr. Wells, Mr. Sloan, and others in territorial mission work in Fountainbridge, into which he threw himself with his whole heart, and brought all his resources to bear upon it. He had a wonderful faculty of enlisting others in the service of Christ and he had then, as he had all along, a singular gift of dealing with individuals, getting a personal influence over them, and helping them for both lives.

While working at Fountainbridge, he was recommended to the Earl of Aberdeen, who was looking out for one who should be a tutor and companion to his three sons, and a kind of domestic chaplain at Haddo House. Very important consequences came of this. Besides engaging in evangelistic work in the parishes around, and entering into all the schemes of “the good Earl” for the benefit of the people, he came in contact with many in the upper classes of society, with whom he had personal dealing, and on whom there is reason to believe he exerted a salutary influence.

Partly as companion and partly as tutor, he accompanied Lord Haddo, the Hon. James Hamilton Gordon, and the Hon. John Campbell Gordon (the present estimable and philanthropic Earl) to St. Andrews, where these young noblemen attended the university, and under Mr. Alexander’s care got help and impulse which they never lost. There, too, Mr. Alexander got outlet for his energies, getting the more earnest students formed into an association of Christian workers, and influencing them personally in a helpful way.

Mr. Alexander’s first charge, as an ordained minister, was at Crathie, close to the Queen’s summer residence at Balmoral. The late Lord Dalhousie and others had exerted themselves to erect a beautiful church, but there were serious difficulties to contend with, and no suitable house to live in could be got. There he laboured faithfully for eight years, and did a most important work. Though his own congregation was necessarily small, he kept up their heart and their loyalty by telling them that theirs was one of the outposts of a great Church; he carried on an unintermitted round of gospel services throughout the surrounding district; anticipating the Welfare of Youth scheme, he prescribed books on various subjects to the lads and young men, whether of his own congregation or not, prepared examination papers, carefully read and attached a value to the answers, and gave prizes to the successful competitors. A remarkable intellectual stimulus was thus given, the effects of which remain to this day. Young men were imbued with a missionary spirit, and were sent forth to witness and work for Christ in different parts of the country and of the world.

After trying to carry on the Crathie work from Braemar for a time, it was found necessary to make a change, though not until provision was generously made by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander for a future manse when a suitable site should be got, which has since been done. They left the district amid many regrets.

I cannot here speak in detail of Mr. Alexander’s work at Inverness as assistant to Dr. Donald Fraser, and later as assistant to Dr. Dykes at Regent Square Church; nor of his earnest labours at Birkenhead, in connection with the Hamilton Memorial Church; nor of his visits to Luxor in Egypt and Mentone, where he got access to many of the invalids in these favourite health-resorts.

After residing for a time in Edinburgh, Mr. Alexander, in 1884, accepted the charge of Whitfield Church, Drury Lane, London, which he held up to the time of his death. This field was one of peculiar difficulty, calling for no ordinary amount of faith and patience and self-sacrificing labour. Never did missionary or Bible-woman devote themselves more unweariedly to the people of a sunken district than did Mr. and Mrs. Alexander to the population in the streets and lanes of that part of the metropolis, liberally spending their means on every agency likely to be helpful, and sending one and another of those whom they rescued to their property in the country, in the hope that change of scene and occupation might invigorate them morally and physically, some of these becoming very remarkable trophies of grace. Seldom, perhaps, have there been those with ample means, who might have lived in ease and luxury in their fine old mansion-house, surrounded by beautiful grounds, and in the midst of attached servants and work-people, who yet left all this, as they did, to raise the fallen and gather in the lost, by personal effort and otherwise, in the uninviting purlieus of a great city. All honour to them!

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. JAMES HAMILTON ALLAN, NORTH YELL, SHETLAND

(Died March 11, 1899)
Author: Rev. John F. Linn, M.A., Airlie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July, 1899, Obituary, p.164


Mr. Hamilton Allan was born at Gallatown, Fife, and was brought up under the influences of a pious, God-fearing home. The sacred memories of his childhood were ever associated with the earnest ministry of the Rev. Mr. Jamieson, of whom he often spoke in terms of admiration. In early life he went to Glasgow, and continued in business for a few years. But he felt drawn to the work of the ministry. His desire to give himself to the service of Christ was fostered by the late Dr. Samuel Miller of Free St. Matthew’s, whom he greatly honoured and loved. After engaging in home mission work for a time, he was recommended by Dr. Miller for the situation of missionary in the congregation of the late Dr. Munro of Manchester, and was unanimously appointed. In that city he made many friends, among whom was Mr. Barbour of Bolwarth Castle, who strongly urged and encouraged him to proceed with his studies for the ministry. After two years devoted service in Manchester, he returned to Glasgow, and took the ordinary curriculum in arts at the university. His theological course was taken in the English Presbyterian College, London. After licence by the Presbytery of London, his special gifts as a preacher were soon recognized, more than one tempting offer being made to him in England. Coming north to Scotland, he acted as assistant to the late Rev. John Bain, Logiepert, Montrose, for eighteen months, and in a similar capacity was associated for a short time with the late Rev. Dr. Smith of Keig and Tough.

On August 16, 1876, Mr. Allan was ordained minister of Strathdon and Glenbucket; and in this wide district his labours, carried on with assiduity and fervour, were much blessed to souls. After a ministry of four years in Strathdon he received a call from the congregation at Sellafirth, North Yell, and was inducted to the charge in November 1880.

When Mr. Allan was settled at Sellafirth, the church and manse, which were much out of repair, were put in excellent order at considerable cost; and to his exertions also the mission hall at Seafield, Mid-Yell, where he frequently held service, was well furnished. He was ever ready to further the interests of those who were setting out in the business of life, as well as to help the poor and needy. His class for young men of the district was conducted with signal success. Many of his lads, as he affectionately termed them, now occupy responsible positions far away from the isles of Shetland.

Mr. Allan was an attractive and impressive preacher. His sermons and addresses were always marked by freshness and power. He belonged to the school of McCheyne and the Bonars; and it was his delight to declare in simple, lucid language the doctrines of the grace of God. In evangelistic work he was largely engaged; and in the various localities in which he ministered, his services were frequently owned of God in awakening the careless and in building up the church. At North Yell his ministry extended a little over eighteen years. Though for a considerable time the state of his health was very indifferent, his death came somewhat unexpectedly. After a brief illness, he passed to his rest on Saturday, March 11, 1899. God gave His beloved sleep. As the end drew near, his mind began to wander a little; but his thoughts all the time turned on two matters that had been characteristic of his faithful and fruitful work. In his dying hours his two oft-expressed wishes were: first, that some of the young people would decide for Christ; and second, that all would join in praising God for His wonderful, wonderful love.

The memory of Mr. Allan will long be sweet and fragrant in the district where in providence he was settled, where deeds of love were done by him which are not left unchronicled in the book of God’s kingdom, and words of truth and love were spoken that guided and helped and cheered many in the pilgrimage of life. While we admire the patient continuance in well-doing, the zeal for God’s glory, and the childlike cheerful trust that have marked the career and adorned the character of those whom we have loved in the fear of God and in the faith of Christ, let us seek to imitate their example and follow closely in their footsteps. Let us work with similar fidelity and prayerfulness. “The day goeth away.”

Mrs. Allan, who survives her husband, is a daughter of the late Dr. Smith of Keig and Tough, and a sister of the late Prof. Robertson Smith, and of Mr. C. Michie Smith, Government Astronomer, Madras. A gifted lady of gifted family, she has devoted her high attainments to the work of the Lord in the congregations and in the communities in the different districts in which her lot has been cast. May He who is the husband of the widow be with her under the shadow of her great loss, and may all the bereaved people of Sellafirth receive the benediction, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
After a life of such remarkable and varied Christian service, Mr. Alexander passed away, after a short illness, on the 25th November, and was buried on the following Tuesday in the quiet churchyard within the grounds of the Bury, near Bedford.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. JOHN ALLAN, M.A., GARMOUTH

(Died January 2, 1891)
Author: Rev. George Gardiner, M.A., Garmouth
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1891, Obituary, p.117


Born in the popular fishing town of Lossiemouth, in the eleventh year of the century, Mr. Allan’s life and labours were confined to his native province of Moray. Manifesting in early youth a studious bent of mind, his father, who was an elder in the parish church, decided to send him to college. In his college classes he took a distinguished place, carrying off several first prizes, and at the close graduating in Arts.

In the year 1831, when nineteen years of age, he became tutor at the private academy at Calcots, conducted at that time by the father of the Rev. Charles Barclay, senior minister of the Free Church of Enzie. Here Mr. Allan laboured with such ability and success that in a short time he was offered and accepted the position of parish schoolmaster at Rothes. In this sphere he remained for a period of twelve years, gathering together a large and prosperous school of day and boarding pupils, many of whom he prepared for college, and not a few occupy positions of trust and influence throughout the world.

Having obtained the theological training required at that time by the Church to qualify for her ministry, Mr. Allan was licensed to preach the gospel, and upon occasions occupied with much acceptance the pulpits of ministers in the neighbourhood of Rothes.

Coming under those influences which issued in the memorable Disruption of 1843, he cast in his lot, heartily and unreservedly, with the party who formed themselves into the Free Church of Scotland.

His gifts as a preacher having attracted the attention of the newly-formed congregation at Garmouth, Mr. Allan received and accepted their call to become their minister. He was ordained on the 17th July 1843, in the wood-yard of a saw-mill which then existed, there not being at that time any suitable church edifice; he having, it is believed, the honour of being the first minister to be ordained to a pastoral charge in the newly-constituted Free Church. With characteristic energy and enterprise, he immediately set himself to the work of organizing the new congregation, appointing office-bearers and erecting a church and a manse. In a short time the young minister had gathered around him a large and warmly-attached congregation. So abundant were his labours in the stirring years which followed the Disruption, that they brought on an affection of the throat, from which he suffered, more or less, to the very last.

Mr. Allan was a man of scholarly habits, of literary gifts, and considerable natural ability. He was a great lover of the Free Church, and never lost an opportunity of commending and enforcing upon all, and especially upon the young, her distinctive principles. The pulpit was his throne. He had a great pleasure in preaching, but the weakness of his throat and voice prevented him from being often out of his own pulpit. His preaching was vigorous and logical, and expressed in simple, pure Saxon, with much ease and fluency. “Christ and him crucified,” the theme of his inaugural sermon as minister of Garmouth, he preached with clearness and fulness; and the duties of religion he inculcated with much force and fervour. The young were his peculiar care from the first, and by means of Sabbath schools and Bible classes he laboured zealously to promote their spiritual welfare. From many parts of the colonies, of Africa, and of America, he received communications from young men and young women who had been members of his Bible class, expressing attachment and gratitude for benefit received.

The welfare of the community at large was his constant and assiduous care, and he was ready to countenance and support every movement fitted to promote the moral or the material well-being of the people among whom he lived. While retiring in his disposition and habits, Mr. Allan was to his friends the most genial of companions, to all kind and hospitable, and to the poor generous and liberal. He won the thorough respect and esteem of the whole community among whom he lived and laboured for almost half a century, all looking up to him, and trusting him, as a man of sound practical judgment, and of sincere, blameless, and earnest Christian life. Like most men, he had his favourite studies and interests. He was an earnest student of the Jews, their history and their country. He had cherished the hope for many years of visiting the Holy Land, but was never able to have his ambition realized. Prophecy was another of his special studies. While preaching righteousness to his own generation, and rebuking faithfully the follies and the sins of the times, he looked abroad upon the world at large, and loved to trace the fulfilment of divine prediction and prophecy in the history of men and of nations. While holding tenaciously to his own views of doctrinal truth, he heartily sympathized with and rejoiced in all efforts towards the clearer and fuller comprehension of divine Revelation. Faithfulness to Christian duty was, perhaps, the most outstanding feature in his character as a man and as a minister. Heedless of their frown or their favour, he laboured with singular assiduity and fidelity for the spiritual and eternal interests of his people. When he considered it needful, Mr. Allan spoke out strongly and emphatically against what he believed was wrong or hurtful in doctrine or in practice. Fond of system and method, he carried out his duties and engagements to the letter.

Mr. Allan was never married. A like-minded sister lived with him until her death, some six years before that of her brother. Totally blind from cataract during the last five or six years of her life, yet unfailingly bright and cheerful, it was very touching to witness the devotion of the one to the other.

A colleague and successor having been secured in 1880, Mr. Allan spent the last decade of his life in the enjoyment of a well-earned Sabbatical rest. For some time previous to the end it was evident that the earthly tabernacle was being gradually broken up; and in the morning of the second day of the year, the aged servant of God, somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, expired. To his niece, who since the death of her aunt had waited upon him with singular devotion, Mr. Allan said a short time before the end, “I am dying,” and very soon thereafter fell asleep in Jesus, his countenance wearing an expression of sweet calm, the reflection of the perfect peace within.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. WILLIAM O. ALLAN

(Died January 8, 1885)
Author: Rev. Robert Smith, Corsock.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.116


The Rev. W.O. Allan, a native of Dumfriesshire, and for many years missionary to the Jews in the East, died at Edinburgh on the 8th January last, aged seventy-two years. Mr. Allan was one of the earliest appointments to the Jewish field, and before he had quite completed his theological course, was sent out in the early summer of 1841, along with the Rev. Dr. Duncan and Smith, to Pesth in Hungary, that he might further prosecute his studies and acquire experience in mission work. He returned for ordination in 1842, and towards the close of the same year was appointed to open a station at Damascus, in conjunction with the late Dr. Graham, agent of the Irish Presbyterian Church. On his way he was detained for a season in Constantinople, at the earnest request of the American missionaries, on account of the special exigencies at the time of Jewish work in that city. In September 1843 he arrived at Damascus, where he devoted himself with great ardour and success to the study of Arabic, and meanwhile engaged also in such direct missionary labour as fell to his hands. The urgent necessities, however, of Constantinople, as well as the circumstance that the Irish portion of the united mission at Damascus had been strengthened by the arrival of another labourer, caused him to be recalled to the former place in the autumn of 1844. Though various initial steps had been taken by others before his settlement there, he may be regarded as the founder of our mission in that city, where he prosecuted the work with great assiduity, and many cheering tokens of divine favour, till in the year 1850 he was obliged, on account of the illness of his wife, to dissolve his connection with the Committee and return to this country. For a time he served in the ministry of the English Presbyterian Church at North Shields, but afterwards accepted a call to St. Thomas in the West Indies, where he became a leader in every good work, and was greatly beloved and esteemed, not only by his own congregation, but by the whole community. At the time of the terrible earthquake which occurred in that island, he was intrusted with large funds, collected for the relief of the sufferers; and as a mark of his sense of the value of his services, the king of Denmark conferred on him the honour of the knighthood of Dannebrog. During a temporary visit to this country, he was intrusted by the Committee with a mission to Pesth; but as his congregation at St. Thomas had failed to secure the services of a suitable minister, he returned again to that place, and completed there the remaining years of his active ministry, retiring only when disabled from broken health.

Mr. Allan was a man of solid abilities and acquirements, of deep conscientiousness, of marked steadfastness and perseverance in the discharge of duty. In his natural disposition he was genial and kind, and devoted as he was to his Master’s service in all things, he retained to the last a special and lively interest in the welfare of Israel. His end was perfect peace. He leaves two daughters and several grandchildren to mourn his loss.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. ALEXANDER ANDERSON, HELENSBURGH

(Died October 10, 1891)
Author: Rev. William Scrymgeour, Glasgow
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1891, Obituary, p.375


Anderson was born at Barry, on the sea-board of Forfarshire, in the earlier part of the year 1823. His parents, who belonged to the Burgher branch of the Secession Church, were held in esteem by all whoknew them, and specially by their own children, who knew them best, for their exemplary piety and probity. On leaving school, it became necessary for him to make choice of some occupation; but, after trying more than one handicraft and finding it impossible to settle down at any, he betook himself again to books, and made such progress in his studies as to be deemed qualified for the office of assistant teacher in a school in Edinburgh. Having once secured a foothold on the educational ladder, he found it comparatively easy to rise to appointments of a more important kind. It was possible also to combine with the discharge of his duties as a teacher attendance on some of the university classes; and this was done, though not with any intention of preparing for the ministry; for he took delight in teaching children and in drawing out their mental powers into exercise, and had a genius for interesting them in whatever interested himself. Indeed, up to the end of his university course, he thought of teaching as destined to be the employment of his life.

It was not till close upon his thirtieth year that he resolved to study for the ministry of the Free Church, and that with this view he entered the New College, Edinburgh. Here a new life seemed all at once to open up to him. Hitherto his tendencies had mainly taken a literary direction. He had cared more for the forms in which thought clothed itself than for the thought that found embodiment in them. He had been an enthusiastic worshipper of beauty rather than of truth. Addison, Goldsmith, Sterne, and Charles Lamb were the prose writers in whom he had taken the deepest delight, and Coleridge and Wordsworth the poets who had most mightily moved him. In any efforts of his own at authorship, also, it could easily be seen that his chief aim was to express himself in pure and felicitous English. Even after he had passed through the classes of Sir William Hamilton and John Wilson, to which many owed their intellectual quickening, he remained an artist rather than a thinker.

But his entrance into the theological hall changed all this. His fellow-students were, to quite an unusual extent, men of great intellectual power. He and they felt themselves dealing with subjects of transcendent importance, in circumstances which called on them to quit themselves like men; for an attempt was being made to subvert the foundation truths of the Christian faith. The criticism to which Strauss had subjected the Gospel records was declared by many to have denuded them of all reasonable pretensions to be regarded as presenting a narrative of facts. And in the face of such declarations, and of the arguments by which they were supported, it was felt that those who aspired to be the religious teachers and guides of their fellow-men must look into these questions with their own eyes, and come to their own conclusions with regard to them, if they were to be able to say, “We believe, and therefore do we speak.” It was in such an atmosphere that the four years of Mr. Anderson’s theological course were spent, and he did not escape the influence of the movement that was making itself felt all around him. He saw the importance of the questions put to those asked to give a reason for their faith in Christ; and he found the best reason that he could give, not in the evidences for the historical truthfulness of the Gospel narrative, but in the spiritual power flowing forth from Christ, and experienced and manifested in the case of all who believe in his name. So that, when at length he was licensed to preach the gospel, it was as one who felt that he had a gospel to preach—a gospel that is the power of God unto salvation now as truly as of old.

Mr. Anderson had not long to wait till he found a congregation to minister to. Having received a unanimous call to Markinch, in Fifeshire, he was ordained to that charge on the 25th of March 1858; and settling down to his work, and throwing his whole strength into it, he soon obtained the reputation of being an excellent preacher and a faithful and assiduous pastor. As the natural outcome of this, vacant congregations in important localities began to look in the direction of Markinch; and at last the Free West congregation at Helensburgh, being desirous of obtaining a colleague and successor to their invalided pastor, the Rev. John Anderson, thought that they could not do better than ask the Rev. Alexander Anderson to consent to accept that post. He felt that the sphere of labour to which he was invited was a most important one, and was inducted to it by the Presbytery of Dumbarton on the 18th June 1863. Four years afterwards the death of the senior colleague left him sole pastor of the congregation, with a free hand to carry out his own ideas regarding the work of the ministry.

Usually he devoted the Sabbath forenoon to the continuous exposition of some one of the books of Scripture—the book selected being sometimes from the Old Testament, sometimes from the New. The afternoon’s discourse had always the character of a concio ad populum; the topic taken up being treated textually, but with great variety of pointed application. Both discourses were prepared with great care and fully written out, and were read with rapidity, and occasionally with vehemence. But, diversified as the subjects of his preaching were, the two things that had the most prominent place in it were sin and salvation. What is mentioned by him as having been said regarding Dr. Nathaniel Paterson might with equal propriety have been said of himself: “While possessing one of the most original of minds, he never in preaching sought to startle his hearers by any far-fetched thought, but always set forth simply the old truths—old, yet ever new — and, as handled by him, ever irradiated by some gleam or dash of genius.”

But during the latter portion of Mr. Anderson’s ministry in Helensburgh, the afternoon service assumed a peculiar form. He had from the first taken a special interest in the young people of his congregation, and had shown this by often preaching to them. But at last, with the full consent of his session, he devoted every afternoon chiefly to the religious instruction of the young. After an hour occupied with praise and prayer and a discourse of a conversational kind, the younger children came forward to the pews right before the pulpit, and were examined on the substance of the sermon they had been listening to, while in a different part of the church those somewhat older employed themselves in writing out answers to questions set down on a blackboard in front of them. The lesson occupied only half-an-hour, and was so much prized that the absentees did not on an average number more than seven per cent, of those whose names were on the roll. The good resulting from this direct dealing with the children is believed by those best able to judge to have been very great. And a more suitable and impressive memorial of the spirit in which this work originated and was carried on could not be found than that which meets the eye in the stained-glass window at the east end of the church, presented by Mr. and Mrs. Anderson to the congregation, the subject of which is “Christ blessing the little children.”

But while there were certain parts of his work which had a special attraction for Mr. Anderson neither he nor his ministry could be described as one-sided. He was an assiduous visitor as well a powerful preacher. He could enter into the feelings of the aged as well as of the young; he could rejoice with them that rejoiced, and weep with them that wept. He could not only labour earnestly and laboriously himself, but he could stir up others to address themselves to Christian work, and could guide and encourage them in the doing of it. It was while he was exercising such abundant influence for good that he intimated his intention of resigning the pastorate of the congregation that had for nearly nineteen years been under his care. The intimation was both a surprise and a pain to many. But his resolution had been deliberately formed, and could not be shaken. It seemed to him right that, while he was still able to discharge all the duties of his office, and while his congregation was in a prosperous condition, he should retire, and make room for a new man, whose coming might give afresh stimulus to the life and activity of the flock which he loved. And with characteristic generosity he declined to burden the congregation with any retiring allowance to himself, that they might be the better able to make provision for the one whom they might choose as his successor. Accordingly, on the 7th December 1881, the Presbytery accepted Mr. Anderson’s resignation.

On leaving Helensburgh he came to Edinburh and had soon the opportunity of showing that he was as able and willing to undertake hard work as ever; for he put himself at the service of more than one important congregation, and rendered them valuable aid, seeking and receiving no other reward than the satisfaction of knowing that his labours had not been in vain in the Lord.

But about three or four years ago he was assailed by a trouble which, notwithstanding all that human love or skill could do, made gradual inroads on his strength, till on Saturday, the 10th of October last he passed away. On the following Wednesday his remains were reverently laid in the Grange Cemetery by a company of mourners who felt that they were parting with a man greatly beloved.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. ALEXANDER ANDERSON, ROTHESAY

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1867, p.40


The death of the Rev. Alexander Anderson, Rothesay, will be regarded by the friends of living Christianity as a great loss to the Church and the cause of true religion. Though excelled by many in intellectual gifts and abilities, yet, in rare devotedness of heart to the work of the Lord Jesus, he was pre-eminent, giving himself wholly to the ministry of the word and prayer, and labouring therein for many years in the midst of much weakness and bodily infirmity. Such was the energy of his character, and his earnest desire for the spiritual welfare of his Highland countrymen, that though he was twenty years of age before commencing the study of the Gaelic language, he laboured in acquiring it with so much success, as to be able to preach in it with much facility and acceptance. His labours to promote the cause of religion, while engaging as a teacher in connection with the Gaelic School Society, and latterly as inspector of their schools, were highly appreciated. The addresses delivered by him while itinerating through the Highlands examining those schools, were blessed as the means of the revival of religion in several districts, more particularly in the western parts of Sutherlandshire, during the winter of 1840-1. Having delivered an address at one of the stations in that district, where he had been examining a school, such an awakening followed, and such an ardent desire for hearing the word was manifested, that he was induced to persevere in preaching daily for months in succession, and frequently in the open air, until at length his health and strength failed him, and a serious attack of inflammation of the lungs brought him to the gates of death. From the effects of this attack he never entirely recovered.

In 1842 he was ordained minister at Kinloch-Luichart, in Ross-shire; and having given up his connection with the Established Church at the Disruption, he was followed by all his congregation, who were devotedly attached to him. In January 1844 he was translated to the Free Gaelic Church in Rothesay. For twenty-three years he laboured as minister of that congregation; and considering the infirm state of his health, it is surprising how constant and unwearied he was in the exercise of his ministry. His constant visitation of the sick and bereaved, his counsel and prayers, his exhortations in season and out of season, are gratefully remembered by many. His removal has called forth much sympathy for his widow and congregation, and has led those to whom the cause of religion is dear, to cry, “Help, Lord, for the godly man faileth.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. ANDREW ANDERSON, M.A., COWDENBEATH

(Died November 8, 1898)
Author: Rev. Charles A. Salmond, M.A., Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1899, Obituary, p.43


Rev. Andrew Anderson was born at Kirkcaldy in 1827. His father and mother originally belonged to the Church of Scotland; but, having come under decided religious impression through the preaching of a seceder minister, they had joined the Original Secession Church by the time their son was born. Andrew was educated at the burgh school of Kirkcaldy, under Dr. Lockhart, and afterwards passed to the University of Edinburgh, where he acquitted himself with credit in his various classes. Having resolved to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel, he received his theological training partly at the Original Secession Hall, and partly at the Free Church College. It was his personal desire in early life to cast in his lot with the Free Church; but circumstances kept him for a time among the “Old Lights.”

Mr. Anderson’s first charge was at Dromore, in Ireland, where he was ordained in October 1858. Thence, in about two years, he was called to the Original Secession Church in Kilwinning. In 1863 Mr. Anderson proceeded to New Zealand, where he held a charge near Auckland for several years. Health and other considerations induced him to return to the old country in 1867. Received into the Free Church of Scotland, he first superintended stations at Strathblane and Port William, and by-and-by was settled as Free Church minister of Cowdenbeath in 1872. There he continued to labour till 1889, when, by an arrangement with the Sustentation Fund Committee, he retired to Edinburgh.

Such, in brief outline, was Mr. Anderson’s active ministry. It was located successively in a variety of spheres, and brought him into touch with widely-different communities. Into it all he carried an earnest desire to serve the Master; and as for results, “the day will declare them.”

Mr. Anderson’s retirement to Edinburgh did not mean idleness. He had frequent opportunities of preaching still, both in the city and in country districts. In 1890 he was chosen as one of the first elders of the new Free Church congregation at South Morningside, and he actively served in that capacity as long as health was given. The present writer will always cherish grateful recollections of Mr. Anderson’s cheerful and steadfast co-operation amid the responsibilities incident to the formation of a new charge, and there are many in this neighbourhood who found in him a brother in the time of their adversity. Mr. Anderson was notably a man of prayer, and did much, while in Edinburgh, to sustain and extend interest in the “Daily Prayer Union.” When his own time of sore weakness came, he was wonderfully upheld by God’s Spirit; and though he lay on his bed for more than a year, prostrated by an affection of the spine, a murmur never escaped his lips. He was not only tranquil but triumphant in prospect of death, and all through his illness he preached to many of us the best of sermons on the reality of Christian faith and fortitude. Mrs. Anderson, who ministered devotedly to her husband with her own hands throughout his long and trying illness, made proof along with him of the truth of God’s promise—”Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee.” And together they glorified God.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. D.W. ANDERSON, B.D., HADDINGTON

(Born May 15, 1845; Died March 29,1873)
Author: Rev. John Chalmers, M.A., Arbroath
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 1, 1873, p.170


It is seldom our duty to record a death so startling and sad — we might almost say so tragic — as that of this young minister. Ordained to the important charge of Free St. John’s, Haddington, on the 13th of March, amid the cordial welcome of the congregation, and with the most reasonable hopes of a long career of usefulness in that desirable sphere, he was cut off on the 29th of the same month, after a pastorate of only a fortnight and two days. On three occasions only did he occupy his pulpit as pastor — once on the Sabbath of his introduction to his people, and twice on the Sabbath following. Before next Sabbath he was resting from his labours. These facts speak for themselves; they need no word of comment. Scarlet fever, aggravated by diphtheria, was the cause of death.

Mr. Anderson was born in the parish of Fossoway, and educated at Dollar. He began life as a mercantile clerk : but having undergone a saving change during a revival at Tillicoultry in 1860, he resolved to devote himself to the ministry. He entered Edinburgh University in 1863, and finished his studies at the New College in 1871. His student career was distinguished; among other honours he gained a Cunningham Fellowship, and graduated as a B.D. of his Alma Mater. After spending some months in Germany, he was licensed by the Edinburgh Presbytery in February 1872, and in the following April came to Arbroath as home missionary in connection with Free Ladyloan congregation, where he laboured to within a fortnight of his ordination.

In any case a death so untimely and in such peculiar circumstances would be saddening and mysterious, but the sadness and the mystery are increased in this case by the character and excellence of him who has been removed. Short as his life was, it gave promise of singular Christian beauty and usefulness. With natural abilities of a very high order, which were cultivated with unwearied assiduity in scientific as well as theological lore, there was combined a Christian character peculiarly attractive and amiable. Where many a man of equal earnestness would have failed, Mr. Anderson would have succeeded by the winsomeness of his manner and the attractive way in which he could handle the truth. Among other characteristics of his preaching, there may be mentioned a remarkable power of illustration, drawn from the facts of science and common experience. An extensive and thorough acquaintance with natural science enabled him to borrow largely from that field, and few young ministers could use their knowledge so skilfully and forcibly. Had he been spared he would have taken a first place in the rank of preachers. Along with this there was very evident a healthy evangelical spirituality. His personal character was cast in the finest spiritual mould. Every one who met him in private, or heard him in the pulpit, felt that he was a man who lived near Christ, and had attained much of his Master’s purity and meekness of heart. In this respect he reminded many of the late McCheyne. Moreover, he was intensely devoted and earnest in his work. Never, it may be said, was there a young man who laboured so earnestly for the well-being of souls, “in season and out of season;” to this many a one in Arbroath can bear ready and blessed testimony. Mr. Wilson of the Barclay Church, who introduced him to his congregation, says of his first service in Haddington, after his ordination, “In prayer there was such an outpouring of heart; in preaching such a combination of ability, earnestness, tenderness, and faithfulness, as I have scarcely ever met with on such an occasion. Some of his appeals were wonderfully powerful. The congregation listened with rapt attention. As he set forth the difficulty and responsibility of ministerial work, the high end to be aimed at, and the mighty issues involved, I had difficulty in restraining my own feelings, and would not have been surprised had the whole congregation been, as some were, melted to tears. Altogether, I felt as if great things were in store for Haddington; and when he promised in the course of a few weeks to report progress, I had little doubt that he would have something to tell of the early fruits of harvest.”

In such a light his sudden removal is hard to bear. It seemed as if he belonged to a type of men greatly needed now-a-days; men of high scientific culture and deep Christian devotedness; men who can show by their life, as they declare in word, that they are “complete in Christ.” His removal is one of those providential mysteries which, from its very perplexity, excites the hope of an explanation.

Mr. Anderson died in harness. On the night before he was taken ill he was preparing his prayer-meeting address, and after his death the notes were found in his Bible ready for duty. His last sermon was almost prophetic of his end, being preached from the text (Jer. 12:5), “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan?” Ere the week closed he had triumphantly passed through those swellings. Next Sabbath he was to have preached from the text, “The night cometh, when no man can work.” He chose the text, Providence preached the sermon — a sermon the like of which was never heard in Haddington before. May we all profit by it ere our own night falls.

It is proposed to publish a small memorial volume of discourses and other matter, with a brief biographical sketch.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. FREDERICK FOTHERINGHAM ANDERSON, M.A., WHITHORN

(Died March 21, 1891)
Author: Rev. John Jamieson, Cairnryan
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1891, Obituary, p.244


Mr. Anderson was born in Edinburgh May 22, 1812. In a short time his parents removed, first to Lauder, next to Galashiels, and ultimately to Glasgow.

It is interesting to find that in his boyhood he experienced spiritual blessing from contact with the teaching of Dr. Chalmers, the family sitting under his ministry. As Chalmers was translated to St. Andrews towards the close of 1823, this decisive impression must have been wrought in the soul of young Anderson in his eleventh or twelfth year. It proved the chief impulse in determining the course of his future life. He resolved to study for the ministry. He attended Glasgow University, and took the degree of M.A. in 1832. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Dumbarton in 1837, and was subsequently for some time employed as assistant to Dr. Patrick McFarlane of Greenock.

Beginning his public career in so prominent a situation, in the early stages of the Ten Years’ Conflict, and in intimate association with one so distinguished for evangelic principle, this must have proved a period of lasting benefit to himself. At the Disruption Mr. Anderson renounced all tempting prospects within the Establishment, and threw himself into the great work opening so rapidly and so widely to the Free Church.

The sphere assigned him by the providence of God was one, at the time, of peculiar difficulty and trial. Throughout the district of country embraced by the Presbytery of Wigtown, landed proprietors were refusing sites; and of all the members of Presbytery, one only, Mr. Forrester, then junior minister of Sorbie, participated in the Disruption. He solicited from the Preachers’ Committee one not afraid of hard work and well furnished for the duties of a preacher. Mr. Anderson was sent in July 1843. He had a double duty—to gather and consolidate two congregations, one at the Burgh, the other at the Isle, of Whithorn. In addition to this work, his efforts were spread over a great part of the Presbytery’s bounds. The two congregations were organized. He was unanimously called to the double charge, and, in October of the same year, ordained.

From the first his services had been warmly appreciated, his labours indefatigable. All through his pastorate, till 1876, he preached twice every Sabbath—in the forenoon at Whithorn, in the afternoon at the Isle of Whithorn. Though these places of worship were fully three miles apart, along an exposed road, the weather was never suffered to prevent the fulfilment of the duty, nor did sickness occur to make a single Sabbath vacant. In the surrounding district, also, evening meetings were held during the week. This laborious ministry continued till, in the year just named, the Assembly disjoined the congregations. Two years later Mr. Anderson, now oppressed with infirmities, was further relieved by the ordination of a colleague at Whithorn. During his ministry, he maintained the practice of house-hold visitation, and felt the liveliest interest not only in the spiritual but also in the temporal welfare of his people. He completely succeeded in the delicate problem of making his two congregations feelhe was equally concerned about both, and cordially identified with both. Warm-hearted, homely, and unassuming in his manner, unreservedly given to work, more and more did he become as a father among them. From the first he was a brother and friend.

Immediately on his settlement he was elected Clerk of Presbytery, and on to 1888 did his duties in this department run parallel with his labours as a pastor. When physical infirmity constrained him to resign, the Presbytery presented him with an illuminated address expressive of the ability, fidelity, and efficiency with which he had discharged the duties of his office, and named him honorary clerk.
In one who had necessarily to lay himself out for incessant demands, it might have been feared there should be neglect of study. He was, however, an ardent lover of books, and a diligent student. Recreation was sought in his garden, which he cultivated with taste and scientific observation. Of much intellectual power, he was, too, a man of solid attainments. Versed in various branches of literature, he was in particular an accomplished botanist, and a keen investigator of the sacred antiquities with which the town and neighbourhood of his residence abound. He was also extensively acquainted with doctrinal theology.

His preaching was characterized by a compact and solid statement of the doctrines of grace, and by the earnestness and faithfulness with which he enforced the application of these to the Christian life. No one who was present can have forgotten how, on the occasion of his colleague’s ordination, with subdued and solemn emotion, he reminded those he had so long taught, and who were then surrounding him with the tokens of their esteem and gratitude, that his two great themes had ever been the atonement of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, as set forth in the gospel of the grace of God.

From the time of his colleague’s ordination, he may be said to have relinquished active service. With eyesight failing till almost absolute blindness had come on, and formidable symptoms of heart-disease. he became less and less capable of exertion; yet even to his last day on earth he went in and out among his people. The call came in a moment on the morning of Saturday the 21st March. He left behind a widow and daughter and son, and many friends to mourn along with them the departure of one greatly beloved.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. GAVIN ANDERSON, M.A., DUNDEE

(Died January 23, 1899)
Author: Rev. J. A. Kerr Bain
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1899, Obituary, p.116


Mr. Anderson was born in Edinburgh, and there received all his education, both at school and college. He took a good reputation with him from Dr. Andrew Thomson’s School to Moray House, where he stood in the first rank; and when he entered the university he held an honourable place in every class of the curriculum. At the New College he kept a good position throughout, and soon earned the trust of his fellow-students, who largely availed themselves of his varied efficiency and his brotherly willingness. At the end of his third year they chose him for their missionary, and none could have better justified their choice than he.

In 1871, immediately after licence, he became assistant to Mr. Sloan, in the South Church, Aberdeen. In the following year he was ordained as colleague to Sir Henry Moncreiff. After six years of straining work with Sir Henry his strength gave way, and serious results were narrowly averted by a month or two of absolute rest in Italy.

It was soon after his recovery that he was invited to foster one of the church extension congregations which were then under formation in Dundee. The district was on the high ground to the north of the town, where a large population was expected to gather. He began work there in January 1878, and was inducted in July with every hope of success. But the tide of local prosperity rapidly ebbed, and the Free High Church was never surrounded by the numerous tenements of which it was designed to be the religious centre. Few ministers could have succeeded in the circumstances as Mr. Anderson did. Simply by the force of his untiring diligence, and his sterling good qualities all round, he gradually built up a congregation of some five hundred members, and kept it at this till the end. Their sorrow on that anniversary Sabbath, the day before his death, was touching evidence of how deeply they were attached to their minister and his ministry.

With this task upon him, the amount of work he did outside his congregation was remarkable. The infirmary stood within a few minutes’ walk of his house, and he was assiduous in visiting the patients there for years before he was appointed a director. He bore a part in most of the philanthropic movements and benevolent operations within the city. He initiated the annual conference, and did much to sustain it. He was often from home on evangelistic and deputy work. He took his full share in the business of the presbytery. All the while he was keeping in touch with every one of his people (the children not least), and was entering into their joys and sorrows, their spiritual and their temporal needs, like a personal friend.

Onwards from student days, when he was doing deacon’s work in Free St. George’s congregation, his life was a scarcely interrupted flow of almost intense Christian activity. The well from which he drew this unslackening onflow was deep. It was more than nature in him, practical and buoyant as that was. All his work was service. His labours were the expression which his natural gift of action gave to the spiritual that was in him. So with the fine antitheses in his character. His modest kindliness and his dogged endurance, his fearless manliness and his penetrating sympathy, his nimble tact and his cautious forethought, his grip of what he believed to be truth and his open-mindedness as to what was believed by others, were all blended and nourished within the atmosphere of a sane and candid spirituality of life.

His preaching, with so much else on hand, was in harmony with the rest of his work rather than above it. It was seldom striking, so that no single sermon ever indicated the real strength of his pulpit work. It told by accumulation, and told for lasting good. One could discern traces of Candlish in it; but it was his own—livingly evangelical on the two sides of doctrine and practice, while its unentangled sincerity and its steady glow of spiritual earnestness carried it into the souls of his people. And perhaps his devotional work in the pulpit did as much for them as his sermons did.

He married the daughter of the late Rev. Robert Forbes of Woodside, Aberdeen, author of the well-known manual of Procedure in the Inferior Courts of the Church. She and two sons survive to feel the loss of one who was not less estimable as husband and father than as pastor and citizen.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. HARRY ANDERSON, COLINTON AND CURRIE

(Died September 25, 1870)
Author: Mr. James Matthew
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, December 1, 1870, p.253


The Rev. Harry Anderson, the subject of the present notice, was born in Aberdeen in 1810. He was educated at the Academy and the University of that city, where he took a high place both for ripe exact scholarship, and deep fervent piety. While at college he was brought into close contact with the late Rev. Dr. Duncan, for whom he ever afterwards entertained the greatest esteem, and regarded him as one of his best friends. In the Grange Cemetery, side by side, teacher and pupil now sleep the dreamless sleep of death, calmly awaiting the sound of the voice of that Master whom they both loved so well, and in whose footsteps they both so perseveringly trod.

Having had a careful and godly upbringing, and the consistent example of his sisters, he was early brought to a knowledge of the truth; and, although the door to lucrative pursuits was open to him, from the position of his family, he unhesitatingly devoted himself to the work of the ministry. He was for some time assistant to Dr. Sievwright of Markinch, a portion of whose spirit he seems to have imbibed. He afterward became assistant to the Rev. D. Thorburn, then minister of North Leith parish. Mr. Thorburn, in a funeral sermon he lately preached at Juniper Green, bore the highest testimony to his ability as a preacher, his sterling nobility of character, and his great power and fervour in prayer.

At the Disruption he boldly cast in his lot with the Free Church, and in February of 1844 was ordained by Dr. Sievwright to the new charge of Colinton and Currie, in which he continued to labour for upwards of a quarter of a century. No better proof need be given of the vigour and devotedness of both congregation and pastor, than simply to state that when Mr. Anderson resigned his charge a year ago, not a penny of debt existed on church, manse, school, or school-house. On resigning, with rare generosity he gave up the whole of his stipend, his manse, and all claim he might have on any fund, so unwilling he was to be a burden on the congregation. A large portion of his income was bestowed in private benevolence, or found its way back into the Sustentation or other Funds. Of the £10 he received in addition to the equal dividend of £150, half was returned to the Fund, the other half was equally divided between the Education and Congregational Funds.

Mr. Anderson’s preaching was distinguished for its earnestness, its depth, and its thoroughly practical character. His sermons were scholarly, refined, and chaste. It was at the bedside of the sick and the dying, however, where he appeared to most advantage, and where his words were always precious. When cholera broke out at Slateford some years ago, his services were eagerly sought after, and as cheerfully rendered. “Christ and him crucified” was always his great theme. Since his resignation, his congregation has passed through a very severe struggle. This gave him no little anxiety. No doubt in answer to his fervent prayers, the congregation, a week or two before his death, unanimously elected the Rev. Charles M’Neil, a young man of great ability and promise, as his successor. As minister-elect Mr. M’Neil followed the body of Mr. Anderson to the grave. The earth has seldom closed on the remains of one who more successfully blended the character of the Christian minister with that of the Christian gentleman. In the “Grange,” his last resting-place is marked by a chaste monument, erected by his sorrowing sisters, on which they have inscribed the appropriate words of our Lord — “Thy brother shall rise again.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. JOHN ANDERSON, HELENSBURGH

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 1, 1867, p.65


This talented and popular minister was born in the parish of Eastwood, and came, soon after he was licensed, to what was then the village of Helensburgh. He completed a pastorate of forty years there, and his name is now a household word in that large and nourishing watering-place. He was connected at first with the Original Seceders, joined the Established Church, and afterwards came out and cast in his lot with the Free Church at the disruption.

His theological attainments were very superior, and his vigorous and cultivated mind was improved by his passion for reading: while his repeated travels brought him home “laden with the spoils of the East,” which he turned to excellent account in his pulpit ministration and his private intercourse.

He possessed great pathos and natural eloquence. He had considerable extempore powers, and often in his discourse has so electrified his audience that you might have heard a feather fall. Indeed, had he possessed methodical application and business talents equal to his other qualifications, he could scarcely have been excelled. As it was, his fame as a preacher and excellence as a man, caused many to prefer Helensburgh to other watering-places; and this may account for the Free Church being stronger there than in many other similar localities.

Mr. Anderson was singularly kind-hearted, generous, and unselfish; he would part with his last sixpence, and even his last garment, in sympathy for the needy, and was, moreover, welcome alike in the “huts where poor men lie,” and at the villas of the opulent.

He was warm in his love for the period of the Reformation generally, and for that of his own country in particular. He was familiarly acquainted with its civil and ecclesiastical struggles, and sought by his well-known “Footsteps of the Flock,” “Patrick Wellwood,” and “Scenes and Stories from the History of the Church of Scotland,” to stir up the adults and the youth of our generation, to share in the same interest, identifying the former with the present contendings. He had a fine poetic taste, and occasionally indulged in the composition of verses, which were full of touching and tender thought.

When in London, at an early period in Mr. Spurgeon’s career, he had the discernment to perceive, while others looked on Mr. Spurgeon with doubt and suspicion, the rare and sterling qualities which now stamp that remarkable man, in the judgment of all, as one of the prodigies of the age.

Mr. Anderson’s latest literary work was entitled “The Life of Christ from the Cradle to the Cross,” a delightfully clear, terse, and telling production, furnishing evidence throughout of his sound theology, poetic genius, and classic taste.

He suffered for some years from weakness of the throat and an affection of the chest; but when obtaining a “furlough,” always returned from his travels seemingly as fresh and vigorous as ever.

He had taken apartments in bright and sunny Madeira, with the view of perhaps lengthening his days a little, by going there for a month or two during the severity of this winter; and his death might have thus taken place at sea, and his remains been consigned to the deep. But by a kind Providence it was ordained otherwise. He breathed his last at home within his own manse. His latter end was peace. Shortly before his death, on a friend repeating the two passages, “It is I, be not afraid.” “In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you;” he listened attentively and said, “It is all right,” and pointing his hand upward, continued, “I am going home!”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. JOHN ARCHIBALD ANDERSON, KILMADOCK

(Died January 8, 1884)
Author: Rev. William Ross, LL.D., Bridge of Allan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.114


John Archibald Anderson was born in Edinburgh on June 1st, 1830. His father Mr. John Anderson, was a merchant, noted for high intelligence, a generous nature, and sterling Christian worth, who was happily mated with Isabella Howden, a lady of kindred character and disposition. Their only son, John, had, during the first five years of his life, a succession of severe illnesses and accidents, which greatly undermined his health.

At a very early age he came under the power of divine grace, and gave himself to the Saviour. When he was only seven years old, he went to visit an aunt at Longforgan, and was taken by her to hear the saintly Robert McCheyne preach at Abernyte, on the Monday of a Communion season. Young as the boy was, he was so much impressed by what he heard from the lips of that honoured servant of God, that he declared he too would be a minister; and he never swerved from the desire to give himself to the service of Christ in the ministry.

When he was eight years of age he was sent to Dr. Graham’s school, where he remained for one session and part of a second; but the excitement of a public school proved too much for him, and his education had henceforth to be carried on at home, under the care of tutors, until he went to college. One of his tutors was the well-known Rev. James D. Burns—a man of sound scholarship, decided poetical genius, and high Christian character—who afterwards became minister of the Free Church at Dunblane, and, later still, at Hampstead. A strong and what might be called a romantic attachment sprang up between tutor and scholar, which continued till the hour of Mr. Burns’s death; and Mr. Anderson contributed an interesting letter to the Memoir of his early friend. It must be regarded as a providential arrangement that such a high influence as Mr. Burns wielded was brought to bear on Mr. Anderson’s youthful mind; for it helped to keep him firm to his resolution to study for the ministry, and it inspired him with high ideas of the qualifications required for it. He entered the University of Edinburgh when he was fourteen years of age, and devoted five years to the arts classes, carrying off high prizes in five departments of study. Sheriff Nicholson, who was his fellow-student at the University, looking back over what he calls “those pleasant college days,” says of him: “Though his senior in years, I regarded him as my superior in many ways, especially in wisdom and knowledge.”

Mr. Anderson’s father and mother were members of the United Secession Church. His father had been an elder in Nicolson Street congregation during the ministry of the celebrated Dr. Jamieson, author of the “Scottish Dictionary,” and that of his successor, Dr. Johnston. After Mr. Anderson’s death, in 1847, his widow and her family joined the Free Church, and connected themselves with the New North congregation, under the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Charles Brown. The subject of our sketch became a member of the church in 1848; and, under the influence of Dr. Brown’s ministry, his early-formed purpose was carried a stage further, and he began to study for the ministry. His career, during the course of his studies in the Free Church Divinity Hall, was marked by ability, diligence, and success. His fellow-students loved him—there was something so transparent, so true, so good, so genial, and yet withal so manly, about him. And no one with spiritual discernment, who knew him intimately, could fail to trace to a heavenly source the charm he bore about with him. He was much interested in the Students’ Missionary Society; took an active part in forming the Theological Association of the New College, and, after filling several subordinate offices in connection with it, was chosen president.

After his divinity course was completed, in 1853, he spent a whole winter on the Continent, returning home the following year. For several months about that time he was in a very desponding state of mind, conscious of delicate health, and feeling his unfitness for the work of the ministry. He even for a time hesitated whether he should take license; but, after a severe struggle, he resolved to go forward in the line of his past studies, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in the summer of that year.

He was called to Collessie, in Fife, in 1855, where he laboured for about eleven years. During that time the writer had much pleasant intercourse with Mr. Anderson; and the impression he always left was that he was not only an able, accomplished, earnest, and successful minister, but a man of deep and growing piety, who had given himself entirely to the sacred work in which he was engaged. An intelligent member of his congregation at Collessie says:—”He was one whose sincere and kindly interest readily drew the hearts of the people to him; and I know of many who expressed the benefit they had derived from his preaching, and it was the means of the conversion of several. As a friend, as well as a pastor, we all very highly appreciated him, and his name is still revered amongst us.”

In 1866 he was called to Kilmadock Free Church, in the Presbytery of Dunblane, where he continued till his death. So long as it pleased God to endow him with a measure of health, he laboured diligently in his new sphere. His preaching was not only thoroughly evangelical, able, earnest, faithful, and interesting, it was also tender and winning. In his private intercourse with his people he was ever the kind Christian gentleman, as well as the conscientious minister; entering into the joys and sorrows of the families of his flock, while imparting heavenly counsel to them, and consistently living the life he enjoined on others. While warmly devoted to the denomination to which from principle he belonged, he was no sectarian. He was an advocate of union with evangelical Churches, and loved all who gave evidence of love to Christ. His relations to his brethren in the Presbytery of which he was a member were most cordial; and there is not one of them who will not miss him much and long.

A good many years ago Mr. Anderson’s failing health unfitted him for full pastoral work; and for a considerable time it was a great trial to him to be entirely unable to minister to a people whom he loved so well, and who returned that love with much kindness and forbearance. It was a great solace to him, during the closing months of his life, that one who had for a lengthened season assisted him and served with him as a son in the ministry, and in whom he had the fullest confidence that he would prove a faithful and kind pastor, was ordained as his colleague. The long and trying period of weakness through which he was called to pass was borne with his wonted patience and serenity. It did not need any testimony of another kind to tell where his heart was, and what the home for which he was preparing. The doctrines, the consolations, and the hopes which had been the themes of his preaching throughout his whole ministry, sustained him during his lingering time of weakness and suffering; and the last broken words which, at the approach of death, he breathed into the ear of her who had been the loving companion of his life, and his faithful nurse to the very last, told of peace and the undying hope of happiness with Christ in glory. He fell asleep in Jesus on the 8th of January, and was buried in the New Cemetery at Doune amidst many marks of respect from the whole community. Mr. Anderson leaves behind him a widow, the daughter of the late Captain Graham of Cromarty, who was a worthy elder of the Free Church there, and two sons and a daughter. Two of his brothers-in-law are in the ministry—the Rev. Dr. William Reid of Lothian Road United Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. J. Scott Alexander of Free St. David’s Church, Edinburgh.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. THOMAS STEVENSON ANDERSON, CRAILING

(Died January 9, 1896)
Author: Rev. P. C. Purves, St. James’ Free Church
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1896, Obituary, p.117


Thomas Stevenson Anderson was born in Richmond, Virginia, in October 1819. His father, an Edinburgh gentleman, being then in bad health, returned from America to Scotland while his son was yet a child; and Mr. Anderson’s home and up-bringing were thereafter in Edinburgh. After the usual school and university course, he passed through the divinity hall in the years immediately preceding the Disruption, finishing his course only a few weeks before that great event. On him as on so many other students of that time, the influence of Dr. Chalmers was deep and abiding. If it was not the actual beginning of his spiritual life, it did at least strengthen and shape it in a wonderful degree. Mr. Anderson was one of the large and admirable band of divinity students who unhesitatingly and zealously adhered to their great teacher in the Non-Intrusion Controversy, and cast in their lot with the Disruptionists when the memorable eighteenth of May 1843 arrived. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, and shortly thereafter was sent, along with Mr. Campbell; formerly of Melrose, now of Geelong, Australia, to give service in the Presbytery of Jedburgh and neighbouring districts, where new stations were being formed, or supply had to be given to congregations where there was no out-coming minister. In the various places where Mr. Anderson aided in this work, his services were uniformly efficient and acceptable; and when in the early part of 1844, Mr. Milroy, the Disruption minister of Crailing, was translated to the Free Tron Church in Edinburgh, Mr. Anderson was at once called and settled as his successor. He thus, the year after the Disruption, and at the age of twenty-four, began his ministry in Crailing—the parish of Samuel Rutherford’s birth, and of the ministry of Calderwood the church historian; and of that charge he was still the senior minister at the date of his recent death more than fifty-one years later. His long continuance in his first charge was not because he was uninvited to go elsewhere. In 1847, Mr. Anderson received a cordial call to the Free Church in Duns, then vacant by the translation to London of the Rev. Mr. Cousin, afterwards of Melrose. Many of his friends regretted at the time, and did not cease to regret, that Mr. Anderson did not see his way to accept that call, which after three years’ experience in the ministry, would have given him at once a larger sphere of usefulness, and would doubtless have been a step to some still more important charge in one of the large cities; but he very unselfishly put from him the prospect of personal advancement thus opened, not only because he loved and clung to his people and work at Crailing, but very specially from regard to the necessities of his presbytery at the time, which then consisted of only four ministerial charges—one of them vacant—and yet had a district of country including fifteen parishes to supply with ordinances in connection with the Free Church. Subsequent invitations from important congregations of the English Presbyterian Church came to Mr. Anderson; but these also he declined, being in one case certainly, and perhaps in all, influenced by the earnest counsel of a medical friend of many years’ standing, who strongly urged that he should remain in country life, and not undertake work in a large city charge. Mr. Anderson had no cause to regret his decision to abide with his people in Crailing, who though not numerous, were intelligent and hearty, and helpful to their minister. Throughout his long ministry among them he was much esteemed and loved, and greatly used and honoured in his Master’s service. Mr. Anderson was in the fullest sense a Christian gentleman—of high character, of genial disposition, and of attractive manners—holding his place well with all classes of the community. His preaching was of a high order. It was always earnest and evangelical, instructive, and interesting, fresh in thought and style, and giving evidence of the large reading and culture which lay at the back of its simple Saxon words. He was also a model pastor, knowing his people — going much among them— sympathizing with them in all their affairs, and always a welcome friend in their homes. Among his brethren he was held in high esteem, drawing to him in a wonderful way, even in advancing years, the younger men who were settled near him. It was an evidence of how his brethren regarded him, and not less of his business capacity, that for many years he held the double office of clerk to his presbytery and synod, and conducted the business of both courts to the satisfaction of all concerned. When his ministerial jubilee was celebrated at the close of the General Assembly of 1894, addresses were presented by these ecclesiastical bodies, whom he had so well served, bearing testimony to their personal regard and appreciation of his work.

In 1885 Mr. Anderson, never really robust, though his powerful frame and manly bearing gave an impression to those who did not know him intimately of health and strength, was obliged by illness of a serious nature to relinquish the active charge of his congregation, and making way for a colleague, to remove his residence to Edinburgh. Here, however, he did not live in indolent ease, nor even abstain from active ministerial work. After a season of rest he recovered a measure of health, and he was then always ready to put his often required and acceptable services at the disposal of his many friends in the ministry in Edinburgh. He even undertook for a considerable length of time the pulpit supply of the new station at South Morningside, which has now grown to a fully organized and flourishing congregation under the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Salmond. It is not too much to say that that charge owes no little of its promise and prosperity to the good start it got by means of Mr. Anderson’s valuable ministrations and prudent working in the days of its first formation. Mr. Anderson also did no little work in a quiet way near his home. He visited frequently in the Longmore Hospital, and he conducted regularly a weekly prayer meeting in his own house, which was largely attended and much prized. On the day of the accident—a heavy fall in his room—which hastened, if it did not cause his death, he had conducted that prayer meeting as usual, and his address on 1 John 3:2 greatly impressed those who heard it; its solemnity and upward pointing seeming to indicate in the speaker a specially clear strong faith and hope so soon to be realized in his sudden call to see his Lord, and be made fully like Him. Mr. Anderson, besides many warm friends who will miss him much, leaves a widow, who had been a true helpmate through many years of his life and ministry, to mourn his loss, till she goes to join him in the presence of that Saviour whom they loved and served unitedly on earth.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. WILLIAM ANDERSON, CULTS, ABERDEENSHIRE

(Died April 5, 1879)
Author: Rev. Patrick Muirhead, Kippen
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.173


William Anderson was born at Kippen, in Stirlingshire, in 1833. His father was for many years minister of that parish, and joined the Free Church at the Disruption; his mother, who survives him, being a daughter of the late B. Downie, Esq., of Blairgorts, representative of a family of old standing in the same parish.

Having received his early education at the Edinburgh Academy, he passed the usual course of Arts at the University of Glasgow, and finished his studies for the ministry in the New College, Edinburgh, having enjoyed the great privilege of studying under Principal Cunningham. It may be truly said of him that from his infancy he was a child of many prayers, and at a very early period of his life he had many serious religious impressions; but he used to speak of the saving change having been experienced during the time of his studies at the Divinity Hall.

Mr. Anderson received license from the Free Presbytery of Dunblane in 1856; and though his ordination did not take place till 1861, the intervening years were far from having been spent in inactivity, for as a probationer he did much good work in several congregations. In particular, it may be mentioned that for about two years he acted as assistant to the Rev. Dr. Trail of Boyndie, then for the most part laid aside from active duty, so that Mr. Anderson during these years had the whole charge of the congregation. There, at a distance from his old friends and relatives, he was in a manner thrown much on his own resources, and seems to have been, in these circumstances, brought very near to his Lord. If his student days were those of his first consecration to his service, the time passed at Boyndie was one in which the Lord greatly strengthened what himself had wrought, gave his servant a deepened religious experience, and so fitted him for the important sphere which he was afterwards to occupy. His services at the time at Boyndie were singularly impressive, and his memory is fondly cherished by the Lord’s people in that congregation.

In the spring of 1861 he received a call from the congregation of Cults, in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen. This congregation had existed as a station from the time of the Disruption, but had only recently been sanctioned as a ministerial charge. Thus Mr. Anderson was its first minister. Often he used to speak of the kindness of God’s providence in bringing him ultimately to that charge, one which he felt in every way so desirable for him. At the time, it was not a large congregation, and not widely scattered, and as his health had never since his student days been robust, he felt it to be a special favour that his lot was cast where he could do the work without overmuch tasking his only too fragile frame. The congregation, if not a large one, yet furnished him with a highly intelligent audience, largely increased during the summer months by many of the elite of the Free Church congregations in Aberdeen. The charge was thus one of those, of which there are several in the Church, the importance of which is not at all to be estimated by the actual number of names on the communion roll. The settlement was in every respect a happy one.

As a preacher, none could with more truth than Mr. Anderson appropriate the words of the apostle—”I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” While careful to declare the whole counsel of God, and to keep back nothing that might be profitable to his hearers, he never forgot that, as he spoke to his fellow-sinners needing to be saved, the grand centre subject must ever be the Saviour and his finished work, so precious to his own soul. The state of his health and his “often infirmities” frequently made it impossible for him to engage so much as he would have wished in the study of theological literature: he was thus the more led to go back on God’s dealings with his own heart; and the result was, that there was a remarkable freshness and originality about his preaching. We have noticed, in particular, that he had a peculiar gift in the way of leading on inquirers, in meeting the doubts and difficulties that arise in the minds of the anxious, and in setting forth very clearly the way of salvation and the simplicity of faith in Jesus Christ; as also, on the other hand, in delineating the working of God’s grace in the hearts of his own children. In the words of one who knew him thoroughly—his cousin, the Rev. William Anderson of Boyndie—in the funeral sermon at Cults on 13th April last, after pointing out how his bodily infirmities, preventing him from following other lines, “constrained him to follow that line which he made peculiarly his own—that powerful and spiritual experimental one in which he singularly excelled”—Mr. Anderson adds: “I have often thought that if he had wanted those times of weakness, you would have missed those deep, far-reaching, yet most clearly expressed, spiritual presentations of the method of God in his gracious dealings with his children, which you had, and which were from his lips so comforting and attractive. There was nothing traditional or superficial in his views either of doctrinal or experimental religion. You always felt, too, that all was real. ‘We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.'”

The same dealings of the Lord with him, to which reference has been made, singularly fitted him also for all the duties of the pastoral work, making him especially a wise counsellor to those in spiritual anxiety. Having in his own experience felt, grappled with, and by grace overcome so many of the same perplexities, he was remarkably fitted to help others to overcome them. Above all, his pulpit ministrations were ever made impressive by a consistent Christian life. In him his flock had ever before them a remarkable example of sanctified Christian patience. Suffering as he was under frequent and severe illness, much of his work was done under the all but overwhelming pressure of prolonged and wearing-out bodily affliction; yet so long as he had a fragment of strength remaining, he laboured on in the work he had so much at heart, realizing constantly his Master’s presence and depending on his support. A man he was who ever lived under the abiding sense of God’s presence, and thus he constantly looked to him for direction in everything— in what was connected with his work as a minister, so in everything else. And if he was thus so manifestly one living under the power of divine grace, in none could true religion appear in a more attractive form, so warm was he and affectionate, so kindly, so genial, and playful, even, in disposition, so unselfish, even when suffering severely under his own ailments, ever ready with a kind word of sympathy to cheer and comfort others.

Mr. Anderson’s ministry at Cults extended to within a week or two of eighteen years. It was an eminently happy one, not without many tokens of the Lord’s goodness. After a few years in the ministry he found a true helpmeet in Miss Louisa Leslie, to whom he was married in 1864.

His last public appearance was in the Free Synod of Aberdeen, in April 1878. Almost immediately afterwards he was prostrated by a severe illness, from which he never fully recovered. A still more severe attack followed in early summer, and left him exceedingly reduced in strength. By medical advice, in the beginning of winter, he removed to the south of England, feeling the trial of leaving his home and his flock in the consciousness that he might never return. During the months of his sojourn in the south, passed successively at Ventnor and Bath, God was fast ripening him for glory and himself. Till near the close, indeed, he was not without the expectation that it might please the Lord to raise him up again for work in his service. Three texts even he had thought of on which he might again address his flock. They were—Ps. 88:8, “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me;” Zech. 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd;” and Ps. 48:14, “This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” He was not to be allowed to speak to his people on any of these words; but the Lord was fulfilling the promises in his servant’s experience. He was making perfect that which concerned him; keeping him in perfect peace under the shadow of that smitten Shepherd; guiding him even unto death, that he might be with him for ever and ever. One anxious thought he had—the fear that he might be laid aside as a disabled minister for a lengthened period; but at last he was able to surrender his own will to the Lord even in that respect, and, as he said, there was nothing now between his God and himself. But it was not his Father’s will that such should be his lot. After he came to Bath, gradually he became weaker, and on the 5th of April, in presence of his devoted wife and some of his nearest relatives and friends, providentially within reach at the time, he gently entered on his rest, leaving a widow and aged mother to mourn his departure.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. GEORGE ARCHIBALD, UDNY

(Died November 17, 1887)
Author: Rev. James E. Duguid, New Machar
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.147


Mr. Archibald was a native of Tarland, Aberdeenshire. In the parish school there he got his early education under the Rev. Andrew Ross, who was at once parish schoolmaster and factor for Lord Aberdeen’s Cromar estates. Thence he passed successively to the Old Aberdeen Grammar School, King’s College, and then to the Divinity Hall there, where he held a good position in point of scholarship among his class-fellows throughout.

Having been licensed just immediately before the Disruption, his experience as a probationer was very short, for he was settled at Udny in the end of the same year. But short as that experience was, there is one incident of it we must refer to. Dr. Chalmers had come north, in the autumn, on a visit to the late Mr. Thomson, Banchory House; and as he was personally somewhat unknown in these northern parts, when it was announced that he was to preach on the Sabbath following, an immense congregation assembled in the open air to hear him. And, in order to relieve the doctor, who had come north for rest, Mr. Archibald was got to conduct the devotional services. It was a pleasant incident in the life of the young probationer.

By his ordination at Udny, Mr. Archibald became a member of the Free Presbytery of Ellon. As an illustration of the state of matters in that part of Aberdeenshire at the time, it may be mentioned that the late Rev. Alexander Philip, then minister of Cruden, was the only minister of the Presbytery of Ellon who left at the Disruption, and Mr. Archibald’s name was, by his ordination, the second on the roll of the Free Presbytery. In these circumstances the young minister of Udny had at once to face all the work of a Disruption minister. He had not only his own congregation to organize, but he had much to do in helping to organize congregations in the neighbouring parishes of Ellon, Methlic, and, eventually, of Foveran and Slains. For work of this kind he had marked abilities—business habits, a gift of ready and forcible speech, good sense, and quickness in seeing what was the best to be done in any given circumstances. Being young, and strong, and capable of much physical activity, he was at this time a well-known figure in the neighbourhood wherever Church work had to be done. How thoroughly he had won the respect and confidence of his brethren as well as that of the public is proved by the fact that in 1849 he was appointed Presbytery clerk, an office he held till his retirement in 1881.

By the members of his own congregation he was greatly beloved. His preaching was practical and evangelical, and he ever took a warm interest in all evangelistic work. A neighbouring minister who was with him assisting in special services during the great revival movement of 1800, writes to say how heartily Mr. Archibald sympathized with that movement, and how powerfully his congregation was affected by it. He lived in terms of personal friendship with the members of his flock, and was ever ready to do anything in his power to help them or their households. His visits, especially in times of sickness, were greatly valued. In all this work he had, while she lived, an efficient helpmeet in Mrs. Archibald, the daughter of the late James Thompson, Esq., Drumbreck, who predeceased him by several years, but whose gentle, kindly, Christian ways endeared her to very many in the congregation.

Mr. Archibald gathered round him a body of shrewd, active, and intelligent officebearers. And how cordially he, and they, and the members of the congregation cooperated in congregational work is evidenced by the fact that not only were a church, a comfortable manse, and schools built shortly after the Disruption, but afterwards, when the first church was found to be inadequate, a second and much more expensive church was built; and, if we mistake not, the expense of all these buildings had been cleared off before his retirement. It is another interesting circumstance that no fewer than eight or nine ministers and missionaries of our Church have come from the congregation of Udny— never a large congregation.

Latterly, Mr. Archibald’s health gave way; and in 1881 he found it needful to retire from the active duties of his office, and the Rev. George Abel was ordained colleague and successor. From this time, onwards, he resided in Aberdeen; but during the greater part of this period he took a pleasure in preaching for old friends. Towards the end his strength failed very much, and though his death (in his sixty-first year) was somewhat sudden, for months he had himself been anticipating it, and sometimes spoke of it to intimate friends. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


   REV. WILLIAM ARNOT

(Died June 3, 1875)
Author: James Balfour, W.S.
The Free Church Monthly, August 2, 1875, p.200


The losses with which our Church has been desolated within the last few years, make us feel how rich we once were. Mourning beside the graves of our honoured dead, we are inclined to write on their tombs the inscription placed by a foreign missionary on that of his wife — uncertain whether we are more conscious of grief for having lost them, or the glory of having once possessed them.

When William Arnot was sent for suddenly to go into the presence of the King at six o’clock on Thursday morning, the third of June, the outer court was bereft of one whose absence made it feel very desolate and empty. For nearly forty years his genius, combined with his fine spirit, had shed a singularly pleasing influence over the Church on earth. That Church to its farthest extremity, wherever the electric telegraph stretches, felt on that day the shock of a sudden bereavement — a bereavement that implied not the loss of power only, but of sunny joy. It was chilled as well as weakened.

This is no place nor time to write a biography of him. That, we are glad to know, is a treasure in store for the Church. He has left interesting materials for it, consisting of an autobiography of his early life, with family letters and varied MSS., which must, from such a pen as his, produce a book that cannot fail to have a deep and permanent interest. In the meantime, let us reverently gather a few memories that we should like to preserve.

His father, as is well known, was a small farmer in Perthshire. His mother died when he was only an infant, but he owed her much. Once when talking with a friend on the influence which parents exercise over the spiritual character of their children, he said, “They may not be the direct means of their conversion, but there are two things they can always do for them — they can have an atmosphere at home that is favourable to piety, and they can pray for them. I put much value on the prayers of parents for their children. I am the fruit of my mother’s prayers, and yet she died when I was only three weeks old. She was a very godly woman, and I know how it would be. With dying faith she would give her baby to Jesus, and he would take it. I am it. Many a time through life the thought has filled me with awe, and when tempted to sin, I have been restrained by remembering what a transaction there had been between Christ and my dying mother about me.” His father to manly piety added uncommon shrewdness and practical sagacity, so that Robert Arnot was the arbiter and confidential adviser of all his neighbours. How his distinguished son used to revel in anecdotes regarding him. His congregation always felt sure they were to have something racy and striking when they heard, “As my father used to say;” or the lessons which he taught would be rendered memorable by reminiscences of him. For example, on one occasion, he was speaking of the mysteriousness with which some of the holiest of the saints are visited with repeated affliction, so that the rain has hardly ceased when the clouds begin to gather again. “I believe,” he said, “it arises from the Father’s deep love and anxiety that they should be thoroughly purified. I remember when we were young we assisted in the farm. One of our occupations was winnowing the corn. It was hard work, and we longed for it to be over. We used to watch my father as he came round to look at it and decide whether or not it was clean enough. He would take up a handful, and putting on his glasses, he would look, and pause, and hesitate, and sometimes throwing it back, he would say, to our dismay, ‘Put it through again.'” The application was easy. Mr. Arnot had his early struggles, but these constituted the yoke borne in youth, which afterwards proved to be so good for him. His rural life in early years, with its varying hardships, was no unimportant part of his education for the ministry.

He was licensed at the somewhat advanced age of twenty-eight, and passed his novitiate at Larbert with John Bonar, whose power of discriminating character was such, that he chose for his assistants not Arnot only, but such men as Hanna and McCheyne and Somerville. In after years, the same gift of discrimination induced the Church to sever him from a large city charge, that he might become Convener of the Colonial Committee, in which capacity he selected no fewer than three hundred valuable ministers for our colonial empire. At thirty-one, Mr. Arnot was called to St. Peter’s, Glasgow. There for about a quarter of a century he was a great power in the community. Ever loyal to the Lord, he exercised a prodigious influence on the social and religious welfare of that great city. In 1863 he was translated to the High Church in Edinburgh. His style of ministration was so different from that to which the congregation had been accustomed under Dr. Gordon and Dr. Rainy, that several of them left the church; but there was an immediate rush for their vacant seats, and the whole church was soon occupied, and continued to be so till the close of his ministry. What he was in the pulpit, on the platform, in the Church courts, at social gatherings, beside the sick and dying and afflicted, or what he did through the press, it would be impossible to estimate, and it would be idle even to attempt it in this brief record. But his influence extended far beyond his own cities or country. In the pulpits of London and in Exeter Hall he was always welcomed with peculiar warmth; and those who heard him but the other day in the Opera House, in one or two of the magnificent meetings held there by Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey, will not soon forget the striking and touching sentences that he spoke. In Ireland, too, he was greatly appreciated, and allusion was very feelingly made to his loss in the General Assembly held there in June last.

Three times he visited America, in 1845, in 1870, and again in 1873. There he was much beloved and admired. On his return from his last visit he told an incident, the remembrance of which amused him, but afforded others a manifestation of his native modesty. The deputation he was with were presented to the President of the United States, who received them in presence of the Ministers of State. After he had addressed them collectively, he was introduced to them individually, shook hands, and said a few words to each. When Mr. Arnot’s turn came, the American who was introducing them referred to him as occupying the place in the pulpit once held in Scotland by Dr. Chalmers. Mr. Arnot felt so abashed at such a comparison, that he bolted from the ranks like a startled horse, and rushed to hide himself, nor could he summon courage to appear again for a long time. That visit was greatly enjoyed by him, as well as by the Christians in America. We remember to have met an American shortly afterwards, who described a meeting that was held to bid farewell to the deputation of which he was one. The hall held about four thousand people, and it was filled in every corner. When Mr. Arnot rose to speak, he said he had little to say, nor was he inclined just then to be talkative, but yet it was pleasant thus to meet, even if it were only to take a farewell look at each other, for much love could be expressed in such a mutual look. When he was a young minister, he lived alone with a single servant maid; but he kept a pony, and this maid took charge both of him and his pony, and she got very fond of the latter at least. Once on his return from a preaching tour, he gave her the pony to take round to the stable, but she was long of returning. When she came back, he said to her, “Jenny, where have you been?” “I have been round at the stable with the pony, sir.” ” But, Jenny, you have been a quarter of an hour. What could you be doing all the time?” “Oh, sir, I just lookit at hit, and hit lookit at me!” This stroke of nature brought down the house.

Alas, we have all looked at him, and he has looked at us, for the last time, till we shall meet again on the streets or among the many mansions of the new Jerusalem. On our streets the easy, leisurely swing of his massive figure shall be seen no more. His pulpit will no longer be irradiated by the smile that used to play on his lip, or the glance that beamed from his tender eye; nor will his large congregation luxuriate any more in that rich and satisfying teaching which has so long been the daily portion of their Sabbaths. Yet his much loved form will be often recalled as his works are read, and as tidings come from time to time of fruit gathered from seed which he had sown. And there are some who will feel a soothing gratification in saying, “He once was ours, and we were once his.”

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. DAVID ARTHUR, STEWARTON AND BELIZE

(Died March 15, 1888.)
Author: Rev. W. S. Swanson, Amoy, China
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.179


Mr. Arthur was born of Christian parents in the parish of New Cumnock—classical ground in Scotland—in the year 1812. Under the fostering care of the Rev. Mr. Craig, the minister of the parish, he was led to study for the ministry. In his literary and theological courses such men as the Rev. W. Arnot, the Rev. W. C. Burns, the Rev. James Hamilton, D.D., the Rev. James Halley, and others like-minded, were his fellow-students. He was licensed to preach the gospel in 1836; and his first work was that of assistant to the minister of Strathaven. In a similar capacity he laboured with the late Rev. T. Main, D.D., then of the High Church in Kilmarnock.

At an important period in the “Ten Years’ Conflict” Mr. Arthur was called to Stewarton in Ayrshire. Stewarton was the scene of the famous “Stewarton case,” the case in which the great struggle for spiritual independence was waged by the Evangelical party in the Church of Scotland. In 1843 he was ordained to this charge by a Commission of the General Assembly; and his ordination is historical. The late revered Dr. Candlish presided, and with him, taking part in the ordination, were some of the leading ministers of Edinburgh and Glasgow. These ministers were served with interdicts from the Court of Session, and the identical document served on Dr. Candlish is still in the possession of Mr. Arthur’s family.

In 1851 he was selected by the Colonial Committee of the Free Church to go to Belize in Honduras, to organize and minister to a congregation of Scotchmen there, men who occupied a leading and influential position in the colony. He felt it to be his duty to obey this call; and he left for Belize, after ten years of faithful work in Stewarton, where he left a deeply-attached congregation. For twenty six years he occupied this post; and every one who knew him and his manifold labours in Belize speaks of himself and his work with deepest affection and esteem. In the face of difficulties that would have damped the ardour of most men he carried on his work. The firmness and perseverance that were outstanding features in his character by God’s grace never failed him. He returned to Scotland in 1857 for a brief period, during which he was incessantly engaged in collecting funds for building a new church in Belize. He succeeded in collecting about £1,200 for this purpose. On his return he had to face difficulties, which delayed the erection of the church for some years; but he manfully overcame them all.

Mr. Arthur’s work was not confined to that which properly fell to him as the minister of a congregation. He saw that the great want of the colony was education for the coloured natives. He commenced a school for them, and carried it on with great success. At times he got teachers to relieve him; but owing to the frequent removals of the teachers, he had, for more than half the period of his stay in Belize, to carry on this work himself.

He had the true missionary spirit and fervour, and manifested these in his abundant labours among the workers in the mahogany forests and the sugar plantations. North and south from Belize he went visiting as many of these as he could. Single-handed he laboured as a missionary, while his pastoral work was maintained in all its efficiency. His success in both congregational and missionary work is well known, and its record is found to-day in the hearts of those for whom he toiled, and who found the blessing of their life through his ministry.

In the year 1877 he felt that it was time to retire. His departure from Belize was deeply and universally regretted; and a handsome testimonial was presented to him by those who knew him best and could form a true estimate of his worth.

To the China Mission of the Presbyterian Church of England he was warmly attached, and to that mission he rendered signal service. About twenty-five years ago, the British Government started a scheme of free emigration from China to Honduras. In connection with that scheme, five hundred Chinamen with their wives and families went from Amoy to the colony. Among them were several Chinese Christians. The late Rev. C. Douglas, LL.D., commended these Chinese Christians to the care of Mr. Arthur; and most lovingly he looked after them, and did what he could for their spiritual welfare. He not only cared for those in his immediate vicinity, but undertook long journeys in order to visit some of them who were at a distance from Belize. And such journeys were not without trials for on one occasion he and his guide lost their way, and had to spend a night in the pine-forest, with wild beasts, alligators, and other dangers all around them. The letters to friends in China from these Christian Chinese spoke in the very highest terms of the kindness shown them by Mr. Arthur. And among those who will mourn his decease the earlier Amoy missionaries will all be found. The writer of these lines remembers meeting in London two years ago an old Chinese friend whom he, in 1863, accompanied to the ship on which he was to sail from Amoy to Honduras. He was then returning to China after having spent all the years in the colony. The warm and loving terms in which he spoke of “his beloved Mr. Arthur” can never be forgotten. In Mr. Arthur’s school his boys had been educated and all the words he could command were not sufficient to express what he felt about him.

It is seldom one has to write such a record as this. The testimony to this life is found in Scotland, in Central America, and China. Another of the few remaining Disruption worthies has passed away; and while some of them have bulked more prominently in the eyes of their own countrymen, few of them have had an influence so wide.

On Thursday, 22nd March, his remains were followed to the grave by men who remembered his work in Scotland; by those who had prized and been benefited by him in Belize; by one at least who never can forget what he did for the Chinese Christians, who in Belize looked up to him as a father; and by those who knew and loved him as a London elder. And mourners for this brother dearly beloved are found in the old country, on the American continent, and in China. Earnest, faithful, and loving work for the Master will always find its echo in loving hearts, and leave behind it a memory of sweet and lasting savour. Away, hidden from the garish light of day, are sometimes found the most earnest and efficient workers; and when the Day declares it, it will be seen, that of all work done for the kingdom of Christ, the most effective and far-reaching is perhaps that of which the least has been heard.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page


REV. DAVID FINDLAY ARTHUR, BANCHORY-DEVENICK

(Died August 24, 1893)
Author: Mr. Robert Gray, M.A.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1893, Obituary, p.286


One more of the small remnant of the faithful band who took their stand by the Free Church at the beginning of her career, when their temporal prospects were, to say the least, doubtful, has disappeared in the death of the Rev. David Findlay Arthur, which took place on the 24th August at Cults, near Aberdeen. Mr. Arthur, who had reached the age of eighty years, was a native of Ayrshire, being born in the parish of New Cumnock, where his forefathers had been farmers for many generations. It was in this land of martyr renown that he received his elementary education; and here, too, while attending the classes and the evangelical preaching of the late Rev. Robert Craig, the parish minister, he was brought to the saving knowledge of the truth.

The Rev. Mr. Bannatyne, Rothesay, in his sermon preached in Banchory-Devenick Free Church on the occasion of Mr. Arthur’s death, makes allusion to this most important event in his life. He had been in an anxious state of mind for some time, and on returning home one night from Mr. Craig’s class in the church, “he rushed from the roadside to the shelter of a tree in a field, and at once prostrated himself, body and soul, before the throne of grace, gave vent to the contrite sobbing of a broken heart, sought pardon vehemently and got it, repaired to Christ and found him, and so left the shadow of the tree a new and a triumphantly happy man.” Henceforth the youth devoted himself to the service of God in the gospel of his Son.

Mr. Arthur attended the Arts classes at Glasgow University, where he was a distinguished student, and acted for a time as Assistant-Professor of Logic. After the usual divinity course, he was licensed as a probationer of the Church of Scotland a short time previous to the Disruption. Officiating for a time to Dr. Thomas Main of Kilmarnock, and afterwards conducting the Church of Scotland’s mission-station in Manchester, he was, about the time of the Disruption, offered by the Marquis of Bute the presentation to his native parish, one of the most attractive livings in the Church; but Mr. Arthur had taken the side of the Evangelical party, and he was not the man to retire from a position taken up in obedience to conscience for any temporal consideration.

Though not a pre-Disruption minister (being ordained to the newly-formed charge of Banchory-Devenick in the beginning of 1844), he attended the Disruption Assembly, and took part in the memorable procession to Tanfield Hall. After his settlement in Banchory-Devenick, he was moderator of the kirk-sessions of Cults and Bourtree Bush previous to their being erected into sanctioned charges. He took, moreover, an active part in the affairs of his own parish, being for long a member of the Parochial Board, as well as a member of the School Board from its formation till his retirement from active work in 1883.

He was held in high esteem by the late Mr. Thomson of Banchory, who was an elder of the congregation. Professor Smeaton, in his “Life of Mr. Thomson,” remarks:—”The high esteem which Mr. Thomson entertained for the character and instructions of his minister comes out in all his diary during the long space of twenty-five years, and such a bond of mutual esteem is highly honourable to them both.” Indeed, Mr. Arthur’s ability as a preacher was of a high order. Older hearers have yet a vivid recollection of some of his more notable sermons on such texts as, “Gather not my soul with sinners,” “A feast of fat things, of wines on the lees,” “The lot is cast into the lap,” etc., as well as his strikingly apt and telling remarks while expounding parts of the Book of Proverbs. Though naturally robust, mentally and physically, his latent tenderness of feeling sometimes exhibited itself in the pulpit. Many years ago, on taking a retrospect of his twenty-five years’ ministry in Banchory Devenick, the man of strong will became visibly affected, and had some difficulty in proceeding.

Mr. Arthur took a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of the young. One who enjoyed his ministrations from his childhood writes as follows:–“The religious training of the young was to Mr.Arthur a matter of the utmost concern, and on the occasion of his pastoral visits the children of the family were objects of his special attention. He took pleasure in hearing them recite texts from the Bible and questions from the Shorter Catechism and in applying, in a manner suitable to their years the precious doctrines of Scripture truth. The intimate relationship thus early established grew all the closer when his youthful friends became old enough to join his Bible-class. Into this class Mr. Arthur was successful in a remarkable degree in drawing the young men and young women of his congregation. His unflagging zeal, devout spirit and sympathetic heart, together with his natural gifts as a teacher, rendered his instructions peculiarly attractive and impressive. The truths he so clearly unfolded and affectionately enforced were blessed to many who have passed away, and not a few yet remain who regard his Bible-class as one of the principal means of leading them to earnest thought.”

In 1884 Rev. J. Ironside Still was appointed colleague and successor to Mr. Arthur, and the relations between the two pastors were of the most cordial and friendly nature. Mr. Arthur’s infirmities, however, so rapidly increased after his retirement that he was able only on two occasions to fill his old pulpit. He is survived by three sons and a daughter. Two of his sons are in medical practice at Cults, and one is pursuing the profession of art in England. Mrs. Arthur, a daughter of the late Mr. Brown of Carden’s Haugh, who was a true helpmeet to her husband, died about eighteen months ago, and in his declining days Mr. Arthur was tenderly and affectionately ministered to by his devoted daughter. His remains were laid to rest beside those of his partner in life in the burying ground adjoining the church where for so many years he proclaimed the gospel of the grace of God.

Return to Index of Obituaries                                                                                                                                 Return to Top of page