Congregations of the Synod of United Original Seceders (UOS)
Here the congregations of the UOS church are listed alphabetically, in three columns. Under each congregation, the ministers of that congregation are listed chronologically.
Ebenezer Ritchie (1855)
Robert F. Stuart
Robert Barr McVicar
David A. Sturrock
William F. Aitken
John Gage Boyd
William Sinclair Waters Reid
Scott, Annals, pp.244-245
Aberdeen: John Aitken
He was ordained here on 25th July, 1811. He remained in the UOS Church at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852.
The congregation sought official recognition from the Synod by presenting a memorial and petition to the Synod on 28th October, 1855, asking to be constituted as a congregation. A Committee was appointed “to investigate into all the circumstances connected with this case, and to issue it according to the laws of the Church.” John McKay was settled here as Aitken’s colleague and successor on 5th February, 1857, but Aitken himself continued as senior minister till his death on 21st July, 1857.
In regard to the settlement of a colleague and successor the Presbytery brought to the Synod the question of the relative stipends of the senior and junior ministers.
Aberdeen: John McKay
At a meeting of the congregation held on 15th October, 1856, a unanimous call was given to John McKay, preacher of the gospel, to be assistant and successor to John Aitken. On the occasion, Thomas Manson, Perth, preached and presided. The call was sustained on 20th October and accepted by McKay. His trials for ordination were duly completed and he was ordained and inducted on 5th February, 1857.
On the occasion, the opening devotions of the ordination service were conducted by William Robertson, Dundee; William F. Aitken, Midlem, preached from 2 Corinthians 2:15-16: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life”; Robert Craig, Kirriemuir, recapitulated the steps of procedure, put the questions of the Formula to McKay, and offered up the ordination prayer; John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, delivered the charges to the new minister and to the people; and Thomas Hobart, Carluke, concluded the service.
Mission work was conducted intermittently in the congregation at this stage of its history. Charles S. Findlay, then a divinity student, was appointed missionary to labour among the poor and neglected in the city. The congregation provided £30 annually, and the Home Mission Committee £15. For the period ending, April, 1860, Findlay reported:
“Having spent several days in surveying the district, in intimating to the people my appointment as missionary, and in making other necessary arrangements for the future carrying on of the work, preparation was thus made for commencing various religious exercises among the people on the 9th October last. Since that time I have spent 523 hours in missionary labours, the greater portion of which time has been devoted to family visitation, making in all 947 visits. Of these, 166 were made in October last, 171 in November, 115 in December, 147 in January, 105 in February, and 193 in March. 145 of these visits have been made to the sick, and 41 to parties who do not enjoy the ordinary means of grace by reason of age and infirmity. This statement is exclusive of visits made to the Incurable Hospital and other institutions.”
Later more was printed about his efforts: On Friday evening, 15th November later that year, a meeting of the families among whom Mr Findlay had laboured as missionary during the previous year was held in Dyer’s Court, Upper Denburn, Aberdeen. “The meeting being opened with praise and prayer, Mr Findlay was, in the name of those assembled, presented with eleven volumes, as an expression of their esteem for him, of their gratitude for his missionary labours among them, and of their earnest desire for his future welfare and success in the higher and still more important sphere in which he is now employed. It is very gratifying to know, that during the short period of twelve months, the people have met on three several occasions to express their gratitude to this missionary for his assiduous efforts to promote their welfare, by a presentation of books. This expression of warm affection by the poor people may surely be viewed as evidence that his labour among them has not been in vain in the Lord, and is an encouragement to him and others to expect this highest of all rewards in such work. It is also worthy of being noticed, that the party who has been most active in getting up this presentation was formerly a Roman Catholic, who latterly welcomed the visits of the missionary with joy, and became a most regular attender of his meetings.”
However, when Findlay was withdrawn, despite the usefulness of such a ministry, no replacement was appointed.
In December, 1870, compensation of £38 18/8 was paid to the congregation for wayleave for carrying a sewer through their property (The Aberdeen Journal, 21st December, 1870).
McKay left Aberdeen to conduct mission work in Bridgeton, Glasgow. In due course, a congregation was set up and he was inducted to Bridgeton, Glasgow, on 1st May, 1877.
There is a strange statement made in the denominational Magazine in September, 1877, to the effect that Matthew M. Stuart, a probationer of the Irish Secession Church, had received a call from Aberdeen, and was transferred to the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen. Whatever actually happened, he never settled in the UOS Church in Scotland.
Aberdeen: Ebenezer Ritchie
On 7th November, 1877, the Presbytery of Ayr considered a call from Aberdeen addressed to Ebenezer Ritchie, Toberdoney. After parties were heard, Ritchie was invited to express his views and he stated that, having heard the commissioners speak, he was now convinced that “it was his duty to express a decided preference for remaining in his present charge”. The Presbytery concurred.
However, the following month, the Aberdeen congregation again resolved to present the same man with a unanimous call. The Ayr Presbytery appointed a meeting to be held in Glasgow on 26th March, 1878, to dispose of the call. Ritchie referred to a certain lack of unanimity in the previous call. This time there was no such lack and he felt it his duty to accept the call, which was then put into his hands and accepted. He was translated here on 15th May, 1878. On the occasion, Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, preached from 1 Corinthians 12:27: “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular”; Robert Morton, Perth, conducted the induction; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed the new minister; Robert Morton, addressed the congregation; and William W. Spiers, Kirriemuir, concluded the service.
On 12th September, 1878, the Aberdeen Valuation Appeal Court heard an appeal by the minister and managers of the congregation against the value of £32 put on the manse at 26 Skene Terrace. They asked that it be reduced to £25. But £28 was fixed as its valuation (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 13th September, 1878).
This perhaps suggests that the building was not in such a good condition as formerly. Certainly, the church building was described as “an unpretentious little structure” and the whole area was due for redevelopment under an improvement scheme. The church building was demolished to provide for the making of a new access to Rosemount. The congregation met for the last time on 24th May, 1885, in their old building. In the afternoon, the minister preached on Deuteronomy 1:6: “The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount”. Till the new building was ready they met in the Christian Institute in Union Street (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 30th May, 1885).
The new Church building was opened on 30th September, 1886, with a service conducted by Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, and Robert Morton, Perth, and a public meeting in the evening. The Aberdeen Weekly Journal reported on the matter: “The new church on a good site at the junction of Skene Terrace and Crinton Place is a tastefully designed Gothic building, rectangular in plan, having vestry and session-house, etc. grouped at the south end. The masonry is of hammer blocked coursed rubble work of blue granite stone, the dressed work being of white Kemnay stone. The entrance is from Crinton Place, where a handsome porch gives access to the area of the church. The pulpit is placed at the south end on a roomy platform, from which access is got to the vestry and session-house, etc. The pulpit seating and wall linings are of pitch pine, stained and varnished, the seats are roomy and comfortable, having sloping backs and moulded half foot. The ceiling is plastered and finished with mouldings at the angles and a bold cornice at the top of the side walls. There is a handsome circular window in the north gable of the church, opposite the pulpit, which, as well as the side and other windows, are glazed with cathedral glass of varied tints. The church is enclosed by substantial stone walls on the east and south sides, and next the streets by an ornamental iron railing and base. The edifice is 52 feet long internally by 31 feet in width and 23 feet in height to the level part of the ceiling, and will be heated by hot water pipes on Perkins’ principle. The seats are all on the ground floor, there being no galleries, and accommodation is provided for about 270 people. Messrs W. and J. Smith were the architects, and the works have been carried out, under their superintendence, by the following contractors: Mason work, George Duguid; carpenter work, Dinnes and Middleton; plaster work, Roger and Baxter; slater work, William W. Milne; plumber work, Charles Bruce; heating, Robert Tindall; staining and varnishing, John Whyte” (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 29th September, 1886).
Ebenezer Ritchie died on 4th November, 1894.
Aberdeen: Robert F. Stuart
On 18th September, 1895, Stuart received a call from the Aberdeen congregation signed by 37 members and 6 adherents. He was ordained here on 26th December, 1895.
On the occasion, Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, preached “an eloquent and appropriate sermon” from Mark 1:32: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils”; James Patrick, Carnoustie, conducted the ordination and induction; Peter McVicar, Dundee, addressed the new minister and Robert Morton, Perth, addressed the congregation. After presentations the congregation entertained the members of the Presbytery at supper in the Queen’s Rooms.
Stuart “proved to be an able and vigorous preacher, and his pulpit gifts won appreciation outside” the UOS Church. “Contrary to custom, he ventured on some interchange with his brethren in other denominations. Naturally, this caused some criticism and commotion.”
He resigned the pastorate “on account of objections raised by a section of the members against his friendliness and cooperation with the ministers and workers of other denominations” (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 11th January, 1899). On 24th May, 1898, he received a presentation from a number of friends as a mark of esteem on the occasion of his departure. He then removed to Ireland. But he was afterwards settled in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, on 15th March, 1899.
On 13th April, 1897, the Presbytery took up a matter that had been disturbing the congregation. John Govan had presented a petition complaining of certain irregularities in the conduct of public worship. But the Session had declined to transmit the petition to Presbytery because it was not in correct form. So Govan had appealed to the Presbytery. Eventually the Session was told to begin the matter de novo (afresh) because of irregularities on both sides (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 14th April, 1897, p.5). We have no further information on this matter at this point.
The congregation by this time was clearly not in a great condition for they brought a petition to the Synod in May, 1899, asking that arrangements be made for the settlement of a minister. This means that they were not strong enough to get one in the normal way. The Synod agreed that arrangements should be made to settle a pastor in Aberdeen and that the maximum grant from the Mutual Assistance Fund be given as a supplement to the minister’s salary. It was also agreed that further help could be provided if necessary (Glasgow Herald, 24th May, 1899). Nevertheless the congregation were not able to obtain a settlement promptly.
Aberdeen: Robert Barr McVicar
McVicar was ordained here on 5th May, 1903, but he did not continue here for long. His resignation from his charge in Aberdeen was accepted on 4th February, 1907. He felt “the field of labour was too circumscribed” (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 8th May, 1903, p.7). It is sad and ironic that, having given the reason he did for leaving, he preferred the scattered rural Free Church congregation of Glenlyon to the city of Aberdeen. This could only mean that the congregation of Aberdeen was in sharp decline. And so it proved. At the Synod of May, 1908, it was reported that the congregation had been dissolved.
At the Synod of May, 1911, it was reported that the records, sessional and congregational, were in the custody of the Clerk of Synod.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.252-254
At the Second Disruption of 1852, John Sandison, the minister, with the majority of the congregation, entered the union with the Free Church but a minority wished to remain in the UOS Church.
They raised a successful action for the recovery of the Church and Manse, which had been retained by the party which united with the Free Church. “The energetic measures which were adopted had the desired effect before the case came to trial. By their arrangement with the Free Church party, the congregation received rent for the four years they have been excluded from the property, and all their law expenses to a trifle. They got full possession on 26th May current”, that is, 1856.
However, despite this, they were still in debt over their congregational property and they sought the help of the Synod to wipe out the debt. They got fine words and a promise of future help: the Synod “desire to express their deepest sympathy with the congregation, and their readiness to aid them in pecuniary matters as soon as they shall take practical steps among themselves for clearing off the debt still resting ou their congregational property.”
Clearly, the Synod did not think the congregation were exerting themselves sufficiently. On another request for help, the Synod “agreed to grant the sum of £15 to the congregation, for assisting in liquidating the debt upon their church property, expressing an earnest hope that the congregation would make further efforts for removing all the debt.”
During all this time, the congregation made repeated requests for the continual supply of preaching and for the administration of the sacraments. These requests were granted, but sometimes with the rider “as far as practicable”. No doubt the Church was short of approved preachers.
Finally, the situation improved to such an extent that in April, 1862, the congregation gave a unanimous call to Alexander Ritchie, preacher of the gospel, to be their pastor. Robert Craig, Kirriemuir, presided at the moderation. This, however, came to nothing.
A statement having been made on behalf of the Session and congregation of Arbroath, from which it appeared that they solicited the concurrence of the Presbytery in the election and ordination of additional elders, the Presbytery unanimously agreed to concur.
Shortly thereafter the first settlement of a minister here since the events of 1852 was realised.
Arbroath: Benjamin Kirkwood
Kirkwood was ordained here on 6th November, 1866.
On the occasion, John McKay, Aberdeen, preached from Numbers 8:19: “And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation …”; Thomas Manson, Perth, conducted the ordination; and William Robertson, Dundee, addressed both the new minister and the congregation, and closed the service.
But the settlement was not to last long: though a young man, he died of phthisis on 28th February, 1868.
However, steps were quickly taken to get the services of another minister and these steps were successful.
Arbroath: Alexander Stirling
On 6th October, 1868, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call and on 19th October, 1868, the congregation met. John McKay, Aberdeen, preached and presided, and a call was signed to Alexander Stirling “of Kirkintilloch”. On 10th December, the call, which had been sustained at a previous meeting of Presbytery, was presented to Stirling and he cordially accepted it. He was ordained here on 10th March, 1869.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service; John Barr, Coupar Angus, preached from Isaiah 30:20: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher …”; William Robertson, Dundee, conducted the ordination; and John McKay, Aberdeen, addressed the newly ordained pastor and the people in suitable terms, and concluded the service.
On 3rd November, 1869, he was presented by the ladies of the congregation with a handsome pulpit Bible and Psalm-book, as a token of their respect and esteem for him as their minister. Likewise, at the annual social meeting of the Sabbath School in 1877, the opportunity was taken of presenting him a handsome gold watch as “a tangible evidence of their respect for him”.
The church building had been constructed in 1821 and was becoming old and unsuitable and the congregation acquired an adjoining house, intending to build a new church building on the combined site. The Police Commission, however, wished to buy a part of the site to make a proper street past the church building – the old building projected on to the line of the intended street. The congregation was willing to sell ground that was surplus to their requirements. But they asked for too much and they were offered £2 per yard for 20 yards – all that was really needed for the street to be suitably developed (The Dundee Courier & Argus, Saturday, December 13, 1879).
However, the matter only slowly advanced. The Building Committee of the congregation was offered £140 for some ground on the corner of Hume and Maule that could be useful for street widening and for relaying the pavement (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 10th May, 1887).
This being settled, plans for the new church in Maule Street were submitted to the Paving Committee, examined, and approved (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 24th November, 1887). The plans were also submitted for the inspection of the Presbytery which expressed its sympathy with the movement, and recommended it to the liberality of friends throughout the Church.
The last service in the old building was held on the last Sunday of 1887 (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 28th December, 1887).
Now the matter advanced rapidly and the new church was opened in 27th June, 1888. It was built from plans by Messrs Chalmers and Robson, I.A., Glasgow. The building was of a bold type – early English Gothic. “The graceful style of the new building externally, and its neat and comfortable appearance and arrangements internally, reflect the greatest credit upon the architect.” It was seated for 320. The opening service was conducted by Robert Morton, Perth, who preached from Revelation 22:2: “The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”. Special services were held the following day, being conducted morning and evening by John Sturrock, Edinburgh. There was a good attendance at all the opening services, and the collection for the two days amounted to £40 5s. 7d.
A two days’ sale of work held in September, 1889, to liquidate a debt on the Church building realised £115 (Glasgow Herald, 9th September, 1889).
The congregation did not leave much mark on the records for a number of years. But in May, 1910, Stirling applied for a grant from the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund after 41 years of service. The maximum allowance of £50 annually was granted him. In September, he was presented with a testimonial by the congregation and the public generally as a mark of appreciation of his ministry.
But he did not have long to enjoy his retirement: he died on Saturday, 14th November, 1910.
Arbroath: William Sinclair Waters Reid
Again there was a relatively short vacancy. On 5th July, 1911, Reid was translated from Midlem. The Presbytery had previously refused to translate him but an appeal to the Synod resulted in him being allowed to move. By May, 1921, he had been translated to Dundee.
This time there was a long interval before another minister was settled here.
Arbroath: John Dickson
He was ordained here on 14th September, 1927. A call to him from Perth was set aside in September, 1929. But he was translated to Shottsburn, Lanarkshire, on 12th November, 1930.
Again there was a vacancy of a few years.
Arbroath: Robert Crawford
He was ordained here on 20th September, 1933.
On the occasion, Robert L. Findlater, Perth, presided; Robert R. Hobart, Edinburgh, preached; Francis Davidson, Paisley, addressed the new minister; John Howe, Dundee, addressed the congregation; and Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, and John Dickson, Shottsburn, also took part in the service. In the evening there was a congregational social.
Crawford resigned his charge on 5th December, 1939, when he reported that he was to be admitted to the ministry of the Church of Scotland. He demitted office as from the end of January, 1940.
By this time, the denomination was coming to the end of the road and the next minister was settled only after a long vacancy and he was the last UOS minister to be settled here.
Arbroath: James Moore
Moore was inducted here in September, 1948; and was translated to Birsay, Orkney, in March, 1953.
When the decision was made in 1956 to accede to the Church of Scotland, the arrangement made was that UOS congregations with a minister would be received into the Church of Scotland – minister and congregation alike. Congregations without a minister would be free to do whatever they wished. It is said that Arbroath continued in existence for a time as an independent congregation; that they then approached the Free Church of Scotland with a view to be received into that body; and that this approach was rejected.
The congregation then merged with the congregational church in Arbroath (Warmemscot).
As regards the church building: a dual carriageway now runs through what was the site of the building (POWiS)
The church was built on the corner of Maule Street and Hume Street. The map is not at all clear, but the church is marked at the extreme bottom right “United Original Secession”. The street running north south from there is Maule Street. Hume Street runs westwards from James Street.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.254-257
George Roger from Aberdeen was ordained here on 8th November, 1837. He was appointed Clerk to the local Presbytery.
Auchinleck: George Roger
He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Union of the majority with the Free Church. In 1852 he was appointed Clerk of Synod and he continued in these clerkships till his death.
The Auchinleck property was burdened with debt, but in accordance with a church-wide scheme to wipe out the debt on congregational properties, the congregation raised £100 and with contributions from the Synod’s funds and the Ferguson Bequest their debt was extinguished – as reported to the Synod in May, 1859.
In April, 1860, Roger received a presentation from congregation and friends “expressive of feelings of affectionate respect.” This consisted of a gold watch and chain with a purse “containing between seventy six and a half sovereigns”; a brooch for Mrs Roger and another for Miss Roger, his sister. The watch bore the inscription: “Presented to the Rev. George Roger, A.M., along with a purse of sovereigns, by his congregation and friends, in testimony of their esteem for his character and gratitude for his labours” (The Aberdeen Journal, 11th April, 1860).
On 5th July, 1869, he informed the Presbytery that, under medical advice, he had to leave home for a time and the Presbytery agreed to a rota to fill his pulpit until the third Sabbath of August.
He died on 4th April, 1870.
Auchinleck: James Spence
On Roger’s death there was a speedy settlement effected. On 29th July, 1870, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call and Andrew T. McClenaghan, Kilmarnock, was appointed to attend to this. The congregation promised an annual stipend of £70, a manse and £7 sacramental expenses. On 30th August a call from Auchinleck to James Spence, probationer, signed by 32 members, was brought before the Presbytery, sustained, presented to Spence and accepted by him. He was ordained on 14th December, 1870.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service, Andrew T. McClenaghan, Kilmarnock, preached from Psalm 122:6-9: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee …”; John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the ordination; John Sturrock, Stranraer, addressed the new minister and the people; and Thomas Robertson, Kilwinning, concluded the service.
Spence died early in 1928.
That seems to have marked the end of the road for the Auchinleck congregation.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.257-260
This congregation had what, as far as I know, was a unique feature: a graveyard of their own. This was on the site of their original building, a second building having been constructed about 1799-1800.
John Robertson was the fourth minister of this congregation. A call was presented to him on three occasions before his settlement was agreed on. He was ordained here on 29th June, 1843.
Ayr: John Robertson
He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Union of the majority with the Free Church in 1852.
Around 1860 their building was substantially renovated and reseated to provide about 470 sittings.
A feature of this congregation was its “mission work”. Other congregations engaged in missionary activity, but Ayr’s mission was the oldest in the church. They generally had the services of a missionary, but even when they did not have one, they continued the mission work themselves. They did all this at their own expense. They also had an annual day for reporting on mission work and the proceedings of these mission days were reported annually at length in the denominational magazine. Only a summary and a sample of the missionary work of the congregation can be provided here.
A typical plan of operations was the following: (1) Systematic visitation of the district, including visitation of the sick. (2) The public preaching of the gospel. (3) District prayer meetings. (4) And the circulation of tracts.
Ebenezer Ritchie, later of Colmonell was missionary for a time. On 26th November, 1856, there was a public meeting to bid him farewell as he took up the work in Colmonell. The minister presented him “in name of the congregation and others, with a purse containing fifteen sovereigns, as a small token of regard for his personal character and appreciation of his valuable services.”
Following him as missionary was his son, Alexander Ritchie, who took up the work on 9th October, 1859. His year as missionary was brought to an end when he returned to College and took up missionary work in connection with the Glasgow, Mains Street, congregation. James Patrick, later of Carnoustie, then took up the work. The extent of each missionary’s work was carefully recorded and summarised in statistics: “From 2nd January to 30th October, 1861 … he spent 877 hours in mission work; held 184 meetings in schoolroom and private houses, and 9 meetings in the open air—aggregate attendance at meetings, 10,718; visited 1,309 families, 242 sick, and 141 aged and infirm persons; read the Scriptures 443 times; held Bible class 34 times—aggregate attendance at class, 576.”
Particulars are also given: Patrick was instrumental in rescuing “from a life of shame and infamy” a “fallen woman”. He sent her home to her sorrowing mother, and later it was reported that she had given evidence of being a genuine convert. It was noted too that “for a considerable period prior to her return, her mother, who was ignorant of where she was, met statedly with some neighbours to pray for her return.”
There was then a person by the name of John Lang appointed missionary; he had been missionary in Glasgow. He served for six months and reported that, during these months, “he had spent 484 hours in mission work; held 124 meetings; met the class 26 times; visited families 788 times; the sick 195 times; aged and infirm persons 105 times; and read the Scriptures 364 times.”
Alexander J. Yuill, later of Laurieston, Glasgow, was also missionary here. He was employed for a year from 1st November, 1862. Thereafter, Andrew T. McClenaghan took up the work. These men continued the work in much the same way as before. By now, there was also a “banking department” which was going along “as briskly as ever.”
Later a Mr Hunter was missionary. We presume that this is Andrew Hunter, who was briefly a student of the UOS Church. His report reveals the extent to which literature was used: “there were 228 tracts in circulation, in addition to the Messengers and Trumpets, and out of 47 Roman Catholic families in the district, 17 take the tracts regularly. Since that report was drawn up another tract district has been formed at Whitletts, under the charge of Miss Wilson. This department of the work seems to be well carried on, but a few additional distributors is a desideratum.”
In May, 1868, it was reported that David Gray had been appointed missionary in Ayr and he had expressed his intention to study for the ministry. He served for another spell from 1873.
There followed as missionaries Thomas Gilchrist, William Auld (The Presbytery on 14th November, 1870, approved his appointment as made by the Home Mission Committee); Thomas Matthew, and Alexander Dunlop King. Almost all these were divinity students, working as missionaries in the months when the Divinity Hall did not meet. These were necessarily short term appointments. But from February, 1877, George T. Cowieson, a local draper, was employed as a missionary or catechist. He was engaged to spend at least eight hours weekly in visiting the district and to conduct two meetings each week, and along with other duties to superintend the tract distribution. This was a long term appointment. He resigned his charge in 1897 on the appointment of a new minister here and offered his services to any congregation that wished to use them.
So much for the missionary work in Ayr.
From time to time, ministers received presentations from their congregations, sometimes on special occasions, at other times for no apparent particular reason. One such presentation was made to John Robertson on 14th July, 1857. At a meeting held that day, James Miller was called to make the presentation. “This he did in a speech, neat, appropriate, and eloquent, describing in a graphic manner the personal excellencies and abundant labours of Mr Robertson, which had endeared him to his congregation, and called forth the present expression of esteem, in the substantial form of a purse containing fifty sovereigns, which, in their name, he had put into his hand. The purse, a beautiful piece of work, was made by the hands of a young lady in the congregation.”
There was another one later. “On Thursday evening, 6th September, 1866, a public meeting was held in the O.S. Church, Wallacetown, for the purpose of presenting the Rev. Mr. Robertson with a testimonial, in token of his unwearied labours as a minister of the Gospel in Ayr, and of the high estimation in which he is held by the Christians in town of all denominations. There was a large attendance, presided over by Provost McNeillie.” A presentation was made to him of a cheque for £70 and a broach for his wife.
Again on 3rd May, 1882, yet another presentation was made. This had been intended as a purely congregational matter but so many others from outwith the congregation wished to contribute that such contributions were restricted so as to guard its congregational character. “The testimonial took the form of a purse of sovereigns to Mr. Robertson and a tea service to Miss Robertson, in addition to which a neat table was presented to Miss Robertson from the boys of the Industrial School.”
Finally, on 25th June, 1891, in the Ayr Town Hall he received a presentation of a silver salver; a cheque for 500 guineas in commemoration of his ministerial jubilee. A gold watch was also presented to Miss Robertson. Ministers and laymen of nearly all denominations were represented on the platform.
This long ministry at last came to an end: John Robertson died on 7th June, 1894
The congregation was quick off the mark. On 20th November, 1894, they requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 176 members on the roll; and 75 adherents. £240 was offered as an annual stipend, plus £8 sacramental expenses. Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, was appointed to preach and preside at a moderation to be held on 6th December.
At the December Presbytery meeting, Matthew reported that on the date appointed at the Robertson Memorial Church, Ayr, they had elected Alexander Smellie, Stranraer. A call had been signed to him by 157 members and 62 adherents. The call was sustained and left over till the next meeting of Presbytery. On 28th January, 1895, Smellie said he had been led to the view that it was his duty not to accept the call. The Presbytery then agreed that he be retained in Stranraer.
By October that year, the congregation were ready to try again and a moderation was appointed by the Presbytery for 10th November, with Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, again presiding. The next month the Presbytery heard that a call to George F. Aitken, probationer, had been signed by 143 members and 59 adherents. This was disposed of on 27th December, 1895, when Aitken indicated that he had come to the conclusion that he should decline the call in order to accept one from Kirkintilloch. The Presbytery, therefore, set it aside. A newspaper comment was: “The result of this is likely to be the breaking up of the congregation” (Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 30th January, 1896). But it was not so. In fact, Kirkintilloch congregation left with its minister to be incorporated into the United Free Church while the Ayr UOS congregation survived for a while longer.
They didn’t immediately get a new minister, but get one they did.
Ayr: George Anderson
On 26th April, 1897, the congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call and Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, was appointed to do this on 13th May following. There were then 125 members on the roll – a significant drop since the vacancy began – and 68 adherents. The annual stipend promised was £180, plus £8 sacramental expenses. A month later it was reported that 116 members and 58 ordinary hearers had signed a call to George Anderson, Thurso. The call was sustained and was transmitted to the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen. That Presbytery met on 4th September; the call was put into Anderson’s hands, and accepted. He was inducted on 8th September, 1897.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service; Ebenezer Ritchie, Toberdoney, preached from Luke 1:17: “… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”; Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, conducted the induction; James Spence, Auchinleck, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and Robert Morton, Perth, concluded.
In 1900, the congregation received a financial boost. William Bayne of Gleniffer Place, Ayr, left £500 as the “William Bayne Bequest”, the interest of which was to be used for congregational purposes (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 6th April, 1900, p.4).
That same year, on 4th October, C. L. Orr-Ewing, the Unionist candidate for the Ayr Burghs, opened a three days’ bazaar in aid of the building fund. This was because a new church was being erected at a cost of £3000, £2000 of which was already in hand (Glasgow Herald, 5th October, 1900).
On 21st October that year, the congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. The membership was then 180. The annual stipend offered was £160 plus a manse and £8 sacramental expenses. James Spence, Auchinleck, was appointed to preside at a moderation on 6th November. Later that month he reported that a call to Robert Hobart, Perth, had been signed by 148 members and 44 ordinary hearers. The call was duly sustained and forwarded to the Clerk of the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen. But Hobart stated to his Presbytery that he felt it his duty to remain in Perth and his Presbytery retained him there.
By February the congregation were ready to present another call. The terms were as previously, except that the minister would receive £8 towards the rental of a home, if he should choose not to stay in the manse. James Spence, Auchinleck, again presided on 11th March, 1908. This time they signed a call to William Waters Reid, Midlem, But by the time the call came to the Presbytery, on 23rd March, a letter had been received from Reid stating that he felt it his duty to remain in Midlem.
Ayr: James Young
On 1st April, 1908, the congregation again asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. This was granted and James Spence, Auchinleck, was appointed to preside. The following month it was reported that 141 members and 43 ordinary hearers had signed a call to James Young, Paisley. The call was sustained. When this was disposed of by Glasgow Presbytery, Young said that he felt it his duty to accept it. He was inducted here on 23rd July, 1908.
On the occasion, Ebenezer Davidson, Kirkcaldy, opened the service; Alexander Smellie, Carluke, preached; James Spence, Auchinleck, conducted the induction; addresses to the new minister and the congregation by Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, were read by George Anderson, Bridgeton, because of Matthew’s illness; and Anderson concluded.
James Young died on 21st December, 1927, as a result of injuries sustained in a road accident.
On 22nd May, 1928, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. David Russell, Kilmarnock, was appointed to do so on 13th June. The annual stipend then promised was £120 plus “£50 in lieu of manse, sacramental allowance and all away talents to be retained by the minister, the congregation paying the supply.” But the congregation signed a call to David Walker, who was not yet licensed. A protest about this from Edinburgh Presbytery was noted. The call was not sustained. It was tabled and the Ayr congregation was asked to present it again when Walker was licensed.
The congregation, however, wished to withdraw their call and asked again for the moderation of a call. Again, David Russell, Kilmarnock, was appointed to see to the matter. On 13th November, 1928, Russell reported that a call had been signed again to David Walker, who by now had been licensed. Walker was present and asked for a month to consider the matter. The following month he declined the call as he could not leave Kilwinning “at this time”. That suggests that there were special circumstances in mind that swayed his decision. There can be no real doubt that these circumstances were, firstly, the death of Thomas Matthew minister of Kilwinning on 6th November, and, secondly, the fact that Walker was a paid agent of the Kilwinning congregation, in effect, he had been an assistant to Matthew.
Ayr’s position was reviewed by the Presbytery in March, 1929, and it was agreed to ask the Home Mission Committee to transfer Mr Boys from Kirriemuir to Ayr – the sphere of labour was better and it would be for the good of the church. Whether or not this was done is not clear.
The loyalty of this congregation to their denomination, and therefore, to their Testimony seems to have wavered at this stage in their history. The Presbytery minutes of 8th April, 1929, recorded that Francis Davidson, Paisley, David Russell, Kilmarnock, and Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, apparently on their own authority had visited Ayr on 22nd March and persuaded the congregation not to seek admission to another denomination.
So the quest for another minister continued. The Mutual Assistance Fund was to be asked for £120 if the congregation could give £100 and £50 for a manse. In the expectation of that help, the Presbytery appointed Robert Hobart, who was due to conduct the communion in Ayr, to moderate a call on 29th April, 1929. At the next meeting of Presbytery, it was reported that the congregation had called Francis Davidson, but that they now wished to withdraw the call and to have another moderation. Francis Davidson conducted that moderation on 21st June: on the night, 21 members and one adherent had signed a call to Robert Robertson, Birsay. But this was set aside by the Synod.
At this stage the congregation, made an arrangement with Rev. Mr Gillies, a Church of Scotland minister, that he should give supply for 6 months subject to the approval of the Presbytery. This permission was granted on 28th November, 1929. At the same meeting of Presbytery, commissioners from Ayr, presented a petition that the building and the congregation should pass to the Church of Scotland.
The action of the congregation had already been reported in the press. A newspaper report in October, 1929, stated that the congregation had voted unanimously on a resolution declaring adherence to the reunited Church of Scotland. (The majority of the United Free Church had just united with the Church of Scotland on 2nd October that year.) For some time they had been without a minister and they saw no hope of procuring a pastor in their present circumstances (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 30th October, 1929, p.7).
The congregation of Ayr desired a congregational meeting under a neutral chairman to ascertain the wishes of the congregation. This request was adjudged out of order by the Presbytery as it did not come via the Kirk Session. The Session was appointed to see to the matter in proper form. At the same time, the Presbytery requested the title deeds of the Ayr properties from the lawyer.
A fresh vote was therefore taken which reversed the previous decision. The three leading office bearers who were in favour of union then resigned and were filled with men opposed to such a union (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 23rd January, 1930, p.14).
On 8th April, 1930, the congregation came to the Presbytery asking for 14 months more of Mr Gillies’ services. This was agreed to on certain conditions, for example, that he operate under the supervision of the Presbytery; and that all matters denominational and sacramental should be dealt with by the Interim Moderator. David Russell, Kilmarnock, then resigned as Interim Moderator because of irregularities in the conduct of business which had been conducted without his knowledge. Francis Davidson was appointed in his place.
There was clearly some disquiet about what was going on in Ayr. The Synod agreed to the Mutual Assistance Fund supporting Ayr but only on condition that they hand over the property to the Synod. The Presbytery also appointed someone to review the financial records of the congregation. But when this was done, they were found to be in good order – and the congregation were willing to hand over the property to the Synod, so the UOS Church was in no danger of losing the property even if they were to lose the congregation!
Rev J. Gillies finished his spell here on 31st May, 1931.
Ayr: David Bennie
It was not till 9th October, 1931 that the congregation again asked for a moderation. They offered an annual stipend of £100; plus £50 for rent of manse; 3 weeks’ holiday; and sacramental expenses. On 17th November, 1931, it was reported to Presbytery that 40 members had signed a call to David Bennie previously of Coronary, Ireland. He was present; the call was put into his hands; he accepted it; and the induction date was fixed for 26th November.
On the occasion, Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, opened the service: David Walker, Kilwinning, preached from Psalm 84:3: “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” – a text that he would also use at the induction of David Russell to Coronary, two months later; Francis Davidson conducted the induction and addressed the new minister; David Russell, Kilmarnock, addressed the congregation and John Dickson, Shottsburn, concluded the service.
By 1936, the congregation had to look for additional support from the Mutual Assistance Fund. Their financial woes continued: on 24th April, 1941, the Presbytery were informed that Ayr’s financial situation was poor – the minister’s stipend was in arrears; interest on a loan was not being paid; and the Treasurer had misappropriated funds to the extent of £85. It was agreed to recommend that the Synod wipe out the arrears of interest on the loan.
In May, 1943 it was reported that Bennie had resigned from his charge and from the ministry of the church. And that seems to mark the end of the long witness of the church here.
From 1951 the building, which was known as the Robertson Memorial Church was used as the Civic Theatre. Concerns regarding asbestos forced its closure. It was demolished in December, 2009 (Opera Scotland).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, p.261
The property here consisted of a church building, which had been constructed in about 1790 and which had 300 sittings, with a manse and a glebe. The minister with the majority of the congregation entered the Union on 1852.
As in several other cases, the Title Deeds happened to be in the hands of the Union party when the division took place in 1852. The Union party made several attempts to bring the property to a sale, for the avowed purpose of extinguishing the congregation; but the property was specially destined for the maintenance of Secession principles at Balmullo and this was easily prevented. Active measures were adopted for its recovery, and the Free Church quietly yielded up the property. The manse and land were let to a respectable tenant; and although the congregation was greatly reduced in numbers, they were put on the list for the occasional supply of sermon. For several years, the congregation regularly petitioned the Synod for the supply of sermon and for the administration of the Lord’s Supper.
Notwithstanding its small size and its inability to pay an adequate stipend, the congregation petitioned the Edinburgh Presbytery for moderation of a call. The Presbytery referred this to the Synod which met in October, 1856. Their finding was: “That the Synod, having heard the petition of the Balmullo congregation anent the settlement of a minister, agreed that, in the peculiar circumstances of that congregation, the Synod shall for the present accept of the terms proposed by the congregation, in regard to pecuniary support, on the understanding that it is not to be esteemed a settled stipend, but a temporary arrangement, and that the Synod shall take steps and make arrangements for supplementing said sum from the Mission Fund or Mutual Assistance Scheme, as they shall see cause, when the call is issued.”
Clearly nothing came from that initiative for in May, 1859. the Committee of Supplies, reported that, wishing to help the congregation, they had resolved to appoint Alexander MacInnes, student, as a missionary there. They did so because the situation in Balmullo was the most necessitous. The missionary was willing and the Presbytery accepted responsibility for his oversight. But at the last moment, it would seem, the congregation refused his services and declined to enter into discussion with the Committee about a missionary being settled. What went wrong is not explained, but the Committee acknowledged that they had “no opportunity of explaining the matter fully to the congregation ere the appointment was made” – in other words there was a lack of communication.
The congregation still struggled on with only occasional supply. But the Synod in May, 1868, received a memorandum concerning the congregational property. This consisted of a church and manse and three acres of ground. The property was held by trustees, the majority of whom were not members of the congregation. The property was worth about £400 but had various burdens attached to it. The congregation wished to convey the property to the Synod on the following conditions: “1st, That, during the lifetime of the male members, at least, the Synod shall supply occasional ordinances, as at the present time. 2nd, That, to enable them (the congregation) to pay the preachers, they shall receive the rents of the property, without being obliged to count and reckon with the Synod. Out of the rents they will also pay the feu-duty, and any repairs that may be required. 3rd, That, on the property being conveyed, the Synod shall at once take the burden of the said bond [of £100], and discharge it, or pay the interest thereon as it becomes due. 4th, That, after the demise of the longest liver of the male members, the subjects shall become absolutely the property of the Synod, and may either be maintained as a place of worship, or disposed of, as they shall deem best under the then existing circumstances.” The Synod agreed to receive the property on these conditions.
In a Committee report to the Synod in May, 1869, the case of Balmullo was again referred to by the Committee responsible: “To make trial of the likelihood of our being able to do anything effectively to revive it from its present very weak state, they were anxious that a preacher should be appointed to it for a period of not less than three months, and they voted a considerable sum toward his support. But the preacher who was first applied to expressed great difficulty about accepting the appointment, chiefly on the ground that there was no room for the evangelistic work that was expected of him in the locality, as almost all the inhabitants were presently in connection with some Presbyterian denomination. On making fuller inquiry, your Committee found that this was the case to a larger extent than they had been aware of—that there were very few indeed in the district besides our own members who did not nominally belong to other congregations—and that so little benefit was likely to accrue to the congregation in any way from the brief temporary supply which could meanwhile be afforded, that they agreed, though reluctantly, to withdraw the grant they had made. They are deeply averse, however, to see a congregation which is possessed of a church and other property die of inanition, and they would strongly commend the case to the consideration of the Synod. If anything further is to be attempted, however, it must be done at once.”
There is no evidence that anything was done and a similar report to the Synod in May 1873 stated: “It may be proper to advert to one of our preaching stations, where but few of our members reside, and where there is the near prospect, unless something be speedily done to avert it, of our cause in that locality becoming extinct. The place referred to is Balmullo. To the case of this preaching-station reference is here made simply because its claims are considered peculiarly urgent. It would appear that the circumstances of our friends residing there are such that they can only meet the charges connected with pulpit supply six times annually. Now, although the village is not very populous, nor the spiritual wants of the villagers unattended to, yet it is believed that, if sermon could be granted them oftener, the people in the district would show their appreciation of the boon by gladly waiting on the ministrations of the sanctuary, and probably connecting themselves with our denomination. A little help granted to the adherents of our Church there might be the means, under God, of reviving and perpetuating Scotland’s Covenanted Cause in that district, and handing down to the generation following the banner which has been long displayed because of the truth.
Again, however, nothing could be done to improve matters and the Synod in 1877 heard that: “We exceedingly regret our inability to send a preacher, even for a single Sabbath, to Balmullo, since we presented our last report.” It is, therefore, not too surprising that the same Synod heard from James Lothian, an elder in the Dundee congregation, that the Congregation was about extinct, that the Manse was tenanted, and that he had collected a sum of money belonging to the Congregation, as to the disposal of which he asked advice.” As a result a Synod Committee was set up “to consider the present condition and prospects of Balmullo congregation” and to report to next Synod.
At next Synod it was reported that no meeting of the Committee had actually been held but George Jack, who was a member of the Committee that had been appointed, reported verbally that the congregation was now all but extinct; that the property consisted of a Church and Manse, with three acres of land; that the Manse was presently unoccupied; and that the Synod had full power to dispose of the property whenever they judged it expedient to do so. The Synod then appointed a Committee “with instructions to take immediate steps for disposing of the property, and with express powers of sale.”
At the Synod in May, 1879, it was reported that the property had been sold and that, after paying debts and expenses, £194 13/- was remitted to the Synod treasurer.
There is a building towards the top, in the centre of the map, marked “Burgher Chapel”. There is no reference to anything but an anti-burgher cause being here, and we presume that is the UOS church building.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.267-272
The minister of the congregation entered the 1852 Union with the Free Church, but the majority of the congregation remained with the UOS Church and retained their properties.
Birsay: Robert Brash
In January, 1854, his ordination was reported.
In May 1890 it was reported that the resignation of his charge on the ground of physical weakness had been accepted.
In between these dates, little is known about the workings of this congregation but on 2nd August, 1887, the Presbytery received a report from Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, and Peter McVicar, Dundee, on their visit to Birsay Congregation where they had found “all things in a very satisfactory condition”.
In 1891 they signed a call to James Patrick but he also received a call from Glasgow, Mains Street, and he was ordained there.
In 1893, a call to James Young, Midlem, was signed. This was tabled at the meeting of the Presbytery of Edinburgh on 23rd May, 1893, and disposed of by them at a meeting on 11th July. Young stated that “after careful consideration of the whole case, he had been unable to see any sufficient reason why he should accept the call and requested the Presbytery to retain him in his present charge.” So he was retained in Midlem.
In September, 1898, the congregation again asked the Presbytery for moderation of a call. They offered £125 annual stipend plus a manse. The membership was 150. There was no mention of Communion expenses and the Presbytery agreed to inform the congregation that a minimum of £1 should be allowed for sacramental expenses. They agreed to a moderation (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 15th September, 1898).
On 25th October, 1899, the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen sustained a call to Joseph Robertson Mooney from Birsay, Orkney. The following month Mooney stated to the Presbytery that he was under call also to Kirkcaldy, Fife, but that he would go to Birsay if Kirkcaldy dropped their call. The matter was left for a month. But nothing in fact came of the matter. Mooney went abroad and had to apply for re-admission to the Church on his return, before being settled in Shottsburn, Lanarkshire.
Birsay: Alexander Parker
It was reported to the Synod of May, 1903, that Alexander Parker had been ordained here (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 19th May, 1903, p.6). On 31st March, 1909, he was translated to Pollokshaws, Renfrewshire.
Birsay: John Ferguson
It was reported to the Synod in May, 1912, that John Ferguson had been ordained here. By May, 1919, he had demitted his charge and withdrawn from the Church. That year he was admitted to the United Free Church.
Birsay: Robert Robertson
In June, 1922, he accepted a call addressed to him by this congregation. A call to him from Ayr was set aside in September, 1929. It was reported in September, 1946, that he was transferring to the Church of Scotland after 24 years in his charge.
Birsay: Robert McIlwraith Cullen
He was ordained here on 18th November, 1948; and was translated to Perth on 26th March, 1953.
Birsay: James Moore
He was the last UOS minister here. He was translated here from Arbroath in March, 1953. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956 with his congregation.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.281-286
Carluke: James Anderson
He was minister here at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852. He remained with the UOS Church and continued as minister here till his death.
He was a Trustee of the Carluke Parish Bank.
In 1854 he was seized with paralysis; he continued to do what he could in the work of the ministry, but for years was incapable of doing ministerial work. The congregation then sought to call a colleague and successor for him and on 8th January, 1856, Thomas Hobart was ordained here in that capacity.
On 16th April, 1856, James L Stewart, Esq., in name of the Carluke congregation, presented Anderson with a purse containing 40 sovereigns, as a token of their esteem. “His fidelity to the duties of his office during that period, more impressive from an obvious sincerity of purpose, has procured for him in a more than ordinary degree the respect and attachment of his congregation” (Glasgow Herald, 28th April, 1856).
He died on 21st March, 1861, at his home, the UOS Manse, Carluke.
Carluke: Thomas Hobart
On 5th April, 1855, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call to an assistant and successor to James Anderson. It was arranged that Anderson should have £52 a-year, with the manse and garden, and the assistant should have £90 of stipend per annum, the sacramental expenses being £7. On 26th May, it was reported that 232 male and female members of the congregation had signed a call to Thomas Hobart. The call was sustained and, as it was known that there was to be a competing call from Coupar Angus, the Clerk of the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen was notified. But on 1st August, the Presbytery asked for a pro re nata (extraordinary) meeting of Synod to decide the competing calls. Hobart then left the decision in the hands of the Synod. The Synod favoured Carluke over Coupar Angus, by 14 votes to 3, and on 13th November, the Presbytery sustained trials for ordination that Hobart had already done for the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen; examined him on further matters, and sustained the trials overall.
The ordination took place on 8th January, 1856, when John Ritchie, Shottsburn, preached from 1 Peter 5:4: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away”; Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, put the questions in the Formula, and offered up the ordination prayer; and John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, addressed the new minister and the people.
On Monday, 3rd January, 1859, Hobart’s adult Sabbath Evening Class met in the class-room, and presented him with a number of books, as a token of the esteem in which he was held by them as their religious instructor: Kitto’s Bible Readings, Macaulay’s History, Livingstone’s Travels and Researches in Africa, Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints, by Dr Guthrie, etc.—in all seventeen volumes. And on the 31st of the same month, he was presented with a handsome gold watch and chain, and a purse of sovereigns. The gift was from the ladies of the congregation, as a token of their high appreciation of his labours as a pastor.
The congregation of Carluke was transferred from the Presbytery of Glasgow to the Presbytery of Edinburgh. Both Presbyteries were weak, but the move was no doubt intended to strengthen the Edinburgh Presbytery.
The Presbytery of Edinburgh conducted a Presbyterial visitation here on 30th May, 1865. “It was found that there were upwards of three hundred members on the communion roll; that the office-bearers seemed alive to their various duties; that great peace and harmony had prevailed in the Congregation for a lengthened period; and that there were cheering evidences of spiritual fruit from the abundant labours of their pastor.”
On the other hand, the fabric of the congregation required attention. The first church had been built in 1801, and contained about 440 sittings. It was “originally built with that studied absence of elegance, so common in Secession Meeting Houses” and “had, in the course of 80 years, acquired an exterior still more ungainly. Its internal arrangements, never of the most complete or comfortable kind, had become less and less suited to the wants of the congregation.” So, about 1880 it was decided to demolish the old building and to construct a new church, containing about 500 sittings. By the following year, the work was done. The new church building was built of free stone; its style was Gothic and the elevation facing the street was “neat and chaste”. Internally the building was comfortable, “characterised by an air of neatness and finish, approaching to elegance. … in the way of accommodation, of lighting, heating, and ventilation, everything has been done necessary for the comfort of the worshipers.”
This new building was opened on 28th October, 1881. On the occasion, John Robertson, Ayr, and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, conducted worship; and William F. Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow, preached from Hebrews 2:1: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip”. There was a large attendance despite the fact that “the day was exceedingly tempestuous, and the air was dark with the showers of snow and sleet driven along by the wind.” Special services were conducted on the following Sunday and good collections taken. It was hoped that the building would soon be virtually free from debt.
The first minister of the charge, a Mr Graham, had been buried within the old church building in accordance with a request made on his death bed. So on 17th November, his remains were disinterred and reburied in the same grave as his two successors, Messrs Dawson and Anderson.
On 23rd November, the Glasgow Herald reported: “Terrific Gale: Great Destruction of Property and Loss of Life … Schooner Wrecked off Saltcoats”. Carluke manse was affected too: a plate glass window was blown in.
Hobart died on 15th August, 1898.
Carluke: Alexander Smellie
A call to Alexander Smellie, then in Thurso, from this congregation was dealt with by the Presbytery in December, 1898. The Thurso congregation urged the shortness of time he had been with them, the disaster for the congregation if he left; and their remoteness from other help. Carluke urged the greater scope he would have in Carluke and his family connection with the congregation. Smellie himself said he would prefer to go to Carluke but his sense of duty led him to stay in Thurso – but he left the matter with the Presbytery. The Presbytery refused to translate him.
But on 27th July, 1899, Carluke, again signed a unanimous call to him. But Aberdeen had also presented a call to him. When the calls came before the Presbytery in November, 1899, Smellie made it evident that he wanted to come to Carluke and he was therefore translated here on 28th March, 1900.
On the occasion Alexander J. Yuill, Bridgeton, Glasgow, presided and John G. Boyd, Midlem, preached a practical sermon from Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” A congregational soirée was held in the church building in the evening. It was crowded and John Sturrock, Edinburgh, presided. Smellie was presented with a pulpit Bible and psalm book and a purse of 40 sovereigns. Several musical pieces were rendered during the evening by a large choir under Mr Telfer.
On Friday, 30th August, 1907, about 6 o’clock. the maidservant discovered that there had been a theft from the manse. A man in Glasgow was soon arrested for the theft and on 16th September he pleaded guilty in court. He was William MacBeath a former minister of the UOS Church and of the Church of Scotland.
His agent acknowledged that there had been previous convictions. The root of the matter was excessive indulgence in drink. But he had abstained from drink from the time of the previous conviction till the day before the present offence when he had taken two or three glasses of whisky. On the day in question he had taken the train to visit Smellie, who was an old friend and fellow student. The minister and his wife, however, were out at a flower show. He entered the manse by the kitchen window and it was then that the temptation to steal overcame him. He took some jewellery and clothing and carried them off in a Gladstone bag, and went back to Glasgow. On the way back, he repented of what he had done and resolved to return the items the next day. Instead he pawned them and drank the proceeds till he was arrested. He was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 2nd September, 1907, p.6; 3rd September, 1907, p.9; 17th September, 1907, p.8).
Smellie was a much sought after minister: on 4th February, 1902, he was elected to Mains Street, Glasgow; in July, 1909, he received a call to Edinburgh as colleague and successor to John Sturrock. He was also called there in 1911. But despite all these opportunities, he remained in Carluke.
He died on 23rd May, 1923.
Carluke: William Sinclair Waters Reid
By May, 1926, Waters Reid had been translated here from Dundee but only after an appeal to Synod, his own Presbytery desiring to retain him in Dundee. He died on 2nd July, 1938, at the UOS Manse, Carluke.
Carluke: David Stevenson Walker
Walker was translated here from Kilwinning on 27th June, 1939. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956.
The old UOS building now is the home of the Carluke Baptist Church (see here).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.286-287
Couper, The R.P. Church, p.72
A small minority of the congregation did not enter the 1852 Union with the Free Church. The church, which was erected in 1810, and which contained about 200 sittings, was the subject of a famous law plea, which, after reaching the House of Lords, was decided against the minority, who declined uniting with the Free Church, on the ground that they had not objected to the union in due form at the proper time, and thus had no title to sue. For reports on the law case, see the denominational magazine, Vol.
However, the building that was fought over returned to the hands of the UOS Church in the following way.
When the section that did enter the Free Church became vacant through the death of their minister, James Meek, in 1859, the Free Church Presbytery wished the congregation to merge with the other Free Church in the town. This they declined to do. Instead they entered the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Walter Whyte (or White) was settled there as their minister on 10th June, 1863, He resigned his charge on 11th February, 1873. For him, see Robb, Cameronian Fasti, p.32; Couper, The R.P. Church, p.145; Small, History, Vol.2, p.581.
In May, 1875, the UOS Synod considered a petition from this Reformed Presbyterian congregation in Carnoustie seeking admission to the UOS Church on the ground that the position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in regard to union was unacceptable. (The situation was that a section of the Reformed Presbyterian Church was to unite the following year with the Free Church of Scotland.) The Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen was instructed to see to the reception of the congregation into the UOS Church – which they duly did (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 6th May, 1875, p.3).
In March, 1876, a call was addressed to William Hamilton, Kirkcaldy, but nothing came of this.
Carnoustie: Alexander D. King
The congregation met on 8th February, 1877, and signed a unanimous call to Alexander Dunlop King. He was ordained here on 25th April, 1877.
On the occasion, the service was opened by Robert Morton, Perth, “who preached an excellent and appropriate discourse” from 1 Thessalonians 5:25: “Brethren, pray for us”. Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, conducted the ordination; William Robertson, Dundee, addressed the new minister; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed the people; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, closed the service.
A petition from Carnoustie came before the Synod in May, 1878, for a grant to aid in defraying expenses incurred in carrying on Mission work. A house had been leased in a district suitable for mission operations, and had been fitted up as a meeting-place; a weekly meeting and a Sabbath School were held there. A grant was sought to assist in paying the rent. £4 was granted to them.
This provision was made against the background of a glowing report on the congregation’s state: “The measure of success obtained during so short a time naturally renders [the minister] sanguine as to the future, and it is to be hoped his expectations will be fully realised. The attendance at the Bible class is stated to be about 70, having increased by 54. The Sabbath schools are held in the church and in separate mission premises, and are attended by 70 children, who are taught by a staff of 9 teachers, all members of the congregation. In the premises referred to, prayer meetings are held, at which there is an average attendance of 30 persons. Prayer meetings are also held at Easthaven, a fishing village, some distance from Carnoustie; the attendance is stated to be from fifty to sixty. Mr. King devotes about 20 hours each week to visitation, and goes from door to door in certain districts.
“The membership of the congregation has increased rapidly during the year; indeed, we observe it has more than doubled itself since the period of ordination.”
Another good report was forthcoming the following year: “The membership of the congregation, according to the roll, now amounts to 103, being an increase of 16 over last year, and of 60 from the time of Mr. King’s settlement, allowing for all names dropped from the roll.”
On 21st January, 1880, he received a call from Toberdoney, Ireland, but it was later withdrawn.
The situation seemed promising but on 5th May, 1880, he demitted his charge. Why he did this requires study, not least because his brothers, who were elders in the Laurieston, Glasgow, congregation, resigned at approximately the same time.
Carnoustie: James Patrick
Help towards a reasonable stipend was provided from Synod funds so the congregation immediately sought another minister. At a meeting of the congregation on 20th April, 1881, presided over by William W. Spiers, Kirriemuir, they signed a call to James Patrick, Dromore, and at a meeting of the Presbytery of Ayr on 22nd June, 1881, he cordially accepted it. He was inducted here on 1st August, 1881.
On the occasion, Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, opened the service; Peter McVicar, Dundee, preached from Revelation 3:4: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy”; Ebenezer Ritchie, Aberdeen, conducted the induction and addressed the new minister; William W. Spiers, Kirriemuir, addressed the congregation; and Robert Morton, Perth, closed the service.
Patrick reported to the Home Mission Committee the following year and it was clear that he was continuing to do what was regarded then as mission work. He could already report on some who were intemperate being restored to society and also of two non-church-going families becoming connected with the church. Average church attendance was 67 in the morning and 75 in the afternoon.
The report to Synod in 1885, referred to the fact that the monthly kitchen prayer meeting had been held regularly in the same district as formerly, the average attendance being 19, and evidently this meeting for prayer was much appreciated. But church attendance was now 44 in the morning and 57 in the afternoon.
Patrick had the Free Church minister in his pulpit giving a temperance address. This caused some controversy: was this against the rules? Or did it make a difference that he was not there as a Free Church minister? (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 1st October, 1898, p.4; 3rd October, 1898, p.4; and 6th October, 1898, p.4).
Patrick died on 24th February, 1919, and the congregation was dissolved at the end of that year. The Scotsman reported on 29th December: “The congregation of Carnoustie met for the last time yesterday, when a dissolution service was held, and was conducted by William S.W. Reid, Arbroath. The congregation has been small for a considerable time, and sustained a severe blow by the death of the Rev. James Patrick, who had been pastor for many years” (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 29th December, 1919, p.3).
Cheltenham: James E. Walker
He was the only UOS minister of this congregation. The Presbytery of Edinburgh licensed him in 1855. He then laboured in some neglected villages four or five miles distant from Cheltenham, walking to these almost every day, and paying many visits to the sick and dying. Later he had secured in one of the villages, Woodmancote, a building formerly used for religious purposes, and capable of holding 200, and this number sometimes on Sabbath evenings had been gathered in it. But after about a year and a half he had erected at his own expense a church building in Cheltenham.
He then petitioned the Edinburgh Presbytery “to the effect that, in view of entering a new place of worship, Mr. Walker was desirous of being ordained, so as to enable him to carry on the Lord’s work more efficiently than he can do as a probationer.” The Presbytery had unanimously agreed to accede to his request, but asked the Synod’s concurrence. The Synod met and cordially concurred in this proposal and instructed the Edinburgh Presbytery to see to the matter.
Accordingly, on 30th January, 1877, the Edinburgh Presbytery met in Edinburgh with some corresponding members from other Presbyteries. Walker’s trials for ordination were sustained. He declared his willingness to subscribe the Bond of Adherence to the National Covenants on the first favourable opportunity and he was then ordained as a minister of the gospel in connection with the denomination. John Robertson, Ayr, offered up prayer; James Spence, Auchinleck, preached from Luke 16:15: “And he said unto them, ‘Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God’”; and Thomas Hobart, conducted the ordination ceremony and addressed the new minister in suitable terms.
His new iron church had been opened on Sunday, 28th January, 1877, by William F. Aitken, Glasgow, when about 200 were present. In the evening, Walker had occupied the pulpit and the place was crowded, many having had to go away from want of room. His subject was the kingly office of Christ, which was expounded in its Scriptural fullness, and applied in condemnation of the gross Erastianism of the Church of England. “Of course only the Psalms, and these in our Scotch version, were used in the praise of God, and were sung in larger portions than is common amongst us.”
The building was inscribed with the words: The Covenanted Church of Scotland. This building is elsewhere described as a portable church, erected on a plot of ground in Whaddon Lane leased by Walker, and known as “The Church of Scotland, Whaddon Lane”.
Besides Walker, there was a missionary, by the name of Hallit, active in connection with the new church. £40 was made available from Synod funds to supplement whatever he was being given as a stipend. But in fact the Cheltenham congregation were able to pay him £100 annually.
However three years later Walker wished to withdraw from the UOS Church. He was summoned to a Presbytery meeting but he wrote to say that he could not come in the meanwhile and he gave additional reasons for his withdrawal from the communion of the UOS Church. The whole matter was referred to the Synod in 1880 and the upshot was that the Presbytery Clerk was instructed to send extracts of his licence and ordination along with an extract of a Minute intimating that, owing to his having adopted views at variance with the UOS Church’s public testimony, he was declared to be no longer a minister or member of the UOS Church.
Regarding the congregation it was reported that about 1880-1881, an oak Pulpit from ‘Old’ St Matthews Church had been installed along with three manual pipe organs.
After Walker’s death in 1911, a Committee of Management was formed; the building was purchased from Walker’s estate and named ‘The Walker Memorial Church’. A trust deed was created based on a doctrinal summary originally drawn up by Walker. The land, which up till then had been leased, was also purchased (see Cheltenham Free Church).
The original church building was replaced in 1987, with a new building erected adjacent to the old site. The original building was demolished, and the plot is now occupied by a small local shop (see here).
The congregation has had an interesting and varied history but is still in existence as the Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church. It will shortly become part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales and will be known as Whaddon Road Evangelical Presbyterian Church (see here for the old set up, and here for the new set up).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.292-293
Benjamin Laing, the minister of the congregation at the time of the Union with the Free Church, entered the Union. But a portion of the congregation remained with the UOS Church.
Colmonell: Ebenezer Ritchie
He was formerly of Kirkwall, Orkney.
On 29th October, 1856, the Ayr Presbytery dealt with a call to him from Colmonell. He accepted it and was duly inducted here, on 25th November, 1856.
On the occasion, James Smellie, Stranraer, preached the opening sermon, from 2 Thessalonians 3:1: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you”; John Robertson, Ayr, presided at the induction, and delivered the charge to the new minister and the people; and George Stevenson, Kilwinning, concluded the public services with a sermon from 1 Corinthians 1:23: “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness”. Mr Ritchie afterwards received a hearty welcome from his people.
On the evening of Tuesday, 9th July, 1868, a deputation called on Ritchie and presented him with a purse containing £36 7s. 6d. accompanied with an excellent address, expressive of the high respect and esteem in which he is held by all classes of the community.
He died on 15th May, 1869 “in the undiminished vigour of body and mind, and in the midst of his usefulness”. The Presbytery noted in their minutes of 31st May that “the Presbytery and denomination have lost one who was warmly attached to his and their distinctive principles and who was always ready to defend and support these principles by his words and by his publications”.
It was reported in June, 1871, that two leading members had died and that the congregation was reduced to very poor circumstances. It was agreed to ask the Home Missions Committee for £10 or so to help them meet the cost of supply.
Colmonell: Benjamin Brown
Nonetheless, weak though they were, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call to a minister on the basis of contributing £40 towards his stipend and providing a manse. This was agreed and John Sturrock, Stranraer, was appointed to meet with the congregation on 12th February, 1872. The call that they then signed to Benjamin Brown, probationer, was sustained by the Presbytery two days later. There were about 20 members on the roll; 11 had signed the call; those who had not signed were not able to attend the meeting but were supportive of the call. Brown asked for time to consider the matter, so the Presbytery agreed to refer the whole matter to the Synod. The Synod saw no problem with the proposed arrangement and so on 8th May, the call was placed in Brown’s hands and was accepted. He was accordingly ordained there on 16th August, 1872.
On the occasion, James Spence, Auchinleck, opened the service and preached from Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” John Sturrock, Stranraer, then stated the steps of procedure, and put the questions of the formula; John Robertson, Ayr, offered up the ordination prayer, and Thomas Robertson, Kilwinning, addressed the newly-ordained minister and the congregation, and concluded the service. Although the day was very stormy, the attendance of members of the congregation and of other friends was remarkably good.
On 17th June, 1873, the Presbytery was informed that the Colmonell building had fallen into a state of disrepair “through natural decay”. £150 would be needed to rectify matters. The Presbytery recommended this to the support of the congregations within the bounds of the Presbytery.
Brown left in 1877 and joined the Church of Scotland, but there is no sign that he became a minister of a Church of Scotland charge.
The following year two members of the Presbytery visited Colmonell and concluded “that nothing could meanwhile be done to resuscitate the congregation there.” The Presbytery referred the matter to the Synod in May that year and the Synod just put it back to the Presbytery. The Synod told the Presbytery to act so “that such measures as are judged best may be adopted for the welfare of that congregation.”
Thereafter the congregation became extinct.
In May 1880, the Synod considered a reference from Ayr Presbytery regarding the church property here. The Presbytery was given full powers to treat with parties in the ultimate disposing of the property. It was only in 1885 that the Synod heard that the matter had been attended to: the property had been disposed of and the sum of £60 had accrued to the Synod.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
CORONARY AND CARTLEHILL
William Auld, who had been licensed by the UOS Church in Scotland, accepted a call to this charge on 9th May, 1876. At that stage, this congregation was part of the Irish Secession Church. The congregation was received by the Scottish UOS Synod in May, 1921. For a brief account of the congregation, see here
Coronary: John Howe
He was ordained here on 24th February, 1921.
On 7th September, 1926, the Ayr Presbytery dealt with a call to him from Dundee. He felt it his duty to accept the call and the Presbytery agreed that he be translated. He was inducted there on 21st October, 1926.
On 12th April, 1927, Coronary presented the difficulties of their situation to the Presbytery. They stated that if the licensing of David Bennie could be speeded up, they would be willing to call him. As the Presbytery couldn’t relieve them of their disadvantages and weren’t aware of the status of David Bennie, they referred the whole matter to the Synod.
Later that year the congregation requested advice of the Presbytery regarding their property in Cootehill. This property was now claimed by a member who claimed to be the only surviving member of the congregation. The building was in poor condition and required instant attention. A local church had offered £100 for immediate possession. Coronary session was prepared to let this sum go to the Synod but it was not prepared to fight the case in the Law Courts in the event of the surviving member laying claim to the property. It was agreed that the Coronary Session be advised to refuse its sanction and lodge its protest in case of sale.
Whatever happened in the meanwhile, we do not know, but by May, 1929, the property had been sold. £100 had been received for it. £25 was to be allocated to the Mutual Assistance Fund and the remainder was to be invested for the benefit of the Coronary congregation.
Coronary: David Bennie
On 22nd May, 1928, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. The promised annual stipend was £140 plus farm and manse. John Scott, Toberdoney, was appointed to moderate the call on 7th August. At the September Presbytery meeting it was reported that they had called David Bennie. The call was sustained. Bennie was present; the call was put into his hands and accepted and the ordination was fixed for 18th October, 1928.
On the occasion, Francis Davidson, Paisley, opened the service; John Scott, Toberdoney, preached from Matthew 14:19-20: “… They all ate and were satisfied …”; and also gave the narrative of proceedings; Francis Davidson offered the ordination prayer; David Russell, Kilmarnock, addressed the new minister; and Joseph Young, Bridgeton, Glasgow, addressed the people.
The congregation had now a minister, but it was struggling financially. Later that year they sought a larger grant from the Mutual Assistance Fund. And the following year the Presbytery agreed that steps should be taken to bring the salary up to the minimum Scottish salary.
While Bennie was minister here, a distressing incident occurred: Armed men kidnapped him in his night attire. He was taken away in a car and roughly treated and made to apologise for a recent speech that he had made on July 12. That date is an Ulster Protestant celebration, so we can guess the sort of speech which he made and who reacted so violently to it. He was then dumped on a road 10 miles from his home. He arrived home, prostrated, at five o’clock in the, morning ( Otago Daily Times, 22nd July, 1931, p.7).
Whether connected with that incident or not, he immediately resigned his charge as from 31st August, 1831. When his resignation came to Presbytery, he refused to reconsider and his resignation was accepted. Later that year he was inducted to Ayr.
Coronary: David Russell
In September that year, the congregation were ready to seek another minister. Again John Scott, Toberdoney, was appointed to moderate the call, which he did on 5th December, 1931. In January, 1932, it was reported that they had elected David Russell, who had recently resigned from Kilmarnock. The annual stipend promised was small: £140 from the congregation and £40 from the Mutual Assistance Fund. However, if the congregation were able to give more than £140, then the Mutual Assistance Fund would match the congregation pound for pound up to a maximum of 10 additional pounds. The call was sustained; Russell was present and accepted it; and the induction was appointed to take place on 27th January, 1932.
On the occasion, David Walker, Kilwinning, preached from Psalm 84 3: “Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” – a text that he had used at the induction of David Bennie in Ayr, two months previously; John Scott, Toberdoney, conducted the induction; he also addressed the new minister on “Our Stewardship”; and David Walker addressed the congregation from the words: “And as he was wont Jesus went up to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.”
For some time there was no mention of Coronary in the Presbytery minutes. When it did appear it was in the context of an unhappy financial state. In February, 1936, the Presbytery agreed to look into the situation of Coronary as there was some perceived unfairness felt in regard to the treatment of the minister there by the Home Mission Committee. The Presbytery then were asked by the Coronary congregation to conduct a review of the congregation’s financial position. The matter was recorded in two Presbytery minutes but there was no conclusions drawn and thereafter there was silence.
David Russell was the last minister of Coronary as a Secession charge. He retired in May, 1953, due to failing health.
It was reported to the Synod of May, 1955, that the congregation had applied for admission to the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
They were then joined with the congregation of Kilmount and placed under the care of Rev. William T. Eakins, minister of 1st Bailieborough and Glasleck. Two years later, however, they were united with the aforementioned churches and Rev. William Eakins served as their minister until he left for England in 1957. There then followed Rev. Warren Porter, 1958-1963 [who introduced the first musical instrument into the church], Rev Thomas James Hagan 1965-1967 and Rev. John Carson Lee 1967-1973 (see Coronary).
Scott, Annals, pp.293-295
Coupar Angus: Alexander Brown
On 23rd October, 1855, the congregation called Thomas Hobart, probationer. 20 male members signed the call. On 28th November, Thomas Gardiner, as commissioner from the Coupar Angus congregation, laid the call on the table of Presbytery. It was sustained and put into Hobart’s hands and accepted by him. Trials for ordination were prescribed. But he also received a call from Carluke and a special meeting of Synod was called to resolve the matter. On 13th November, 1855, the Synod met and decided in favour of Carluke.
Coupar Angus: John Barr
On 19th November, 1856, William Robertson, Dundee, met with the congregation, when a call was signed to John Barr, probationer. The Presbytery met the same day and sustained the call. On 24th November, the call was presented to Barr, who accepted it. His trials for ordination were sustained on 5th January, 1857, and he was ordained on 3rd February following.
On that occasion, John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, preached from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”; Thomas Manson, Perth, conducted the ordination; and George Roger, Auchinleck, addressed the new minister and the people, and concluded the service.
Barr was presented in the name of the congregation with a handsome mahogany book-case on the evening of the 19th April, 1859, as a token of their respect and esteem for him as their minister (Dundee Courier, 4th May, 1859).
A letter from a Thomas Johnston, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, accompanying a call addressed to John Barr, from Shippen Street congregation, Philadelphia, was laid on the table of the Synod by Barr in May, 1857, requesting the advice of the Synod.
The letter and call were read by the Clerk. Members expressed their minds and it was agreed to appoint a Committee, consisting of Mr Roger and Dr Blakely, to prepare a deliverance in the case, and to bring it forward at a future sederunt. This was done and the finding adopted was as follows: “Seeing the papers in this case have not been addressed to the Court, and, more especially, seeing that the call to Mr Barr has come from another section of the Christian Church in America, with which this Synod has no direct ecclesiastical relation, this Court cannot formally take up the matter, though ready to give advice to Mr Barr therein; the tenor of which is, that while the Synod deeply sympathizes with all who are appearing on behalf of the principles of the Reformed and Covenanted Church of Scotland, and while sympathizing with the circumstances of the congregation calling Mr Barr, it cannot entertain the idea of encouraging any of its ministers to entertain or accept any call from any congregation beyond the bounds of its ecclesiastical jurisdiction; and, more especially, considering the lack of labourers in the Original Secession Church, and the recent happy settlement of Mr Barr over his present charge, the counsel of the Synod must necessarily be, that Mr Barr should decline farther consideration of the call, intimating to the brethren in America the sympathy of the Court with them, and expressing the desire that the great King and Head of the Church may direct them aright, and, in His own good time, provide for them a man by whom they may be fed.”
So Barr remained in Coupar Angus.
The church property was burdened with debt, but in accordance with a church-wide scheme to wipe out the debt on congregational properties, the congregation, by May 1859, raised £65 and with contributions from the Synod’s funds and the Ferguson Bequest their debt was extinguished.
Barr died on 4th August, 1872, in Coupar Angus.
Coupar Angus: Peter McVicar
On 9th January, 1873, McVicar was elected by the congregation here, Alexander J. Yuill, Perth, presiding on the occasion. On 14th January the call was sustained and on 28th January, it was accepted. He was therefore ordained here on 5th June, 1873.
On the occasion, William Robertson, Dundee, opened the service; Andrew T. McClenaghan, Kirriemuir, preached from Isaiah 61:1: “To preach glad tidings to the meek”; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, conducted the ordination; Alexander J. Yuill, Perth, addressed the new minister and the people; and Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, concluded the service.
On 2nd November, 1876, and again on 23rd May, 1877, the congregation of Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, signed a call to him. But he remained in Coupar Angus. He was eventually translated to Dundee on 12th February, 1879.
A call was then signed to Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, on 26th February, 1879, by 49 members and 7 adherents, when Robert Morton, Perth, preached and presided. This call was sustained by the Presbytery on 18th March, 1879. There was also a competing call to Yuill from Toberdoney, Ireland. The calls came before the Synod in May, 1879. Yuill expressed a preference to remain where he was – and so the Synod decided.
Coupar Angus: George Anderson
The congregation then signed a call to George Anderson, preacher, Perth, on 5th April, 1881. It was signed by 41 members and four adherents. However, he also received a call to Kirkcaldy, Fife, and Toberdoney, Ireland. These competing calls were dealt with by the Synod in May that year. Anderson stated that he decidedly preferred the call from Coupar-Angus, but would leave himself entirely in the hands of the Synod, and would go to whatever sphere of labour the Court might see meet to send him. On a vote being taken, 12 voted that he go to Toberdoney in preference to Kirkcaldy, which got four votes. But the Synod by a majority of 20 to 10 decided that he should be settled in Coupar Angus, rather than in Toberdoney. He was ordained here on 17th August, 1881.
On the occasion, Edward White, who had just been ordained as a missionary to India, opened the service; James Patrick, Carnoustie, preached from 2 Corinthians 5:6: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord”; Peter McVicar, Dundee, put the ordination questions; Robert Morton, Perth, offered up the ordination prayer and addressed the new minister; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed the congregation; and William B. Gardiner, pronounced the benediction. The Presbytery were then entertained to dinner in the Railway Hotel.
The church building required some alterations and redecoration. It was reopened for worship on Sunday, 31st July, 1881. James Patrick, Carnoustie, officiated on the occasion. The walls had all been repainted and the seats varnished. This made it one of the most comfortable places of worship in the town. George Whitton, painter, had executed his part of the work with great taste and satisfaction (The Dundee Courier & Argus and Northern Warder, 2nd August, 1881).
Anderson preached his farewell sermon here on 2nd April, 1893, having received a call from Thurso, Caithness. He was translated there on 26th April, 1893.
He seems to have been the last minister of this congregation.
The building was on Union Street, Coupar Angus, and it became the Y.M.C.A. It became a listed building on 5th October, 1971. It was described then in the following terms: “Simple rubble rectangle with peinded roof and ashlar facade with 2 tall round-headed windows, original glazing, dated 1826. Interior gutted”.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
The formation of a new congregation here was reported to the Synod of May, 1883. It came about in this way. Matthew George Easton was the minister of Darvel Reformed Presbyterian Church. He, with his congregation, had acceded to the Free Church in the Union of 1876. He introduced innovations – for example, hymns, standing at singing, and sitting at prayer. A large minority of the members objected to this and after some negotiations, not of a very friendly character, about 90 members with adherents, making in all about 250 persons, decided to seek admission into the UOS Church. They applied to the Presbytery of Ayr and were accepted (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 27th November, 1882).
James Begg, a minister of the Free Church, commented on the event in his publication The Signal, “a magazine devoted to the maintenance of sound doctrine and pure worship”. It was, he thought “a most cruel case”. He believed that if the matter were brought into a court of law, the minister who brought about the changes, instead of driving out the people, would be extruded himself for the breach of bargain! (The Belfast News-Letter, Ireland, 19th December, 1882).
In 1883, the work of constructing a church building began. This was built on West Donnington Street by a builder and contractor by the name of Forrest (see here)
Darvel: William W. Spiers
In May, 1884, Spiers’ induction was reported, having been translated from Kirriemuir.
At the annual social meeting of the Bible Class in 1886, he was presented with a handsome writing desk and ink-stand “in token of the respect and esteem in which he is held by his bible class as their pastor and teacher”. Three years later there was a similar presentation by his Bible Class: a beautiful barometer and clock combined.
On 11th April, 1894, Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, complained to the Presbytery of irregularities in the conduct of worship in Darvel. The matter was deferred till the next meeting of Presbytery as the minister was not present. On that occasion, Matthew moved that the facts of the Darvel situation be remitted to Synod for advice. This was defeated by an amendment that there was no reason for taking any action in the matter. Matthew and his elder appealed the matter to Synod but nothing came of this.
Spiers reported to the Presbytery on 8th January, 1913, that he would present his resignation to his congregation at the end of the month on the grounds of ill health. Later the Presbytery noted that Darvel had been told to consider giving some tangible token “of the long and faithful services among them of their late pastor”. They had not responded and again they were to be given that suggestion. The following May, the Synod awarded him an annual grant of £45 per annum. He retained his seat in the Presbytery of Ayr.
The following year the congregation asked the Presbytery that a missionary be appointed for them and a petition to that effect was forwarded to the Synod with the favourable recommendation of the Presbytery. As a result the Presbytery were told to consider the matter and they interviewed Allan MacPherson from Kilmarnock whom the Darvel congregation wished to have settled as a missionary. It was agreed that he should be missionary in Darvel till next Synod. The following year Darvel promise £40 yearly if MacPherson was to be a part time missionary; and £80-90 if he were full time. But this arrangement did not last long. On 7th May, 1915, MacPherson sent in his resignation as from 24th June. But the Presbytery, having heard MacPherson in support of this move, agreed he had no reason for resigning and pressed him to withdraw his resignation, which he did. But the following month it was reported that MacPherson had enlisted and that his connection with Darvel was severed for the moment. Finally, on 10th April, 1919, it was reported that Mr Allan MacPherson had lost his life in the service of the country.
By this time the congregation was quite weak: there were not enough elders to constitute a session and the Presbytery advised the congregation to take steps to have more elected. But it was not till September, 1932, that the Presbytery were informed that an addition had been made to the eldership.
On 1st September, 1931, Reid MacFarlane, a divinity student, had been appointed to begin duties here: to preach once a Sabbath in Kilmarnock and once in Darvel; and to devote one day’s visiting a fortnight to each congregation. The remuneration was to be £100 per annum, £50 being from Darvel and the rest from Kilmarnock and the Home Mission Committee.
Thereafter the congregation was virtually run as a unit along with Kilmarnock and details can be found there. Rev Quintin Golder was acting missionary but there was unhappiness with him in Darvel and the Presbytery met here to resolve the matter. After discussion, Golder was exhorted to be more careful in regard to what he said and did. He accepted this and disclaimed any intention of offending anyone.
On 14th April, 1941, the Presbytery heard that on the previous day the Darvel congregation had met. It had been moved “that we request the Session to petition the Presbytery of Ayr to take the necessary steps for winding up the congregation.” 9 voted for; 5 abstained. The Session passed this to the Presbytery and the Presbytery remitted it to the Synod to take a final decision.
On 19th June, 1941, the Presbytery of Ayr meeting jointly with the Presbytery of Glasgow agreed that Darvel “be dissolved at their own request and be thanked for their long service to the Church”. Robert Findlater, Paisley, was appointed to preach here on 13th July and formally declare the congregation dissolved. Thomas Matthew, a lawyer in Kilwinning, and son of the former minister there, was to attend to the interests of the Synod in the disposal of the property.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.262-263 under Ballylintagh
Ultimately this congregation was referred to as Dromore but at first it was generally called by its original name of Ballylintagh.
In August, 1854, it was reported that the Ballylintagh congregation were in danger of being deprived of their mission house. The Clerk was instructed to seek more information and if necessary to write to the Secretary of the Ironmongers Company in London (the landowners) “representing the injustice of such a measure”.
The Presbytery of Ayr heard at their meeting on 12th December, 1854, that “this Congregation has again obtained the use of the meeting-house at Ballylintagh, of which it had for some time been deprived, for the purpose of public worship, though it is to be regretted that the grant is burdened by certain restrictions, which it is earnestly hoped will he speedily removed.”
But in January, 1855, it was reported that they had been deprived of their building and the Clerk was instructed to “memorialise” the Ironmongers’ Company.
This resulted in a law case being raised and the Presbytery appointed John Graham, Kilmarnock, to travel to Dublin to attend a consultation of counsel in preparation of the case.
Clearly there was still a real measure of uncertainty about the matter because in the report on the Synod in 1855, there is this: “After some conversation regarding the difficulties with which the congregation of Ballylintagh have had to contend about their meeting-house, it was agreed that a memorial should be drawn up and presented to the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, London, in reference to the subject, and that the memorial be presented by a deputation from the Synod, if practicable.” The Worshipful Company owned the land and had given the key to the Union party, which was the minority (see here). But whatever representations the congregations made to the owners, the outcome of the matter was that they had to build a new meeting place for themselves.
Meanwhile, in December, 1854, the congregation asked advice from the Presbytery regarding the proper form for asking for the moderation of a call. Besides referring to the normal information which the Presbytery received from congregations asking for moderation – size of congregations, financial arrangements – in this case the Presbytery said that they would wish to know if they considered themselves due Mr Matthews, the previous minister, any sum of money and, if so, how much; also whether they have agreed to arbitration of the differences between them and Matthews; whether such arbitration had taken place and if not, what prevented it; what are the pecuniary claims that Matthews makes on the congregation; whether the congregation are making any endeavours to have the differences removed.
What their answer to this was, we do not know. But we do know that they offered £52 as an annual stipend for a new minister and that the Presbytery refused to conduct a moderation on that basis. That was on 22nd May, 1855, and they refused again to moderate a call on 20th October.
The matter of the dispute with their previous minister and the question of the status of their property come together in a letter from the Ironmongers Company considered by the Presbytery on 22nd January, 1856. It stated that as the congregation had continued in dispute with Mr Matthews for three years; and as the congregation had not yet obtained a settled minister, they had therefore given the key of the meeting place to Matthews. The Presbytery agreed to express sympathy with the congregation and recommended they erect a mission house for themselves.
One gets the distinct impression, that though Matthews left the denomination, the Presbytery have a fair bit of sympathy with him rather than the congregation.
Dromore: Andrew Anderson
On 21st October, 1857, the Presbytery of Ayr met at Ballylaggan, and ordained Andrew Anderson, probationer, to the charge of the congregation of Ballylintagh, Ireland. James Smellie, Stranraer, preached the ordination sermon; and John Robertson, Ayr, after putting the questions of the Formula to Anderson, offered up the ordination prayer, and then addressed both the new minister and the people as to their respective duties.
In May, 1858, a petition from the congregation came before the Synod, requesting assistance in constructing a church building. It was agreed to grant £25 for aiding the congregation in this work, and remit to the Presbytery of Ayr to settle the conditions on which the sum was to be given.
Anderson was translated to Kilwinning, Ayrshire, on 24th July, 1860.
By 1862 the congregation wished to have a minister settled and because of insufficient support being promised, the matter came by way of reference by the Presbytery of Ayr to the Synod. They decided that the congregation should be free to call a minister if they would pay £60 as annual stipend and £3 sacramental expenses, as already promised; as well as a £7 annual supplement. If they could not do this then their minister would be free to preach seven times annually in vacancies until such time as it was paid. The Synod were gratified to learn that the congregation had engaged to provide a manse for their minister.
Dromore: Alexander Ritchie
On the 12th June, 1862, the congregation gave a harmonious call to Alexander Ritchie, preacher of the gospel, to be their pastor; Ebenezer Ritchie, Tobordoney, presided at the moderation. However, there was also a call presented to Ritchie from Arbroath, Angus, and it was not till 8th June, 1863, that he accepted the call here. He was ordained on 7th October, 1863.
On the occasion, George Roger, Auchinleck, preached from Isaiah 6:8: “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me’”. He also stated the steps which had been taken with a view to the ordination, and put the questions of the Formula to Ritchie; Ebenezer Ritchie, Toberdoney, offered up the ordination prayer; John Robertson, Ayr, addressed the newly ordained minister and the congregation in regard to their respective duties; Ebenezer Ritchie “delivered a discourse in defence of Presbytery, according to the laudable practice which prevails on such occasions in Ireland.”
The arrangement in having a minister settled apparently was that as the congregation could not provide a full salary, their minister should be required to supply vacancies for ten weeks in the year. However, the congregation promised “to supplement their minister’s stipend £10 for one year, commencing May, 1865, and thus to render it unnecessary for them to be vacant ten Sabbaths” during the year. They told this to the Presbytery and at the same time asked for financial support for seating their church and effecting necessary repairs. The Presbytery were gratified at the plan to supplement the minister’s salary, but required a definite plan for the seating of the church before they could recommend the project for the support of the church at large. When this defect was made good, the matter came to the Synod in May, 1865, and £10 was promised to help with their seating.
The next significant event was the illness of the minister. The matter was brought to the Synod in May, 1867, by way of reference. The congregation had petitioned the Presbytery to loose the pastoral tie “in consequence of the painful position and circumstances in which the congregation are now placed, by reason of the heavy affliction which, in the providence of God, had befallen their pastor”. As there was little prospect from a medical point of view of the minister being able to resume his ministry, the Synod dissolved the pastoral tie and Ritchie’s name was removed from the roll. (Ritchie himself in 1881 and 1891 was resident in an asylum in Scotland.)
Dromore: James Patrick
The congregation were not slow to look for another minister. They signed a call to James Patrick which was tabled at the Presbytery on 24th September, 1867. He had also been called by the Kilmarnock congregation and these two calls were considered together at the Presbytery meeting of 23rd October. When Patrick was given an opportunity of expressing his mind, after a lengthened statement, he intimated his preference for the call from the congregation of Dromore. The Presbytery unanimously agreed that he should go to Dromore. After his trials for ordination were sustained, his ordination was appointed for 4th March, 1868.
On that occasion, Ebenezer Ritchie, Toberdoney, opened the service; Thomas Robertson, Kilwinning, preached from Ephesians 3:15: “The whole family in heaven and earth”; a discourse in defence of the Presbyterian form of Church Government was delivered by John Sturrock, Stranraer, who also conducted the ordination; addresses to the new minister and the people were given by John Robertson, Ayr; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, concluded the service.
The congregation held special services in October, 1868, with special preachers in Terrace Row Presbyterian Church, Coleraine, with a view to clearing off their debt in seating and repairing their church building. The collections amounted to £77 12s 6d – which almost liquidated the outstanding debt.
In May, 1874, it was reported to the Synod that the congregation wished to acquire a manse: the rented house occupied by their minister was in various respects unsuitable; a manse was most essential for his comfort and usefulness, and would relieve the Mutual Assistance Fund of the allowance annually granted for house rent. It was designed either to build or purchase a suitable house, and for this purpose the petitioners had subscribed amongst themselves a sum of money. The project was commended to the liberality of the people of the Church.
Three years later the Synod received a report on the outcome of the project. A site for manse and garden, measuring half an acre, was obtained from the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, London. It was granted on a lease of 99 years at a mere nominal rent, compensation having been paid to the tenant off whose farm it was taken. They had erected a plain but substantial, comfortable, and commodious Manse of eight apartments (with suitable offices) according to plans and specifications prepared gratuitously by a friend in Ayr. The total outlay was £503 16/6.
Patrick was translated to Carnoustie on 1st August, 1881. On 27th December, the congregation met with him over a congregational tea and presented him with a purse of sovereigns – “a small token of their esteem and affection, and appreciation of his ministerial work and worth during his pastorate of thirteen years over them.”
They then presented a call to Thomas Matthew, Midlem, at a meeting on 31st May, 1882, when their former minister presided. When this came to Presbytery on 22nd August, 1882, Matthew said he was willing to concur in the judgement of the Court but that he “did not see his way clear to declare his readiness to accept the call.” The Presbytery agreed to continue him in Midlem.
On 27th November, 1883, a call to Duncan McKinnon, who was described as a “probationer, Kirkintilloch”, came before the Presbytery of Ayr. McKinnon asked for more time to consider the call. But eventually nothing came of this (Glasgow Herald, 28th November, 1883).
In 1885 a call was presented to Ebenezer Ritchie, probationer. This was sustained by the Presbytery on 22nd December, 1885, but he had received other calls and the Synod decided in favour of Paisley.
The Glasgow Herald, reported in November, 1887, that a unanimous call had been given by Dromore, Ireland, to Robert Stewart, preacher, West Whitegill, Holytown. However nothing came of that initiative either.
Dromore: Edward White
The congregation next signed a call to Edward White, Kirriemuir. The Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen decided against his translation and the matter was taken to Synod. On 28th February, 1889, the Synod met to consider the matter. When White was invited to speak, he stated to the effect that he had a decided preference for Dromore; but was willing to leave the case in the hands of the Synod. The Synod then decided by 11 votes to 7 with two abstentions to translate him here.
On the occasion of his induction, William W. Spiers, Darvel, opened the service; John Robertson, Ayr, preached from Deuteronomy 33:29: “Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places”; Andrew Miller clearly and ably defended the Presbyterian system of Church Government; John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the induction; Alexander Smellie, Stranraer, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and John Moody closed the service.
On 18th September, 1896, it was reported to the Presbytery that a call had been directed to White from the Midlem congregation. This had been signed by 50 members and 21 ordinary hearers. It was decided that the call should be disposed of at the next meeting. However, in the meanwhile White intimated to all that he had declined the call and the matter was dropped.
In August, 1920, the report reached the Presbytery that the minister’s stipend was insufficient and Francis Davidson, Toberdoney, was appointed to visit the congregation and encourage them to increase the stipend.
In 1901 and 1911 White was living in Killure, Drumcroon, Londonderry, Ireland, with his wife and son.
He demitted his charge on retiral on 9th July, 1929 but his name remained on the roll of Presbytery as minister emeritus. His death was reported the following year.
At the same meeting of Presbytery at which White’s resignation was accepted, the congregation of Dromore expressed their willingness to come under the ministry of John Scott, Toberdoney. They proposed that he should take one service weekly at 2.30 p.m. They would pay £100 yearly, plus travel expenses if possible. The Presbytery approved this arrangement, with the recommendation that £25 travel expenses be paid yearly. This arrangement would commence on 29th August when Scott would preach Dromore vacant.
When Scott left Toberdoney, Dromore, though reduced in numbers, were still willing to remain independent though they could only offer an annual stipend of £85 plus a manse. But when Reid MacFarlane was settled in Toberdoney in 1934 they again expressed a willingness to be supplied from Toberdoney. And so it was, The only qualification was during the war years. In 1942, MacFarlane reported to Presbytery that because of scarcity of petrol he might not always be able to supply Dromore – but that he would do his best to do so.
Scott, Annals, pp.311-314
In 1852 a section of the congregation with their minister, Edward Anderson Thomson, entered the Union with the Free Church of Scotland and were eventually united with Dudhope Free Church. The section of the congregation which remained in the UOS Church ultimately built a new church in Euclid Crescent.
There was real unhappiness in the Dundee congregation over events surrounding the Union. For some time prior to the vital meeting of Synod, the minister had delivered a series of lectures to his congregation on week day evenings. After the series of lectures had concluded, a document was presented to the Kirk Session at its meeting on 9th April, 1852. This was signed by the male members of the congregation and respectfully asked that the Session should call a meeting of the congregation to consider what action should be taken inn the light of the proposed union. By the casting vote of the minister, this request was turned down: it was not in accordance with Presbyterial practice to hold such a meeting at that stage of the matter. The Session, however, also said that the congregation could meet on their own if they wished. (Such a meeting would have no standing for official ecclesiastical business.) The Session also agreed that a duly constituted meeting of the congregation would be held in the week after the Synod if it could not be called prior to the Sabbath following the Synod. The elders stated that in that case no opposition would be offered to the minister in the conduct of his Sabbath ministry. This clearly implied that there was a strong feeling against the Union and against the minister who supported it.
At the same time, the Session appointed John Crowlie as their representative elder at the Synod. But as there was some uncertainty whether Crowlie would be able to attend or not, it was agreed that he would have power to arrange for another elder to replace him, if he could not attend, but only if there was not time to hold a meeting of Session to replace him.
In the event, Crowlie had not expected to be able to attend, and the Session Clerk asked the minister to call a meeting of Session so that they could nominate an elder who could represent them. However, the minister had declined to call a meeting on the alleged grounds that the Clerk had omitted to add “Session Clerk” to his signature on the paper asking for the meeting. When the appropriate words were added, the minister promised to convene a meeting of the Session at a given time; but did not do so. The elders were greatly aggrieved by this and resolved to protest to Synod. They sent their complaint with one of their number, but their complaint was not discussed before the vote on the union question was taken (Dundee Courier, 12th May, 1852).
But in fact Crowlie did attend the Synod and voted for the Union. As the majority in favour of Union was just one, the Dundee elders who were opposed to the Union felt that their point of view had not been properly presented and the outcome of the matter hinged on this. If a man who truly represented their views had been at Synod, there would have been a majority against union of one.
On the first Sabbath after this Synod, Thomson, who had voted to enter the Free Church, intended to preach in the usual way, but the minority had appointed John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, to preach. Both ministers appeared in church, each claiming the right to the pulpit. The Deacons’ Court, whose opinion was sought, gave a decision by a majority in favour of Blakely. Thomson protested, called a meeting of the congregation for the next evening, left the church with a substantial following, and preached in the open air a few yards from the church. At the meeting called for the next day, a motion was carried that as the union with the Free Church had not yet been effected, they should adhere to Thomson and the section of the Synod to which he belonged, reserving to themselves the right of joining the Free Church, should the proposed union take place (Dundee Courier, 5th May, 1852).
On the following Thursday, another congregational meeting was held. The minister presided, conducted devotions and closed the meeting without any business being discussed. This disgusted those who had come to protest. They remained in the church, elected their own chairman, and held their protest meeting despite attempts made to dislodge them, for example, by turning off the gas. All the members then present signed a deed committing themselves to the support of the Protesting Synod (Dundee Courier, 12th May, 1852).
They first called James Smellie as their minister. But he also was called to Stranraer and Kirriemuir and he was ultimately ordained in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, on 6th October, 1853.
Dundee: William Robertson
Mr Parker appeared as Commissioner of the congregation to the Presbytery asking for the moderation of a call. This was appointed to take place on 13th December, 1854, when William Robertson, probationer, was unanimously called. On Wednesday, 29th August, 1855, he was ordained.
On the occasion Robert Craig, Kirriemuir, preached the ordination sermon from 2 Corinthians 4:5: “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord”; John Aitken, Aberdeen, offered up the ordination prayer; Thomas Manson, Perth, addressed the new minister and the congregation on their respective duties; and Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, concluded the service. The Presbytery afterwards dined in Lamb’s Temperance Saloon, with a large portion of the congregation and others, who desired to be present to show their goodwill to the congregation. A presentation was made to the new minister – several valuable books as an expression of the welcome with which they received him as their minister.
The Synod on 29th April, 1856, took up a petition from the congregation of Dundee, requesting aid from the Synod Fund for liquidating the debt contracted in the erection of a Meeting-House, which was read by the Clerk. The following motion was adopted on the subject: “That the Synod having heard the petition, and taking into consideration the peculiar circumstances in which that congregation is placed, and more particularly the fact stated, that a lady, formerly connected with the congregation, had bequeathed the sum of £100 to the Synod Fund, it was unanimously agreed to give £50 to the congregation, to aid them in defraying the expenses incurred by them in erecting their Church.
The congregation had been meeting in Thistle Hall and then in Lamb’s Hall. The new church was situated in East Euclid Crescent. It was opened on Sunday, 11th May, 1856. Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, preached in the morning from Psalm 90:16-17: “Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children; And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it”; and in the evening from Psalm 87:3: “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God”; and William Robertson himself preached in the afternoon from Isaiah 28:16: “… And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate”.
A collection was made towards liquidating the debt on the building, and it amounted to over £72.
The new building was seated for 250 persons, but would contain another 50 with ease. In point of architecture, the building, both externally and internally, was substantial and elegant, combined with economy, and, in many respects, might be pronounced a model.
On 2nd July, 1860, Daniel Cowans, in name of the members and adherents of the congregation, presented Robertson with a handsome purse, containing thirty-three sovereigns, as an expression of their esteem and affectionate regard for him as their pastor.
His resignation from his charge was accepted by the Perth and Aberdeen Presbytery on 11th June, 1878. It was not stated in the press why he had resigned (The Dundee Courier & Argus 15th June, 1878).
Dundee: Peter McVicar
On 11th November, 1878, a unanimous call was presented to Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, by this congregation. It was sustained by the Presbytery on 26th November. On 7th January, 1879, he accepted the call and was translated here on 12th February, 1879.
On the occasion, John Sturrock, Edinburgh, opened the service; William W. Spiers, Kirriemuir, preached from Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, …”; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, conducted the induction; Ebenezer Ritchie, Aberdeen, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, closed the service.
In 1876 and 1877 he received calls from Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace, but nothing came of these.
On the night of the 23rd August, 1888, three homes were broken into in the same area of Dundee, that of McVicar being one of them. They were particularly vulnerable as the occupants were on holiday and there was an easy means of retreat for the burglars over the Law hill (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 25th August, 1888).
A two day sale of work held in December, 1889, realised £380 (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 23rd December, 1889).
In June, 1891, the Trustees lodged plans for a new fabric which they proposed to erect. There are different versions of this in the newspapers of the day. One source says that this is to be on a site which they had acquired in Euclid Crescent. and was to be built in place of the old church in Euclid Street, which had been bought and demolished in order that the site might be occupied by a part of the Girls’ High School. Another source says that it was to be a replacement building to be erected on the site of the old building. This church was to accommodate 300 and would cost £1200 (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 12th June, 1891; Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 16th June, 1891).
The plans were approved on 15th June, 1891. The old church had been for some time too limited for the requirements of the people. The new building was to have a frontage of 40 feet, the front wall rising to a height of 35 feet. The church was to be situated on the first floor, the ground floor being occupied by a hall, office and vestry. The church proper took the form of a cross, with back and side galleries, the pulpit and choir platform being situated at the south end. The main doorway was placed in the centre of the gable at the north end, and surmounted by a large two-light Gothic-headed window. Access to the hall was gained by a door on the left hand, while an easy stair, with open well in the centre, led up to the church and galleries. The seats were of neat design. The church during the day was lighted by a row of windows on each wall, and at night was illuminated by means of ornamental standards and wall brackets. Ventilation was provided by inlet tubes in the wall and a large exhaust ventilator on the roof. Operations were to be proceeded with immediately and it was expected that the new fabric would be opened at the end of the year. The architect was Mr J.S. Langlands (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 16th June, 1891).
The new church building was opened on Wednesday, 25th January, 1893, with services conducted by Robert Morton, Perth, and Thomas Hobart, Carluke. The services on the following Sunday were conducted by William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, and Peter McVicar, the minister of the congregation. On the Monday evening following, there was a social meeting in the new church building when speeches were made and sacred pieces were sung at intervals by a party of vocalists (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 25th January, 1893; The Dundee Courier & Argus, 31st January, 1893, p.4).
McVicar died in 1920.
Dundee: William Sinclair Waters Reid
In November, 1920, the Dundee congregation presented William Sinclair Waters Reid, Arbroath, with a unanimous call. By May, 1921, he had been settled here.
By May, 1926, he had been translated to Carluke, Lanarkshire, but only after an appeal to Synod, his own Presbytery desiring to retain him in Dundee.
Dundee: John Howe
On 7th September, 1926, the Ayr Presbytery dealt with a call from Dundee to John Howe, Coronary and Cartlehill, Ireland. Howe felt it his duty to accept the call and the Presbytery agreed that he be translated here. He was inducted on 21st October, 1926.
D. M. Brown, a draper in Dundee and a prominent supporter of the UOS congregation, died in January, 1934. He left £1,000 to the congregation; and £3,250 distributed amongst the various funds of the denomination (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 12th and 18th January, 1934, p.7).
Howe acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956. He retired from his charge on 31st October, 1967.
The church building was listed, Category C, on 1st February, 1985, when it was described as Trinity Hall, Dundee High School (Listed Buildings).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
EDINBURGH, ADAM SQUARE
Scott, Annals, pp.330-331
Edinburgh, Adam Square: Archibald Brown
Brown was inducted here on 24th May 1843. He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852.
At a special meeting of Synod, held in October, 1855, he was accused of making injurious charges against the editor of the denominational magazine and was called upon by the Synod to retract. He made the required retraction and apology and the case terminated to the satisfaction of all parties.
Owing to a diversity of sentiment respecting the lawfulness of Sabbath-schools and other matters, this congregation became divided in 1857. One section, became what was later called Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace.
After the congregation became divided, Brown was out of fellowship with the United Original Secession Church. But he continued to minister to his congregation.
The Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 2nd March, 1863, contained a report that he was going to go to Australia with Anderson, Kilwinning, and Smith, Pollokshaws; but this clearly proved to be unfounded. Anderson and Smith went to New Zealand, but Brown did not accompany them.
The congregation sold their church building to the Improvement Commissioners who required it for the formation of Chambers Street and removed to a new building erected for them in South Clerk Street. Here he ministered till his death on 5th February, 1879.
After this event, the congregation, which was very small, dissolved, several of its members uniting with their former brethren in Victoria Terrace, and the place of worship was let to a group of seceders who had separated from another Edinburgh secession congregation – see Edinburgh, South Clerk Street.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
The “O.S. Ch.” marked here on the west side of South Clerk Street at the time of this map was occupied by the Associate Congregation of Original Seceders, but it had formerly belonged to Archibald Brown’s congregation.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
EDINBURGH, VICTORIA TERRACE
Scott, Annals, pp.330-331
This congregation came about by separation from the Adam Square congregation in 1857. They worshipped in a hall in Infirmary Street for about six years and for three years in the Temperance Hall in Nicolson Street. In July, 1866, they got their own building on Victoria Terrace, as described below.
In April, 1859, John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, was called here but he declined.
In March, William B. Gardiner, later of Pollokshaws, was missionary here. His report gives an insight into the mission work of the congregation:
“Household Visitation.—The district contains about 220 families, comprising upwards of 600 persons, into whose houses ready access was obtained, and many hours profitably spent. About 30 families are Romanists, and refuse admission; but some of these have taken tracts, and one or two permit their children to attend the school on Sabbath evenings. Many of the people never enter a place of worship. Numbers are very poor.
“Meetings.—Two stated meetings are held every week in a commodious school-room. The Sabbath evening one is well attended; the Wednesday night attendance is very fluctuating. Occasional meetings have been held in private houses in the afternoons with mothers and children, who cannot conveniently get out at night. A short religious service is conducted every Sabbath, during the interval of worship, among the temporary inmates of the Night Asylum.
“Class.—A class composed of girls, varying in age from 10 to 15, is held every Sabbath afternoon. Their behaviour is usually very orderly—their tasks well prepared—their diligence commendable.
“Tract Distribution.—Large numbers of tracts and religious periodicals have been given to the families and meeting-attenders. These are returned after perusal. An efficient staff of distributors deliver tracts once a week at about sixty households. Invaluable service has been rendered to the Mission by their labour of love.
“Extra Efforts.—Frequent visits were made during the year to the Western Reformatory, Male Lodging-house, Night Asylum, and Royal Infirmary. Two meetings have been held with the night policemen of the city.
“Ladies’ Benevolent Society.—This society has proved a valuable auxiliary to the Mission. The charitable gifts and sums of money bestowed on the poor have proved a welcome boon to many a starving and suffering family.
“Summary.—The following figures show the work done for the quarter ending with October last:—Hours spent, 171; meetings held, 67; aggregate attendance at meetings, 2334; class taught 9 times, total attendance being 68; visits paid, 635; tracts circulated, not including those that are uplifted, 1254.”
Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace: James Smellie
On 10th April, 1860, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, presided at a meeting of the congregation, which called James Smellie of Stranraer, Wigtownshire (The Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 11th April, 1860). Clearly nothing came of that because he was again presented with a call from Edinburgh. On 26th January, 1864, Ayr Presbytery met to dispose of this call. He declared it to be his conviction that he had the call of God to leave his present charge and go to Edinburgh. It was noted that he would have £70 less annually if he were to go. The Presbytery decided he should go (Glasgow Herald, 1st February, 1864 ). Stranraer appealed to the Synod, but the Synod decided in favour of Edinburgh and he was translated here on 23rd March, 1864.
On the occasion, William F. Aitken, Midlem, preached from Revelation 3:7: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth’”; Thomas Hobart, Carluke, conducted the ordination; John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, addressed the new minister and the people.
In May, 1864, the Synod dealt with a representation and petition from the congregation, requesting encouragement from the Synod in their efforts to the purchase or erection of a place of worship. The Synod recommended this project to the cordial support of the church.
By the end of that year, the congregation had obtained a site “in a central locality, at the west corner of Victoria Terrace”. They also had got to hand plans and estimates. “It is not unworthy of mention that it stands exactly on the line of the West Bow, the old road to the Grassmarket, the front of the church looking towards the spot where so many of our martyred covenanting fore-fathers gave their lives for the same cause, which the Original Secession Church is seeking to uphold.” They were a congregation of only 74, mostly poor, members. They had some money and were resolved to go ahead with the building and so they “respectfully and earnestly solicit[ed] the early and liberal aid of those who have the heart and the ability to assist them.” They anticipated that the whole project would cost £1,500.
A report in the denominational magazine describes the structure: “The building will be brought forward to the line of Victoria Street. The front wall will rest on five massive stone pillars, arched over and forming an arcade of similar design to that at the east end of the terrace. The Church floor will be about fifteen feet above the level of the terrace, and will extend over the arcade. The floor of the building on the terrace level will be occupied with the entrance hall to the Church, and a large ware-room or shop. At the further end of the entrance hall the staircase to the Church is placed, giving access to the area and gallery. The Church will be comfortably seated to accommodate between 400 and 500 persons. At the rear of the stair-case, on the site of the building known as Major Weir’s house, there is a vestry and meeting room, and in the basement of this building is the place for the hot-air apparatus, &c. The construction of the arcade is following out, so far, the original design of the terrace; and although the design of the super-structure is somewhat different from the other buildings on the terrace, the general features will harmonise with the architecture of the buildings upon which it is to be raised. The style adopted somewhat resembles the round-arched Gothic. Above the cornice of the arcade the Church is lighted with a double tier of windows, having moulded imposts and archivolts. All the windows are divided with stone shafts, having moulded caps and bases; and the window heads are filled with stone tracery. Over the centre of the south front of the building a gable rises to the level of the ridge, which is flanked on either side with gables of a smaller size. On the east and west elevations the gables also rise to the level of the ridge. All the gables are ornamented with crocketted skews and carved stone finials.
“The architects are Messrs. Paterson & Shiells, who also designed the Methodist Chapel on the same terrace. They have produced an excellent design at a very moderate cost. The contractors are—Mason work, Messrs. Berry; joiner work, Messrs. Shore & Crawford; plaster work, Messrs. Campbell & Stewart; plumber work, Mr. White; and slater work, Mr. Anderson.”
The Synod in May, 1865, agreed to donate £50 towards the new church building. By this time the estimated costs, including fees, were £1,800.
In May, 1865, a Presbyterial Visitation was made to the congregation but no details as to the state of the congregation emerge from the report given of it.
On 15th July, 1866, the new church building on Victoria Terrace, was opened for public worship. William F. Aitken, Midlem, preached in the morning from Isaiah 12:3: “Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation”. He also preached in the evening. James Smellie, the minister of the charge, preached in the afternoon from 1 Samuel 7:12: “Ebenezer; hitherto hath the Lord helped us”. The area of the Church was crowded in the forenoon, and the gallery partially occupied. In the afternoon and evening, all parts of the Church were filled.
The Synod of May, 1871, received favourably a request that a missionary should be appointed and strongly recommended to the Home Mission Committee that “a Missionary be located in Edinburgh as soon as an agent can be got, and a suitable district obtained.”
It was reported to the Synod in May, 1874, that during the past year two Missionaries had been engaged in the work, namely Thomas Matthew, from April to November, 1873; and David Gray, formerly missionary here, from November, 1873, to this date.
On 2nd November, 1876, the congregation met, when William Hamilton, Kirkcaldy, preached and presided. Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, was elected minister by 29 votes to 28, the other candidate being Thomas Hobart, Carluke. Thereafter a call was “largely” signed to McVicar. But this came to nothing, for on 23rd May, 1877, they again signed a call to him (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 25th May, 1877, p.6). On 25th July, 1877, the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen considered this call. McVicar stated clearly that he did not want to leave Coupar Angus and so he remained there for the time being.
Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace: John Sturrock
He was called from Stranraer on 28th November, 1877. When the call was disposed of in February, 1878, Sturrock stated that he was willing to go if it would serve the general interests of the Church. This was agreed to and he was translated here on 21st March, 1878.
On the occasion, John Robertson, Ayr, opened the service; Thomas Matthew, Midlem, preached from 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase”; Thomas Hobart, Carluke, conducted the induction and addressed the new minister; William Hamilton, Kirkcaldy, addressed the congregation; and Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, concluded the service.
In the afternoon, the members of Presbytery and other ministers and friends were hospitably entertained to dinner by the office-bearers of the congregation in the Cockburn Temperance Hotel. At a general meeting in the church building in the evening, the newly inducted minister received three presentations from different parties connected with the congregation.
On the completion of the tenth year of his ministry, he was presented, by the members and adherents of the congregation, with a purse containing 66 sovereigns, at a Social Meeting, held on 21st March, 1888, in the Protestant Institute.
Sturrock resigned his charge in April, 1911.
Already the congregation had been seeking a colleague and successor for him. On 30th July, 1909, and in August, 1911, Alexander Smellie declined a call from this congregation. On 24th January, 1911, the Presbytery sustained a call to Robert R. Hobart, Perth, to be colleague and successor to their minister. But this too came to nothing.
Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace: Ebenezer A. Davidson
He accepted a call here on 16th January, 1912 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 17 Jan 1912, p.11). He was translated here from Kirkcaldy, Fife, on 8th February, 1912.
On the occasion, William S.W. Reid, Arbroath, presided; Alexander Smellie, Carluke, conducted the induction; and James Young, Ayr, addressed the new minister and the people.
Davidson’s resignation from this charge was accepted on 16th March, 1928, and he then joined the Free Church.
The congregation immediately sought a new minister. In June, 1928, they agreed to present a call to Robert Lorimer Findlater but nothing seems to have come of this.
Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace: Robert R. Hobart
Hobart was translated here from Perth by May, 1929. He died on 22nd January, 1947, the last minister of the charge.
At the time of the accession of the UOS Church, this church was without a minister; it was very small in numbers and it was soon dissolved.
Victoria Terrace is not named on this map, It forms the north side of Victoria Street and is on a terrace at a higher level than Victoria Street. The UOS church building was located just to the east of the West Bow.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
This work began through the initiative of the Home Mission Committee. It was reported to the Synod in May, 1873, that a Committee had visited a hall in London Road with a view to using it as a centre of operations for a new territorial Mission. This hall was not found to be entirely satisfactory but it was resolved to pay a rent and to give a salary of £100 a year to a competent agent as soon as a suitable agent could be obtained.
The first mention of this congregation in the Minutes of the Presbytery of Glasgow was on 26th October, 1875, where they noted with approval that the Home Mission Committee had appointed John McKay, formerly of Aberdeen, to enter on territorial Mission work in the East End of Glasgow. The Committee had procured a small but comfortable hall on London Road.
The Glasgow Herald reported the opening services of Bridgeton Territorial Mission on 5th December, 1875. William F. Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow, preached in the morning on Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”; John McKay in the afternoon from 2 Timothy 2:19: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity”; and William B. Gardiner in the evening on Acts 18:9-10: “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people” (Glasgow Herald, 7th December, 1875).
By March of the following year the work had progressed to such an extent that a minister and elders were appointed as an interim Session “to receive parties to sealing ordinances”.
After a year of operation, the Home Mission Committee decided that these arrangements should continue until the group in Bridgeton would be organised as a congregation. They would then give £180 over three years, in the proportion that the Presbytery might determine. The Presbytery agreed to ask Mains Street and Hutchesontown Church (Laurieston) if they would have any objections to a congregation being organised in Bridgeton. The matter was also referred to the Synod which viewed the development favourably as did the other Glasgow congregations which were consulted.
Accordingly, the Presbytery on 21st November, 1876, made several significant decisions. They decided that all members of other UOS churches who already attended Bridgeton should be disjoined from their present congregations and thus Bridgeton UOS congregation was brought into existence. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to formalise everything on 5th December and to oversee the election of managers. The Interim Session was to elect elders according to the law of the church. The money that had been promised by the Home Mission Committee should be divided, £80, £60 and £40 over the three years. There were then 58 or 59 members. The Synod concurred unanimously with these arrangements.
Accordingly, seven managers were appointed; six elders were chosen, three of whom agreed to serve: Walter Chalmers; James Scott and John Robertson, who had served previously as an elder. On 30th January, 1877, the Interim Session was instructed to ordain these men; and then it would be dissolved and Gardiner would be the interim moderator of a regular Kirk Session.
On 27th March, 1877, further important steps were taken by the Presbytery. Chalmers and Scott had been ordained to the eldership, and Robertson inducted to office in Bridgeton, though Scott had since resigned. The congregation had agreed to go on with a building though all the funds were not yet collected. Gardiner then wished to resign as interim moderator as he had accepted the task on the understanding that they would not go into debt on the building. He was persuaded to reconsider his resignation.
Bridgeton asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 58 members on the roll and more were expected – bringing the membership to around 70. They promised £140 stipend annually including the sum to be contributed by the Mission Committee, plus £2 sacramental expenses at each communion. Gardiner was appointed to moderate a call on 11th April, 1877.
Plans for a church building for Bridgeton were submitted. This was to be erected in William Street, Bridgeton, a stone and brick building to accommodate 300 persons. It was to have a storey underneath the worship area which would bring in perhaps £80 annually in rent or which could later be added to the church, if necessary. A petition for help from Bridgeton was passed to the Home Mission committee.
Glasgow, Bridgeton: John McKay
The Presbytery met on 12th April, 1877, and again Bridgeton was prominently on the agenda. The resignation of James Scott as an elder was accepted and he was granted a disjunction certificate. It was reported that a call to John McKay, their missionary, had been signed by 35 members and afterwards by four more; plus three adherents. The call was sustained and accepted by McKay and the induction was appointed for 1st May.
On that occasion, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, opened the service; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, preached from Zechariah 6:13: “It is he who shall build the temple of the LORD and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both”; William B. Gardiner put the questions to McKay; John Ritchie, Shottsburn, offered the induction prayer; William F. Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow, addressed the new pastor and the congregation; and John Robertson, Ayr, concluded.
The Home Mission Committee had approved a grant of £80-£100 to Bridgeton and asked them to send in full accounts. In fact, the Committee decided they wanted to see the title deeds of the new buildings and to inspect the tradesmen’s account books both in erecting and furnishing the places of worship. Accordingly, a report was made to the Presbytery on 24th September, 1878. McKay stated that £902/14/9 had been collected for building purposes. In addition, a loan of £600 had been received. £1,492/19/4 had been spent. There were two disputed accounts amounting to £38/17/4. Bridgeton wanted to set up part of the store underneath the church as a hall for meetings, which would cost £100. All this was examined and a positive report submitted to the Home Mission Committee: the Presbytery expressed “cordial approval of all that had been done.”
McKay also submitted the title to the William Street property. This also was approved, but it was noted that it would have been better to have submitted such titles in draft to Presbytery beforehand.
At this stage, the Presbytery began to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visits were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation here was conducted on 24th December, 1879. The minister conducted three different classes for the young: one on Sabbath evenings when around 22 attended; one on Tuesday evenings for children under 12, when 14 attended; and one on Tuesdays with 7 attending. A weekly Prayer Meeting was held with 13 attending. There was a young men’s fellowship on Sabbath mornings and a temperance association once a month.
The Session had the intention of dividing the area into elders’ districts. The minister visited regularly, and some of the elders visited the sick. Afternoon attendances were better than in the forenoon. There were some encouragements in that some were willing to speak on spiritual subjects; but the attendance at the PM was discouraging. Family worship was conducted in a number of homes but it was uncertain to what extent catechising was carried out.
There were 80 scholars in the Sabbath School with 8 teachers, the scholars being drawn partly from within and partly from outwith the congregation. The minister visited the unchurched in the area. The ministers who were conducting the visitation on behalf of the Presbytery – Miller, Kirkintilloch, Yuill, Laurieston, and Gardiner, Pollokshaws – then gave short addresses to the congregation.
In February, 1882, the Presbytery agreed to give strong support to Bridgeton’s petition that a Home Mission Grant be continued for another three years. In 1887, the same petition was made with the Presbytery’s approval. And so it went on year after year. The congregation also sought help from other sources and in March, 1893, it was recorded that the Bellahouston Bequest had allotted Bridgeton £250.
In 1883, the Presbytery agreed that Bridgeton should be free to look for a loan of £200 to effect “certain necessary repairs and improvements”.
At the end of 1894, the minister had been unwell: the Presbytery expressed sympathy to McKay in his continued illness and each minister in the Presbytery was to give a day’s supply to Bridgeton.
From 1895, the congregations of Glasgow Presbytery were required to submit annual statistics to the Presbytery; at first these only involved members and adherents; later other information was sought. These statistics from 1895 onwards are given at the end of this entry.
By 1897, McKay was feeling his age. On 13th April, he asked for help from the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund to provide him with a student as he was unable through failing health to discharge the whole of his ministerial work efficiently. He had been ordained on 5th February, 1857; and inducted to Bridgeton on 5th December, 1875. It was agreed to transmit the request to Synod with the recommendation that the maximum grant be made. McKay felt the need to take entire rest for a time and ministers each gave a free weekend of supply. In the light of this, Bridgeton had promised to raise £10 more so that a student missionary could have £60 if a grant of £50 were made from the Committee.
In the event, the Synod granted McKay’s request and also authorised £40 annually to Bridgeton from the Home Mission Committee.
On 1st July, 1897, McKay was given four months’ leave of absence on health grounds. Then in November, McKay stated that he wished to resign as sole pastor but retain his status in Session, Presbytery and Synod. The congregation had agreed to give him at least £30 annually and all this was accepted by the Presbytery.
Bridgeton then requested the Presbytery to moderate a call for a Colleague and Successor to McKay. They promised £140 annual stipend plus £5 sacramental expenses, without a manse. There were 130 members. In offering what they did, they counted on the annual grant of £40 from the Home Mission Fund. James Patrick, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate the call on 17th November, 1897. They then signed a call to Alexander Smellie, formerly of Stranraer, who was then without a charge. The call was signed by 122 members and 33 ordinary hearers. It was sustained and Smellie was invited to the next meeting of Presbytery. But in January, 1898, Smellie wrote asking leave to decline the call. The Bridgeton commissioners withdrew the call and the Presbytery acquiesced. So that effort came to nothing.
In March, 1898, a question on property matters was brought to Presbytery: Bridgeton Session wrote with a question the managers had asked: is it necessary to get the constitution of a congregation approved by the Presbytery and has the constitution of Bridgeton been approved? The Clerk stated that the Title Deeds had been approved on 25th March, 1879, but that there was no reference to the constitution. The Rules of the Church did not lay down a law on the subject; but for the Presbytery’s information the constitution of Bridgeton should be laid on the table at the next meeting.
On 30th April, 1907, the Presbytery of Glasgow agreed that “an address of congratulation and appreciation of his worth and work be drawn up and forwarded to Mr McKay” as he had celebrated his ministerial jubilee in February.
He died on 30th June, 1911.
Glasgow, Bridgeton: George Anderson
Bridgeton again asked the Presbytery to moderate a call on the same conditions as previously, and George R. Aitken, of Kirkintilloch, was appointed to superintend this process on 4th April, 1898. But on that date, it had been agreed by a majority not to proceed with a call in the meanwhile. They renewed their request for moderation of a call in August, 1898, when James Young, of Paisley, was appointed to do so at a meeting on 25th August.
On 27th September, 1898, Young reported that a call to George Anderson, Kirkcaldy, had been signed by 72 members and 24 ordinary hearers. The call was sustained and put into Anderson’s hands, as he was present, and he heartily accepted it. The induction took place on 10th November, 1898.
On the occasion, John Sturrock, Edinburgh, opened the worship; Robert Hobart, Shottsburn, preached from 2 Timothy 2:9: “The Word of God is not bound”; James Young, Paisley, performed the induction; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and Alexander Stirling, moderator of Synod, closed the worship.
Another Presbyterial visitation took place on 14th November, 1899. The activities for young people had been re-arranged: there was a minister’s Bible Class attended by about 28 and a Band of Hope attended by about 60. In general, attendances had improved: the morning attendance averaged 74; the afternoon 115; and the Prayer Meeting 23. The area had been divided into seven districts, with seven active elders. The intention was that the elders should visit regularly. The pastor visited lapsed families as he found opportunity. Two thirds of the Sabbath School scholars were from non-Church families; the Sabbath School was seen as the home missions agency. The funds still showed a debit. In the general discussion, the members of the congregation who spoke mainly referred to the need for the congregation to operate on a different basis, rather than being a mission congregation.
The work in Springburn, which is dealt with separately, began about this time through the agency of the Bridgeton congregation.
Clearly, Bridgeton did not seem to be too happy with their situation at this stage. There was nothing very specific stated in writing, but their minister raised the question of financial fairness at Presbytery and Synod level. On 25th November, 1902, he gave notice of motion regarding an overture to the Synod: that they “take into consideration the principles on which grants are made to weak congregations from the Mutual Assistance and Home Mission Funds with a view to their more equitable distribution in the future.” He did not pursue the matter at that time. A deputation from the Mutual Assistance Fund had visited Bridgeton, and other congregations. But in 1904 it was Anderson who was appointed to speak for an overture at Synod regarding the distribution of the Mutual Assistance and Home Mission funds. They wished that they be just and equal – in view of the present perceived inequalities. The Synod took that aboard and looked into the matter.
At this stage, Bridgeton benefited from the Lyon Bequest, part of which came to them in virtue of the demise of the Kirkintilloch UOS congregation (see there for details).
They asked for only £30 from the Home Mission Committee, instead of the £40 available to them. But the Presbytery expressed regret to Bridgeton that they had not taken the opportunity of raising the minister’s stipend. Bridgeton replied that they hoped soon to be in a position to do that. The Home Mission Committee also wished Bridgeton to give at least £7 10/- more, which would give a stipend of £125 with £30 house rent.
A further Presbyterial visitation was conducted on 23rd May, 1905. The elders had not been visiting regularly but new elders had been appointed and it was expected that regular visitation would be done. Attendance at services was unsatisfactory; half day hearing prevailed; and the giving had fallen off a little. But the minister visited a lot and tracts were distributed and the Sabbath School had grown in numbers – especially the infant section. The congregation hoped soon to be able to raise the minister’s stipend and indeed in January, 1906, they notified the Presbytery that the annual stipend was to be £155.
In November, 1905, Bridgeton’s Constitution and Bye laws were submitted to the Presbytery. After study, the Presbytery recommended that the Bye Laws be submitted to the Kirk Session before being adopted by the congregation; and that they be revised and brought into harmony with the rules and regulations of the Synod.
In October 1909, it was reported that John Ferguson, a student, was to be employed as a missionary for six months, to work with the Mains Street and with the Bridgeton congregation.
On one occasion, Anderson was asked for his report for the Home Mission Committee and he said that he would submit it, but under protest. The following year – April, 1910 – he reported that the congregation did not contemplate asking a renewal of the grant from the Home Mission Fund.
But in November, 1912, Bridgeton asked the Home Mission Committee for the location of an agent to prosecute mission work in the district. Anderson at the same time asked to be relieved of some Presbytery duties because of his health and other circumstances. In response, the Home Mission Committee had “agreed to sanction the location of Mr Reilly, colporteur, Kilmarnock, in Bridgeton, to carry on evangelistic work in that district under the supervision of the Presbytery at a salary of £40 per annum in the event of his finding suitable employment in the neighbourhood.” Reilly continued his work in that capacity until he resigned in June, 1915.
A Presbyterial visitation took place on 26th March, 1913. In general, the picture given was not too encouraging: “There is considerable room for improvement in attendance on ordinances especially on Sabbath forenoon. Still it is quite as good as in other churches in the neighbourhood, and probably better. … Little is said about conversions but some have testified to their having been brought to the knowledge of the truth. … Too many neglect family worship and leave religious instruction to be given in Sabbath School alone.” On the other hand, the Sabbath School had increased: there were 53 scholars in the senior branch; and 49 in the junior branch. The numbers had of late increased by 20. There were 13 teachers besides the superintendent and seven monitors. Most of the scholars were from outside the congregation. There were 9 districts, each with its elder and there was decided activity in visitation. The Kirk Session met six times per year. There had been a financial deficit the previous year but the prospects for the future were satisfactory.
George Anderson died in December, 1914, and the Presbytery wrote to his widow: “… For some years he was more or less an invalid … Mr Anderson did good service in the way of establishing the mission at Seoni in the CP of India, and afterwards carrying it on there for 18 years or thereby; and after his return to Scotland, he did good work both in Kirkcaldy and Bridgeton. His was an evangelical ministry and he took delight in extolling and exalting the name of the great Redeemer, that all prevailing name, which is above every name.”
Glasgow, Bridgeton: Joseph Young
On 6th April, 1915, Bridgeton requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. William Rodger and William Stewart were their commissioners. There were 172 members on the roll; and 58 adherents. The annual stipend offered was £160 with £5 sacramental expenses, and two weeks’ holiday supply granted. Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to preside over the moderation on 26th April. A call to Joseph Young, Paisley, was then signed by 138 members and 26 adherents. The call was sustained and the Paisley congregation was notified. On the insistence of the Kirk Session, the annual stipend promised had been raised to £170. On 22nd June, 1915, the call was disposed of: Young expressed a willingness to accept the call; so it was put into his hands and he accepted it. At the same meeting, Reilly resigned as a missionary.
The induction took place on 11th August, 1915. Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, opened the service and preached from Obadiah, verse 17: “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions”; Robert Morton performed the induction; and Alexander J. Yuill, of Laurieston, addressed both the new minister and the people.
On 8th January, 1918, it was reported to Presbytery that Bridgeton were about to vacate their building: “Negotiations for the sale of the property were about completed, the sum of £2,250 had been offered by the purchaser and accepted by the congregation. Negotiations for the purchase of a vacant building in Great Hamilton Street by the congregation were about to be completed, the purchase price agreed upon being £1,550. The Presbytery congratulated the representatives of Bridgeton congregation on the arrangements come to and also on the probability of the congregation having a better equipped and more commodious place of worship, but asked that the title-deeds be submitted to the Presbytery before being accepted.” At a later meeting, the title-deeds were found to be in order. Also a resolution was noted that if the congregation were to disband the property would go to the Synod.
The Communion vessels which had belonged to the defunct Laurieston congregation were granted for the use of Bridgeton.
A potentially serious accident occurred in the church premises in 1926. Henry Hamilton, the church officer, was overcome with fumes while stoking the furnace. He crawled to the door and was found by his daughter. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary. This was the second time within three months that this had happened (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 8th February, 1926, p.5).
By May, 1936, Young had resigned on health grounds.
Glasgow, Bridgeton: Donald Gillies Cubie
It was reported to the Synod in May, 1937, that he had been ordained here. Three years later it was reported that he had been translated to Perth.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
This congregation was sometimes referred to as Hutchesontown, Elgin Street, or Bedford Street.
Its story began on 10th September, 1872, when 21 persons presented a petition craving that the Presbytery would “appoint probationers or other licensed preachers of the Gospel to preach every alternate Sabbath in a place to be chosen afterwards by the petitioners in the Southern district of Glasgow and thereby establish Gospel ordinances in their midst.” They further stated that there was a very eligible hall available that could seat about 250 persons; that they could pay the rent and meet the costs of a preacher – even a weekly preacher; and that more would join them if services were commenced. The petition was accepted and John Ritchie, Shottsburn, was appointed to preach there.
Things moved fast. On 1st October, 1872, Ritchie reported that he had preached on the south side as appointed to 70-80 people in the morning; and to 110 in the afternoon. A petition to be erected into a congregation was tabled and the Mains Street and Pollokshaws congregations were informed about the matter as they might be affected by this development.
On 12th November, 1872, it was reported that these congregations saw no difficulty in the new development, providing there would be no canvassing. The ministers of these congregations (Matthew Murray and William B. Gardiner, respectively) were appointed to meet with the petitioners and explain the situation.
At the next Presbytery meeting, on 3rd December, 1872, Robert Paton and William King appeared as representatives of these petitioners. It appeared that 18 people were willing to be formed into a UOS Congregation: of these 7 were UOS; 7 were United Presbyterians from Hutchesontown; three were Reformed Presbyterians and one was Free Church. Besides these 18, there were 23 adherents. They were accepted as a congregation and a meeting to elect four elders was appointed for 26th December, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, to preside.
The Presbytery also met in private to consider the case of two people from the Church of Scotland, who wished to be members in the new congregation but were under discipline. They expressed themselves willing to submit to discipline and their case was delayed until a Kirk Session for the new congregation should be formed.
In January, 1873, it was reported that nine men had been nominated as elders; on a poll, the four highest were chosen but two of these declined. The remaining two were Robert Paton and William King and the Presbytery agreed that these should be duly inducted, as they had already been elders elsewhere. And this was duly done. Four more members were accepted by disjunction certificate from Mains Street UOS Church.
The first Social Meeting in connection with their school was held on 21st February, 1873. The Sunday School had commenced the previous September with an attendance of 0, and, through visitation amongst the families in the neighbourhood, the number had been gradually augmented to over 90—the average attendance being 60. A large number of handsome prizes were presented and a musical party, under the leadership of Mr. King, added greatly to the evening’s enjoyment.
A request for financial help for the congregation with a view to getting a minister came before the meeting of Presbytery on 30th April, 1873. The congregation had resolved to provide £90 annually towards a stipend but “as this sum would be quite inadequate for the proper maintenance of a minister, and especially of one located in the city of Glasgow”, the congregation sought help from the wider church. They anticipated that they could rent a room capable of holding 250 persons in the academy in Elgin Street.
This request was passed on to the Synod, who responded positively with a grant of £60, £50 and £40 annually for the first, second and third years respectively on the settlement of a minister. Accordingly, Elgin Street, as it was by then being called, requested the Presbytery on 27th June, to moderate a call. The congregation promised an annual stipend of £140 but without either a manse, or sacramental expenses. The membership numbered 37. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to moderate on 10th July. But it was understood that any minister settled must visit the non-churched and furnish an annual report.
On 29th July, Gardiner reported that a call to Thomas Hobart, Carluke, had been signed by 33 members and 21 ordinary hearers. The call was sustained and passed to the Presbytery of Edinburgh for their attention. However, it was there decided that Hobart should remain in Carluke. So on 25th November, 1873, there was another request for moderation of a call before the Presbytery. By this time there were 42 members on the roll and the annual salary was to be £140 plus the allocation from the Home Mission Committee, which was to be £60 in the first year. William B. Gardiner, again presided over a meeting with the congregation on 15th December. Two names were proposed: Gardiner himself and William F. Aitken of Midlem. On a vote being taken, there was a majority of 16 to five in favour of Gardiner. He then presided over a call to himself, which was signed on the occasion by 20 members and two adherents. Fourteen more members and 11 more adherents were added later – but these were later declared invalid on a technicality. Nevertheless, the Presbytery sustained the call at its meeting on 30th December, 1873. Reasons for the transference were tabled on 7th January, 1874, but on the 27th January, Gardiner stated that he believed “it would be for the greater good of the church that he remain in his present charge.” The Presbytery unanimously agreed, and once more the new congregation was disappointed.
Glasgow Laurieston: Alexander John Yuill
Undeterred, the congregation made a third request for moderation on 24th March, 1874. The roll then stood at 40; and the financial arrangements were to be the same as previously. Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, was appointed to preside over the process. On 12th May, 1874, a call was signed by 21 members and 13 adherents to Alexander John Yuill, Perth. The call was sustained on 26th May, and remitted to the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen for their attention. When the call was disposed of, Yuill stated that “he saw it to be his duty to accept it.” The Presbytery concurred and his induction was set for 9th September, 1874.
However, even before that date, the congregation faced some difficulties and a question was raised at the Presbytery of 25th August about their ability to pay what had been promised: “It was ascertained that owing to the present withdrawment of former funds the congregation could not give more than £90 per year but they believed they could raise that sum. Taking all the circumstances of the case into account and particularly the altered state of the congregation, the Presbytery agreed to ask Mr Yuill whether he was prepared to abide by the acceptance of the call upon the terms now stated.” Yuill said he would accept the terms now stated; the Presbytery urged the congregation to try and make up what had been originally promised; and the induction went ahead as planned.
On 9th September, within Elgin Street Academy, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, began the induction service with praise and prayer; William F. Aitken, colleague of the senior minister of Mains Street, Glasgow, preached from Zechariah 4:6: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts”; Matthew Murray, senior minister of Mains Street, Glasgow, performed the induction; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, addressed both the new minister and the people; and Thomas Robertson, Kilwinning, closed with prayer.
The question of a property of their own was now raised – they were using a school in Elgin Street for their services. But that had been bought by Hutcheson’s Hospital, who would not allow them to continue to use the premises. On 4th May, the Presbytery passed on to the Synod a request from Hutchesontown for assistance to build a new Church. The Synod accepted this on the following terms: “that the Synod sympathize cordially with the object in view; that the Congregation be encouraged to look out for a suitable site on which to erect a Church, but before proceeding therewith that they submit the plans of the proposed site and building to the Glasgow Presbytery for approval; and that in the event of the Hutchesontown Congregation raising a fifth part of the sum required for the Church, either among themselves or friends unconnected with the denomination, and a representation be made to the Synod at its next meeting to this effect, an appeal for aid will then be made to the Congregations under the Synod’s inspection.”
The matter matured to the extent that on 21st November, 1876, the Presbytery instructed the congregation to look for a suitable site and to report back to Presbytery. This they did on 27th March, 1877, when they produced plans for a building in Bedford Street.
The congregation then faced a period of some uncertainty. The following year Yuill was called to Kirriemuir. He felt it his duty to leave himself entirely in the hands of the Presbytery, which agreed that Yuill should remain in his charge.
Then on 30th April, 1878, Yuill reported to Presbytery that “there was considerable disaffection among parties in the congregation arising from contention among themselves about certain ornaments in the Building etc.” William F. Aitken, Mains Street, and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, were appointed to meet with the parties about the matter. These brethren met with the disaffected but efforts to get an elder, who had left, to return had not yet met with success.
Again, the Home Mission Committee seemed unhappy about the building: they requested a sight of the title deeds of the new building and wished to inspect the tradesmen’s account books both in erecting and furnishing the place of worship. The request was made via the Presbytery on 4th June, 1878, but the information was not forthcoming till 28th January, 1879. The picture that emerged was that the total cost was £2,213/19/2½, this being £415 beyond the original estimate. This overspend was due to a second architect being employed and a departure from the original plan. The congregation was in debt. The total annual burdens amounted to £110 but the congregation received £50 annually as rent for the Hall and shops. By fuller letting of the Hall it was hoped that £76 would be obtained annually.
On 25th March, 1879, it was decided that the congregation should be known as Laurieston, UOS Church.
In 1879 two calls were presented to Yuill – one from Coupar Angus, signed by 49 members and 7 adherents, and one from Toberdoney, Ireland, signed by 72 members and 12 adherents. The calls came before the Synod in May, 1879. Yuill expressed a preference to remain where he was – and so the Synod decided (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 7th May, 1879, p.9).
At this stage, the Presbytery began to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visits were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire and the information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation of the congregation took place on 25th February, 1880, under the guidance of John McKay, Bridgeton, and John Ritchie, Shottsburn. From the questionnaires the general pattern of the work emerged: the Sunday morning service was attended by about 70; the afternoon by 135; there were between 70 and 80 children in the Sunday School, these being drawn mainly from non-church families. There was a Junior Bible Class attended by 11 on average; and a Senior one attended by 8; and a weekly prayer meeting attended by 20. Family worship was generally conducted and catechising was done in most cases. There was evidence that good was being done through the preaching. The minister visited his people annually and more frequently as required. Besides that the minister visited the area regularly but there were not many that were not church going.
However, there were major problems in the situation: three families involving 20 individuals had withdrawn from the congregation including W. and J.B. King who had both been elders. These men were brothers of Alexander Dunlop King who about this time left the ministry of the UOS Church. Some time the question needs to be explored whether or not these two events were connected: the two elders leaving Laurieston and the minister leaving Carnoustie.
These men had been at the foundation of the work here. On their departure, they are described in the denominational magazine: they “proved utterly unworthy of the confidence that had been reposed in them, from the original formation of the Congregation (when almost everything seemed to depend upon them)”.
There was now no Kirk Session and the system of elders’ districts had broken down. Assessor elders had to be appointed pending the election of additional elders. Moreover, the financial situation was not a healthy one.
The pastoral visit was concluded with an address from McKay, Ritchie (on Quenching the Spirit) and Andrew Miller, of Kirkintilloch (on The Study of God’s Word).
In face of these difficulties, the Presbytery gave some help. On 30th March, 1880, they appointed a committee to meet with the Laurieston Managers to see what could be done about a deficit in the minister’s salary; and to take steps to recover the Session records and the title deeds, if necessary. Clearly some of the records were still in the hands of those who had left.
A three day Bazaar held in November, 1882, realised upwards of £900 for their funds: “the lottery was not once resorted to” (Glasgow Herald, 21st November, 1882). But the congregation remained short of money for on 27th March, 1883, the Presbytery supported a request from the congregation that a graduated grant be given for the next three years.
Next year there was a further problem: Mrs Janet McDonald complained to the Presbytery about the way she had been treated by the Kirk Session in regard to church privileges and assessors were appointed to help with that problem.
In January, 1885, William Morton from the Laurieston congregation brought to Presbytery two complaints against the Session. One of these was satisfactorily resolved – at bottom there had been a misapprehension. But the other referred to the use of alcoholic wine in the Lord’s Supper; two years later the matter still rumbled on. Although the Presbytery certainly didn’t support Morton, they also took the line that the Session had not always acted wisely in the matter.
At the Presbytery meeting on 29th November, 1887, it was noted that Yuill had preached in Fergus Ferguson’s United Presbyterian Church in Queen’s Park, Glasgow, where he had used one hymn and there had been the usual accompaniment of the organ. All this was contrary to the established practice of the UOS Church. Yuill had privately expressed regret but that was not sufficient and his public expression of regret was accepted at the next meeting.
The financial problems of the congregation continued and they constantly petitioned the Synod for help with the minister’s stipend. In March, 1893, they were also given a grant of £300 by the Ferguson Bequest.
A social meeting was held on Thursday 25th October, 1894, in Bedford Street, when Yuill was presented with a handsome study chair and a well filled purse of sovereigns in commemoration of the semi-jubilee of his ministry. Dr Alexander Munro made the presentation. There were then various addresses given and the choir enlivened the proceedings of the evening by singing several pieces of sacred music.
From 1895, the congregations were required to submit annual statistics to the Presbytery; at first these only involved members and adherents, later other information was added. These statistics are given at the end of this entry.
In 1900 another Presbyterial visitation was conducted. Apart from the fact that there were then five elders, each with a district, the picture was gloomy. Sunday attendances were 55 in the morning; and 45-50 in the evening; prayer meeting about 12; Sunday School 55. Family worship was now enjoined at baptism; observed in certain cases but not in others. Givings had fallen off, the average per person now being 18/3.
The Presbytery recommended that they return to their previous hours of service and they continued to support their requests for financial support from the Synod, despite increasing concern with the state of the congregation.
The congregation needed to effect costly repairs on their building for which they wanted to borrow between £200 and £500. The Presbytery did not favour such action and tried to raise £30 for their immediate needs from outwith the congregation. That attempt only realised £13 10/-.
On 23rd May, 1905, Yuill’s resignation was accepted and the Synod agreed to place him, under certain conditions, on the Aged and Infirm Minister’s Fund. He was allowed to participate in the courts of the church as an ordained minister without a charge.
The Presbytery then made arrangements to maintain the witness for six months when the situation was to be reviewed. During this time the elders were to visit the homes of the people “with the view of encouraging them to hold together at this crisis.” The congregation was empowered to borrow money to pay the ground rent. A student missionary, Robert H. Richmond, was also appointed to work there
In November, 1905, the Presbytery had a Deed of Conveyance drawn up to transfer the Laurieston property to the Presbytery. With difficulty, they got the necessary signatures from the Laurieston managers. Pollokshaws then agreed to make themselves responsible for the situation for six months. But on 1st May, the Presbytery were told that the Pollokshaws Session had come to the unanimous finding that under present conditions it was impossible that the congregation could prosper and advised that the congregation be no longer continued. It was agreed to refer to the Synod the Presbytery’s recommendations that the present congregation be dissolved and that they consider what work might still be carried on in Bedford Street. The Synod downgraded Laurieston to a preaching station under the care of the Presbytery.
In September, Gardiner, of Pollokshaws, was appointed to see if any of the smaller Presbyterian denominations might like to rent the church, while the UOS people met in the hall. The following month he reported on two applications for the Laurieston Church. Sinclair of the Free Presbyterian Church had offered £32 annually but on condition that first the building be cleaned and repainted. Mr Telford of the Christian Brethren offered to take the whole building for ten years, at an annual rent of £90 and with a right to break the agreement after five years. This second offer was eventually accepted.
After the five year period, the Brethren group wished to continue the lease on a year to year basis but the United Free Committee in charge of the Mission to the Jews on the South Side of Glasgow were desirous of taking a five years’ lease of the property at an annual rental of £90. On 6th February, 1912, it was unanimously agreed to grant the lease on these terms.
In all this the Presbytery as owners of the property were bothered with practical matters: rats in the sewers, repainting ironwork and woodwork; and dry rot. In March 1912, it was reported that “it had been found necessary to give a small sum by way of compensation to a man whose knee had suffered owing to its [the pavement’s] present unsatisfactory state.”
But eventually Laurieston was making a surplus and on 21st May, 1918, it was agreed that £80 from Bedford Street should be handed over to Synod and to recommend that this be divided equally between the Home Mission Committee and the Business and Hall Fund; and that Bridgeton be granted the use of Bedford Street’s communion cup etc.
The old minister was not forgotten. In June, 1917, “it was agreed to express the deep sympathy of the Presbytery with the Rev. Mr Yuill in the accidental death of his only son in the service of King and country.”
His “serious and protracted illness” was noted in November, 1918. And in April, 1919, it was noted that ministers throughout the church had gathered funds for Yuill on his approaching Jubilee and the Presbytery would send a letter of congratulation.
Yuill died in 1921 – the first and only minister of this congregation.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
GLASGOW, MAINS STREET
Scott, Annals, pp.349-352
Glasgow, Mains Street: Matthew Murray
He was ordained here on 11th November, 1828. He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852 and continued here till his death.
Sabbath School work was usually an important evangelistic aspect of a congregation’s activities in those days. It is not feasible nor advisable to give a detailed historical account of the development of this work in each congregation, but here is a sample account of the year’s work in this congregation as reported to the Mains Street congregation on 11th February, 1856 and as reported in the denominational magazine. It is useful in itself and also because it says something about the environment of that congregation. It also illustrates how statistical details were often important in such reports.
“The Church is situated in a densely populated part of Glasgow. In its immediate neighbourhood are some streets occupied by the poorest classes, a great proportion of whom attend no Church, and live in gross ignorance of Divine truth. In these circumstances, it need not be wondered at, that at home, little if any attention is paid to the spiritual concerns of their children. These grow up in all the ignorance and depravity of the parents, and are exposed, moreover, to all the temptations to open wickedness, which bad companionships and other associations afford. The religious portion of the community have long attempted to meet the evil, and do something in behalf of these wretched people; and, with Home Missionaries, Scripture Readers, Sabbath-School Teachers, and other agencies, there is every reason to believe that, under the Divine influence, the Word has, in many instances, been brought home with power. In this evangelizing movement, Professor Murray’s congregation have endeavoured to do their part. For several years, we understand, they maintained a week-day school and two Sabbath-schools, where many of the children had a sound secular and religions education imparted to them. From various causes, however, to which we need not now refer, they were reluctantly compelled to relinquish the former about eighteen months ago, and with it one of the two Sabbath-schools, which had regularly met in the premises they leased. The other Sabbath-school had dwindled down to a mere handful, and there was ultimately reason to fear that it would require to be abandoned also. But a few individuals of the congregation, after conferring with Professor Murray, resolved to make a renewed effort for its resuscitation, and, once started, they found numbers ready to enlist themselves as coadjutors. The report before us evinces that a large degree of external success has been vouchsafed them. On the first Sabbath of December 1854, there were 3 teachers and 25 pupils. The former, in a short time, increased to the present staff of 16—8 male, and 8 female teachers. All of them are members of the church, in full communion, and have been individually examined by Professor Murray as to their qualifications for the duties,—a course that is always followed when new teachers are appointed, and calculated to silence a serious objection frequently urged against Sabbath-schools, besides tending to secure that the instruction given to the children is sound and scriptural. Although there are many Sabbath Schools in and around the locality, when the teachers commenced the visitations for pupils, vast numbers of children were found who attended none, and who were growing up entirely destitute of moral and religious instruction. It was only such that the teachers invited, as they were anxious, if possible, to take up unbroken ground. The number on the roll gradually swelled, till, in the female department, there was no further accommodation, and, among the boys, there was room for only one or two additional classes.
“From the following figures, our readers will be able to glean the general character of the attendance. The average number of teachers present throughout the twelve months embraced in the report was 14, in equal numbers of male and female. The smallest number of boys present on any occasion was 22—the largest 73. The lowest numbcr of girls 21—the highest 50. The least number present in the whole School on any Sabbath was 57—the greatest 120. The average attendance of boys was 44—that of girls 36; and, including an adult female class, there was a weekly average in the whole School of 81. That the attendance was pretty steady, is shown by the fact, that while during the first quarter of the year the average attendance was 67, during the second 81, and the third 78, during the last, it attained the large number of 99. These figures embraced fully two-thirds of the names actually on the roll, and, when it is remembered that, so far as the teachers are aware, and in accordance with a very proper clause in their constitution, not one of those children belongs to parents connected with a Christian church, the facts indicated by the above figures will appear more valuable and important.
“Nearly two-thirds of the pupils are under 10 years of age, and unable to read, while the remainder can read partially or well. From the former, two large classes—one of boys and another of girls, with one teacher set apart for each— have been formed, and receive their lessons in the upper and lower side-rooms of the Church respectively. The others are disposed into smaller classes. The course of lessons is the same as is followed in most of our Scotch Sabbath Schools. The Bible and Shorter Catechism are the principal text-books; a psalm and a question from the Catechism are committed to memory when practicable, followed by a reading lesson from the Old and New Testaments alternately, upon all of which they are afterwards shortly examined. While there have been many drawbacks and discouragements,—irregularity of attendance by many of the pupils,—others occasionally creating annoyance by their inattention and waywardness,—and withal a manifestation of little or no serious interest in the all-important truths the teachers, by Divine guidance, are endeavouring to lay before them,—there has been much to cheer the teachers in their voluntary and interesting labours. Some of the pupils have attended the congregation’s schools for years, and evince a large amount of intelligence in Scripture doctrine, and which, there is every reason to believe, they had no opportunity of acquiring elsewhere;—others have given remarkable evidence of progress; and, among the pupils generally, there is a palpable improvement in attendance, conduct, and Bible knowledge.
“The report is not too sanguine, that any saving benefit to any of the pupils has followed this work. It is their duty, nevertheless, to continue at their posts, and in faith, and with prayer for direction and guidance from on high, to sow the seed of the Word in the hearts of the young committed to their care. The fruit may spring up many days hence.
“By subscriptions received from friends, the teachers were enabled to purchase upwards of 60 copies of the Bible at a cheap rate. Two of these were given away gratuitously, and 48 of the remainder were sold to the pupils during the year. Some of these have found their way into families where there was no copy of the Scriptures before; and it may be mentioned, too, that in all cases the children paid for them in subscriptions of a penny per week, or otherwise. Tracts were likewise distributed among them once a month. In connection with the School, some missionary operations were effected; but the report passes these over very briefly, as they were only commenced a few weeks before the twelve months it embraces expired. Several prayer-meetings were held in the district,—visitations were made to between 50 and 60 families, when about 200 individuals were conversed with, and the way of salvation brought before them. It is to be hoped that our friends will follow out this course, for it is one in which they may prove highly useful.”
There is reason to think that Mains Street was not an altogether happy congregation. In April, 1857, the Presbytery noted that the Kirk Session of Mains Street had asked Synod to appoint a committee to visit them “and to adopt such measures for healing the unhappy divisions which had for some time existed in the congregation”. It is not clear at present what caused these unhappy divisions.
In November of the same year the Presbytery were asked to give advice in regard to charges of adultery and other scandalous offences against a male member of the congregation.
There were also occasional references to the minister’s ill-health. In July, 1858, the congregation asked the Presbytery for help in pulpit supply as the minister was indisposed; and in September that year the minister stated to Presbytery that he intended to be absent for some time from Glasgow on health grounds. A year later the Presbytery welcomed him back.
At this time, there also was a missionary working with the congregation. Again it is neither feasible nor advisable to fill up these accounts of congregations with detailed information on congregational missionaries. But here is a picture of their missionary and the work that such missionaries did. He was William B. Gardiner, later minister of Pollokshaws, UOS. He had been appointed by the Home Mission Committee on a salary of £45; was examined by the Presbytery “on the doctrines of the gospel” and entered on his duties on 1st July, 1858.
“Mr William B. Gardner, has already entered on his work. Mr Gardner, though many years have not yet passed over his head, has long been engaged in missionary work when business permitted; and, from personal observation, we can fully attest the indefatigable zeal and singular tact and ability with which he has discharged and still discharges this labour of love. As a Sabbath-school teacher, for four years, in the Glasgow Sabbath School, over a class of from forty to sixty boys, nightly in attendance, he has not only won the affections of the hundreds of scholars who have passed through his hands, but has gained an acquaintance with the destitute district around the church, and with the people, more intimate than any city missionary in Glasgow. During the first month of his appointment as Synod Missionary, he has devoted 90 hours to the work, held 13 meetings, addressed 559 people, paid 153 visits to about 90 families, 54 visits to the sick and infirm, read the Scriptures 106 times, taught 4 classes, having an aggregate attendance of 151, and distributed 698 tracts. The stated meetings are one in a dwelling-house on Tuesday evenings, with an average attendance of 57; one in another house on Friday evenings, with an average attendance of 25; and one on Sabbath evenings, with an average attendance of 56.”
A typical scheme of work for these missionaries was described by him on another occasion:
“1. Domiciliary Visitation.—This branch of the work has been regularly carried on, almost daily, since the formation of the Mission. I commenced by calling first on the families connected with Mains’ Street Sabbath School, gradually extending my visits to the houses in the same localities in which these were situated, the most of them being in close proximity to our church. The generality of the families are nominal Protestants, several make no profession, and a few are Roman Catholics. … At first I was by several persons very dryly received, but in only one case have I been refused admittance into their houses.
“2. Sick and Infirm.—While giving as much time as possible to the visitation of every family, I have paid special attention to those on whom God’s afflicting hand has been laid, and those in advanced years, who have been unable to wait on the means of grace. In all such cases I have been made heartily welcome. I read portions of holy writ in their hearing, making a few practical comments on the verses, after which I carry their cases to a throne of grace, praying with and for them, making known their wants and necessities to Him who is the hearer and answerer of believing prayer.
“3. Meetings.—Three meetings are held weekly, one twice a-month, and others occasionally—all in private houses throughout the district. The attendance on these has been most encouraging, and the generality of the people who wait on them are the very class for whom the Mission is intended.
“4. Classes.—… The class under my care is very large, numbering about seventy, all of whom are boys under ten years of age, and the generality of them unable to read the New Testament. These children, when first admitted to the school, are very unruly; but it is remarkable how soon they get quieted down, and the attention then given to the instructions received.
“5. Tract Distribution.—I usually leave a tract in each house on calling, and distribute them to all who attend the meetings. After they are perused I receive them back again, so that they may be circulated anew; and by so doing, the same tract is read by a number of families.”
When Gardiner was transferred to Edinburgh as missionary there, about 250 people attended a farewell soirée for him held in Free Anderston Mission Hall. His Sabbath morning class of young men and women presented him with Matthew Henry’s Commentary in nine volumes; and the Sabbath School teachers and others presented him with “twenty eight goodly volumes, of a kind fitted to be useful to him in prosecuting his studies for the ministry”.
Thereafter, though the meetings were kept up, through the kindness of several members in Mains Street congregation, the lack of regular visitation greatly decreased the numbers in attendance.
The Home Mission Committee then procured the part time services as a missionary of Alexander Ritchie, at that time a student of divinity. But because of the requirements of his studies, he only acted as missionary there for six months. John Lang offered himself as a missionary agent. He completed the work given to him by the Glasgow Presbytery – an essay on Ambition; a study on Luke 7:11-18; he was examined on Christian Doctrine and the Principles of the UOS Church and was appointed to serve for some months. He was then removed to Ayr and James Patrick took up the duties of missionary in Glasgow. By October, 1866, Alexander J. Yuill, was missionary there. Thereafter Peter McVicar continued the work.
Meanwhile, the years were passing for the minister of the charge. A presentation was made to him by numerous subscribers in the congregation on 2nd February, 1860. Mr Howie, in making the presentation of a handsome purse containing twenty seven and a half sovereigns, spoke of the warm attachment and regard entertained for their pastor by the whole congregation.
On 5th February, 1867, the congregation requested the Presbytery for the moderation of a call for an assistant and successor to Murray. They promised an annual stipend of £110 if a probationer was called and £140 if a minister was called, plus sacramental expenses. This request was accepted but with the recommendation that the stipend offered in the case of a probationer should be at least £120. John Ritchie, Shottsburn, presided in Mains Street Church on 5th March and preached on Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).” Two names were proposed and William Boyd, a probationer, was elected by a large majority. 100 members signed the call and 14 signed a paper of adherence. The congregation also agreed to pay an annual stipend of £125 to a probationer; and to raise the current minister’s annual salary from £120 to £150. This was reported to the Presbytery the following day and the call was sustained. However, on 17th April, Boyd asked for more time to consider the call on account of his severe illness. On 3rd June, it was reported to Presbytery that 19 additional members had signed the call and seven more had signed the adherence paper. Boyd had not yet replied and the Presbytery Clerk was instructed to encourage him to reply. On 30th July, 1867, a letter from Boyd was received by the Presbytery, declining the call on account of illness. It was then announced that Boyd had died and it was agreed that a letter be sent to his mother and relatives.
On 14th April, 1868, there was again a request before the Presbytery for moderation of a call for an assistant and successor to Murray who felt “urgent necessity on the ground of his growing inability to discharge the whole of the duties of the Pastoral Office.” But, as at a congregational meeting 32 had voted for moderation and 19 for delay out of a roll of 220, it was agreed to delay the matter while waiting advice from the Synod.
On 2nd June, 1868, the Presbytery, on the advice of the Synod, which took into consideration the small number of members asking for moderation, asked the congregation to withdraw their petition and to seek more unanimity before coming another time.
On 8th December, 1868, they again asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 212 members on the roll. They promised an annual stipend of £150 plus £5 sacramental expenses to the minister; and £120 plus £5 to a probationer; or £140 plus £5 to a minister if called. There was no Manse. The request was accepted and James Smellie, Edinburgh, was appointed to preside over a congregational meeting on 29th December, 1868. On 5th January, 1869, Smellie reported that a call had been signed to Thomas Gilchrist by 97 members and 22 adherents. There were complaints over procedure: one was that signatures had been obtained on the Sabbath – which the Presbytery decided was not in accordance with the practice of the Church. There was also concern expressed over the fewness of those signing the call and commissioners from the congregation urged the shortness of time and the absence of some on holiday as reasons for this. The Presbytery therefore did not sustain the call but left it with the commissioners to obtain more signatures. Gilchrist, who was already under call from Kirkintilloch, asked for delay in regard to the disposing of the call to him from Kirkintilloch.
At the Presbytery meeting on 2nd February, objection was made to the minute of the previous meeting: it should state, it was alleged, that the call was signed by 54 members and 9 adherents; and that 43 members and 13 adherents signed later. But the minutes were said to be in the normal form. It was reported that there were now 117 members and 25 adherents supporting Mains Street’s call to Gilchrist and the call was unanimously sustained. It was agreed that the competing calls should be decided on at the next meeting. At that meeting, on 23rd February, the Presbytery decided in favour of the call from Kirkintilloch. The commissioners from Mains Street protested against this decision with a view to making an appeal to Synod, if that was thought appropriate. But at the next meeting of Presbytery it was held that the protest had been fallen from and Gilchrist was duly ordained in Kirkintilloch, and Mains Street was once again disappointed.
We cannot at this stage know what was in the minds of the Presbytery when they made their decision in favour of Kirkintilloch but it was not a happy situation that a young minister should be called to an important charge when only a little over half of the membership signed his call.
On 5th October, 1869, the congregation again asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. The financial provisions proposed were as on the previous occasions. Though at a congregational meeting in Mains Street, only 20 had voted to proceed; and 6 had voted for delay, the Presbytery granted the request and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside over a congregational meeting in Mains Street on 25th October. On that occasion, 123 members and 21 adherents signed a call to John Sturrock, Stranraer. But when this was reported to the Presbytery on 7th December, it was objected that the Moderator had allowed five or six names to be attached to the call at the request of their spouses, they not being present on the occasion. These names had to be deducted from the call and for this irregularity the call was not sustained. The commissioners then withdrew the call and they were authorised to call a meeting of the Mains Street congregation to see what should be done. However, the commissioners simply attested the disputed signatures without calling a congregational meeting. This did not satisfy the Presbytery at their February meeting, and it was only by the March meeting that the Presbytery sustained the call with the signatures of 124 members and 21 adherents. They transmitted the call, with reasons, to the Ayr Presbytery of which John Sturrock was a member. The Ayr Presbytery referred it simpliciter to the Synod who decided that he should remain in Stranraer. So once again the Mains Street congregation was left disappointed.
On Thursday, 7th April, 1870, the congregation engaged in the solemn ordinance of social religious Covenanting. “This exercise has long been termed in the Secession ‘the Renewing of the Covenants.’ The designation is not quite a happy one, and it has led to real or affected misapprehension. What is done is not the literal and formal renewing of the National Covenants in the sense of swearing them over again in the name of the entire nation. Such a proceeding would be manifestly absurd on the part of a minority of the nation; it can be carried out only by the nation as such; and even the nation would need to renew its old Covenants in a bond suited to its altered circumstances, as was done in 1638. In Covenanting, as practised in the Secession, the engagement to duty is made in a bond separate and distinct from the National Covenants, and specially adapted to our peculiar circumstances as a minority of the nation witnessing for the whole Scriptural attainments of the Covenanted Reformation. At the same time, in this bond we acknowledge our sense of the continued obligation of the National Covenants upon us and upon all in these lands; our conviction of the guilt lying upon us and upon the whole nation for the violation of them; and our resolution for ourselves to adhere to them faithfully, and to carry out, as grace may enable us, their Scriptural and unaccomplished ends. Social Covenanting, as practised by us, in as far as it goes back on our National Covenants, is not a renewing of them so properly as a renewing of our adherence to them and to the Standards and attainments of the Reformation as ratified by them. In the present instance this Divine ordinance has not been observed without special and anxious preparation. We understand that during the winter Dr. Murray preached a course of sermons illustrative of its obligation and seasonableness, has for some time been holding sectional meetings of the congregation with a view to further instruction and to the removal of objections and difficulties, and has spared no pains to enable his people to engage in it intelligently and earnestly.”
On the occasion, after devotional exercises, conducted by Matthew Murray, James Smellie, Edinburgh, preached from Hosea 2:3: “I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” The National Covenants and the acknowledgement of sins were read by the James Smellie, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, Andrew T. McClenaghan, Kilmarnock, and James Spence, preacher. Thereafter Matthew Murray offered up solemn prayer, and administered the bond to the Covenanters, which was afterwards subscribed by them to the number of 115, including the ministers present and the majority of the students contemplating the ministry. During the signing of the bond, Messrs. Smellie and McClenaghan suitably exhorted the Covenanters; and the interesting and impressive services were brought to a close by Andrew McClenaghan preaching in the evening from Joshua 23:8: “But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day.”
Again, on 13th March, 1872, the congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call for a colleague and successor to Matthew Murray. This time they promise an annual stipend of £160 without Manse, sacramental expenses or traveling expenses, this from a congregation numbering about 240, some of whom were non resident. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside over a congregational meeting for this purpose called for 27th March. He reported the outcome to the next Presbytery: a call in favour of William F. Aitken, Midlem, signed by 113 members and 19 adherents. The Presbytery sustained the call, but left it open for further signatures. At the next Presbytery, on 23rd April, it was reported 21 more members and 5 more adherents had been added to the signatories. The call was dealt with by the Synod and again Mains Street Church was disappointed.
In what was becoming an annual occurrence, the congregation requested another moderation, promising £200 annual stipend to a minister and £150 to a probationer. On 4th February, 1873, the Presbytery again appointed William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, to preside over the moderation. He reported back to Presbytery on 4th March, 1873, that a call to John Sturrock, Stranraer, had been signed by 174 members and 25 adherents. The call was again sustained; the matter eventually arrived at the Synod and again Mains Street were disappointed.
Meanwhile there was a storm – a foretaste of worse to come – raised by Donald Munro, over the question of who should hold the title deeds for their properties. This man was at the centre of many storms. These matters were too extensive to be conveniently dealt with in a separate appendix found here.
The Presbytery noted Murray’s death at their meeting of 22nd May, 1876. But prior to that the services of a colleague and successor had been procured.
Glasgow, Mains Street: William F. Aitken
On 24th February, 1874, the congregation again brought a request for moderation of a call before the Presbytery. It was reported that there were about 236 members; the annual stipend promised was £200; and there was a probablity of £5 annually for sacramental expenses. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside over the moderation on 11th March.
On 24th March, 1874, he reported that a call to William F. Aitken, Midlem, had been signed by 156 members and 23 adherents. It was stated that members numbered 231 not 236. And 15 of these were either non-resident or unable to attend. The call was sustained. Reasons were given and all the papers were remitted to the Clerk of Edinburgh Presbytery, asking that they would hold a pro re nata meeting to deal with it. The call was in fact taken to the Synod in May, 1874. When Aitken was invited to speak his mind he said that he felt it to be his duty to accept the call, should the Synod see cause to put it into his hand. The Synod then agreed to his translation from Midlem. On 4th June, 1874, he was inducted to Mains Street.
On the occasion, John Robertson, Ayr, began with praise and prayer; Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, preached from Psalm 72:17: “His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed”; Matthew Murray, whose colleague Aitken was to be, conducted the induction; John Ritchie, Shottsburn, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and Thomas Hobart, of Carluke, concluded. And, at last, at the fifth attempt, the congregation had a colleague and successor for their aging minister.
On 10th June, 1880, the Dean of Guild Court granted the application of Mains Street congregation to tear down present building and erect another one (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 11th June 1880, p.4)
In January, 1888, Aitken was given three months leave of absence on medical grounds and by 1890 the congregation began looking to call a minister as colleague and successor for their aging minister. On 26th March, they asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. They promised an annual stipend of £200 for both the minister and his colleague. There was no manse and no specific arrangements about communion expenses but these were customarily £5. There were 224 members and numerous adherents. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside over a meeting in Mains Street on 14th April. On that day, 183 members and 46 adherents signed a call to Alexander Smellie, Stranraer. The call was sustained on 22nd April and transmitted to the Ayr Presbytery for their attention. But he declined the call.
Glasgow, Mains Street: James Patrick
On 24th February, 1891, the congregation again asked the Presbytery to moderate, under similar terms to the last time. John McKay, Bridgeton, was appointed to moderate the call on 11th March. On that day 184 members and 44 adherents signed a call to James Patrick, probationer. The call was sustained and Patrick was summoned to attend next meeting of Presbytery. On 21st April, 1891, Patrick asked to be excused from appearing as he was also under call to Birsay and he needed more time to reflect. The matter was therefore remitted simpliciter to the Synod. After all parties had been heard, he stated that he considered that the Mains Street call was the stronger. That call was put into his hands and he accepted it. He was ordained and inducted there on 10th September, 1891. On the occasion, David Matthew, of Kirkintilloch, preached from John 1:40-42: “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone”; William F. Aitken, Mains Street, conducted the ordination and John McKay, Bridgeton, addressed both the new minister and the congregation.
On 28th March, 1893, R.J. Wood, an elder in Mains Street, raised a matter at Presbytery which was to prove far reaching in its effects. He presented a petition asking for a review of the UOS testimony – to deal with “whatever may be found either defective or inept”.
Aitken now wished to retire as minister of Mains Street. He raised the matter in July, 1897, but it was not till June the following year that the terms of his retirement were settled: the congregation would pay him £75 annually on retirement and the Synod would pay him £50.
From 1895, the congregations were required to submit annual statistics to the Presbytery; at first these only involved members and adherents, later other information was added. These statistics are given at the end of this entry.
At this stage, the Presbytery began to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visits were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire and partly by Presbytery representatives meeting with the Session and the congregation. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation was conducted on 27th September, 1899. They found that a children’s class was taught during the interval between the services on Sabbath with an average attendance of about 12. The junior minister conducted two classes on Sabbath evening – a Junior one with an attendance of 33 and a Senior one with an attendance of 22. A congregational Prayer Meeting was held weekly for the greater part of the year, the average attendance being 25. A Sabbath women’s fellowship was attended by 12; a Young Men’s Sabbath morning meeting also by 12; a Band of Hope by 70; and a Literary Association by 27.
The congregation was divided into 10 districts; there were seven acting elders; and the elders visited twice a year before communion, and also in affliction. Half day hearing prevailed to some extent. Family worship and parental instruction were carried on in many homes though not as much as formerly.
In the Sabbath School, there were 18 teachers with 147 scholars, and an average attendance of 105. All the scholars were drawn from the mission district and in many cases from non-church going families.
There was a debit balance at present, owing to the death and removal of some good contributors.
Again the matter raised previously by R.J. Wood was brought to the attention of the Presbytery, on 6th February, 1900. It came up in the form of a reference from the Mains Street Session when they needed more elders: some members of Session entertained such objections against requiring an affirmative answer to certain questions of the Formula as to request exemption from further procedure in the matter. The Presbytery said that they could not help and that they should bring the matter to the Synod in whatever way seemed best. The Presbytery accordingly had an overture brought before them from the Mains Street Session on 24th April. The overture asked the Synod to take into “consideration the Session’s difficulties in the way of a much needed election of elders arising out of the objections of some of its members to the imposition of certain questions of the formula, and to dispose of the case so as to remove the difficulty.”
When the matter came to the Synod in May, 1900, W.J. Isbister said that good men and true had, to his own knowledge, been deterred from accepting office because of their inability to give an affirmative answer to some of the questions. Dr Ritchie “asked if the statement on the subject of inspiration met with the approval of the ministers, or if there were any observations such as those on the power of the civil Magistrate which might be restated.” He also mentioned the exclusive use of the Psalms in public worship and the restrictions on ecclesiastical fellowship as problems. Professor Aitken said that some of their best young students were fighting shy of taking the formula. James Patrick, junior, also supported the request. But the request was refused, after some debate, by a majority of 21 to 15 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 24th May, 1900, p.6).
In the midst of this, Aitken’s death was noted by the Presbytery at their meeting on 2nd April, 1901.
A committee of Presbytery had been commissioned to meet with the elders elect who were having difficulty with the questions to be put to them at ordination. On 7th May, 1901, they reported that they had met with some of Mains Street Session and some of the elders elect. Two of the three elders elect had stated that their difficulties were connected with the attitude of the church towards covenanting, hymns and instrumental music, and church communion, while the third had only indicated the last named subject as the ground of his difficulty. In regard to hymns and instrumental music there was no desire to introduce them into the worship of the sanctuary but there was a reluctance to condemn them as unscriptural. The difficulties of the elders elect present were in no way removed by discussion with the Presbytery committee.
It was agreed to advise the Session to accept the declinature of the five elders elect and proceed to a new election. It was also moved that an Overture be presented to Synod that they “take the subject into their serious consideration”. The former motion was accepted. From this George R. Aitken, of Kirkintilloch, and James Patrick, Mains Street, dissented. On 30th July, 1901, Patrick wrote to the Presbytery that there were “questions of the Formula to which he could not give an affirmative answer and that he could not take such part in any future ordination which would involve the renewal of his assent to these particular questions”. It was agreed to leave the letter on the table till next meeting. Gardiner presented notice of motion – which stated that it would be ultra vires on their part to modify or relax the questions and the formula; they counselled their brother to remember his position in relationship to the Testimony in the hope that he would receive light on the matter.
On 24th September, 1901, when Gardiner moved this motion, Aitken, Kirkintilloch, moved that the Presbytery “recognises that some changes might be made in the terms of the formula which would both make for a truer expression of the church’s position and remove in large measure the difficulties that have been felt and with a view to these changes being made agree to overture the Synod to take the matter under consideration and meantime recommend Mains Street Session to postpone any ordination of elders they have in view.” This was carried by four votes to three and Gardiner, Pollokshaws, and George Anderson, Bridgeton, dissented.
On 8th October, 1901, George R. Aitken, Kirkintilloch, and Mr Blakely, who had been appointed to prepare the Overture proposed at the previous meeting, presented a very detailed one. Gardiner moved that it be not adopted in the meantime. This was carried and Aitken and Blakely dissented.
“At this stage, Mr Patrick laid on the table a letter intimating his resignation of the pastoral charge of Mains Street Congregation and his withdrawal from connection with the UOS Church for reasons stated.” It was moved that the letter be tabled and that the Presbytery meet with the congregation to confer with them about the resignation of their minister. Accordingly, on the 29th October, the Presbytery met with the Session and then with the congregation. Patrick wished his resignation to be considered as final. Four motions were made at the congregational meeting; but the motion which finally won majority support was that the question of their minister’s resignation should be left entirely in the hands of the Presbytery. On 5th November, the Presbytery accepted Patrick’s resignation with much regret; and declared him no longer a minister of the UOS Church. They granted him his ministerial certificate.
The resignation from the UOS Church of George R. Aitken and of his congregation came soon after – see under Kirkintilloch. The overture that Aitken intended to present to Synod was allowed to fall. Gardiner intended to present an overture to Synod about the UOS Testimony. A basis for his proposed motion was expressed in these terms: “whereas it is of utmost importance in these days of unrest and growing indifference to the Great Scriptural Principles for which our Church, all through its history, has borne faithful witness, that all connected with our denomination should become thoroughly acquainted with our exact position and distinctive principles.” He wanted the Synod to publish “a clear and definitive statement of our distinctive principles and the duty of abiding by them.” For whatever reason, however, he did not go through with this intention and that seemed to bring to an end, for the time being, the controversy over the Testimony.
The controversy left Mains Street without a minister but with remarkable promptitude, they sought a new minister. They requested the Presbytery on 7th January, 1902, to moderate a call. There were 194 members, and the promised annual stipend was £170 plus £5 sacramental expenses. George Anderson, Bridgeton, was appointed to preside on 4th February. On that day, 96 members and 30 adherents signed a call to Alexander Smellie, Carluke. The call was sustained on 11th February. But George Anderson then read a letter from Smellie “in which he decidedly discouraged proceeding with the call on the ground that he had been less than two years in Carluke and that his work there was not yet done.” The Mains Street commissioners were then asked to withdraw the call, but they declined to do so. The call was therefore duly transmitted to the Edinburgh Presbytery for their attention. But the Edinburgh Presbytery accepted Smellie’s desire to remain in Carluke, and so the Mains Street congregation had to begin the procedure again.
Glasgow, Mains Street: Robert Morton
The congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call under the same terms as on the previous occasion, and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside on 15th May, 1902. A call was then signed by 115 members and 26 adherents, to Robert Morton, Perth. The call was in due course sustained and transmitted to the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen for their attention. Morton accepted the call and he was inducted on 2nd October, 1902.
On that occasion, an edict was read giving any interested party opportunity to make objections. Dr Donald Munro, a member of Mains Street congregation presented an objection – for details see here.
This did not hold up the induction. Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, then commenced the service; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, preached from Exodus 33:14: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest”; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, conducted the induction; George Anderson, Bridgeton, Glasgow, addressed the new minister; James Young, Paisley, addressed the congregation; and John Sturrock, Moderator of Synod, concluded.
A further Presbyterial visitation was held at the beginning of 1906. The pattern of activities in the congregation was much as formerly. But the Band of Hope had a roll of 100; and there was a branch of the British Women’s Temperance Association. There were junior and senior singing classes with an average of 20 attending each. There was always a surplus of funds.
Yet another visitation took place on 26th February, 1913, and the picture given was that of a stable congregation with regular activities, holding its own in regard to numbers. There was blessing, “though unhappily one hears little about conversions”. Nevertheless they spoke of the membership as being scattered and the difficulty that this caused in getting the children who lived at a distance. The movement from the centre to the suburbs seemed to be making itself felt.
Morton was honoured by the Scottish Reformation Society at a social in the Ca’doro Restaurant, Glasgow, when he was presented with his portrait in oils – the work of Mr James Wallace – and a cheque.
Morton died on 19th November, 1932.
The congregation presented a call to Robert Lorimer Findlater, Perth, but in March, 1933, he intimated to his Presbytery that he felt it his duty to remain in his present charge and in this the Presbytery acquiesced.
Glasgow, Mains Street: John Scott
Scott was translated from Toberdoney, Ireland, on 13th September, 1933.
It was reported to the May Synod, 1938, that he had resigned his charge and withdrawn from the UOS Church.
Glasgow, Mains Street: William Russell Kennedy
Kennedy was acting minister in Glasgow, Mains St, UOS Church from 1938-40, and he was ordained there in May, 1940. By May, 1943, he had resigned his charge and intimated his withdrawal from the UOS Church.
Mains Street is to be distinguished from Main Street of which there were several in Greater Glasgow. Mains Street ran north from Argyle Street. It is not named in this map but the church building is marked here as “Original Secession Ch.”.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
KILMARNOCK, FOWLDS STREET
Scott, Annals, pp.369-370
Kilmarnock: John Graham
He was ordained here on 1st September, 1836. He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852 and continued here till 1863, when he demitted his charge on health grounds.
After meeting for several years in various halls, and also in the old Kilmarnock Academy, the congregation erected a “small but neat church” in Fowlds Street in 1857. They sought the help of the church in general for this project and the Synod responded as follows: “While the Synod desires to express their sympathy with the minister and congregation, in having so long maintained their position without a place of worship, it approves of the present resolution to build a church; and that, as soon as they shall proceed to build, the sum of £50 shall be given from the Synod fund, and that individual congregations be recommended to aid the Kilmarnock brethren in this laudable enterprise.”
After its construction, the property was burdened with debt, but in accordance with a church-wide scheme to wipe out the debt on congregational properties, the congregation raised £10 and with contributions from the Synod’s funds and the Ferguson Bequest their debt was extinguished in 1859.
On 23rd August, 1860, the congregation met with William King, shoemaker, in the chair. William King, grocer, in name of the congregation, referred to the long and faithful labours of their minister, and presented him with a beautiful purse, containing thirty-five sovereigns. Hamilton King then presented Mr Graham with a fine gold brooch for Mrs Graham.
A reference from the Presbytery of Ayr regarding the Kilmarnock congregation came to the Synod in May, 1863. The minister wished to demit his charge “in consequence of long-continued and increasing bodily infirmity, which entirely unfitted him for the efficient discharge of ministerial work”. The congregation and Presbytery acquiesced. The Synod “expressed their sincere and deep sympathy with Mr Graham in his present painful circumstances, and their continued warm affection for him” and they too acquiesced and removed his name from the roll. He also applied for a grant from the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund but as this was the first application that was made for assistance from the Fund, a Committee was set up “to consider the principle upon which such grants should be made, and to report to next meeting of Synod.” The following year he was granted “the sum of £40 … from this Fund for the past and present year”. From year to year thereafter a grant was made to him.
At the next Synod Kilmarnock asked for counsel and assistance from the Synod, being deprived of the services of a minister and being reduced in numbers. The Synod advised that “an effort should be made to establish a Home Mission in connection with the Congregation; and that in the meantime a donation of ten guineas should he granted from the Synod Fund to aid the Congregation in obtaining a larger supply of ordinances.”
At the Synod of May, 1866, Kilmarnock’s situation was again under discussion. They were permitted to call a minister, the Presbytery of Ayr and the Home Mission Committee to work out how this might be done. The situation was defined for Kilmarnock and other congregations in similar circumstances by a decision of the Synod the following year: “The congregation shall be dependent for their support wholly on their own exertions and the amount which they may receive from the Home Mission Committee. So long as this assistance shall be obtained by them, it shall be obligatory upon the ministers who shall be settled in them to occupy a certain portion of their time in Home Missionary operations, which shall be reported periodically to the Presbytery of which they are members, and through the Presbytery to the Home Mission Committee with the view of being communicated to the Synod.”
Specifically, the Committee were willing to pay £50 annually; and they wished that a portion of three days each week should be devoted to home mission work in the locality. The implementation of this had been delayed because of the congregation’s “inability to obtain a settlement regarding a certain property which has been bequeathed to it.”
However, in July a call from Kilmarnock to James Patrick, probationer, was tabled. As he had received another one from Dromore, Ireland, these two calls were considered together at the Presbytery meeting of 23rd October. When Patrick was given an opportunity of expressing his mind, after a lengthened statement, he intimated his preference for the call from the congregation of Dromore. The Presbytery unanimously agreed that he should go to Dromore.
Kilmarnock: Andrew Thomson McClenaghan
On 7th January, 1868, a call from the congregation of Kilmarnock, was signed to Andrew T. McClenaghan, probationer. On 27th January, it was tabled at Presbytery and sustained as a regular gospel call. McClenaghan was present; the call was presented to him and cordially accepted. The Presbytery afterwards prescribed subjects of trial for ordination. The ordination was appointed for 10th June, 1868.
On that occasion, the service was commenced with praise and prayer, conducted by John Barr, Coupar Angus; Thomas Robertson, Kilwinning, delivered the opening discourse from Revelation 2:8-11: “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life …’”; Ebenezer Ritchie, Colmonell, conducted the ordination; George Roger, Auchinleck, addressed the newly ordained pastor and the people on their respective duties and responsibilities; and the service was concluded by William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws.
On 4th October, 1870, McClenaghan reported on his mission work. The Presbytery had previously laid down that an evening service for mission people be held – this being as well as the ordinary forenoon and afternoon diets of worship. It was now agreed that the missionary should be allowed to have house meetings in the evenings instead.
On Friday, 25th November, 1870, the congregation met in their Church for the purpose of presenting James Todd, the leader of psalmody, with some tangible token of their appreciation of his services. The minister presented Mr Todd with seventeen standard volumes, including the complete works of Drs. McCrie, Stevenson, and Paxton.
On 21st March, 1871, the Presbytery dealt with a call to Kirriemuir addressed to McClenaghan. This was referred simpliciter to the Synod.
At the same Presbytery meeting, McClenaghan reported on the mission work. A Sabbath School had now been started in the church in the evening and 63 was the average attendance. The congregation wanted advice in regard to their building project and John Robertson, Ayr, was commissioned to consult with some business men and report to a future meeting. This was done and David Milligan and Hamilton King from Ayr expressed willingness to go to Kilmarnock and look at the site and the plans.
When the call from Kirriemuir was dealt with by the Synod in May, 1871, it was decided that he should be translated there and he was settled in Kirriemuir , Angus, on 31st May, 1871. Kilmarnock then asked that they might be provided for in the future. The Synod recommended the appointment of a Missionary in the district, on the understanding that the whole of his salary be paid out of the Synod’s Home Mission Fund, and that the Kilmarnock congregation take the usual amount of supply granted to vacant congregations. But later the supply was reduced to not more than two Sabbaths a month.
Kilmarnock: Robert Morton
On 19th June, 1871, the Presbytery agreed that Morton be appointed missionary here while still a student. As the burden was excessive, William Auld, who was missionary in Ayr, was to preach in Kilmarnock once a month. At the May Synod, 1872, the Kilmarnock congregation petitioned that Morton might be licensed speedily so that they could call him as their minister. The Synod agreed “that, taking into consideration the special circumstances referred to in the petition, the Hall Committee be authorised to recommend Mr. Morton to be taken on trials for license after the ensuing session of the Hall; it being understood that Mr. Morton will not be eligible to receive a call from any other Congregation in the meantime.”
At the same Synod, the congregation asked help to defray expenses incurred in providing sufficient accommodation to meet the requirements of the Mission Sabbath School. They were allotted £5. The following year – and other years subsequently – they were granted £5 to pay the rent of the premises. This situation had arisen because the church building was not conveniently situated for the missionary district; they had leased a small building and had incurred considerable expense in making it into a mission hall.
Subsequently the Presbytery clarified that Morton’s stipend would be £100 – paid half and half by the Home Mission Committee and the congregation, plus £2 at each communion.
Meanwhile, Thomas Matthew, then a divinity student, was appointed to be the Synod missionary there for three months starting on 5th August, 1872.
Morton was licensed on 18th September, 1872, and that same day, Kilmarnock requested the moderation of a call. On 7th October, 1872, the call signed by 36 members and 20 adherents was sustained by Presbytery; put in Morton’s hands and accepted. He was ordained here on 30th October, 1872.
On the occasion, Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, opened the service; Benjamin Brown, Colmonell, preached from Genesis 39:2: “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man”; John Sturrock, Stranraer, conducted the ordination; and John Robertson, Ayr, addressed the minister and congregation and closed the service.
At the Synod in May, 1874, at the request of his congregation, Morton was granted a further £10 from the Synod in lieu of manse. There were, however, recurring problems over the level of givings and on 4th March, John Robertson, Ayr, was appointed to meet with the congregation with a view to increasing the minister’s stipend and the Kirk Session then agreed to do what it could to raise the stipend.
Morton was translated to Perth as colleague and successor to Thomas Manson on 26th May, 1875.
William W. Spiers then seems to have acted as missionary and helped the congregation as required. When he was duly licensed, the congregation presented a call to him. But he was under call to Kirriemuir and at the meeting of the Presbytery of Ayr in January, 1878, he asked leave to state that he would prefer the call from Kirriemuir. At a meeting of Presbytery in February, the congregation asked permission to withdraw their call to William Spiers. They also asked that they be granted another moderation, so James Spence, Auchinleck, was appointed to moderate a call on 4th March, 1878. However, nothing apparently came of this.
In 1879 the depressed state of the congregation was drawn to the attention of the Synod. They indicated their belief that a crisis had been reached, and that a special effort would be needed “to prevent the loss of what was regarded, upon various accounts, one of the most important spheres of labour”. James Buchanan, student, was employed from July to November that year. He was given fairly strict instructions: “to regard the congregation, so far as it existed, as the centre of his missionary efforts and duties, to attend to the members of the congregation and the ordinary hearers, with any who had been formerly connected with the congregation, but who had lapsed;… to conduct meetings on Sabbath and on a week day, much in the same way as formerly, and to attend to visitation and the Sabbath School; … not to continue the Savings’ Bank … [but] to lend his aid in winding it up.”
He achieved average attendances of 25 at the morning and 38 at the afternoon services. But after his departure nothing further could be done. So at the 1880 Synod it was agreed “to instruct the Home Mission Committee, in conjunction with the Ayr Presbytery, to adopt measures for procuring the permanent services of a missionary or catechist, who shall devote his whole time to mission work in connection with Kilmarnock congregation.”
Unspecified difficulties “that had arisen in connection with building operations on ground adjoining property belonging to the congregation” were brought to the attention of the Presbytery and then by way of reference to the Synod in 1880. The Synod Clerk was appointed to act with the Presbytery in looking after the congregation’s interests.
The situation of the congregation clearly was not a happy one but in September, 1885, John Laird, an elder in the Pollokshaws congregation was appointed by the Home Mission Committee in conjunction with the Presbytery as missionary. He was a native of Ireland, as was his wife Ann, and he appeared in the 1881 census as a cotton beetler. He was sent on his way by his home congregation with a purse of twenty three and a half sovereigns.
His first report was found “deeply interesting”. It covered a period of six months: “Two services,” said the Home Mission Committee, “have been conducted in the church every Sabbath, one in the forenoon and the other in the evening. The average attendance in the forenoon has been 17, and in the evening 38, which, taking all circumstances into consideration, has been encouraging. On the Sabbath afternoon a School has been held in the church for the religious instruction of the neglected young. It was commenced on the 2nd Sabbath of October with 9 scholars, but by the beginning of this year the number rose to 67. The average attendance for the six months has been 40. At the outset, Mr. Laird had no help in this department, save for his daughter. He has, however, secured the aid of three additional workers. …
“The great want in connection with this department is more teachers, as a greater number of children can be had whenever they can be received. A Prayer Meeting is held every week on Monday evening, at which the average attendance has been 10. In conjunction with Mr. Hunter, [town] missionary, Mr. Laird has carried on a kitchen meeting every Tuesday evening, and the attendance has been from 8 to 22. Further, Mr. Laird has addressed seven other meetings in the course of the half-year; has spent 25 hours a-week in visitation; has distributed 1500 Gospel tracts and small books; and has had the opportunity of reading the Scripture to, and praying with, many who were living without the means of grace.”
His efforts appear to have been appreciated for, on 1st April, 1899, he “was presented with a valuable silver watch, and Mrs. Laird with a beautiful large-type Bible, as a mark of esteem”.
In 1890 the Synod provided £35 to supplement the £40 which the congregation was paying him annually. Laird’s annual report to the Ayr Presbytery in April 1891 spoke of increased attendances at all the meetings and of 31 people added as members. Later that year he was absent in his native Ireland, having been ill. Though he was better he was not sufficiently well to resume work. Indeed, his resignation was accepted – yet from 1893 he continues to make his annual reports to Presbytery. He died in Ayr in 1899, aged 60.
On 21st November, 1891, the Presbytery were informed that Kilmarnock Corporation wished to remove a sharp corner of the wall belonging to the church in Kirklandholm Street. Two representatives were appointed to talk with Mr Gilmour of the Corporation about this to see if they could recommend this to Presbytery and to enquire into the question of compensation. Subsequently it was agreed to allow this to happen as it would do no damage to church property. No compensation was to be sought but a suggestion was made that the Corporation should make a donation to the funds of the congregation. £3 were donated.
In 1894 they were permitted to elect elect two elders; and also new trustees as the former trustees were either deceased or had separated from the congregation.
On the death of Laird, the missionary, George T. Cowieson, who had been a missionary in Ayr, expressed his willingness to work as missionary here. This was agreed to. But after a year he wrote the Presbytery saying that he hadn’t been able to sell his business, so he would have to continue part time. He proposed limiting his stipend to £40 and this was agreed to.
Shortly thereafter three elders were elected. Cowieson reported regularly to Presbytery though details are generally not recorded. In 1902, however, it was noted that the funds were in deficit and the Interim Moderator was asked to urge them to greater liberality. In 1911 Cowieson applied to be recognised as a student to be ultimately settled here as a missionary-minister. The Synod instructed the Presbytery to consult with the congregation about this proposal. Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, met with the congregation and they agreed that, if this proposal went ahead, they would be willing to address to Cowieson a call to the pastorate of the congregation. Cowieson had already attended some classes in the Divinity Hall. However he was told that he must study in the Divinity Hall for a further one or two sessions.
At the Presbytery on 9th May, 1916, James Young, Ayr, stated that there was reason to believe that Cowieson had “acted towards one of the members of his (Mr Young’s) congregation in a manner that was highly objectionable, involving sin against God and a grievous wrong to the member referred to.” Cowieson “acknowledged that he had been guilty of conduct that was highly reprehensible and sinful, but that immediately after the sin was committed he penitently confessed it before God and asked his forgiveness, and the forgiveness of the party who had shared with him in the sin.” He expressed his sorrow to the Presbytery and his willingness to submit to any discipline they might see fit to administer. It was moved that he be solemnly rebuked by the Moderator – but it was decided to leave the matter over till the next meeting.
At the next meeting, on 1st June, 1916, this motion was again moved. But it was also moved that “simple rebuke and admonition was not discipline adequate to the gravity of the offence committed”, so six months suspension as missionary was proposed. But this was not seconded and a rebuke was duly administered. James Young, Ayr, wished his dissent to be noted.
Cowieson died in 1921.
Kilmarnock: David Russell
Russell was ordained here on 19th April, 1923. On the occasion, James Young, Ayr, preached; Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, conducted the ordination; and Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
By 1931 it was plain that all was not well in Kilmarnock. The problem seems to have been, at least, in part, the congregation’s lack of financial support for the minister. The Home Mission Committee wished to discuss Kilmarnock’s situation with the Presbytery. Russell meanwhile was to forward Tax papers and other accounts in arrears to the Synod Treasurer for payment pending enquiries. The congregation was in arrears in the payment of the minister’s stipend – but whether that was the root of the difficulties or a symptom of deeper ones, we cannot say.
The Presbytery pointed out to the congregation the need for new trustees to be appointed for the congregation.
Eventually, on 12th May, 1931, Russell resigned his charge as from the end of June. He was quickly settled elsewhere so there is no thought that he was disillusioned with the UOS Church or with the work of the ministry, so it was probably financial circumstances that led to this move.
The whole situation of Kilmarnock was then put to the Synod for settlement. It was reported to the Presbytery after a special visit of inquiry to Kilmarnock that the previous Sabbath eight persons were present exclusive of the Russell family. Only three were present at the congregational visit that was conducted. It emerged that Kilmarnock were happy to share their supply with Darvel on a temporary basis until a student was settled in Kilmarnock. On 1st September, Reid MacFarlane, a divinity student, took up his duties here: they were to preach once a Sabbath in Kilmarnock and once in Darvel; to devote one day’s visiting a fortnight to each congregation. The remuneration was to be £100 per annum, £50 being from Darvel and the rest from Kilmarnock and the Home Mission Committee.
MacFarlane, however, didn’t want to preach in Darvel and Kilmarnock in the summer months and other arrangements had to be made. But it was stipulated that he would refund to them “whatever talent he receives when preaching elsewhere during that period.”
In December, 1933, the United Free Church asked for the use of their church building but it was not thought appropriate to accede to this request.
In July of the following year it was reported that the Home Mission Committee had appointed Rev. Quintin Golder, M.A., to supervise Kilmarnock and Darvel. He was to reside in Darvel and the annual stipend was to be £150, £50 being from Darvel; £100 from Home Mission Committee. Kilmarnock offered to pay travel of £6/10/- annually, on the basis of three visits per week. The question then arose whether Golder could sit and deliberate at Presbytery, as he himself wished to do, and the answer given was in the negative: Golder had never been ordained so he couldn’t take part in Presbytery discussions.
Discussions about his status continued and the Synod of 1936 authorised Ayr Presbytery to ordain Golder as a Home Missionary. But Golder did not want to accept this and he resigned as from 30th June, 1936. His resignation was accepted with regret.
The Home Mission Committee appointed George McMorris to take up duties in Darvel and Kilmarnock in September that year. The Presbytery were clearly not happy about this. They had been presented with an accomplished fact and disclaimed all responsibility for this arrangement. Over this, David Bennie presented his resignation as clerk of Presbytery and as interim moderator of Darvel and Kilmarnock. On 15th October 1936, John Scott, Mains Street, Glasgow, appeared before the Presbytery as Convener of the Home Mission Committee to explain McMorris’ appointment. There followed “a full and frank discussion” especially regarding financial arrangements. The result was that at the next Presbytery meeting Bennie withdrew his resignations: “there appeared to have been a serious misunderstanding of the attitude of the Home Mission Committee in the matter of appointing a missionary to Kilmarnock.” But after all that it seems that McMorris actually did not take up his post as missionary.
In April, 1939, it was Rev. Harry Reeves who gave a report on his mission work in Kilmarnock. The report was accepted but only after being “recast”.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.373-377
Kilwinning: George Stevenson
He was ordained here on 21st December, 1836. He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Second disruption of 1852 and continued here till his death on 1st June 1859.
Kilwinning: Andrew Anderson
A call by the Kilwinning congregation, addressed to Andrew Anderson, Dromore, was signed by 5 elders and 16 male members. Papers of adherence to the call were signed by 1 elder, 6 male and 41 female members in full communion and 32 ordinary hearers. The call came to the Synod, when Anderson frankly and openly declared that he decidedly preferred the call from Kilwinning, while at the same time he expressed his willingness to submit to the decision of the Court. The commissioner from Dromore stated that he had been instructed by the congregation to say, that if Mr Anderson expressed a decided preference for Kilwinning, he was not to insist upon his being sent back to Dromore. The Synod unanimously agreed to his translation. He was therefore inducted here on 24th July, 1860.
In March, 1863, the Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, reported that Anderson had intimated to his flock that his purpose was to go to Australia – along with James Milne Smith, Pollokshaws, and Archibald Brown, Edinburgh. The newspaper was not quite right. This is what happened.
Anderson had indeed made an intimation to his flock. As the Presbytery ascertained, he had said something to the effect “that he intended to emigrate to New Zealand, and, along with others, had resolved to erect the standard of the Secession testimony in that distant land.” This was done without consulting with any of his brethren or the Presbytery. When the Presbytery dealt with him, he at first declined assigning any reasons for the step which he proposed to take; and the Presbytery in consequence, while highly disapproving of the said step, particularly in the present circumstances of the Church, found the intimation to be informal and unconstitutional. Ministers were settled under the superintendence of the Presbytery, therefore, they could not leave by their own choice but only under the superintendence of the Presbytery.
In response to that Anderson declared that he had no intention of acting in this matter contrary in any way to presbyterial order. At a subsequent meeting of Presbytery “he gave in his demission of the pastoral charge of the congregation of Kilwinning, assigning as his sole reason for so doing, a desire to be an instrument, in the hands of the Redeemer, for the extension of His kingdom in a foreign land.” This was not a good enough reason for the Presbytery and they tried to dissuade him from emigrating – but without success. They therefore informed the congregation that he had demitted his charge and thus gave them the opportunity of expressing their views. The congregation presented a paper stating “that however much they regretted Mr Anderson’s giving in his demission of the charge of the congregation for the reason assigned, which they did not consider satisfactory, and however much they deplored his loss in leaving them, yet, as he declared that it was a matter of conscience with him, they would not offer any objections to the Presbytery’s accepting his demission, leaving the matter, at the same time, entirely in the hands of the Presbytery.”
The matter was then referred for advice to the Synod in May, 1863. The Synod’s opinion was that Anderson had acted in an “informal and unconstitutional manner”. They expressed “their decided disapprobation of the step which Mr Anderson proposed to take, particularly in the present circumstances of the Church” and could take no responsibility upon itself in regard to the step he was going to take. They could not accept his demission on the grounds stated. However, they found that it was “not for edification that Mr Anderson should continue any longer minister of the congregation of Kilwinning” and agreed “to instruct the Presbytery of Ayr to dissolve the relation between him and the congregation, according to the laws of the Church, and declare the congregation of Kilwinning vacant.”
His demission was accepted as from 18th May, 1863, and he emigrated to New Zealand. He went with James Milne Smith who also got into difficulties with his Presbytery over the matter. Under his entry, more details are given of what happened in New Zealand. Anderson returned to Scotland. But it is not too surprising that he didn’t return to the UOS Church but became a Free Church minister – see here.
On 22nd March, 1864, the congregation met under the presidency of John Robertson, Ayr. They signed a call to William B. Gardiner, probationer. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 6th April, and as Gardiner was also called to Pollokshaws, they referred the matter simpliciter to the Synod. The Synod appointed his ordination to Pollokshaws.
On 22nd March, 1865, the congregation again met under the presidency of John Robertson, Ayr. They signed a call to John Sturrock, probationer. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 4th April. However, Sturrock was also called to Stranraer and to Stranraer he went.
Kilwinning: Thomas Robertson
Robertson was ordained here on 12th July, 1866.
On the occasion, William Robertson, Dundee, conducted the opening devotional exercises; John Sturrock, Stranraer, preached from Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”; George Roger, Auchinleck, presided at the ordination, and Ebenezer Ritchie, Colmonell, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
On 26th May, 1874, at the close of the Weekly Fellowship Meeting, Robertson was presented with thirty sovereigns (subsequently increased to thirty guineas) “as a token of the respect and esteem in which he is held by his congregation, and in grateful recognition of the ability shewn in his pulpit ministrations.”
On 30th July, 1888, a letter, stating that he had made up his mind to emigrate, and resigning the pastoral charge of the Kilwinning congregation, and his connection with the Church, was considered by the Presbytery. His resignation was accepted and the pastoral tie dissolved. The Presbytery also expressed the “extreme regret” with which they parted from him and “their best wishes for his welfare and success in his new sphere of labour”.
Kilwinning: Thomas Matthew
Towards the end of 1888, Thomas Matthew, Midlem, received a call to Kilwinning. The matter was dealt with by Edinburgh Presbytery on 22nd January, 1889. Matthew intimated that “while various reasons made him willing to accept this call if it should be placed in his hands, he considered on the whole that the wiser course for the Presbytery to take would be to retain him in his present charge”. The Presbytery unanimously decided that he be retained in Midlem. The Kilwinning commissioners appealed against this decision and the matter came to the Synod in February, 1889. On that occasion, when he was given the opportunity of speaking, he stated that “he desired to be retained in his present charge, but at the same time he was willing to go wherever he was sent by the Synod”. The Synod agreed by 10 votes to 9 with four abstentions that he be translated here. The Edinburgh Presbytery gave expression to “their sincere regret at their parting with their esteemed brother, and losing his valuable services both as a member of court and as Presbytery Clerk and to their best wishes for his comfort and success in his new and important sphere of labour.” He was inducted in Kilwinning on 17th April, 1889.
On the occasion, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, opened the service; William W. Spiers, Darvel, preached from Matthew 21:28: “Son, go work to-day in my vineyard”; John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the induction; James Spence, Auchinleck, addressed the new minister and the people; and John McKay, Bridgeton, Glasgow, closed the service.
In 1894, he received a call from the Paisley congregation but nothing came of it.
He died on 6th November, 1928. The Presbytery met that same day and discussed funeral arrangements. The Moderator of Synod, Waters Reid, was asked to preside at a public funeral service. Robert Morton, Glasgow, and Robert Hobart, Perth, were to lead in prayer; David Russell and Robert L. Findlater were to read the Scriptures; and Archibald Hunter, parish minister of Kilwinning, was to pronounce the benediction. In cooperation with the relatives the services at the Manse and at the grave were also arranged.
The following month a tribute to him was recorded in the Presbytery Minutes: “ … We recall with gratitude his wise counsels and kindly encouragements; his unfaltering adherence to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus; his fearless declarations of the principles and distinctive truths of the Reformed and Covenanted Church of Scotland; his passionate fervour in his preaching of the gospel of salvation; his burning zeal for missionary enterprise; his ardent earnestness in prayer and his consistent walk with God from day to day. …”
Kilwinning: David Stevenson Walker
On 4th March, 1929, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. There were then 103 members. The annual stipend promised was £250 plus rent of a manse “or the manse after Martinmas”; communion expenses to be repaid by the Deacons’ Court; and “away talents to be returned”. Francis Davidson, Paisley, was appointed to moderate a call. This meeting was held on 28th March when a call was signed to David Walker by 82 members and 55 adherents. On 8th April, the call was sustained; placed in Walker’s hands; and accepted. He was ordained here on 29th May, 1929.
On the occasion, David Russell, Kilmarnock, opened the service; Robert Findlater, Shottsburn, led in prayer; David Bennie, Coronary, preached from John 3:2: “We know that you are a teacher come from God”; Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, conducted the ordination; Francis Davidson addressed the new minister; John Scott, Toberdoney, addressed the congregation; and Robert Hobart, Perth, pronounced the benediction.
In 1932 a call to him was signed by the Arbroath congregation. It was disposed of on 19th May, when the Presbytery decided to retain him in Kilwinning. One of the commissioners from Kilwinning who addressed the Presbytery was Miss Jean Stewart. I mention this because this is the first time I noticed a woman being appointed by a congregation to represent them as a commissioner at Presbytery level.
On 25th July, 1937, Walker presented to his Presbytery the resignation of his charge: he found himself at variance with the accepted standards of the Secession Church. But he withdrew his resignation when the Presbytery allowed him six months “in order that he might consider his whole attitude to the doctrines of the Secession Church” after which time the matter would be reviewed by the Presbytery. Meanwhile, a meeting of the Presbytery with the Kilwinning congregation was arranged – two of the elders there had resigned. The Presbytery told the congregation that nothing could be done in regard to the minister’s views, as the matter was on hold for six months. And, at the end of the six months, on 5th April, 1938, Walker withdrew his resignation. The reason for this was “certain happenings in the church in view of which he now considered it more expedient to remain than to resign.” A motion was then made that he be asked to resign; another that he be asked not to resign. The second motion carried, though from this an elder dissented.
A year later a call was tabled to Walker from Carluke. At a meeting of the Presbytery on 1st June, 1939, he expressed his willingness to move there and he was duly translated there on 27th June, 1939.
A month later, the Kilwinning congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. The promised annual stipend was £275 plus a manse, communion expenses and four clear Sabbaths holiday. Robert Findlater, Shottsburn was appointed to moderate the call on 6th September. Whatever happened is not recorded in the Presbytery minutes. The next we hear is that they had presented a call to John Howe, Dundee, signed by 58 members and 18 adherents. Nothing came of that endeavour and on 26th March, 1942, they again ask for the moderation of a call. The stipend however is now to be only £250.
Kilwinning: James Robert Moffett
On 3rd September, 1942, Moffett was ordained here.
He was translated to Paisley, Renfrewshire, on 6th May, 1947.
Kilwinning: William McKane
McKane was ordained here on 29th June, 1949. He became an academic and was loosed from his charge in May, 1954, but retained his connection with the UOS Church until he acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956.
This congregation was vacant at the time of the accession of the denomination to the Church of Scotland in 1956. It was therefore free to decide for itself what it should do. It applied to be received as a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland. This application was accepted and at the beginning of 1958 Alexander R. Fraser, previously minister of Dumbarton Free Church, was inducted here as the first minister of the congregation as a Free Church charge. He was succeeded by Brian H. Baxter. In his time, the Free Church congregation of Saltcoats and Ardrossan was linked with Kilwinning. Thereafter Angus MacRae, later of Dingwall Free Church, was minister here. In his time, substantial renovations were undertaken in the church building. Thereafter David Parker was minister.
In the course of time, the Saltcoats Free Church was closed; the old church building in Kilwinning became unfit for purpose and alternative accommodation had to be found; and the congregation was linked with Ayr Free Church.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
This second map also shows the church building, marked “O.S. Ch.” and it also shows the manse – “O.S.C. Manse”. This house was called Deanfield. After the death of Thomas Matthew, his family continued to live there and another property was purchased as a manse.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.380ff
In June, 1852, a petition was received by the Synod for supply of sermon from three elders and 23 members and several adherents in Kirkcaldy. David Anderson, elder, laid on the table a copy of the title deeds of Pathhead UOS church building though the building had been retained by the minister, James Black, who had gone in to the Free Church, and asked advice.
Thereafter Kirkcaldy constantly petitioned the Synod for pulpit supply and the administration of the Lord’s Supper. These petitions were granted typically with a proviso: “on condition that the Committee of Supplies are able to procure sufficient assistance for the dispensation of the Lord’s Supper.”
In May, 1865, James Smellie was appointed Moderator of the Session of Kirkcaldy, with instructions to visit the Congregation there pastorally in the course of the summer. Thereafter Edinburgh Presbytery met at Kirkcaldy on August 23, 1865, with Thomas Hobart, Carluke, as Moderator, for the visitation of the congregation. “In the conference with the elders, various things were brought out highly creditable to this small congregation, which, though somewhat reduced in numbers, has continued steadfast to its principles among all the discouragements of a thirteen years’ vacancy. The attendance on Sabbaths, when no preacher is present, and when devotional exercises are conducted by the elders, is as large as on other days. In addition to defraying all congregational expenses, annual collections are made for two of the Synod schemes; and a proposal, made by the Presbytery, that a periodical subscription should be taken up for the Home Mission Fund, was agreed to heartily and at once. A female prayer meeting is maintained weekly, and a Bible class kept up among the young, at which the Testimony, Sturrock’s Catechism, &c. are read and mastered.”
William F. Aitken , Midlem, spoke on the “Elements of Congregational Prosperity”. Thomas Hobart and James Smellie, Edinburgh, also addressed the meeting, which was fully attended by the members.
In May, 1867, it was reported to the Synod that the congregation, though numbering little more than 20 members, agreed to raise £40 yearly, on condition of receiving so much more out of the Mission Fund as shall enable them to maintain a minister, whom they would proceed to call immediately. The Synod authorised the Presbytery of Edinburgh to grant a moderation to the congregation, should they apply for it, and empowered the Home Mission Committee to aid them in supporting a settled ministry. “So long as this assistance shall be obtained by them, it shall be obligatory upon the ministers who shall be settled in them to occupy a certain portion of their time in Home Missionary operations, which shall be reported periodically to the Presbytery of which they are members, and through the Presbytery to the Home Mission Committee with the view of being communicated to the Synod.”
The Home Mission Committee wished a probationer to be located here. However, due to shortage of manpower, Kirkcaldy could not be adequately provided for. But at last in Novenber, 1872, when the membership had sunk to 18, the Presbytery appointed William Hamilton, probationer, to work there. Arrangements were made for his doing a measure of evangelistic work with a view to build up that “small and much-tried but faithful congregation”.
Kirkcaldy: William Hamilton
On 13th January, 1874, Hamilton was ordained here.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service; Thomas Hobart, Carluke, preached from Isaiah 62:6: “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night”; William F. Aitken, Midlem, conducted the ordination; James Smellie, Edinburgh, addressed the newly-ordained minister and the congregation on their respective obligations and encouragements; and Robert Morton, Kilmarnock, concluded the service. Thus ended a 21 year vacancy.
In May that year Hamilton was allocated an additional £10 from Synod Funds in lieu of a manse.
At the same Synod a report on his work was given: “The position in which the congregation has been placed for such a lengthened period, and the situation of the hall where we meet for public worship, are circumstances calculated to retard the progress of the work. With the view of overcoming the latter obstacle, the congregation has resolved to erect a Church, and a committee has been appointed to secure a fitting site. In their efforts they have as yet failed, but there is reason to hope they may soon be successful. From the nature of the district, special attention has been given to pulpit ministration. These we deem the best means fitted, under the blessing of God, for building up the congregation. … Though we cannot report great success, yet the attendance on Sabbath is somewhat improved. … A monthly evening sermon has been delivered during the winter, at which the attendance was most encouraging … A weekly prayer meeting, designed for the members of the congregation and others, has been held on the Tuesday evenings. The average attendance at this meeting was sixteen. Besides visiting regularly those connected with the congregation, we have called upon others, who received us cordially and in many cases asked us to return.
“The classes —senior and junior—are very different as to the mode in which they are conducted. The former, on the roll of which there are seventeen names, is attended by young men and women connected with our own and other congregations. In it we have taken up a portion of Scripture, the Shorter Catechism, and the Testimony. The latter class, however, on the roll of which there are fifty-two names, is intended for factory boys and girls. … We have [thus] gained admission to homes which, in other circumstances, would have been very difficult.”
In March, 1876, a call was addressed to him by the Carnoustie, Angus, congregation, but nothing came of this.
For criticism of the Edinburgh Presbytery in regard to a matter not yet identified Hamilton was suspended.
On 29th May, 1879, the new church was opened by Professor William F. Aitken who preached an eloquent discourse from Zechariah 4:6: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts”; John Sturrock, Edinburgh, gave an address on the church’s distinctive principles; and Robert Morton, Perth, and Peter McVicar, Dundee, also spoke.
The church, it was reported, “is pleasantly situated on a rising ground in St Clair Street, is built in the Gothic style of architecture and is seated to accommodate 200. The total cost is estimated at £850 and of this sum £650 has already been subscribed, leaving about £200 of debt still to clear off. The sole contractors for the work were Messrs Fraser and Son, builders, Pathhead, and the manner in which the job has been executed reflects the highest credit upon their workmanship” (The Dundee Courier & Argus and Northern Warder, 30th May, 1879). Further details come form the denominational Magazine. The church building was finished internally with pitch pine and varnished. “All the arrangements are complete and elegant, and include Session-house (suitable for prayer meetings), offices, heating chamber beneath, &c. It is heated by means of hot water circulated in pipes under the floor, having suitable continuous gratings to allow the water to ascend.”
On 6th April, 1881, they presented a petition to Edinburgh Presbytery asking for moderation. James Anderson was their commissioner. They had 25 members; and offered £50 as annual stipend and sacramental expenses as they found themselves able. The moderation was appointed for 26th April, John Sturrock, Edinburgh, to preach and preside. They then signed a call to George Anderson, preacher, Perth. The call was signed by 23 members and four ordinary hearers and was sustained by the Presbytery on 2nd May. But he had also received a call to Coupar Angus and to Toberdoney. These competing calls were disposed of by the Synod of May, 1881, and, as Anderson had expressed a preference for Coupar Angus, he was ordained there on 17th August, 1881.
On 1st August, 1883, the congregation again petitioned the Presbytery for moderation. James Anderson was again their commissioner. There were now 22 members, but £55 annually was offered as stipend plus £5 sacramental expenses. Again John Sturrock was appointed to preside on 16th August.
On 5th September, John Sturrock reported that Kirkcaldy had signed a unanimous call to Duncan McKinnon, probationer, Kirkintilloch. The call which was signed by 19 members and 3 adherents was sustained. On 3rd October, the call was disposed of. McKinnon was asked if he were prepared to accept the call. He stated that “owing to the smallness of the congregation and the little hope he entertained of being able to increase it he could not see his way to accept of the Call”. The Presbytery then declined to put it in his hands and the Kirkcaldy commissioners acquiesced.
On 17th November, 1885, they again asked for moderation. There were then about 20 members; only £50 annually was offered as stipend, plus £5 sacramental expenses. John Sturrock, Edinburgh, was appointed to preside on 1st December. On 13th December, a call to Ebenezer Ritchie, signed by 17 members and 8 adherents, was sustained by the Presbytery. On 5th January, 1886, Ritchie wrote to the Presbytery saying that he had no light on the matter and asked time for further consideration. Delay was granted. But it was known that he had received other calls and on 16th February there was no reply from Ritchie, but the Clerk of Glasgow Presbytery had written to say that Ritchie had said that if asked to express a preference, he would go for the Paisley call. It was then intimated that Kirkcaldy wished to withdraw the call and the Presbytery permitted them to do so. Ritchie was duly settled in Paisley.
Kirkcaldy: George Anderson
On 16th September, 1889, Kirkcaldy petitioned the Presbytery asking that George Anderson, late of Seoni, India, be settled amongst them for six months. They promised £25 for that period on the understanding that the Home Missions committee would contribute the same amount. Anderson was present and accepted these terms. He was to take up work, if possible, on the 1st Sabbath of October. He was still there a year later and on 23rd September, 1890, Kirkcaldy petitioned the Presbytery that he should be continued “for such time as they should see meet.” But he was only continued there on a year to year basis. From time to time he reported “specifying a number of cheering signs of progress which had of late been showing themselves.” And from time to time the Presbytery encouraged the congregation to give more by way of salary.
The congregation then sought the services of Joseph Robertson Mooney but on 25th October, 1899, the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen sustained a call to him from Birsay, Orkney. The following month Mooney stated to that Presbytery that he was under call also to Kirkcaldy, Fife, but that he would go to Birsay if Kirkcaldy dropped their call. The matter was left for a month. But the whole matter fell through as Mooney went abroad for a time. He emerged later and became minister of Shottsburn,
Kirkcaldy: Peter Clarkson
On 31st March, 1903, Peter Clarkson was inducted here (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 1st April 1903, p.10). But at the Synod in May, 1905, it was reported that he had resigned his charge since the previous Synod.
Kirkcaldy: Ebenezer A. Davidson
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, reported on 2nd August, 1907 (p.9) that the congregation had given a unanimous call to Ebenezer Davidson, Olrig. By May, 1908, the translation had been effected. He was translated to Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace, on 8th February, 1912.
Kirkcaldy: Thomas Eric Robertson
He was ordained here on 10th October, 1917. In November, 1924, he was set apart for the work of the mission in Seoni, India.
Kirkcaldy: Robert Dickie Shanks
It was noted in September, 1929, that Shanks had been settled here and in May, 1930, it was clarified that he had been given full ministerial powers here, and his name was added to the roll of Synod.
He died in Kirkcaldy in 1935.
In May, 1956, it was reported that the congregation had dissolved.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.383-389
Kirkintilloch: John Blakely
He was ordained here on 2nd August, 1848. He remained with the UOS Church at the time of the Second Disruption of 1852. On 29th April, 1859, a call to him from Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, was tabled but he was continued in Kirkintilloch and remained there till his death.
In October, 1866, the Presbytery noted that he was unable to discharge his duties because of illness. He died on 27th November, 1866. At the following Presbytery someone dwelt on “the eminent abilities and talents which he possessed and upon his usefulness, activity, fervent piety and zeal.”
Kirkintilloch: Thomas Gilchrist
On 28th October, 1868, the congregation requested moderation of a call, promising £120 annual stipend, plus £10 sacramental expenses and a manse. This was granted and on 30th November, 1868, a call was signed to Thomas Gilchrist by 149 members and 50 adherents. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 8th December and Gilchrist was informed. However, in the meanwhile a call had also been signed to him from Mains Street, Glasgow, congregation and he asked for extra time to consider the matter. On 23rd February, 1869, the Presbytery adjudicated between the competing calls and the one from Kirkintilloch was preferred. This was put into his hands and he accepted it. After trials for ordination, he was ordained on 29th April, 1869.
On the occasion, John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the opening devotional exercises; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, preached from Colossians 4:12: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”; James Smellie, Edinburgh, conducted the ordination; John Ritchie, Shottsburn, addressed pastor and congregation; and John Mckay, Aberdeen, conducted the concluding devotions.
His ministry was short: he died at Spring Bank, Lanark – his parental home – on 17th June, 1870.
Kirkintilloch: Andrew Miller
On 1st October, 1872, the congregation asked the Glasgow Presbytery to moderate a call, promising an annual stipend of £120 plus £10 sacramental expenses with a Manse and garden. There were 176 members. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to moderate a call on 29th October. In the event, Gardiner was unwell and John Ritchie, Shottsburn, presided. He reported to the Presbytery on 12th November, 1872, that a call to Andrew Miller was signed by 116 members and 48 adherents. The call was sustained; Miller was present and accepted it; and his trials for ordination were prescribed. Having duly passed these trials, he was ordained in Kirkintilloch on 30th April, 1873.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, preached from Genesis 49:10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be”; Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, conducted the ordination; John Ritchie, of Shottsburn, addressed both the new minister and the people; and Thomas Hobart, Carluke, concluded.
At this stage, the Presbytery began to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and will only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation took place on 21st January, 1880, under the direction of John McKay, Bridgeton, and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws. The following picture emerged:
Two Bible Classes were held in Waterside: a senior one for those over 16 years, at which the average attendance was 11; and a Junior one which 27 attended. A mid week Prayer Meeting was attended by 20; a Young Men’s Prayer Meeting on Sabbath morning was attended by eight. A fellowship Prayer Meeting had recently been arranged in Lenzie on Thursday evenings.
The area was divided into districts, each with an elder. The minister visited everyone annually, but giving special attention to the sick, as did the elders in their districts. Sunday services were well attended and absentees were visited. There were encouragements in that young people came to faith; discouragements were the inconsistencies of some members.
Family worship and catechising were partially attended to and the matter was pressed upon the people. There were 150 on the Sabbath School roll with 120 attending, and there were 17 teachers. The majority of pupils were unconnected with any church. Some teachers distributed tracts around the area and had been instrumental in bringing some to church and thence to faith.
The visitation was brought to a close with addresses to the congregation by McKay; Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow; and Gardiner.
This had every appearance of being a moderately prosperous congregation. But some years later a different picture was given. At the Presbytery of 24th September, 1889, Miller felt under the necessity of laying his resignation from his charge on the table: “for some time past great dissatisfaction has been expressed at the meetings of Session with the state of matters in the Congregation and latterly the opinion has been expressed that the Congregation is so declining numerically and spiritually that it will soon become extinct.” A committee of Presbytery was therefore appointed to meet with the Session and congregation. The minister pointed out to them that 16 years ago the membership had been 155 – now it was 170. They discovered that the session seemed evenly divided; a majority of the congregation wanted Miller to stay; two wanted him to leave and the rest were neutral. There were about 80 at the meeting. But Miller adhered to the view that he should retire. The Presbytery on 8th October, 1889, agreed that, given Miller’s repeated desire to retire and taking into account all the circumstances of the situation, his resignation should be accepted.
Although Miller demitted his charge he was by no means finished with the Presbytery. He continued preaching in the churches of the Presbytery when required. But he intimated in August, 1890 that he would not take any more preaching engagements after the end of the month. The Presbytery were not happy with this and appointed a committee to confer with him to try and make him change his mind. Despite this, Miller persisted in his purpose.
In October that year there was an incident that was somewhat unusual: “The attention of the Presbytery having been called to the fact that Mr Miller’s baby was still unbaptised owing to some difficulty which he felt in asking this privilege, it was agreed unanimously that Prof. Aitken be asked to correspond with Mr Miller intimating his willingness to baptise the child, if intimation be made in the ordinary way from Kirkintilloch pulpit.” The result was that the child was baptised at home, after due intimation to the congregation.
In June, 1892, Miller asked for certificates of ordination and also for his disjunction papers clearly stating that he retained the full status of a minister – for possible use in Canada. These were granted.
Kirkintilloch: David Matthew
On 26th March, 1890, the Kirkintilloch congregation requested moderation of a call. They promised £140 annual stipend with £10 Communion expenses and a Manse. There were about 160 to 170 members. Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate a call on 9th April, when a call to David Matthew, Toberdoney, Ireland, was signed by 119 members and 51 adherents. On 22nd April, 1890, the Presbytery sustained this call and transmitted it to the Ayr Presbytery for their attention (Ayr Presbytery having responsibility for the Irish charges). The call was successful and on 5th June, 1890, the induction service was held.
On the occasion, Ebenezer Ritchie preached on Exodus 3:12: “Certainly I will be with thee”; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, conducted the induction; and John McKay, Bridgeton, Glasgow, addressed the new minister and the people; and Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, closed the service.
The congregation submitted a petition to receive help from the Bellahouston Bequest.
The Glasgow Herald, reported on 25th February, 1892, that a new church estimated to cost about £1800 was to be erected here. The sketch plan had been prepared by Malcolm Stark, jun., Glasgow. The new church would have accommodation for about 500 worshippers and building operations would commence in April.
The foundation stone was laid on Saturday, 18th June, by Alexander Wylie of Cordale. A jar with documents – the Glasgow Herald and other papers – was deposited in a cavity. Thereafter there was tea in the Temperance Hall. The new church was designed in the English Gothic style of the early decorated period. It cost £2000 of which £1300 has been raised by the congregation and friends (Glasgow Herald, 20th June, 1892).
On Saturday, 8th July, 1893, at 12.15 p.m. a storm damaged the roof of the new church building. Tradesmen were working on the building when they heard a loud crash. The lightening had penetrated the roof near the ridge and set the woodwork on fire. The spot was difficult to get at but the fire brigade turned out smartly and saved very serious damage (Glasgow Herald, 10th July, 1893).
In December of that year, a storm blew in the fine circular stained glass window. The church was only opened at the beginning of September and the window was the gift of the children of the congregation (Glasgow Herald, 9th December, 1893).
Matthew was presented with “£26 10/- by friends in the congregation to mark the close of his 4th year in ministry there” ( Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 20th June, 1894).
A new hall was added to the new church building the following year and a two day bazaar, held in December, 1894, to meet this cost raised £320 10/11 (Glasgow Herald, 22nd December, 1894; 24th December, 1894).
On 4th October, 1895, the Presbytery met and Matthew intimated the resignation of the pastoral charge of Kirkintilloch “on the ground of his growing inability to carry on the work of the Lord amid the peculiar circumstances of the Kirkintilloch congregation.” He wished to be relieved of his duties by the end of the month. It was agreed that the Presbytery should meet with the congregation on Monday, 14th October.
On that occasion, Matthew produced a Doctor’s certificate saying he was suffering from “nervous prostration and required prolonged rest and change”. He refused to enter into the circumstances in Kirkintilloch which he had referred to in his resignation letter. The Session had been surprised by Matthew’s action; Session meetings had been on the whole harmonious. And all the elders, except one, declared their willingness that Matthew should continue among them. A large majority of the congregation by a show of hands expressed their willingness that Matthew should be given three months leave of absence and then continue with them. Matthew said he had anticipated all this and still adhered to his position.
His resignation was then accepted. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, “expressed on behalf of the Presbytery their high appreciation of the work done by Mr Matthew in building up the congregation, their regret at losing him as one of their number and as a minister of the Original Secession Church, their sympathy with him in his present state of health and their desire that he might be speedily restored and long spared to be a successful preacher of the gospel wherever God might cast his lot.”
Kirkintilloch: George Riddell Aitken
The congregation were not slow to seek a replacement for Matthew. On 3rd January, 1896, their commissioners, John Bell and John Blakely, requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. They offered the same stipend and benefits as previously, but the members now numbered 237. James Patrick, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate a call on 16th January. The call to George R. Aitken was signed by 155 members and 40 ordinary hearers. The membership was now stated to be 213. On 28th January, 1896, the call was sustained and Aitken, who was a probationer, licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, was summoned to the next meeting of Presbytery when he accepted the call. His ordination took place on 2nd July, 1896.
On the occasion, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, commenced worship; James Young, Paisley, preached from John 16:13: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come”; Prof. William F. Aitken, George Aitken’s father, conducted the ordination; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, addressed the new minister; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, addressed the congregation; and Robert Morton, Perth, concluded.
On 29th March, 1899, another Presbyterial Visitation was conducted and the same pattern of work and witness was provided. The attendance at the evening service – about 100 – was noted as poor. The encouragements were that many were devoted workers; the young were attached to the congregation; and the choir were specially regular in their attendance.
On 7th January, 1902, Aitken tendered to the Presbytery his resignation from Kirkintilloch, being out of sympathy with the position and growing tendency of the Church. He said that “there was no principle of the church to which he was actually hostile, but that he found himself growingly indifferent to the cause of the Covenanted Reformation for which the church” stood. It was agreed that this resignation should lie on the table and that the Presbytery should meet with the congregation. This they did on 24th January, 1902. Aitken retired from the meeting after saying that he still adhered to his resignation. Some members of the Session “were in sympathy with Mr Aitken and with his reasons for resigning his charge, while others were steadfast in their attachment to the principles of the church.” Several members of the congregation expressed their minds on the subject but no decision of any kind was come to. It was up to the Presbytery to make a decision and this they did on 11th February 1902.
On that occasion, Aitken and the Kirkintilloch elder objected to part of the Minutes regarding Aitken’s resignation – but this opinion was outvoted by 6 to 2. After further discussion with Aitken, his resignation was accepted. The motion spoke of how they had “ascertained with profound sorrow that so many of the elders and members sympathise with Mr Aitken’s views on various points that are contrary to our public profession.” They exhorted the congregation to “reconsider their position and continue their adherence to those great principles and mode of worship with which the congregation has been identified for about a century.” Aitken asked for an extract of ordination which was granted.
This resignation must be seen against the background of the resignation of James Patrick from Mains Street, Glasgow. This arose from the difficulty that some men, elected to the eldership, had over the question of covenanting, hymns and instrumental music, and church communion. In the discussions that arose in that connection, Aitken took a leading part.
On 27th February, 1902, at a pro re nata meeting of Presbytery, minutes of a congregational meeting at Kirkintilloch were presented showing that it had been decided by a majority that they wished to enter the United Free Church. “In protecting the interests of those who may remain under their jurisdiction,” the Presbytery appointed a Committee to examine the title deeds and constitution of the congregation, before they acquiesce in the property being diverted from the UOS Church or being transferred to any other religious denomination. They felt they had to take every step to retain the buildings if they had a legal right thereto. If the property were transferred without the concurrence of this committee those who do so would be held responsible.
The Presbytery also took steps to ascertain “how many might be desirous of remaining by the Synod.” But on 19th May, 1902, Gardiner, who had been appointed to look into the matter, reported that all hope of forming a congregation in Kirkintilloch should be given up.
On 19th June, 1902, Aitken was again inducted to this congregation – now as a United Free congregation (The Scotsman, 19th June, 1902, p.7).
Kirkintilloch lingered on as an item on the Presbytery’s agenda. The UOS minister there had been benefiting from income from the Lyon Bequest. The situation was that William Lyon, an artist in Kirkintilloch had died in March, 1892, and left £1940 for investment under the name of Lyon’s Mortification. This was to be divided up into thirty five equal shares and the use of these shares was specified. Eight shares were for the use of the minister of the UOS Church in Kirkintilloch. The will gave some guidance as to the use of shares if an interested party ceased to exist. The Trustees of the Lyon Mortification Trust brought the case before the Court of Session for final adjudication on 17th March, 1904, and the outcome was that the Laurieston and Bridgeton ministers would each receive £8 from the Bequest until such time as the law expenses had been met, when they would between them receive the whole amount that had formerly been given to the Kirkintilloch minister (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 18th March, 1904, p.9).
Scott, Annals, pp.391-394
The denominational magazine describes the efforts made to induce this congregation to go into the Union with the Free Church: “Very flattering prospects were held out to them by communications from high quarters, if they would join the Free Church. It was hinted that means would be used to secure a certain popular minister to be their pastor. Moreover, the ministers who had joined the Free Church congregated at Kirriemuir, from different quarters and different presbyteries, and when they failed in their endeavours to get a meeting of the congregation irregularly called, did what they could in going from house to house among the members. Attempts were also made to wrest the property from them, and afterwards to embarrass them as to their pecuniary affairs. By these and other means a number were shaken, and led to abandon the profession which they had so solemnly avouched; but a number stood firm. Notwithstanding all this, the congregation not only survives, but they have obtained full possession of the whole property, have got over their pecuniary difficulties [and] put a new roof on their Church.”
James Smelllie was called to Stranraer, Kirriemuir and Dundee but was ordained in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, on 6th October, 1853.
Kirriemuir: Robert Craig
On 25th October, 1854, the congregation signed a unanimous call to Robert Craig, probationer. On 28th November he cordially accepted the call. After trials for ordination had been sustained, he was ordained on 14th February, 1855.
On the occasion, John Aitken, Aberdeen, opened the service; Thomas Manson, Perth, preached from 2 Corinthians 11:2: “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband; that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”; James M. Smith, Pollokshaws, under whose ministry Craig was brought up, put the questions of the Formula, offered up the ordination prayer, and addressed the new minister and the congregation.
The importance of a Covenanted Reformation was a basic principle of the UOS Church and an example of how the Covenants were renewed was provided by the activities of this congregation, as reported by the denominational magazine: “On Thursday, the 26th of March,  the solemn work of covenanting was observed by the congregation of United Original Seceders at Kirriemuir. Eighty-eight persons, including a few strangers from other congregations, entered into the bond, which, according to the good example of ancient times, both in the Reformed Church of Scotland and in the Secession, was accommodated to present circumstances.
“An excellent discourse was preached in the forenoon by the Rev. James Smith, Pollockshaws, from 2 Chronicles 15:12-15: ‘And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul,’ &c. The Covenants, National and Solemn League, were read by the Rev. John Barr of Coupar-Angus, the Acknowledgment of Sins by the Rev. Mr M’Kay of Aberdeen. Mr Craig, the pastor of the congregation, offered up the confessory prayer, and administered the bond, the covenanters meanwhile holding up their right hands. During the time of subscription, the Rev. Thomas Manson of Perth addressed an appropriate and affectionate discourse to the covenanters. The whole work was gone about in a peculiarly solemn and orderly manner, and everything tending to edification and comfort seemed to have been carefully studied. Mr M’Kay preached to the congregation in the evening from Jeremiah 3:14— “I am married unto you”—an able and instructive discourse, which was listened to with deep attention by the audience.”
Craig received a call to Thurso. It came before the Synod on 25th September, 1860. When he was given the opportunity of expressing his mind, he stated to the effect, that he preferred remaining in Kirriemuir, but would acquiesce in whatever decision the Court might come to in the case. The Synod unanimously agreed that he should remain in Kirriemuir. The Synod later minuted a statement that the commissioner from Kirriemuir had made – that, after the debt on their congregational property was removed, they would raise the minister’s stipend to £90 per annum. That gives an interesting insight into the financial affairs of the congregation but it also suggests that financial considerations might have been used to influence the outcome of the call.
Robert Craig died on 14th March, 1869, in the forty-second year of his age, and the fifteenth of his ministry.
Kirriemuir: Andrew Thomson McClenaghan
On 13th March, 1871, John Barr, Coupar Angus, reported to the Presbytery that he had presided at a meeting of the Kirriemuir, Angus, congregation on 8th March. A call to Andrew T. McClenaghan, Kilmarnock, had been subscribed by four elders, seventy-one members, and twenty-six adherents. The call was taken to the Synod in May to be disposed of. McClenaghan stated to the effect that he decidedly preferred the call from Kirriemuir and it was unanimously decided that he should be translated to Kirriemuir. He was inducted on 31st May, 1871.
On the occasion, Alexander J. Yuill, Perth, opened the service and preached from Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…”; John Barr, Coupar Angus, conducted the induction; William Robertson, Dundee, addressed the new minister and the people in suitable terms; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, concluded the service.
On the evening of 12th June, 1874, he was waited upon, and presented, in name of a few of his friends and well-wishers in Kirriemuir, with the handsome sum of twenty pounds, as also a beautiful Bible for Mrs. McClenaghan, as a token of their respect and esteem for them.
A committee report dated 15th May, 1875 – a loose leaf in the Synod record – reported that he had been “brought to confess his moral culpability on several occasions in the excessive use of intoxicating drink”. They recommended suspension for six months.
Kirriemuir: William W. Spiers
The next minister here was William W. Spiers. He was ordained on 1st May, 1878.
On the occasion, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, opened the service; Alexander Dunlop King, Carnoustie, preached from 1 Peter 2:21: “Leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps”; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, conducted the ordination; Robert Morton, Perth, “in a most pointed and forcible manner” addressed the new minister; Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, addressed the congregation “in a similar manner”; and Alexander J. Yuill, concluded the service.
A year later on the evening of their weekly prayer meeting, he was presented with a handsome purse of sovereigns as a mark of their affectionate regard for him as their pastor.
In June, 1883, he received a call from Toberdoney, Ireland, but this came to nothing.
He was translated to Darvel, Ayrshire, by May 1884.
On 16th December, 1884, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call and this was granted. The date was fixed for 5th January, 1885, Peter McVicar, Dundee to preside. We do not know what happened on this occasion, but nothing positive came from this initiative.
Kirriemuir: Edward White
White had returned to Scotland from Seoni and was inducted here on 1st June, 1887.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner opened the service; George Anderson, Coupar Angus, preached from 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel”; James Patrick, Carnoustie, performed the induction; Peter McVicar, Dundee, addressed the new minister; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed the congregation; and William W. Spiers, Darvel and former minister of this congregation, closed the service.
In February, 1889, the Synod decided by 11 votes to 7 with two abstentions to translate him to Dromore, Ireland. On Tuesday, 26th February, 1889, he took farewell of his congregation, having to leave for his new charge at the end of the week. He had been two years in Kirriemuir (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 27th February, 1889).
At a meeting of the Presbytery at Arbroath, on 29th October, 1889, a unanimous call from the Kirriemuir congregation, in favour of Samuel Walker, probationer, was laid on the table and sustained. He was present, intimated that his mind was made up in reference to the matter, and his decision was to decline the call. On hearing this, leave was asked to withdraw the call, and this was granted by the Presbytery.
In 1890, the congregation brought their position before the Synod; requested that a missionary be appointed among them and asked for £20 to be made available to supplement his salary. It is not clear that anything came of this.
Notwithstanding their weakness as a congregation, they determined to build a new church building. The Dundee Courier & Argus, of 15th March, 1892, reported that the congregation had resolved to build a new church on the site of the present one in Bank Street, operations for which were to commence at once. The closing services in the old building were held on Sunday, 21st May, and were conducted by Thomas Hobart, Carluke, a native of Kirriemuir who was married to a grand-daughter of James Aitken who had opened the old church in 1807.
On Wednesday, 5th April, 1893, the new building was opened by Professor William F. Aitken. The old building had become very dilapidated, inconvenient and comfortless in appearance. The new one cost £1600. The entrance was by a staircase leading from the public street, three large and commodious shops being tenanted on the ground floor. The construction of the building had been carried out on the latest approved designs, so that the comfort of the congregation was ensured. It was seated for fully 200. The pulpit, seats and general woodwork of the interior were of substantial pitch pine, finely varnished, giving the building a very finished and bright aspect. The large window of the church facing the street was of cathedral tinted glass and, along with a small circular window at the rear of the building and directly above the pulpit threw sufficient light into the interior. The ironwork of the gas fitting was ingeniously constructed on the lines of the old ‘cruisies’. Adjoining the church were a minister’s vestry, a cloakroom. lavatory and other conveniences. Professor Aitken’s grandfather was the first minister of the congregation. Later his brother James was chosen as minister but he was cut off in Dundee, before the call could be placed in his hands.
On the 5th April there was a meeting in the new church addressed by different men. On the following Sabbath Professor Aitken and Thomas Matthew, a native of Kirriemuir, preached. On 12th April, there was a social meeting in the Small Public Hall for a programme of vocal music and addresses (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 6th April, 1893).
A Bazaar for the new church building was held on 1st and 2nd September. It was opened by the writer, J. M. Barrie, a native of the town (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 5th August, 1893, p.5).
The congregation then presented a call to Ebenezer Ritchie, Paisley. This call was signed by 34 members and 5 ordinary hearers and was sustained by the Presbytery on 21st February, 1894. The annual stipend offered was £75, with a manse. When the call came before his Presbytery on 27th February, 1894, Ritchie was asked if there was any statement he wished to make and he asked if there was any chance of a supplement to the salary. The Presbytery agreed that if he accepted the call, they would ask the Synod for an annual grant of £50 from Home Mission Fund for three years. But nothing came of this: Ritchie resigned his charge and left the UOS Church shortly thereafter.
Kirriemuir: William C. Conn
Conn was ordained here on 24th November, 1897, where he had previously served for six months by appointment.
On the occasion Robert F. Stuart, Aberdeen, preached from Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, conducted the ordination; James Patrick, Carnoustie, addressed both the new minister and the people. The usual ordination dinner took place in the Temperance Hotel in the afternoon.
The Dundee Courier & Argus reported in August, 1898, that Conn had had the honour of preaching in Regent Square, London, England, for three consecutive Sundays. Then he preached in Cambridge, England. He “had large and appreciative audiences and in more than one instance was the recipient of highly complimentary notices from the press.”
But there was unhappiness over the allegation that he had preached in the pulpits of other denominations. There was also a report before his Presbytery in September of that year that he had applied for the vacant position as South Parish Church minister in Kirriemuir. Conn said he had been approached but he had refused to let his name go forward. He was challenged with allowing ministers of other denominations into his pulpit. Conn acknowledged this but said that others did the same. He thought it a great mistake that they could preach for others but they couldn’t return the compliment. Conn was told to desist from this practice.
Shortly thereafter he presented his resignation. In February, 1899, a congregational meeting was held to consider his resignation: “He felt that owing to the present state of the congregation it was impossible for him to do any good there.” The congregation expressed sadness in his departure but put no barriers in his way.
At a later Presbytery he stated his mind very clearly. He alleged that the Presbytery objected to the congregation standing for singing; and that there was no hope for the UOS Church neither in Kirriemuir nor in Scotland. The Presbytery accepted his resignation. A full report of this Presbytery meeting is given by The Dundee Courier & Argus, 2nd March, 1899, p.6. Editorial comment in that paper calls the Presbytery’s judgement “harsh and unjust”. But acknowledged Conn “may have been too eager to further his personal interests by endeavouring to obtain calls from other churches”. He preached his farewell sermon in Kirriemuir on 5th March, 1899.
The congregation, despite the loss of their minister in these circumstances, still adhered to their former position and still wanted supply from the UOS church (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 22nd March, 1899, p.4). How long after that the congregation lingered on, we cannot say at the moment. But in 1941 it was reported that the Kirriemuir Manse had been sold for £500 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 21st May, 1941, p.4).
Scott, Annals, pp.400-402
This place is sometimes called Midholm and more often Midlem. Midlem is the form used here.
The church was probably the oldest Secession meeting house in Scotland.
Although written in 1908, this description of Midlem can be conveniently placed here: “Nowadays the chief distinction of the village, in the eyes of its inhabitants, is its church, white-washed and architecturally unadorned like the cottages that lie about it. … Internally this little church of the Original Secession is plain and simple in its furnishings. Since its area was curtailed to render it more adaptable to present-day requirements, the church has been practically all gallery. The bare unpolished pews rise from the precentor’s table below the pulpit to the walls which support the roof, from which an oil lamp swings. … The ordinary Sunday service has not greatly changed since the old days. The congregation, save some of the younger adherents, still rises to pray and sits at the praise, and the preacher who dares to show the “paper” in the pulpit may expect to meet the frowning glances of white-haired members” (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 24th July, 1908, p.7)
Midlem: David A. Sturrock
He was ordained here on 3rd October 1832. He remained with the UOS Church at the Second Disruption of 1852 and continued here till his death the following year.
He died on 12th February, 1853.
Midlem: William F. Aitken
Aitken, as a probationer, had competing calls to Shottsburn, Lanarkshire, and Midholm, Roxburghshire, and a pro re nata meeting of Synod in January, 1854, adjudicated between them and he was ordained here on 28th June, 1854.
On the occasion, John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, preached an appropriate sermon, from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”; John Aitken, Aberdeen, father of the young minister, proposed the questions of the Formula, and offered the ordination prayer; Archibald Brown, Edinburgh, delivered suitable charges to the new minister and people; John Robertson, Ayr, concluded the services, with a solemn and encouraging sermon, from 2 Timothy 4:6-8: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
There was a debt on the property and a Church-wide scheme was formulated in cooperation with the Ferguson Bequest Trustees to liquidate this debt. It was reported in 1859 that Midlem, “having engaged to clear off the whole of its own debt, amounting to £200, by a generous and creditable effort, has implemented its engagement, and is now free of debt.”
On 27th June, 1864, Aitken, was waited upon by a deputation of his congregation, and presented with a purse, containing twenty-six sovereigns. The presentation was made by Walter Sturrock. son of the former minister of the congregation, who expressed the cordiality with which the members of the congregation had joined in raising the presentation, and that it was designed as a small token of the high esteem in which he was held by them, and of their gratitude for his labours.
On 7th February, 1865, a Presbyterial visitation was conducted. A private conference was first held with the Session, at which the usual inquiries were made and cordially answered, and such suggestions were thrown out as were judged to be profitable. The Presbytery then adjourned to the Church, where the congregation was assembled in full numbers, and where, after devotional exercises, Thomas Hobart, Carluke, stated generally the results of the conference with the Session. He and James Smellie, Edinburgh, then delivered addresses, in which the duties and obligations of Church members were pointed out, and all present animated to a faithful and steadfast adherence to the principles of their Testimony.
On 13th January, 1870, a deputation of the congregation waited on their pastor again, and, in the name of the congregation, presented him with a handsome time-piece and a purse containing twenty-one sovereigns, as a token of their high appreciation of his faithful and most efficient services as their pastor.
He was called to Mains Street, Glasgow, as colleague and successor to their minister, Matthew Murray. The call came to the Synod in May, 1872, and it was agreed that he should remain in Midlem. But the call was renewed and he was translated to Mains Street, Glasgow, in June, 1874, as colleague and successor to Matthew Murray.
Midlem: Thomas Matthew
He was ordained here on 12th May, 1875.
On 17th February, 1877, a considerable number of the members of the congregation, with other friends, met in the Public School immediately after the close of the weekly prayer meeting, to present him “with a handsome marble time piece and purse of sovereigns, as tokens of their continued respect and esteem.” The members of his Junior Bible Class, a few weeks before, had presented Miss Matthew with a valuable reference Bible, as an expression of their affection and respect.
In 1882, he was called to Dromore, Ireland but nothing came of this.
He was translated to Kilwinning, Ayrshire, on 17th April, 1889. Prior to leaving, he received two separate testimonials in money, both of considerable value — one from the managers of the congregation, and another from friends outwith the congregation who wished to express their kindly feelings towards him and their appreciation of his character and labours. Mrs Matthew also received a beautiful hand-bag from the children connected with the Sabbath School.
Midlem: James Young
On 16th September, 1889, the congregation requested the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. The congregation then consisted of about 56 members with 10 or 12 adherents. The annual stipend promised was £100 with a manse, plus the expenses of ministers assisting at Communions. John Sturrock, Edinburgh, was appointed to hold a meeting with the congregation on 7th October. They then presented a call to James Young, probationer, Perth, signed by 43 members and adhered to by 15 others The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 14th October, 1889. It was disposed of on 19th November, 1889, when Young said he was willing to accept it. It was then put into his hands and he accepted it. The ordination was appointed for 13th March, 1890.
On that occasion, George Anderson, Kirkcaldy, opened the service; John Sturrock, Edinburgh, preached from Revelation 3:8: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name”; Thomas Hobart, Carluke, conducted the ordination; Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, addressed the new minister and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, addressed the congregation. At the social in the evening, Young was presented with a purse with 30 sovereigns from the ladies of the congregation.
In 1893, he received a call from Birsay but this came to nothing.
A call to him from Paisley, Renfrewshire, came before the Synod in May, 1895, and he was translated there on 4th July, 1895.
On 20th February, 1896, the congregation asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. There were now 66 members and over 20 adherents. The annual stipend promised was £100 plus a manse, plus £1 for each communion and two free Sabbaths yearly. John Sturrock, met with the congregation by the Presbytery’s appointment on 4th March and a call was signed to Robert R. Hobart by 28 members; 7 others adhered to the call. These numbers had later been raised to 51 members and 23 adherents. The call was sustained by the Presbytery as a regular gospel call. Hobart had however been also called to Shottsburn and in May, 1896, the Synod resolved the question of competing calls in favour of Shottsburn.
Once again, the congregation, on 27th July, 1896, asked the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. Membership was now about 60 and the annual stipend offered was now only £85 with £1 for travelling expenses at communions. But the congregation undertook to increase the stipend whenever they were able. The decrease in the stipend since last time was due to the death of a very liberal giver. George Anderson, Kirkcaldy, was appointed to meet with the congregation on 13th August. They then presented a call to Edward White, Dromore, Ireland, signed by 50 members and 21 adherents. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 1st September. This came to the attention of the Ayr Presbytery on 18th September, 1896. It was decided that the call should be disposed of at the next meeting of Presbytery. However, in the meanwhile White intimated to all that he had declined the call and the matter was dropped.
On 28th February, 1897, it was noted that no communication had been received regarding the call to Edward White but it was understood that the call had been declined. A petition from the congregation then asked the Presbytery to approach John B. Anderson, Perth, with a view to his being located as a missionary in Midlem for a time – or failing him, some other suitable person. David Jaffray spoke as commissioner offering £65 per annum for six months. It was agreed to approach the clerk of the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen to ascertain the exact status of Mr Anderson and the views of the Presbytery as to his qualifications for engaging in mission work. In the event of a favourable reply, the Clerk was to communicate with him and if interested to invite him to Presbytery for trials; and to communicate with the Home Mission Committee.
On 29th March, 1897, it was reported that John B. Anderson was willing to come to Midlem on the terms stated. He produced good certificates from the Bible Institute, Glasgow, and the Seamen’s Mission there and he agreed to sign the Resolution required. He was examined and appointed to Midlem for 6 months beginning on the first Sabbath of May. Thereafter the congregation sought a new minister.
Midlem: John Gage Boyd
Boyd’s ordination here was reported to the Synod in 1899. Five years later it was reported that he had demitted his charge and withdrawn from the UOS Church. He was received into the Church of Scotland, and the congregation had to seek another minister.
Midlem: William Sinclair Waters Reid
The congregation lingered on. The only mark it seems to have left in the records is its endeavours to get finance together: a sale of work realised £250 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 30th July 1908, p.9); a sale of work for Midlem funds realised £40 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 27th July, 1928, p.7).
Finally, in May, 1939, it was reported that the congregation had been dissolved.
The former Midlem Manse was sold by public roup in Selkirk on 21st March, 1940. Upset price: £400 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 9th March, 1940, p.3). It was a substantial house consisting of 2 public rooms, 5 bedrooms, bathroom (H. and C.), kitchen, washing-house, pantries, coal-house, attics, garage and stable with a large garden with extensive grounds in front. The old church building was also offered for sale: “Midlem – building formerly occupied as OS Church on beautiful site: for immediate disposal. Offers” (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 1st May, 1940, p.1).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
NORTH END PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, PORTSMOUTH
On 19th May, 1948, a petition from this congregation to be received as a congregation of the UOS Church was considered by the Synod. John Howe, Dundee, had visited the congregation in a private capacity and Robert L. Findlater, Pollokshaws, in an official capacity. There were three motions presented to the Synod, but the outcome was that their petition was rejected by the casting vote of the Moderator who voted for the status quo.
Olrig: John McBeath
A petition from John McBeath and his congregation in Millhill, Castletown, Olrig, Caithness, asking to be received into the UOS Church came before the Synod in 1857. This petition they cordially acceded to and appointed the Presbytery of Perth and Aberdeen along with James M. Smith, the Synod Moderator, to take the necessary steps to have McBeath and his congregation admitted to the UOS Church.
Accordingly, the Presbytery met in Castletown on 27th November, 1857. “The questions of the Formula were first put to Mr McBeath, which being answered, and Mr McBeath having also declared his readiness to enter into the bond for renewing the Covenants on the first opportunity, and to subscribe the Formula, the Presbytery gave him the right hand of fellowship, and his name was added to the roll.
“The questions of the Formula were then put to Messrs Donald Miller and James McBeath, ruling elders, and Alexander Leitch, deacon, who had been acting along with Mr McBeath, and the people adhering to him, from the commencement of their present appearance for the principles of the Reformed and Covenanted Church of Scotland; and the Session being constituted by appointment of the Presbytery, Mr Donald Miller was chosen as Presbytery Elder, and took his seat as a member of the court. The Presbytery proceeded next to the admission of as many of Mr McBeath’s adherents as were prepared to become members of the Original Secession Church; and having answered the usual questions put to such, according to the principles and testimony of Original Seceders, including a promise of subjection to the Session which had been then constituted, they were received into communion.”
The denominational magazine comments that these people like many others had thought that the leaders of the Disruption in 1843 would “have taken up their position on the hallowed platform of the Covenanted Reformation in all its breadth. But they were disappointed in this … and being disappointed, they were led, step by step, to see it to be their duty, as witnesses, to ascend to the identical position on which the First Seceders took their stand, and which Original Seceders continue to occupy. They have therefore acceded to their Testimony with intelligence and cordiality. They have not entered into communion with the Original Secession Church as a measure of expediency, or in the way of making or asking any compromise, but from regard to principle, and under the influence of an enlightened conscience.”
“They have erected a very neat and commodious place of worship.”
The congregation was often referred to as Millhill.
McBeath died on 15th March, 1878.
Olrig: William McBeath
The son of the former minister was called here in February, 1883, and ordained on 15th August, 1883.
On the occasion, George Anderson, Coupar Angus, preached from John 16:15: “All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you”; Charles S. Findlay, Thurso, performed the ordination; Thomas Hobart, Carluke, addressed the new minister and James Patrick, Carnoustie, the congregation; and William F. Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow, wound up matters with an address.
On 16th February, 1887, McBeath presented his resignation to Presbytery, “on the ground that he felt himself out of sympathy with the distinctive position and principles of the church”. His resignation was accepted and the pastoral tie dissolved. He was admitted as a minister of the Church of Scotland in May, 1887.
The congregation however expressed “their desire to abide in the position to which God had so manifestly led them”.
The Synod that year granted them £12 to “assist them in their present necessities and to enable them to pay for pulpit supply”.
Olrig: Robert Stewart
Following on a request to the Presbytery for the moderation of a call, the congregation met on 19th September, 1887, with Charles S. Findlay, Thurso, presiding. They signed a call to Robert Stewart, probationer. On 19th October, this call was sustained by the Presbytery.
At their meeting in February, 1888, the Presbytery heard that a call to this man from Dromore, Ireland, had been withdrawn. Stewart was present and stated his hearty acceptance of the call to Olrig. He was ordained on 18th April, 1888.
On the occasion, Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, preached from Ezekiel 34:26: “I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing”; the ordination was conducted by Charles S. Findlay, Thurso, and Robert Morton, Perth, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
In May, 1890, it was reported to Synod that a manse had recently been erected at a cost of £600. £350 had been borrowed for this and the minister was personally responsible for the interest on that amount. He wished that, although he would be living in the manse, the normal allowance for house rent be paid him to help meet the cost of the loan. But he was told that it was contrary to Synod regulations for the Synod to “bind itself to continue such a grant for house rent out of the Mutual Assistance Fund”.
By May, 1895, he had demitted his charge.
The congregation then petitioned the Synod requesting leave to proceed with a call to a minister though they could not raise the minimum amount required. The Synod agreed that “in the special circumstances and without establishing a precedent, their prayer should be granted” (Glasgow Herald, 18th May, 1898).
Olrig: Ebenezer A. Davidson
In May, 1899, it was reported that Davidson had been ordained here. By May, 1908, he had been translated to Kirkcaldy, Fife.
The last we hear of this congregation is from The Scotsman: “OS Church and Manse on Traill Estates of Castlehill and East Murkle for sale Upset £150″ (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 25 July 1914, p.2)
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
It was reported to Synod in May, 1886, that a congregation had been formed in Paisley on 14th May, 1885. The Presbytery records the story in more detail.
A deputation from Paisley, consisting of David Begg, Joseph Buchanan and Robert B. Parlane, appeared at the Glasgow Presbytery on 27th January, 1885. They represented some who had belonged to Mr Clazy’s Reformed Presbyterian congregation which had united with the Free Church of Scotland in 1876. (It was known as Paisley, Oakshaw, Free Church.) They had now left that congregation on the grounds that a number of changes had been made to which they seriously objected: sitting at prayer, the introduction of hymns into public worship, and tyrannical procedure on the part of the Free Church Presbytery. Twenty members and 15 adherents had seceded. They wished to be part of the UOS Church and to receive sermon. It was agreed to grant supply of sermon as often as circumstances permitted.
Two months later the Paisley people petitioned the Presbytery to be formed into a congregation. There were now four elders, 32 members and 29 adherents. This petition was referred to the Synod which granted what was asked, so on 5th May, 1885, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, and Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, were appointed to meet with the Paisley people on 14th May to take the customary steps for forming the four elders – David Begg, Robert B. Parlane, Alexander Hamilton and Joseph Buchanan – into a session, and to declare the members and adherents who had signed the petition members of our church. Yuill was to be moderator of session. So the congregation was formally established on 14th May, 1885.
Paisley: Ebenezer Ritchie
By 24th November, 1885, they were ready to get a minister and they requested Presbytery to moderate a call. They offered £115 annually – £100 as a stipend; £10 in lieu of a Manse; and £5 communion expenses. There were 40 members or more; 40 adherents over 14 and expectancy of unanimity. Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate the call on 9th December. On that date 45 members and 35 adherents signed a call to Ebenezer Ritchie. The call was duly sustained by the Presbytery on 22nd December, 1885, and intimation was made to Ritchie, who was a probationer and who also received calls from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and Toberdoney, Ireland. He was willing to leave the decision with the Church but was prevailed upon to indicate his preference. He expressed a preference for Paisley and subsequently it was reported that the other calls had been withdrawn.
However, the Toberdoney congregation persisted in their wish to call Ritchie and the matter went to the Synod, when the call from Paisley was put into his hands and he accepted it. Hence in the Liberal Club, Lecture Hall, on 9th September, 1886, his ordination took place.
On the occasion, John McKay, Bridgeton, Glasgow, preached from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God”; John Ritchie, Shottsburn, the father of the new minister, conducted the ordination; and Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, addressed the new pastor and the congregation.
Although the congregation made a good start, they still sought grants from central funds to be able to sustain their ministry: at first £30; then by 1888 £20. In that year too they held a Bazaar to raise funds for a church building – a procedure in which the Presbytery heartily concurred.
By January, 1888, the minister could speak of the congregation as a three year old child that is big for its age: the membership had trebled since the early days and more than doubled since his ordination.
The Scotsman, reported in December, 1888, that the numbers had increased very largely during the past few years. The congregation intended to erect a building. A site had been secured at 3 Wellmeadow Street, at a cost of £600 and a bazaar would be held to raise £1000 to enable them to begin the building without delay. Mr Barbour M.P. had contributed £50 to the building fund (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 26th December, 1888, p.9). The bazaar was held on 27th December, 1888, in the Clark Town Hall, Paisley, and was opened by Col. Thomas Glen Coats (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 28th December, 1888, p.4).
The Bazaar Committee thereafter intimated that the total drawings at the bazaar had amounted to £883 and they reported the happy position they were in: the congregation were now in possession of a site which has cost £670, and have to their credit £675 as nucleus of a building fund.”
On Saturday, 16th April, 1892, the memorial stone for the new church building was laid by William Dunn, member of Parliament for the burgh. Snow fell during the ceremony! The company then adjourned to the Museum Hall where formal speeches were delivered.
The church building was built in the Gothic style of architecture and of Auchinlea stone. There was seating for 500. Underneath the church, there were three halls accommodating 60, 80 and 330 respectively. Besides a two-light window in the frontage and a three-light at the south end, there was a large amount of borrowed light from the roof. These were all of cathedral tinted glass. The entrance was from the Wellmeadow by a flight of 10 steps leading to a vestibule, from which there were two passages to the area seats. There was a stair leading to a small gallery at the north end of the church, the pulpit, which was more of the character of a platform was at the other end. The interior of the church was finished in red pine. At the south end a small building was erected, attached to the main edifice, and comprising the minister’s vestry, ladies’ room, heating apparatus etc. The whole structure, which was to be finished by September, would cost about £4000 exclusive of the site which cost £670. T. G. Abercrombie, Paisley, was the architect (Glasgow Herald, 18th April, 1892).
In February, 1894, Ritchie received a call from Kirriemuir signed by 34 members and 5 ordinary hearers. The annual stipend offered was £75 with a manse. Ritchie asked if there was any chance of a supplement to the salary and the Presbytery agreed that if he accepted the call, they would ask Synod to grant £50 annually from Home Mission Fund for three years.
However, nothing came of this call, for on 20th March, 1894, the Glasgow Presbytery met, pro re nata, to “consider the resignation of the Rev Ebenezer Ritchie from the pastoral charge of Paisley congregation and his withdrawal from our church.” Ritchie had written a letter on 3rd March intimating his withdrawal “on the ground that his views on church communion were so much out of harmony with the letter of the Original Secession testimony and the teaching of the leaders of the church as to make this step necessary in order that he might be true to his deepest convictions and to the denomination.” He felt the need for a “wider breathing space” than afforded by the UOS Church. Ritchie expressed his sorrow that he hadn’t brought this to the previous Presbytery. Samuel Dougall and W.H. McNaughton were heard as commissioners from the congregation; they expressed the congregation’s determination to remain stedfast to UOS principles and their “pained regret” at the severance of the pastoral tie; and they commended the congregation to the “immediate and engrossing attention of the Presbytery”.
The Presbytery accepted Ritchie’s resignation and “expressed their regret at his leaving them; their sense of the great services he has rendered to the church; their best wishes for his welfare and at the same time their deep sympathy for the congregation of Paisley thus deprived of a pastor.” So the pastoral tie was declared dissolved on 26th March, 1894. Ritchie asked for a certificate of ordination and of work done in Paisley and this was granted.
R.B. Parlane, Francis Davidson, and Samuel Dougall appeared at the Presbytery on 31st July, 1894, as commissioners from Paisley, asking for moderation of a call. They offered £180 as an annual stipend but no manse or sacramental expenses. The membership was 182. William B. Gardiner was appointed to preside there on 31st August. A call from Paisley to Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, was then signed by 145 members and 59 ordinary hearers. The call was sustained by the Presbytery and transmitted to the Ayr Presbytery for their attention.
This call was tabled by Ayr Presbytery on 1st October, 1894. The following month Matthew stated that he had no clear light on the matter and left the matter to the will of the Presbytery. The Presbytery however agreed to leave the call till the next meeting to give Matthew more time for reflection. A fortnight later – on 20th November, 1894 – Matthew still wished to leave the matter in the hands of the Presbytery and this time the Presbytery made up its collective mind and agreed to retain him in Kilwinning. The Paisley commissioners at first wished to appeal the matter to the Synod but later intimated that they were not going to take that step.
Paisley: James Young
On 20th March, 1895, Paisley again requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. Joseph Buchanan and Alexander Hamilton were their commissioners. The same terms as last time were offered and James Patrick, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate a call on 8th April. Then 122 members and 76 ordinary hearers signed a call to James Young, Midlem. The call was sustained and transmitted to Edinburgh Presbytery for their attention. They, however, referred it to the Synod to deal with. The Synod put the call into Young’s hands, “in accordance with his own expressed desire and willingness to accept the same.”
The induction took place on 4th July, 1895. On that occasion, the public worship was opened by John Sturrock, Edinburgh; James Patrick, Mains Street, Glasgow, preached from John 14:9: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father”; William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, performed the induction; Prof. Aitken addressed the new minister; and John Mckay, of Bridgeton, Glasgow, addressed the people.
On 14th April, 1897, Stranraer congregation agreed to present him with a call which was signed by 100 members and 35 ordinary hearers. But he stated that he wished to continue in Paisley and the Presbytery unanimously agreed.
By this stage, the Presbytery had begun to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visitations were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and will only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation here was conducted on 1st March 1899. The picture that emerged was this. There were two Bible Classes which met on Sabbath evenings, one for young men, conducted by the minister, the average attendance being 45; the other for young women, conducted by M. Davidson, the average attendance being 21. The congregation was divided into eight districts each under the charge of an elder. The districts were visited by the elders twice yearly. The average Sabbath attendance was 117 in the morning and 152 in the afternoon. Family worship was observed in many households if not in all. Catechising was not widespread but in many households there was family instruction on Sabbath evenings.
The work was prospering though not so rapidly as might have been wished. There was a Sabbath School with 100 scholars and 13 teachers. Half of the scholars were from the congregation and half from other congregations or from none. Visitation by elders and others was the means for gathering in the unchurched. A monthly evening service was also directed to this.
There was a bond of £1000 on the church, for which £35 was paid annually. The congregation owed the bank £40. The income was slowly growing but the income did not yet meet the expenditure. Most of the members paid seat rents.
From 1895, the congregations were required to submit annual statistics to the Presbytery; at first these only involved members and adherents; later other aspects were included. These statistics are given at the end of this entry.
A further visitation was conducted on 17th January, 1906: “The Presbytery adjourned to the Ladies Room and met with the Office-bearers.” Changes worth mentioning since the previous occasion are the following: the Sabbath School had shrunk in size and changed its nature – 60 scholars, mostly from the families in the congregation. There was much visitation of the unchurched and tract distribution; and Sunday evening evangelistic services were attended by 80 to 100 people. There was only £500 debt on the church buildings. Overall there was a spirit of optimism: “There are signs of spiritual prosperity in the congregation. There has been almost a revival – the Sabbath services are blessed. … Young people are being led to Christ and there is a general movement in the town.” Several people from the congregation spoke when given opportunity; and the need for raising the minister’s salary was mentioned.
On 19th April, 1908, it was reported to Presbytery that the Ayr congregation had signed a call to Young. It was disposed of at the meeting of Presbytery on 19th May; Young expressed a desire to accept the call and the Presbytery agreed to his translation to Ayr. He was translated on 23rd July, 1908.
Messrs Currie and Japp appeared before the Presbytery on 3rd November, 1908, as commissioners of the Paisley congregation, requesting that the Presbytery moderate a call. They stated that there were 179 members and 80 adherents in the congregation. They offered £180 annually as stipend, inclusive of sacramental expenses. The request was accepted on the understanding that missing paperwork would be provided. It was noted that the congregation had omitted to deal with the question of the number of free Sundays the minister would be allowed. But it was stated that he would probably be given the same number as the previous minister. Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to moderate the call on 19th November. On that date a call was signed by 106 members and 54 adherents to Robert Martin, minister in Thurso. On 8th December, 1908, the call was sustained and transmitted to the Caithness and Orkney Presbytery for their attention. But on 2nd March it was intimated that that Presbytery had upheld Martin’s desire to turn down the call from Paisley.
Paisley again requested the Presbytery to moderate a call on 27th April, 1909, when Messrs Davidson, Currie and Jaap were their commissioners. The stipend promised was now £180 annually, plus £5 communion expenses. Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, was appointed to moderate the call on 19th May. On 8th June, Parker reported that he had presided over a congregational meeting in Paisley on 26th May, as the 19th was a local holiday. His action was approved. But the majority had then said they were not prepared to go ahead with a call.
Paisley: Joseph Young
The Paisley congregation then asked that Joseph Young, who had been received into the UOS Church as a minister, should be settled in Paisley for six months “to conduct public worship, visit the people, and generally to attend to necessary pastoral work.” Young was willing to consider the proposal but needed more time to reflect on the matter; and a committee was set up to see to the practicalities of remuneration, etc. But by 7th December, 1909, Young had started work in Paisley where he “is to preach on Sabbaths, conduct weekly prayer meetings, and spend two days weekly in visitation. The congregation had agreed to give him remuneration at the rate of £8 per mensem and to pay his travelling expenses.”
By May, 1910, Paisley came to the Presbytery with another request to moderate a call, Joseph Buchanan and John Currie being commissioners. Only £160 annually was now offered as stipend, plus £5 sacramental expenses, but they expressed hope that they could soon increase the amount of the stipend. George Anderson, Bridgeton, Glasgow, was appointed to preside on 25th May. On that day, 119 members and 39 adherents signed a call to Joseph Young. The call was sustained; Young, who was by then in Birsay, Orkney, accepted by letter; and the induction was appointed for 7th July, 1910.
On that occasion, James Spence, Auchinleck, opened the devotions; Alexander Parker, Pollokshaws, preached on Deuteronomy 12:9: “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you”; George Anderson, Bridgeton, Glasgow, conducted the induction; Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, addressed the new minister and Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, addressed the people.
A three days’ bazaar, held in December, 1912, realised £650. The object was to raise the sum of £700 to pay off debt and to renovate the Church building (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 9th December, 1912, p.12).
Another Presbyterial visitation was conducted in Paisley on 16th April, 1913. The activities associated with Presbyterian Churches at this period were all being conducted; and there was no very significant level of support for them. Family worship and instruction were practised but there was reason to fear that they were neglected by many. The congregation was not inferior to other churches in this. The Kirk Session met monthly. The congregation was now free of debt.
On 2nd December, 1913, Young intimated to the Presbytery his resignation of the pastoral charge of Paisley. A committee was appointed to consult on the matter. And on 16th December, 1913, it was reported that “Mr Young had tendered his resignation because the promise of increase of stipend made when he was called had not been fulfilled, although the burden of debt hitherto resting on the congregation had been removed by means of a very successful bazaar. In the circumstances, he did not regard this as a merely financial matter; for no steps had been taken toward the fulfilment of the promise. The Session had agreed to recommend the congregation at its annual meeting on 14th January to increase the stipend at the earliest possible date. Mr Young agreed to withdraw his resignation in the meantime.” But there was no indication that the congregation intended immediately to raise the stipend.
In October 1914, “Mr Young intimated that having been an Army chaplain, he had been in communication with the War Office on the subject, being willing, in case of need, to go as a chaplain to troops at the seat of war. The Presbytery promised that in case Mr Young should be called away, they would do their best to arrange for the on-carrying of the work of the ministry in Paisley in his absence.”
It does not appear that Young was called away because on 11th August, 1915, he was translated to Bridgeton, Glasgow.
On 1st August, 1916, Paisley request the Presbytery to moderate a call. An annual stipend of £175 was promised with £5 sacramental expenses and two weeks’ holiday supply. Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow was appointed to preside on 29th August, but because that was the holiday season and there was only a small attendance, the congregation had agreed not to proceed with the moderation. The Presbytery accepted this; another request for moderation was presented on the same terms; and Robert Morton was again appointed to preside on 7th November. On that day a call to Francis Davidson, M.A., B.D., Toberdoney, who had been brought up in Paisley, was signed by 86 members and 21 adherents. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 5th December, 1916, and transmitted to the Ayr Presbytery for attention. However, at that stage Davidson felt it his duty to decline the call and the Ayr Presbytery had retained him in Toberdoney. The Commissioners from Paisley intimated an appeal but this was not pursued by the congregation.
Paisley: Francis Davidson
In May 1922 it was reported that Davidson had been translated from Toberdoney, Ireland.
He was President of the Paisley Sabbath School Union and of the Christian Endeavour and an honorary president of the Lord’s Day Observance Association of Scotland.
He was appointed Principal of the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow, in June, 1938. He took up his residence at the Institute on 1st September following. He then became senior minister of Paisley and retained his seat in the Presbytery.
He died in 1953.
Paisley: Robert Lorimer Findlater
A call from the Paisley congregation to Robert L. Findlater, Perth, was sustained on 21st December, 1938, and he indicated his desire to accept it (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 22nd December, 1938, p.15). On 1st February, 1939, he was translated from Perth as colleague and successor to Francis Davidson.
He was translated to Pollokshaws, Glasgow, on 26th March, 1946.
Paisley: James Robert Moffett
He was translated from Kilwinning on 6th May, 1947. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.414-415
Perth: Thomas Manson
Manson was ordained here on 25th July, 1826. He remained with the UOS Church when the majority united with the Free Church in 1852 and continued here till his death on 31st March 1876.
From time to time he got the customary presentations. A deputation waited upon him on 21st November, 1856, and, in the name of the congregation, presented him with a purse containing twenty sovereigns.
On 11th February, 1867, a large scale meeting giving a testimonial to him was held. The presentation took the form of a pocket-book containing a cheque for £400; and a time-piece which was an elegant French 16-day clock, with visible escapement and which bore the following inscription: “Presented to the Rev. Thomas Manson, D.D., Perth, with a purse of four hundred sovereigns, on the completion of the 40th year of his ministry, by numerous friends in the city and county of Perth, and throughout the Original Secession Church, as a testimony to his personal worth, his long and faithful service in the ministry, and his valuable literary labours as editor for many years of the Original Secession Magazine. Perth, February 11, 1867.”
The “renewing of the covenants” was an important matter for the UOS. It does not seem to have been done very frequently, but here is an example of how it was done, according to the denominational magazine.
“On Thursday, 7th April, 1859, the duty of renewing the Covenants, in a bond suited to present circumstances, was discharged in the Perth congregation. Over sixty people entered into the bond, fifty-three of whom belonged to the congregation. They were greatly cheered by the presence and countenance of friends from the congregations of Kirkcaldy, Coupar-Angus, Arbroath, Dundee, and Balmullo.
“George Roger, Auchinleck, preached a very able and interesting sermon, in the forenoon, from Deuteronomy 29:10-15: “Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, … That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God … That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself …”. John McBeath, Millhill, Caithness, was also present, and took part in the work. Thomas Manson gave the address, and Robert Craig, Kirriemuir, preached a very impressive and appropriate sermon, in the evening, from Nehemiah 10:39: “We will not forsake the house of our God.” This season, and the whole sacramental occasion, was felt to be specially refreshing.”
A colleague and successor was appointed for Manson, but he continued to preach until four years of his death. He died on 3lst March 1876.
Perth: Alexander John Yuill
The congregation petitioned the Presbytery for the moderation of a call and this was arranged for 26th January, 1869, John Barr, Coupar Angus to preside. On 9th February, a call to Alexander J. Yuill, probationer, as colleague and successor to Thomas Manson, was tabled at Presbytery and sustained as a regular Gospel call. The call was accepted and he was ordained here on 15th June, 1869.
On the occasion, John McKay, Aberdeen, opened the service; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, preached from Ezekiel 33:7-8: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel …”; William Robertson, Dundee, then narrated the steps of procedure toward the ordination, and put the questions of the Formula; Thomas Manson offered up the ordination prayer; John Barr, Coupar Angus, addressed the new minister and the people; and Thomas Gilchrist, Kirkintilloch, concluded the service. The day was one of the stormiest of the season, but, notwithstanding, there was a large attendance of members and adherents of the congregation and other friends.
In 1868, at the Burgh Evaluation Appeal Court the valuation of the church building was reduced from £45 to £20. This implies that the building was a very modest one: for example, the valuation of the North United Presbyterian Church at the time was £130 (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 25th September, 1868).
Yuill took up the work of the mission congregation which eventually became known as Laurieston, Glasgow. On 15th July, 1874, he responded positively to a call from this congregation and on 9th September, he was inducted there.
A few friends met at Gowrie Bank House, on the evening of Wednesday, 12th August, 1874, and presented him with a handsome time-piece. A beautiful writing desk was at the same time handed to him from his Bible-class. The inscription on the time-piece bears that it was “presented to the Rev. A. J. Yuill by members of the Perth congregation, and a few friends, as a mark of their respect on his leaving Perth.” Both gifts were very feelingly and suitably acknowledged.
Perth: Robert Morton
On 4th May, 1875, the Synod considered the call that had been addressed to him to be colleague and successor to Thomas Manson. Morton intimated his willingness to accept the call and the Synod concurred. He was therefore translated from Kilmarnock and inducted here on 26th May, 1875.
On the occasion, William Robertson, Dundee, opened the service; Peter McVicar, Coupar Angus, preached from Song of Solomon 5: 3: “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?”; Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed both the new minister and the people; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, concluded the service.
In 1881 the church building had extensive alterations made to it. It was reopened on Sunday, 25th September, 1881. The Dundee Courier & Argus described its new appearance: “Opposite the entrance from South Street, which is greatly enlarged, is the main entrance to the church, which now has a porch with pilasters of polished stone, surmounted with a pediment and finial. Inside is a vestibule with stair to the gallery and entrance to the area. The gallery is at one end of the church, and seated for about 100. The area, which has side seats set at an angle facing the pulpit, is seated for about 380. The ceiling is lined with wood, sub-divided with beams and chastely painted. The seating and pulpit, etc, is of yellow pine, and slightly stained and varnished. The whole interior, which is got up in the most approved and modern style, is of a very chaste description. In the centre of the ceiling is a corona of burnished brass and bronze work, which, along with a few wall brackets, lights the church very effectively. The heating is by hot air, produced by a Gill stove at the back of the building. At the west end there is a hall, session-house, and vestry, with lavatories. The contractors for the work were Messrs Fraser and Co. masons; Messrs Craig and Auld, joiners; George Donald, plasterer; Alexander Davidson, plumber; George Muirhead and Sons, painters; W. and A. Dewar, slaters; James Finlayson, iron work” (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 24th September, 1881).
At the reopening, Professor William F. Aitken preached in the morning from Ezekiel 48:35: “The name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there”. In the afternoon, the minister, Robert Morton, preached from Haggai 2:19: “From this day will I bless you”. In the evening, Aitken again preached, from Psalm 84:5-8: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them …”. The attendances were good and the collections, which were for the Repair Fund, amounted to £53 16/-.
Further cleaning and internal refurbishment were carried out in 1887, as described in The Dundee Courier & Argus: “The roof has been painted in a light straw colour, with buff ribs relieved with lines of fancy colouring. The upper portion of the walls are done in a soft sage green, with an ornamentation line running round the edge of the ceiling and cornices. The lower portion of the walls has been treated in a very tasteful manner, a band of colour being carried round about 10 feet from the ground, with an ornamentation filling in the space, made in imitation of ashlar or tile work, and finishing off with a band of fretwork. The wall linings and pulpit have all been stained a deep, rich colour, which gives the interior of the church a very pleasing and handsome appearance. The work, which is of an artistic description, has been carried out by Messrs Stalker and Boyd, painters South Street (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 15th October, 1887).
Morton was translated to Mains Street, Glasgow, on 2nd October, 1902.
Perth: Robert R. Hobart
He was formerly minister in Shottsburn, Lanarkshire. A call to him from the Perth congregation was signed by 211 members and 50 ordinary hearers and this was tabled on 27th January, 1903, in the Glasgow Presbytery. As a result he was translated here by May, 1903.
In 1907 he received a call from the Ayr congregation but his Presbytery, at his own wish, decided he should remain in Perth.
On 24th January, 1911, the Presbytery of Edinburgh sustained a call to him to be colleague and successor to John Sturrock, Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace But this came to nothing.
However, he was translated to Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, by May, 1929.
The congregation then called John Dickson from Arbroath, Angus, but this call was set aside in September, 1929.
Perth: Robert Lorimer Findlater
He was translated here from Shottsburn, Lanarkshire, on 16th April, 1930.
On the occasion, Francis Davidson, Paisley, and John McNeel, Seoni, led devotions and the sermon was preached by John Dickson, Arbroath. John Howe conducted the induction; Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, addressed the new minister; and Robert Robertson, Birsay, addressed the congregation; and the benediction was pronounced by the Robert R. Hobart, Edinburgh, their former minister.
In March, 1933, Findlater intimated to his Presbytery that he felt it his duty to remain in his present charge, when presented with a call from Mains Street, Glasgow. The Presbytery acquiesced.
A call to him to Paisley, Renfrewshire, as colleague and successor to Francis Davidson was sustained on 21st December, 1938, and he indicated his desire to accept it (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 22nd December, 1938, p.15). On 1st February, 1939, he was translated there,
Perth: Donald Gillies Cubie
In May, 1940, it was reported that Cubie had been translated here from Bridgeton, Glasgow. In May, 1943, it was reported that he had resigned his charge.
Perth: Donald S. Paterson
It was reported to the May, 1952, Synod that he had been ordained in Perth. The following year it was reported that he had resigned his charge.
Perth: Robert McIlwraith Cullen
He was translated here from Birsay, Orkney, on 26th March, 1953. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in May, 1956.
The church building was located at 207 South Street. According to Leslie’s Directory of 1885, it was situated between the Baptist Chapel at 193 South Street and Loretto Court. It presumably was the building marked “Church” in this map, on the north side of South Street, set back from the main road and adjacent to Loretto Court.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
POLLOKSHAWS, COGAN STREET
Scott, Annals, p.420
Pollokshaws: James Milne Smith
He was ordained here on 3rd August, 1843. He remained with the UOS Church when the majority united with the Free Church in 1852. When he left the charge in 1863, it was in circumstances that occasioned much debate.
A Presbytery meeting pro re nata was called on 24th March, 1863. Smith, who, as Moderator, must have called the meeting said its purpose was “to consider the circumstances in which he is placed in consequence of ill health and give advice with respect to the congregation”. But according to those who asked him to call the meeting the purpose was “to consider and adjudicate upon the intimations which the Revd James M. Smith is reported to have recently made to his people from the pulpit of his intention to leave them and to remove to another country.” Smith said his wording was additional to the other wording and the meeting proceeded.
Smith vacated the chair, and was asked if he had anything additional to say. He then stated that he had been told to retire for a season from his work on medical grounds but hadn’t done so and now felt unable to perform the duties of his ministry and produced two medical certificates to support this. He denied that he had said to his people that it was his intention to leave them. He maintained that he had used the words “in all likelihood” in reference to leaving them.
He was asked if there was a pre-concerted plan with another minister to go abroad, as a brother had said. He said he was not responsible for what anyone else had said. He never intended to do anything except in accordance with Presbyterian order. (The other minister alluded to here was Andrew Anderson, Kilwinning.)
It was established that the medical certificates had been acquired after the date of the intimation which he had made to his congregation.
The Presbytery found that “the intimation which was made by Mr Smith to his people gave ground to infer that it was his intention to leave his people; that such an intimation was irregular and unconstitutional, as he had not previously, in any form, consulted the Presbytery, that Mr Smith refuses to repudiate the charge of acting in concert with others, including a minister of the body and certain students of theology, to remove with him to another country; that such a preconcerted plan or mutual understanding, if substantiated, arrived at without submitting the matter to the Courts of the Church, would be a serious evil, tending to deprive the Church at home of her teachers, and thereby greatly to perplex and weaken her; and that such a scheme, framed within the Church, and independently of her authority, is a divisive course, tending to break the spiritual unity and peace of the Reformed and Covenanted Church of Scotland.”
Smith does appear to have been somewhat devious in regard to his desire to leave Pollokshaws. Yet he was not undermining the testimony of the Church in any way; his intention was to found an Original Secession community abroad, faithful to their Scottish Testimony. But in their (perfectly correct) understanding of Presbyterianism, a minister’s movements were not a matter of personal choice: the Presbytery regulated a minister’s settlement in a congregation, therefore, in normal circumstances, the Presbytery must regulate his leaving a congregation.
On 14th April, 1863, Smith wasn’t present at the Presbytery because of ill health, but his elder presented his demission: his reasons for wishing to leave were “the state of my health and a desire to be instrumental in extending the Kingdom of Christ in a foreign land”. It was agreed this should lie on the table and that a committee should consult with Smith about this. Despite this, Smith wouldn’t change his mind and the matter was remitted to the Synod.
The Synod discussed the whole matter and their finding was: “that they cannot accept of Mr Smith’s demission on the grounds stated therein, particularly in the present circumstances of the body; but, inasmuch as Mr Smith has received medical certificates to the effect that he needs a change of climate for a time, agree to express their deep sympathy with Mr Smith in his present affliction, and to allow him cessation from pastoral labour for a longer or shorter period, as may be necessary, and hope that, through the blessing of Providence on the means used, his health may be restored, and meanwhile agree to give all possible supply to his congregation during his absence.”
But on a further submission being made by Smith, the Synod resolved “to instruct the Presbytery of Glasgow to dissolve the pastoral relation between Mr Smith and the congregation of Pollokshaws, and to declare the congregation vacant”, which they did on 14th May, 1863.
However, on 2nd June it was noted that though the pastoral tie had been dissolved, Smith was still acting as minister of Pollokshaws. If this was not done by the authority of the Convener of the Committee of Supplies, then, according to the Presbytery, it was an irregularity. On 4th August, Blakely, Kirkintilloch, was appointed to draw up a report on Smith’s irregularities. This was duly done and on 1st December, it was noted that the irregularities against Smith, if proved, would require discipline, but as he was “for the time being, beyond the jurisdiction of the Presbytery” the report should be held in retentis.
By that time, Smith was in New Zealand founding his Pollok Settlement. But there was still some unhappiness in the congregation over the matter as was evidenced in a matter brought before the Presbytery in April, 1865: two elders who attended irregularly but still claimed the privileges of the eldership.
Pollokshaws: William B. Gardiner
On 2nd February, 1864, the congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. They promised £100 annual stipend plus £10 for communion expenses and a free Manse.
On 16th February, 1864, the congregation called William B. Gardiner, Probationer. 134 members signed the call, and 47 persons expressed their adherence. On 1st March, 1864, the Presbytery sustained the call; Gardiner accepted it; and trials for ordination were prescribed for him. On 5th April the process of examination was begun, but on 11th April the Presbytery were advised that Gardiner was under call from the Kilwinning congregation. They referred the matter simpliciter to the Synod.
At the Synod in May, 1864, Gardiner stated in effect that he left the matter entirely in the hands of the Synod. By a majority of 14 to 7 it was decided that the call to Pollokshaws should be preferred. Trials for ordination were then continued and Gardiner was ordained on 28th July, 1864.
On the occasion, Thomas Manson, Perth, conducted the opening devotional exercises; John Ritchie, Shottsburn, preached from Hosea 12:4: “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us”; John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, delivered an address, proving the Jus Divinum of Presbytery; Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, conducted the ordination; and suitable addresses were afterwards given to the new minister and the people by John Blakely.
Alexander Stirling, later of Arbroath, was appointed missionary at the beginning of September, 1866. On 13th November, 1866, he reported: “the part of the town selected for visitation comprises about 200 families, in addition to which about 100 families residing in the adjacent village of Thornliebank are regularly visited. Four meetings for prayer, reading the Scriptures, and exhortation are held weekly, the aggregate attendance being about 125. Portions of the Bible are read in the houses of the people, and prayer offered up. A tract is left at each visit. Admission has been obtained to the houses of several Papists, some of whom permitted the Scriptures to be read.”
George Anderson, later of Seoni. India, was missionary thereafter. It was reported to Synod in 1868 that “upon the requisition of the Presbytery of Glasgow, it was agreed to authorise that Presbytery, after examining Mr. Anderson, student in arts, and finding him duly qualified, to sanction his appointment to labour in Pollockshaws as a home missionary in connection with the Synod.” The following year it was reported that “a gratifying measure of success” had attended his labours; “a considerable number of persons from the mission district have been brought out to the Church, who attend regularly,” and that of these “several have been added to the membership of the congregation here.”
In 1871 the Home Mission Committee deeply regretted that they had received an intimation from the Pollokshaws Session “that they had unanimously agreed to recommend the Committee not to appoint another agent to the locality in the meantime. The Session expresses their warmest gratitude to the Synod for having continued their agent so long in the district. They believe that the mission has been productive of great good, and that the congregation has been considerably benefited by it.
“The reasons which led them to come to this decision are as follows:—
“1. Since we first petitioned the Committee to locate a missionary in this town, other congregations around us have been bestirred to a sense of the duty devolving on the Church, to send the Gospel to those living outside the pale of the Church, and the result has been that no fewer than four missionaries and two Bible women have been appointed to labour in our town and neighbourhood, in addition to our agent.
“2. Some of these missionaries, being parochial, refuse to restrict their labours to particular districts, and as they encroach on the part of the town selected as the sphere most suitable for our agent, the result has been that several streets have been overworked.
“3. Of the four missionaries referred to one is an ordained minister of the United Presbyterian Church, and the other three are licentiates of the Church of Scotland. The class of people who can be drawn out to mission meetings, naturally prefer to attend the meetings, conducted by such, and especially as, by their attendance at the meetings of the Church of Scotland licentiates, they enjoy all the privileges of the Church. In one of the meeting places the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is dispensed every half year to all whom the missionary may invite, while those who regularly attend the others receive communion cards, entitling them to enjoy the same privilege in the respective places of worship with which the missionaries are connected.
“4. Our people have been engaged for some time back making an effort to liquidate debt on congregational property. On this account it has been found difficult to obtain such contributions to the Mission Fund as we are anxious to send; and till this difficulty be got out of the way, we deem it unadvisable that another agent be appointed.
“5. The session do not design suspending missionary operations altogether. The district already opened up will be visited occasionally by us, and several of the meetings will be carried on. In this way we hope to be able to keep the district open for an agent occupying the field at some future time.”
Notwithstanding the above, in 5th December, 1871, the Presbytery appointed J. Currie as a catechist to do home mission work in Pollokshaws, his work to be restricted to 12 hours a week. He was to receive £20 annually from the congregation; £10 was to be raised for a hall and the Home Mission Committee was to be asked for help. They supplied £15 annually for this purpose. Later it was raised to £25.
However, the Home Mission Committee reported to the Synod in May, 1873, “that such a devoted and humble labourer as Mr. Currie has had to prosecute his work under so much debility and suffering from ill-health. … The doctor has ordered him to desist from mission work for a few months at least.” His death was reported in March, 1874.
On the other hand, at that time the minister could report that the finances were sound; the congregation was now free of debt and that they had already accumulated a substantial sum for the proposed enlargement of the building. Spiritually too things appeared to be going well: “In the year 1873 there had been an increase in the membership of forty-three, and no fewer than thirty had been baptised, five of whom were adults.”
A call to him from Laurieston, Glasgow, was sustained on 30th December, 1873, but he declined it.
By this stage, the Presbytery had begun to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visitations were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire and partly by a visit of Presbytery representatives to the Kirk Session and the congregation. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and will only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first visitation was held on 18th November, 1879, under the direction of Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch. The picture that emerged at their visitation was this.
The minister conducted three Bible Classes weekly: the Junior one had an average attendance of 46; the Middle one 36; and the Senior one, 18. A weekly Prayer Meeting was held – average attendance 45. The elders conducted a weekly meeting in Porterfield – attendance 15; and the minister conducted a monthly meeting in Thornliebank – attendance 10. Twelve attended a Sabbath morning Young Men’s Fellowship.
The congregation was divided into eight districts, each with an elder. The minister visited the congregation annually and spent at least half an hour in each home and showed special attention to the afflicted. The elders visited twice a year at Communion time and afterwards, if required.
Fewer attended the forenoon service than the afternoon one, when fully two thirds of the membership attended. “The people of God were comforted and refreshed by the ministrations of the sanctuary.” A goodly number of homes had family worship and parents also catechised their children, especially on Sabbath evenings.
The Sabbath School had a roll of 250 and an average attendance of 200, two thirds of whom are connected with the congregation. There were 29 teachers. A Band of Hope Temperance Society had 90 members.
When the delegation met with the congregation Miller, William F. Aitken, Mains Street, Glasgow, and John McKay, Bridgeton, Glasgow, gave addresses and George Anderson “gave a brief but interesting account of his labours in India”.
There was a brief flurry of ill-will in the Church when Matthew Stevenson of Blantyre Works Farm, Blantyre, who was connected with the Pollokshaws congregation, complained that Robert J. Wood, an elder in the Mains Street congregation, had publicly asssailed his moral character. There was a threat that the matter would be taken to the Synod but happily Stevenson and Wood were reconciled.
The Scotsman, reported on 25th November, 1886, that the church building had been broken into and two missionary boxes, containing, it is supposed, about 17/- stolen (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 25th November, 1886, p.5).
Gardiner’s semi-jubilee in the ministry was recognised in 1889. Special services were conducted on Sunday, 28th July. The visiting preacher was Robert Morton, Perth, who preached in the morning from Ecclesiastes 3:15: “God requireth that which is past”; and in the evening from Acts 3:13: “The God of our fathers.” Gardiner himself preached in the afternoon from Acts 20: 20 and 24: “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house … so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.” He referred to the fact that in his 25 years with them no fewer than 866 names had been added to the Communion Roll. He had also administered baptism to 759 children and 33 adults.
On 30th July, 1889, Gardiner was presented with an illuminated address and a cheque for £160. Mrs Gardiner received silver plate consisting of a cake basket, a biscuit box and two cruets.
Although apparently a very healthy congregation financially, they received £250 from the Bellahouston Bequest in March, 1893.
The church building was reopened for public worship on Sunday, 15th October, 1893, after having been painted and decorated and extensively altered. All the area seats, which were very old-fashioned, were taken away and replaced by others more modern and comfortable, the sitting accomodation having consequently been reduced by 25. Windows of stained glass had also been put in, and the hall enlarged so as to hold about 150 people, while a smaller hall and a new minister’s room had been built alongside of it. The total cost of the alterations was estimated at £450, a sum which was received from the Bellahouston Bequest. This was the third time the church had been altered in Gardiner’s time (Glasgow Herald, 19th October, 1893).
Another Presbyterial visitation took place on 4th May, 1899. The minister still conducted three Bible Classes weekly but the aggregate attendance was now only 40; and the Prayer Meeting attendance was down to 12 or 14. But there were then 13 elders who visited their districts thrice yearly. The attendance at two recent Sabbaths averaged 238. As there were 450 members and 201 adherents, this was a markedly poorer attendance proportionately than formerly. There was much half day hearing. The duty of family worship was laid on all who received baptism but it was practised less than formerly. Catechising was carried on in many families on Sabbath evenings. The Sabbath School had grown slightly but now ¾ are drawn from the congregation. The elders still took a service in Porterfield, the average attendance being 20. There were 6 visitors who distributed tracts in the area. Income exceeded expenditure and there was no debt.
The Pollokshaws congregation left no significant mark on the Presbytery records till the next visitation which was conducted on 20th March, 1906. Significant features were the slight increase in the attendance at the Prayer Meeting which was between 21 and 24; the Band of Hope had 115 members; and most notably the Sabbath School Roll stood at 344; the average attendance was 256 and there were 39 teachers.
Gardiner died on 26th May, 1908, and the Presbytery wrote a letter of sympathy to his widow and daughter. During his time here, he was very active in the community, serving on the School Board for Eastwood, and being prominent in the temperance movement.
Pollokshaws: Alexander Parker
On 6th October, 1908, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 442 members and 232 adherents. They promised an annual stipend of £220 with £10 sacramental expenses and three weeks’ holiday supply. Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, was appointed to preside on 26th November. Then 235 members and 53 adherents signed a called to Alexander Parker, then of Birsay, Orkney. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 8th December, 1908, and transmitted to the Presbytery of Caithness and Orkney for their attention. Their call was successful and Parker’s induction was appointed for 31st March, 1909.
On that occasion, Robart R. Hobart, Perth, opened the worship; Joseph Mooney, Shottsburn, preached on Ephesians 6:15: “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, conducted the induction; George Anderson, Bridgeton, Glasgow, addressed the new minister; and Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, addressed the congregation.
A further Presbyterial visitation to the congregation took place on 30th April, 1913. There were then 16 districts, visited regularly by their elders. Attendances seem to have been much as previously, though it was noted that the forenoon service was now the bigger of the two and more children attended it. The Sabbath School attendance had declined somewhat and it was basically congregational with a few from outside. There was now a Women’s Guild; and the precentor conducted a Psalmody Class with an average attendance of 21. The Kirk Session met monthly and the congregation was in a satisfactory financial state but family worship had “greatly fallen off” and: “There is great need for spiritual revival. In those days little is heard about conversions to God.”
In May, 1944, it was announced that Parker had retired and he was given a grant of £75 per annum from the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund.
Pollokshaws: Robert Lorimer Findlater
Findlater was translated here from Paisley, Renfrewshire, on 26th March, 1946. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.423-427
There is some doubt about the exact status of the previous minister: George Hill. He was happy to go into the Union with the Free Church, but his congregation were not, He therefore retired from his charge. The UOS certainly claimed him as theirs.
A pro re nata meeting of Glasgow Presbytery was called for 15th March 1853 to receive a petition from Shottsburn. They asked for moderation of a call, promising £95 per annum as stipend, plus £5 for sacramental occasions as well as a Manse and a garden. James M. Smith, of Pollokshaws, was appointed to moderate a call on Thursday, 7th April, 1853.
On 8th April, 1853, the Presbytery received a report on the moderation in Shottsburn the previous day. A call from Shottsburn to William F. Aitken, probationer, was presented, signed by 100 male and female members, and by Mr George Hill, their late pastor. The call was sustained and transmitted to Aitken.
On 7th June, 1853, the Presbytery prescribed trials for licence for him: a lecture from Luke 18:9-14; a Popular sermon on Titus 3:8; an Exercise and Additions on Romans 10:4; an Exegesis on the subject: An Christus sit Deus Supremus? (Is Christ God Supreme?); the first Psalm in Hebrew; and Greek Text ad aperturam libri (wherever the book opens); and the History of the Pelagian Controversy. By 6th September, Aitken had accepted the call and gave some of his trials for licence. However, by 1st November, he had received a competing call from Midlem and the Presbytery requested a pro re nata meeting of Synod (because of a matter that had arisen) to adjudicate the matter. The Synod met in January, 1854, and adjudged that Aitken should be settled in Midlem. So this move by Shottsburn came to nothing.
Shottsburn: John Ritchie
On 7th March, 1854, the congregation again asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. They promised the minister £100 annual stipend, including sacramental expenses; a manse and garden. This request was granted and at the next meeting of Presbytery, on the first Tuesday of April, 1854, it was reported that a call to John Ritchie, probationer, had been signed by 140 members and 38 adherents. The call was sustained and was transmitted to the Synod. The Synod must have found against it because the process was repeated.
A request for moderation came to the Presbytery on 5th June and the call to John Ritchie was sustained by the Presbytery on 22nd August. But the Presbytery heard of a competing call from Kirriemuir and asked for a pro re nata meeting of Synod to adjudicate. But Kirriemuir withdrew their call; and Ritchie accepted the call from Shottsburn. His trials for ordination were sustained on 6th February and he was accordingly ordained on 27th February, 1855.
On the occasion, John Blakely, of Kirkintilloch, preached from Numbers 20:27-28: “And Moses did as the Lord commanded: and they went up into mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son; and Aaron died there in the top of the mount: and Moses and Eleazar came down from the mount”; Ebenezer Ritchie (John Ritchie’s father) offered the ordination prayer; Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, addressed the new minister and the congregation; and Thomas Manson, Perth, concluded the service.
Though in the depth of winter, the church was filled to overflowing by a deeply interested and attentive audience. On the following Sabbath, the new minister was introduced by his father who preached from 1 Timothy 6: 12: “Lay hold of eternal life”. John Ritchie then preached his first sermon as minister there on Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”
He quickly endeared himself to his people for in July of the following year he received a presentation from the ladies of the congregation: an elegant writing desk and a purse of 25 sovereigns, in token of their esteem for him as their pastor.
In February, 1860, he also received a similar presentation from the young men and women of his Bible Class in token of their affection for him, and appreciation of his labours for their instruction. This was a very handsome eight day clock with the inscription on a silver plate: “Presented to the Rev. John Ritchie, minister of Shottsburn, by the Sabbath evening class attending his instructions, as a mark of esteem for his attention to their best interests. February, 1860.”
In 1870, the congregation marked the centenary of its existence. The 4th of July, was chosen for the celebrations as a day “when agricultural interests would occasion the least obstacle to attendance”. By way of preparation, the previous Sabbath, the minister preached from 1 Corinthians 3:11: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”. On the 4th, the congregation assembled for worship in the afternoon, when James Smellie, Edinburgh, preached from Revelation 2:1: “These things saith he who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” In the evening, a social meeting took place in the church. The pastor of the congregation occupied the chair, and gave an account of the origin and history of the congregation. Thereafter there was an intensive speaking programme: William M. Watt, minister of Shotts parish, spoke of “The improvement the congregation should make of the occasion, especially in the form of increased liberality;” William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, spoke of “The call to gratitude and devotedness”; William Auld, student of theology, belonging to the congregation, spoke of “The duty of the young in regard to congregational interests”; Robert Morton, student of theology, also belonging to the congregation, spoke of “Progress”; George Anderson, student of theology and proposed missionary to India, spoke of “Missions”; and James Smellie, Edinburgh, gave a brief “Vindication of our position and principles”. There were several hundreds in attendance.
For years, the Shottsburn congregation left no mark on the Presbytery’s record. But towards the end of 1879, the Presbytery began to visit pastorally each congregation within its bounds. These visitations were conducted partly by means of a questionnaire and partly by a visit of Presbytery representatives to discuss the situation with the Kirk Session and the congregation. The information was summarised in the minutes of the Presbytery. For our purpose these are very useful for getting a picture of life within the congregation, but after a while, they tend to be repetitive. We are going to give details of the first visitation and only mention future ones when there are significant developments in the work.
The first Presbyterial visitation was not a very encouraging one. There were Young Men’s and Young Women’s Bible Classes meeting alternately after the morning service, with 24 names on the roll. There was a monthly congregational Prayer Meeting with around 15 attending. Many elders had recently died; new ones had recently been ordained and it was intended to divide up the area into elders’ districts. The minister visited the congregation every alternate year and the aged, infirm and sick as required. The congregation was scattered and there was no Sabbath School because there was no population in the vicinity of the Church. “The chief discouragement arises from want of a sphere of labour from which members might be drawn into the church.”
The visit was concluded with addresses from Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, and Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow.
The Shottsburn Session referred a case to the Presbytery on 9th May, 1882. It was the case of Robert Waddell of Dewshill who had been before the civil courts accused of fathering a child on a girl who had been in his household prior to and after his marriage. He was asked not to use his privileges meanwhile but stated his innocence. The case went against him in the civil court but he persisted in stating his innocence and wished his privileges restored and was willing to take the oath of purgation. The Presbytery recommended that given his previous good character and his willingness to take the oath, he should be readmitted to privileges upon solemn affirmation of his innocence.
On 20th May, 1891, Ritchie presented his resignation on medical grounds: “owing to long continued illness and the firmly expressed conviction of his medical attendants.” It was agreed that William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, should meet with the congregation to discuss the matter. Thereafter it was reported that the congregation had felt it necessary to acquiesce in Ritchie’s resignation. They did not think it possible to provide a retirement allowance. It was agreed that Ritchie should be relieved of all pastoral responsibility and the congregation of all financial responsibility for him, it being left to the future to see what his relationship would be with the congregation as pastor emeritus.
He died in January, 1892
On 30th August, 1892, the congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 115 members or so on the roll and a few adherents. The annual stipend offered was £110, to be added to in accordance with their ability, without sacramental expenses, but the congregation would pay the travelling expenses of the visiting ministers. There was a manse which was to be put into habitable repair. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to moderate the call.
On 29th November, 1892, Gardiner reported that he had met with the congregation on 7th November. A call had been signed by 49 members and four adherents in favour of George Anderson, Coupar Angus. The call was not sustained as it had not been signed by a majority of the members.
From 1895, the congregations of the Glasgow Presbytery were required to submit annual statistics to the Presbytery; at first these only involved members and adherents; later other aspects were included. These statistics for this congregation are given at the end of this entry.
On 3rd September, 1895, the congregation again requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. This time there were about 100 members on the roll and the promised stipend was to be £120 plus communion expenses and a manse. The manse would be thoroughly remodelled if not rebuilt in the event of a settlement. William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, was appointed to preside on 25th September. But on 4th October, Gardiner reported that he had met with the congregation as requested. He had read a letter from Robert Stuart saying he could not see his way to accepting a call if given. As the congregation had intended to call Stuart, it was agreed to take no further steps in the meantime.
Shottsburn: Robert Reid Hobart
Yet another request that the Presbytery moderate a call, under the same terms, was made on 26th November, 1895, and yet again William B. Gardiner was appointed to preside on 23rd January, 1896. Then a call was signed by 84 members and 25 adherents to Robert Hobart, probationer. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 28th January, and Hobart was summoned to the next meeting of Presbytery. But at that meeting they learned that a call had been signed to Hobart by the Midlem congregation so they agreed to remit the whole matter to the Synod. On 19th May, the Synod decided in favour of Shottsburn and he was ordained here on 12th November, 1896.
On the occasion, Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, opened the service and George R. Aitken, of Kirkintilloch, preached from Philippians 3:8: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”; Thomas Hobart, the father of Robert Hobart, offered the ordination prayer; James Young, Paisley, addressed the new minister; and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, addressed the congregation.
On 18th June, 1900, another Presbyterial visitation was conducted. The minister had a Bible Class with 22 on the roll and an attendance of 15. There was no Prayer Meeting, but the average attendance on the Sabbath was 115. The distribution of the congregation was “not favourable for formal division into districts” but the elders visited the sick and sometimes at other times. There was still no Sabbath School. Longstanding families generally had family worship – but not new ones. The main difficulty was in getting families recently connected with the congregation to attend regularly. The minister visited non church families; preached occasionally in Salsburgh and some mining families had been added. On the financial side, the manse had been rebuilt and the church renovated, both free from debt. Income met expenditure.
The following year Hobart stated to the Presbytery that his stipend was only £120 – £10 below the minimum then allowed by the Synod. His case was to be brought to the attention of the Mutual Assistance Committee.
In December, 1902, the Perth congregation elected Hobart to be their minister (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 27th December, 1902, p.8). The call was disposed of at the Glasgow Presbytery on 3rd March, 1903. When asked to state his mind, he said that he would leave Shottsburn with reluctance, but that he would accept the call should the Presbytery put it into his hands. The Presbytery put the call into his hands and he was translated to Perth.
The following month, the Shottsburn congregation requested the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were 123 members and the annual stipend offered was £120 with a manse. There was no debt on the property. There had been an irregularity in the transmission of this request, but the Presbytery overlooked that and appointed Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, to preside on 23rd April. A call was then signed by 86 members and 31 adherents in favour of John G. Boyd, minister of Midlem. The call was sustained on 5th May and transmitted to the Edinburgh Presbytery for their attention. But a fortnight later Morton informed the Presbytery that he had been asked by Shottsburn to withdraw the call and the Presbytery concurred.
Shottsburn: Joseph Robertson Mooney
Early in August, 1903, Shottsburn were ready again to call a minister and they accordingly requested the Presbytery for moderation under the same terms as previously. Again Robert Morton was appointed to preside on 22nd August. A call was then signed by 87 members and 29 adherents to Joseph R. Mooney, probationer. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 1st September, 1903, and Mooney was cited to appear at the next meeting of Presbytery. Then the call was put into his hands and he accepted it and trials for ordination were appointed. These trials having been sustained, he was ordained in Shottsburn on 12th November, 1903.
On the occasion, the worship was opened by Alexander Smellie, Carluke; Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, preached from Revelation 1:12: “I saw seven candlesticks”; George Anderson, Bridgeton, Glasgow, offered the ordination prayer; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, addressed both the new minister and the congregation; and Robert Hobart, their former minister, concluded the service.
No sooner was the new minister settled than the Presbytery were urging the congregation to increase his stipend.
A further Presbyterial visitation was conducted here on 19th June, 1905. In some areas there appeared little improvement: there was no prayer meeting, no Sabbath School, no elders’ districts and the elders only visited occasionally. Yet in other areas there were startling improvements: 74 new names on the roll in the last 18 months. How this had been achieved may in part be explained by this method: “There were no special means for leading young people to decision for Christ, but the elders speak about it, and before communion the minister has three meetings with young people in which he deals with them on the subject of personal religion. Also by visitation the minister has been successful in drawing non-church going families in.”
Aside from the matter of the stipend, the Presbytery was not entirely happy with the situation in Shottsburn: on 22nd May, 1906, the Presbytery agreed “that the Clerk be instructed to write Mr Mooney for an explanation of his absence from his pulpit and congregation on two recent Sabbaths.” The response, if one were forthcoming was not recorded.
Two years later Mooney begged to be excused from being Moderator of Presbytery on the ground of defective hearing.
Then the level of stipend was again raised. On 5th December, 1911, it was reported that the office bearers in Shottsburn proposed to reduce the minister’s stipend by £20 annually. Robert Morton, Mains Street, Glasgow, had conferred informally with people in the congregation and he reported that the last payment had been made at the reduced rate, though they were taking steps to try and increase their income. The Clerk was instructed to write the Treasurer saying that the stipend ought to be paid at the full rate so long as it remained unmodified.
A year later a Committee was appointed to visit Shottsburn as no answer had been received in response to enquiries made; but they did not go, as the stipend had been paid in full. However, Shottsburn asked that the agreed annual stipend be reduced from £120 to £100. This was agreed and it was also agreed to bring this to the attention of the Mutual Assistance Fund Committee for the aid necessary to bring the stipend up to the minimum.
On 16th April, 1913, representatives of the Presbytery again visited Shottsburn in accordance with their regular practice. Few details were given but some matters were recorded. There were now four elders’ districts and the elders visited. But there were still no prayer meetings or Sunday Schools. There was the astonishing statement: “Attendance at church is fairly satisfactory averaging about 50, or almost a third of membership.” This suggests that standards had slipped; and that quality has been sacrificed for the sake of quantity. And, of course, there was the acknowledgement: “The financial state of the congregation is most unsatisfactory.”
In January, 1918, reference was made to Mooney’s protracted illness; and although in June he resumed his duties, on 5th November he presented his resignation on the ground of the weak state of his health. A congregational meeting was therefore held in Shottsburn on 13th November: the congregation regretted very much their minister’s resignation, but as he felt compelled to retire they could not offer any objection to it. So his resignation was accepted and Ayr Presbytery was to be informed that Mooney was a minister without charge and would be residing within their bounds.
Shottsburn: Robert Lorimer Findlater
Findlater served here from 1921.
It was reported that William Manuel, M.B., C.M., of Ottawa, Canada, formerly of Caldercruix, Airdrie, had left 10,000 dollars upon trust for investment, and that the income was to be used to augment the stipend of the minister of the UOS Church of Shottsburn, so long as that building shall be used as a place of worship (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 3rd October, 1923, p.7).
Robert Jaffray, Session Clerk, of Shottsburn was made the recipient of gifts and congratulations on the occasion of his jubilee as an elder of the congregation. A letter of congratulation was received from the Presbytery; an illuminated address, together with a wallet of notes, was presented by the congregation; and his fellow elders gave him an umbrella (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 1st February, 1930, p.14).
Findlater was translated to Perth on 16th April, 1930.
Shottsburn: John Dickson
Dickson was translated here from Arbroath, Angus, on 12th November, 1930. He acceded to the Church of Scotland in 1956.
The congregation continued under Dickson’s ministry till 1975. It was ultimately merged with Kirk o’Shotts parish church (Those who served). For further information, including some graphic material see Salsburgh Heritage Group.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
This was an extention of the work in Bridgeton, Glasgow.
On 27th September, 1899, George Anderson, Bridgeton, reported on a meeting which had been carried on for some time in Springburn and recommended that the Presbytery should take the matter up and continue it. A Committee was appointed to look into the matter.
On 20th March, 1900, the Committee’s recommendation that the work should be continued was accepted and on 31st July, the Presbytery agreed that the case for a missionary in Springburn should be brought before the Synod’s Home Mission Committee.
However, this Committee did not see fit to take up the matter at that point. Attendance at the Springburn meeting was now between 55 and 90 and on 5th February, 1901, George Anderson stated to Presbytery his intention of again bringing the Springburn work before the Synod and the desirability of appointing a student missionary there. It was agreed in the May meeting of Presbytery that George Anderson and James Young, Paisley, should state Springburn’s case at the Synod. This was done successfully and on 4th June, 1901, it was reported that the reference regarding Springburn had been sustained by the Synod and the Home Mission and Congregational Work Committee had to provide a missionary for Springburn in conjunction with the Presbytery.
It would seem that at this stage the work was conducted under the responsibility of the Bridgeton congregation but on 29th March, George Anderson asked that a Committee of Presbytery be appointed to supervise Springburn.
On 29th March, 1905, a report on Springburn showed that the average attendance on Sabbath evenings was 65 and on Tuesday evenings 22. However, for whatever reason, on 30th January, 1906, it was agreed by the Presbytery that the Tuesday evening meeting be suspended in the meantime.
And that seems to be the end of what at one stage seemed to be a promising work.
Scott, Annals, pp.431-432
Their minister entered the Union with the Free Church of Scotland in 1852.
Stranraer: James Smellie
The congregation on 9th November, 1852, applied for a moderation and George Roger, Auchinleck, was appointed to preach and preside on 21st December, 1852. On that occasion a call was signed by 76 members in favour of James Smellie, probationer. The call was sustained by the Presbytery of Ayr on 4th January, 1853, when it was reported that 86 members and 67 ordinary hearers supported the call. The matter was referred simpliciter to the Synod as Smellie was under call from Kirriemuir and Dundee. The Synod instructed the Presbytery to put the call from Stranraer into Smellie’s hands. This was done on 24th May, 1853; he accepted it; trials for ordination were prescribed; and he was duly ordained here on 6th October, 1853.
On the occasion, John Robertson, Ayr, preached from Colossians 1:7: “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ …”; George Stevenson, Kilwinning, conducted the ordination and addressed the new minister and the congregation; and John Graham, Kilmarnock, concluded with a sermon on Nehemiah 6:3: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. …”.
He was called to Edinburgh on 10th April, 1860. The call was signed by 4 elders, and by 5 male and 16 female members. Later a paper of adherence was signed by 6 male and 9 female members and by 13 ordinary hearers. The Presbytery of Ayr referred the matter to the Synod. When Smellie was asked to give his view on the matter, he stated to the effect, that, after deliberate consideration, he was of opinion that it would be for the greater good of the Church that he should remain in Stranraer. And the Synod agreed with him.
He was again called to Edinburgh and the Ayr Presbytery disposed of the call on 26th January, 1864. It was noted that he would have £70 less yearly on going to Edinburgh.
One gets the impression that there were feelings running high regarding this call. The commissioners from Edinburgh stated that Edinburgh was the most important sphere of usefulness in the church and that it was right that a minister of superior gifts and experience should be placed there. The Stranraer commissioners were not convinced. Edinburgh was an important city, but the congregation was small and unimportant. The smallness of the Edinburgh congregation should lead them to select a probationer for their pastor, rather than seek to remove the minister of a larger congregation. There was also a feeling that Stranraer would take it badly if their minister were removed by the authority of the Synod. For this reason, they urged Smellie to state his own feelings and they would respect them. The clerk of Presbytery stated that it had been customary in the UOS Church, in the case of every call to a settled minister, to refer the matter simpliciter to the Synod for their adjudication. But all parties wished the matter to be settled by the Presbytery.
Smellie then expressed himself at some length. He had wished to leave it “absolutely and unreservedly” in the hands of the Church courts. But being urged to express his feelings, he felt an obligation to do so. So he stated: “it is my conviction that I have the call of God to leave my present charge, and go to Edinburgh”. At the same time, he wished to mollify the feelings of the Stranraer people: “I would like to state very explicitly, and with all the earnestness in my power, that it does not proceed from any abatement of my love and esteem for the members of my present congregation. Since I went to Stranraer, I have been treated with a kindness altogether beyond what was promised—altogether beyond what I could have expected, and I should say altogether beyond that with which most pastors are treated by their congregations. The congregation of Stranraer have added very largely, as you have heard, to my stipend. They have built for me a commodious manse; they have, in addition, given me many large and handsome expressions of their kindness; they have done everything in their power to make me comfortable in a worldly point of view.” The Presbytery agreed unanimously that he be translated. The commissioners from Stranraer stated that they wished to appeal to Synod – but they departed from that intention, and so to Edinburgh Smellie went. He was translated there on 23rd March, 1864.
Stranraer: John Sturrock
On 7th March, 1865, the congregation petitioned the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. George Roger, Auchinleck, was appointed to meet with the congregation on 22nd March. On that date, they signed a call to John Sturrock, probationer, and the call, which was “unanimous and numerously signed”, was sustained by their Presbytery on 4th April.
However, on the very same day the Kilwinning congregation signed a call to him, and that call too was sustained on 4th April. Sturrock was present on the occasion but asked time for reflection which was granted. He eventually accepted the call to Stranraer and was ordained here on 12th October, 1865.
On the occasion, Matthew Murray, Mains Street, Glasgow, opened the service; George Roger, Auchinleck, preached from Zechariah 3:7: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by”. Ebenezer Ritchie, Colmonell, had been appointed to deliver a discourse in exposition and defence of the Presbyterian form of Church government, but he was absent because of a sudden bereavement, and this part of the service was dispensed with. John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the induction; James Smellie, Edinburgh, addressed the new minister and the people, and closed the service.
On 6th September, 1866, the congregation presented their young pastor with a purse containing forty sovereigns, “as a token of their respect and esteem”. On 18th January, 1869, his Bible Class presented him with a handsome Silver Tea Service “as a token of their respect and esteem”.
In May 1870, the Synod considered a call to him from Mains Street, Glasgow, transmitted to them simpliciter by the Presbytery of Ayr, but they decided that he should remain in Stranraer.
He was called to Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace, on 28th November, 1877, and translated there on 21st March, 1878.
Stranraer: Alexander Smellie
On 27th November, 1879, the congregation met, with John Robertson, Ayr, presiding, and signed a most unanimous and cordial call to Alexander Smellie, probationer. At a meeting of the Presbytery of Ayr on 2nd December, 1879, the call was sustained. Smellie was present and accepted the call in the most prompt and cordial manner. Accordingly on 10th March, 1880, he was ordained here.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service; James Spence, Auchinleck, preached from James 5:19-20, dwelling specially on the words: “he shall save a soul from death”; John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the ordination; and James Patrick, Dromore, addressed both the new minister and the people; and George McMahon, Belfast, concluded the service. 80 gentlemen were entertained to dinner in the Old Town Hall and there was a soirée in the church in the evening.
During Smellie’s ministry here, the church building underwent considerable internal alterations and was greatly improved. The seats were lowered and made much more comfortable, and the woodwork and ceiling and walls were painted in warm and tasteful colours. As a result, the church became one of the neatest and most beautiful in the district. Much praise was due to Mr Sloan, the joiner, and to Mr Wales, the painter, both of whom were members of the congregation.
On Sabbath, 6th February, 1887, the church was re-opened. J.W. Gamble, Lisburn, Ireland, preached in the morning, from Psalm 84:11: “The Lord God is a sun and shield”; and in the evening from Luke 23:42-43, the prayer of the dying robber and the answer of the Lord. In the afternoon, Smellie himself preached from Luke 14:10: “Friend, go up higher.” The collection came to £40.
In May, 1890, Smellie declined a call to Mains Street, Glasgow, as he considered it his duty to remain in Stranraer. This called forth the appreciation of the Stranraer congregation and on 3rd October that year in the New Town Hall there was a meeting to give him “a tangible expression of their regard and affection”, especially in view of the fact that he “had elected to remain with his attached flock notwithstanding the attraction of a city charge which had been offered to him”. He was then presented with 110 sovereigns and a solid silver salver bearing the inscription: “Presented, with a Purse of 110 Sovereigns, to the Rev. Alexander Smellie, M.A., by Members of Stranraer Original Secession Congregation and Friends, in appreciation of his Great faithfulness as a Minister and his Self-denylng labours in every good cause. Prov. xxii. 4 [By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life]. Stranraer, 3rd October, 1890.”
On 25th November, 1890, the Edinburgh Presbytery had heard a report that he had assisted at a sacramental occasion in a Free Church in Edinburgh. It was unanimously agreed to put on record “an expression of the Presbytery’s deep regret that their esteemed brother should have taken such a step at variance alike with our church’s declared principles on the subject of Ecclesiastical Fellowship and with her uniform practice as opposed to Free Communions all down through her history.” No further action was to be taken as it was known that his own Presbytery was dealing with the matter. Nonetheless on 27th April, 1891, the Edinburgh Presbytery forwarded to the Synod a memorial on the matter – a memorial which originally came from the Edinburgh, Victoria Terrace, Session. The Synod transmitted this to the Ayr Presbytery. The matter came before the Ayr Presbytery on 18th May. After hearing Smellie’s explanation, the Presbytery decided that there was no reason to take action in the matter. But from this finding John Robertson, Ayr, and Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, dissented. At a later meeting, it was noticed that they had failed to put in reasons for their dissent in due time. The Presbytery were prepared to waive this irregularity and to allow them to put in the reasons belatedly. However, wishing to avoid strife, an arrangement was come to on 17th May, 1892. The dissent and appeal were withdrawn and the Presbytery expressed their disapproval of Smellie’s action. And so the matter ended.
A sale of work was held in the Old Town Hall on 28th September, 1894. It was opened by John George Cunningham, Free Church minister of Queen Street, Edinburgh – a man who had strong family connections with the area, his father having been born and died in Stranraer. The object was to raise funds to erect congregational and mission halls in connection with the church (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 29th September, 1894, p.8).
In December, 1894, Smellie was elected to be minister in Ayr but once again nothing came from this.
He intimated to his session on 7th February, 1896, and to his Presbytery on 29th April, 1896, that he had resolved to sever his connection with the congregation on account of his having been offered and accepted a situation in London. The council of the Sunday School Union had invited him to be editor of their publications and to superintend the work of the Sunday Schools throughout England under their charge. He remained a minister of the UOS Church and later emerged as the minister of the UOS Church in Thurso.
In April, 1896, the congregation agreed to open discussions with the Reformed Presbyterian Church there with regard to union and the Reformed Presbyterian congregation was happy to talk about the matter (Glasgow Herald, 10th April, 1896; and 16th April, 1896). It may seem strange that a congregation should negotiate with a single congregation of another denomination. The explanation is this. The Reformed Presbyterian Church about 1863 split into a Majority Synod and a Minority Synod. The Majority Synod united with the Free Church in 1876. But the Stranraer congregation, although part of the Majority Synod remained aloof from that union, and only went in with what had been the Minority Synod in 1906. At this stage, therefore, it was in effect an independent congregation (Robert Adams, The Scottish Church, A Graphic Chart).
Nothing definite resulted from these conversations because on 28th February, 1898, the Stranraer congregation again ask the Presbytery to moderate a call. The membership then was 140 with 43 adherents. The annual stipend promised was £160, and a manse. James Spence, Auchinleck, was appointed to meet with the congregation for this purpose on 16th March. He reported to the April meeting of Presbytery that 100 members and 35 adherents had signed a call to James Young, Paisley. The call was sustained. But on 12th May, the Presbytery were informed that the Glasgow Presbytery had acquiesced in Young’s desire to remain in Paisley.
Stranraer: Robert F. Stuart
On 27th December, 1898, the congregation came to Presbytery with another request for moderation. This time the stipend offered was £130. The Presbytery granted their request but advised them to increase the stipend if at all possible. James Spence, Auchinleck, was again appointed to preside, on 25th January, 1899. On 13th February, the Ayr Presbytery sustained a call that had been signed to Robert F. Stuart by 80 members and 14 adherents. He had been minister in Aberdeen till he resigned his charge and went to Ireland. Stuart was present and accepted the call. He was duly inducted here on 15th March, 1899.
On the occasion, William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, opened the service; George Anderson, Ayr, preached from Acts 1:14: “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren”; James Spence, Auchinleck, conducted the induction; Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, addressed the minister and congregation; and George MacMahon of Tullyvallen, Ireland, concluded the service.
A problem with Stuart’s ministry was first brought to the attention of the Presbytery on 21st October, 1907. Stuart reported to Presbytery that on medical grounds he must refrain from preaching for three months. Three months’ leave of absence were therefore granted. But the situation did not improve for on 20th January, 1908, a deputation from Stranraer appeared before the Presbytery asking what could be done about their situation. They laid on the table “a letter which had been received from Dr Brown assistant physician in the Royal Asylum, Morningside, Edinburgh, in which he gave it as his opinion that Mr Stuart was labouring under a form of insanity which was progressive in its nature and incurable, and that there was no hope of his ever being able to resume his public work.” The deputation, however, also pointed out that other medical authorities had given a more favourable opinion. Nevertheless, an interim moderator was appointed.
At their February meeting, it was agreed that each minister in the Presbytery should give one Sunday to Stranraer; and at the March meeting it was decided to remit the matter to the Synod for their advice, as Stranraer wished their position to be clarified. But Stuart himself resolved the situation by writing to say that because of the state of his health he wished to resign his charge. On 12th May, 1908, the Presbytery felt that in view of all the circumstances there was nothing they could do but accept his resignation. Stuart died in Belfast later that year.
Stranraer: John Heggie
On 12th October, 1908, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. There were then about 100 members. The annual stipend promised was £130 plus a manse valued at £25. Accordingly, William W. Spiers, Darvel, presided at a congregational meeting here on 28th October, 1908. At the following Presbytery, held on 17th November, it was reported that a call had been signed by 63 members and 11 ordinary hearers to “John Heggie, Burntisland”, Fife. The call was sustained, presented to Heggie, who was present, and accepted. As a result he was inducted here on 16th December, 1908.
On the occasion, James Young, Ayr, preached from 2 Peter 3:1: “I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance”; William W. Spiers, Darvel, conducted the induction; and Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
But it was not long before difficulties arose. The Scotsman on 16th November, 1910, reported that the Stranraer magistrates had been engaged for over six hours the previous day. Heggie was charged with having on 18th October, within the hall of the church in Sun Street, assaulted Alexander Aitken, solicitor, Academy Street, by approaching him in a threatening attitude, seizing him by the throat and striking him on the face with his fist. He pleaded not guilty. The evidence related to what transpired at a meeting of the managers of the church on the occasion in question. At the close of the trial Provost Young said that the Bench felt that the evidence adduced was of a very conflicting nature, and the Bench held the charge not proved.
The matter was addressed by the Ayr Presbytery on 1st December following. It was noted that there was a breach between the minister and a number of elders and members of the congregation. It was agreed to hear the two sides of the matter. Two elders and the minister gave their versions of what had led up to the incident which had come before the public through the press notices of a police case. It was moved that assessors be appointed to the Stranraer Session until such times as an election of elders be made to fill the vacant places on the Session. It was also moved that the Presbytery meet to hold an enquiry. This was done on 21st December. As a result the minister was admonished “for his loss of temper and his use of improper language.” The final stage of this sad incident was on 14th March, 1911, when James Young, Ayr, reported that he had visited Stranraer and new elders had now been appointed.
On 16th May, 1918, a special meeting of the Presbytery was held because the name of John Heggie had appeared in the newspapers as a candidate for Crieff, West, Church of Scotland. The Presbytery should receive an explanation of this. Heggie, who was present, acknowledged that he had applied and had been put on the leet to preach, but that the final nomination could not be made without his express approval. It was agreed to refer the matter simpliciter to the Synod. The Synod instructed the Presbytery to visit Stranraer and inquire into the situation there. But affairs moved faster than the Presbytery. On 30th July, 1918, the Presbytery clerk reported that he had received two letters from Heggie: one dated 19th July stated that the previous day he had been inducted in Crieff West; the other dated 23rd July formally tendered his resignation from the Stranraer charge. It was agreed that from the date of his induction to Crieff, West, Heggie had ceased to be a minister of the UOS Church.
In September following, the Presbytery visited the congregation and ascertained that they wished to continue as a congregation despite “the want of a settled pastorate, the smallness of their numbers, their limited resources and the isolation of their position.” The Presbytery agreed to give them encouragement and help.
But the state of the congregation was brought before the Synod the following year and Stranraer was permitted a moderation again – appointed for the third Sabbath of September, with Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, in the chair.
We presume that nothing came of this attempt to have a minister settled. The Presbytery records are missing from this point for a few years and the last word on Stranraer goes to the secular press: “The Trustees of the congregation, now dissolved, brought before the Court of Session a scheme for the funds and property vested in them” (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 9th November, 1922, p.1).
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.434-436
In 1852 David Burn was minister here and he voted for union with the Free Church. There was much debate about procedures followed by the minister, for example, a Kirk Session meeting was intimated but not in sufficient time to allow everyone to atten. Those in the outlying districts were especially disadvantaged and those were the elders who were more strongly attached to the UOS Church. But there was considerable unhappiness especially over the fact that no representative elder was present at the Synod to oppose the union. Later someone reported: “That while a meeting of managers and elders was sitting ready to appoint an elder to the Synod, a deputation was sent to Mr Burn, to which he stated ‘it was of no use to incur expenses, for he was to vote for delay.'” In fact, the minister signed the overture in favour of union.
A portion of the congregation united with the Free Church and a protracted lawsuit for possession of the church property took place. The case at first was decided in favour of the union party, but on appeal the decision was reversed, the judges holding that so long as even four of the members of the congregation remained together, the church property was legally theirs. The court case was reported extensively in the denominational magazine: Vol.2, p.416; Vol.3, p.184.
After some years, the old place of worship was demolished and a new church erected.
Commenting on this whole process, later, the denomination magazine spoke of the hard feelings engendered in the legal process. The Church as a whole clearly felt aggrieved at the treatment that they received at the time: “As to the means used, before and after the division, to split the congregation and set them by the ears, we only remark that no epithet was too opprobrious to apply to them, nor was any motive too base to charge them with.”
Thurso: Ebenezer Ritchie
Ritchie was ordained here on 22nd May, 1855. On the occasion, Ebenezer Ritchie, the new minister’s father, preached from Isaiah 49:6: “Thus saith the Lord, in an acceptable time have I heard, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages.” He then put the questions of the formula to his son, and offered up the ordination prayer; and Thomas Manson, Perth, addressed both the newly ordained minister and the congregation, and concluded the service. A superbly bound Bible and Psalm Book were presented by two members of the congregation to their young pastor.
He was translated to Toberdoney, Ireland, on 4th August, 1858.
The congregation next called Robert Craig, Kirriemuir, but nothing came of this. This call came before the Synod on 25th September, 1860. When he was given the opportunity of expressing his mind, he stated to the effect, that he preferred remaining in Kirriemuir, but would acquiesce in whatever decision the Court might come to in the case. The Synod unanimously agreed that he should remain in Kirriemuir.
Thurso: Charles Stewart Findlay
Findlay was ordained here on 29th August, 1861, when John McKay, Aberdeen, preached from 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us”; and John Blakely, Kirkintilloch, conducted the ordination and addressed both the new minister and the people. In the evening, John Blakely preached an eloquent discourse from Psalm 73:24: “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
On 24th April, 1869, three young men misbehaved in the church and were charged with disorderly conduct. They pled not guilty in the District Court but witnesses showed that they had been laughing, talking aloud, throwing sweeties all over the gallery, using obscene language, and attempting to force tobacco into the mouth of a worshipper. They were found guilty and sentenced to 20 days in Wick jail. “This will, it is hoped, operate as a warning to others and put an end to the disgraceful conduct which has been exhibited in the churches in the town during evening services all the winter” (The Dundee Courier & Argus, 23rd February, 1869).
Findlay was Moderator of Synod in 1868 and 1879. He was an original trustee of the Miller Institution, Thurso, Caithness.
The old church building was demolished and a new place of worship was opened on 8th July, 1875. Officiating on the occasion were John Sturrock, Stranraer, Charles S. Findlay, the pastor of the congregation, and Alexander Stirling, Arbroath. (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 9th July, 1875, p.6).
Findlay died in 1891.
Thurso: George Anderson
George Anderson, Coupar Angus, was translated here on 26th April, 1893.
On the occasion, Robert Stewart, Olrig, preached and presided; Robert Morton, Perth, conducted the induction; and Alexander Stirling, Arbroath, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
He was elected to the vacancy of the local Library Committee later that year.
A two-day bazaar for the extinction of the debt on the church building and manse was held in August, 1894. It was opened by Provost Sinclair. Nearly £300 was realised by the two days’ sales (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 18th August, 1894, p.9).
Anderson was translated to Ayr on 8th September, 1897.
Thurso: Alexander Smellie
He had previously been minister in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, and in February, 1896, he had severed his connection with the congregation to take up a literary post in London. But by December, 1897, he had been ministering to the congregation here for some time with great acceptance and on 8th December, 1897, the congregation agreed to ask the Presbytery for a moderation that they might call Smellie as their minister. This they did on Friday, 31st December, 1897 (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 3rd January, 1898, p.9). Early in April, 1898, he was inducted here.
On the occasion William C. Conn, Kirriemuir preached; Robert Morton, Perth, conducted the induction; amd James Patrick, Carnoustie, gave a charge to minister and congregation.
After lengthy proceedings, he was translated to Carluke, Lanarkshire, on 28th March, 1900.
Thurso: Robert Howie Martin
On 19th December, 1900, the congregation asked the Perth and Aberdeen Presbytery for a moderation. The membership then was 108; £90 was offered as the annual stipend, the stipend of the last minister having been £100. The request was granted on condition that the stipend be raised to £100 (The Courier and Argus, Dundee, 20th December, 1900, p.3).
The Synod of May, 1902, was informed that Robert H. Martin had been ordained (The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 20th May, 1902, p.7).
In 1908, he received a call from Paisley, but nothing came of it.
In September, 1913, he intimated to his congregation his intention of resigning his charge and he did so and withdrew from the church shortly thereafter.
As far as we know at present, that marked the end of this congregation.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland (Map images website)
Scott, Annals, pp.436-437
Note that this congregation was sometimes referred to as Ballylintagh and sometimes as Toberdoney.
The first reference to Toberdoney in the Minutes of Presbytery after the Union of 1852 was on 24th May, 1853, when arrangements were made for the administration of the sacraments in Ballylintagh and Toberdoney.
The previous minister and a portion of the congregation joined the Free Church of Scotland in 1852, and eventually the Irish Presbyterian Church. There was therefore a dispute over the property which led to legal action.
The Presbytery of Ayr considered a report on the property case on 14th February, 1854, but decided that no action from the Presbytery was required.
The Court of Chancery, Dublin, in the Toberdoney property case, decided that the majority of the Original Secession Synod departed from their public principles when they entered the Free Church; and that, consequently, the minority of a congregation were entitled to retain property thirled to Original Secession principles, although its majority entered the Free Church.
Toberdoney: Ebenezer Ritchie
On 19th October, 1857, the congregation met with John Robertson, Ayr, in the chair, and signed a call to Ebenezer Ritchie, Thurso. The call was signed by 91 members and 23 adherents. On 24th November, the call was referred to the Synod and it came before the Synod in May, 1858. When the interested parties were heard, Ritchie was asked to declare his mind. He stated to the effect that he gave a deliberate and decided preference to the call from Toberdoney. It was carried by the casting vote of the Moderator, that he should be translated here. His induction took place on 4th August, 1858.
On the occasion, John Ritchie, Shottsburn, commenced the public services with praise and prayer; Andrew Anderson, Dromore, preached an appropriate sermon from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ ..”; Ebenezer Ritchie, Colmonell, delivered an address in defence of Presbyterial Church government; George Stevenson, Kilwinning, then conducted the induction and then addressed “in a very full and forcible manner” the new minister and the congregation on their respective duties, and concluded the service.
The denominational magazine commented: “After a long and expensive lawsuit to recover possession of their own place of worship, erected in 1813, for the maintenance of the Secession Testimony in behalf of the Covenanted Reformation in Britain and Ireland, and after very scanty supply of sermon for the six years that they were without a pastor, this congregation have been steadfast in their scriptural profession; and their faith and patience have been rewarded by their obtaining undisturbed possession of their meeting-house, and having a minister again settled amongst them, with many promising appearances of success.”
The Synod had instructed the Presbytery of Ayr to take action in regard to the givings of the congregation: it was felt that they did not contribute for congregational purposes nor for the general funds of the denomination as liberally as might be expected. On 30th August, 1870, the Presbytery agreed to write the minister about the situation.
On 20th March, 1871, a deputation waited on him and presented him “with a handsome jaunting car and a set of silver-mounted harness”, along with an address expressing appreciation for his ministry.
In November, 1877, a call from the Aberdeen congregation came before the Ayr Presbytery but he was retained in Toberdoney. However, a unanimous call was presented a month later to which he responded positively and he was translated to Aberdeen on 15th May, 1878.
On 28th February, 1879, the congregation met with James Patrick, Dromore, presiding. A call was signed to Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, by 72 members and 12 adherents. There was also a competing call to him from Coupar Angus. The calls came before the Synod in May, 1879. Yuill expressed a preference to remain where he was – and so the Synod decided .
On 21st January, 1880, Alexander Dunlop King received a call from Toberdoney, Ireland. When the matter was brought to Synod, there was also a letter from King intimating his withdrawal from the Original Secession Church. This occasioned considerable discussion and the outcome in regard to Toberdoney was that James Patrick in name of the commissioners from Toberdoney, asked leave to withdraw the call. This was granted.
Next the congregation directed their attention to George Anderson, probationer. The call to him was signed by 93 members and 31 ordinary hearers. But he received competing calls from Kirkcaldy and Coupar Angus. Anderson expressed a decided preference for Coupar Angus and there he was eventually settled.
In June, 1883, the congregation directed a call to William W. Spiers but nothing came of it
Next they addressed a call to Thomas Matthew, Midlem. This was dealt with by the Edinburgh Presbytery on 23rd July, 1885. After parties were heard, Matthew was asked to speak. He intimated that “after long and anxious consideration he felt it his duty to advise the brethren to retain him in his present charge.” He was retained in Midlem.
Then, Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, met with the congregation and 110 members and 93 adherents signed a call to Ebenezer Ritchie, probationer. They offered a stipend of £100 plus £3 sacramental expenses. This call was sustained by the Presbytery on 5th April, 1886, but nothing came of it.
About this time substantial work was done on their church building. It was “situated in a populous and central district, with beautiful surroundings” but “the pews were most uncomfortable, the gallery was awkwardly planned, and the pulpit very confined”. It presented “a dingy and somewhat antiquated appearance”. The whole internal arrangements required to be remodelled. When that was done “neatness and comfort form[ed] a pleasant contrast to the former unsatisfactory condition of things”.
The Church was formally re-opened on Sabbath, 17th July, 1887, when John Robertson, Ayr, and William B. Gardiner, Pollokshaws, conducted the services. Robertson preached in the morning from Isaiah 53:10: “The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” In the evening, Gardiner preached from Malachi 3:12: “Ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
Toberdoney: David Matthew
The Presbytery sustained a call to David Matthew on 9th August, 1887. It had been signed by 114 members and and 105 adherents. He intimated to the Presbytery his acceptance of the call on 13th September. He was ordained here on 15th February, 1888.
On the occasion, William W. Spiers, who had been appointed to preach, was absent through illness, and Andrew Miller, Kirkintilloch, preached from Ephesians 5:23: “Christ is the head of the Church”; James Spence, Auchinleck defended Presbytery; John Robertson, Ayr, conducted the ordination; and Alexander Smellie, Stranraer, addressed the new minister and the people.
He was translated to Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire, on 5th June, 1890.
Toberdoney: Ebenezer Ritchie
On 16th July, 1894, the congregation asked the Presbytery to moderate a call. Edward White, Dromore, was appointed to perform this task on 1st August or on such date as the Kirk Session thought convenient. They presented a call to Ebenezer Ritchie. This was signed by 117 members and 31 ordinary hearers. The annual stipend promised was £120. The call was sustained and Ritchie was invited to attend the next meeting of Presbytery. At the next meeting it was mentioned that Ritchie had also been called to Birsay. He had however made known his strong preference for Toberdoney and the Birsay congregation had, with the consent of their Presbytery, withdrawn their call. The call from this congregation was therefore put into his hands; he accepted it and the normal trials for ordination were set. The ordination took place on 6th March, 1895.
On the occasion, Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, preached from Romans 10:13-15: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”; Alexander Smellie, Stranraer, defended the “divine right” of Presbytery; James Spence, Auchinleck, conducted the ordination; and Edward White, Dromore, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
On 23rd March, 1908, Ayr Presbytery considered a letter from Ritchie, announcing his resignation from his charge and his withdrawal from the ministry and membership of the UOS Church. As he had stated that this was final, the Presbytery accepted his resignation and appointed Thomas Matthew, Kilwinning, to preach the congregation vacant. They also appointed a committee to consult with the Session and commiserate with them.
Toberdoney: Francis Davidson
On 9th February, 1909, the Presbytery received a request from the congregation for the moderation of a call. There were then about 120 members and 35 adherents in the congregation and the annual stipend promised was £125. Again, Edward White, Dromore,was appointed to preside on 2nd March. On 13th March he reported to the Presbytery that a call to Francis Davidson, probationer, had been signed by 84 members and 33 ordinary hearers. The call was sustained and put into the hands of Davidson, who was present. He thought it his duty to accept it. The ordination took place on 18th June, 1909.
On the occasion, John Heggie, Stranraer, opened the service and preached from John 2: 24: “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men”; Edward White, Dromore, conducted the ordination; Alexander J. Yuill, Laurieston, Glasgow, addressed the minister and the congregation; and James Young, Ayr, concluded the service.
In December, 1916, Davidson received a call to Paisley. He reported that he had been strongly inclined to accept it, but that now he saw it to be his duty to decline the call, so the Presbytery decided to continue him in Toberdoney.
In May 1922 it was reported that he had been translated to Paisley, Renfrewshire.
Toberdoney: John Scott
When John Scott was licensed by Ayr Presbytery on 26th October, 1926, two commissioners were present from this congregation and presented a unanimous call in his favour. The call was accepted and the ordination was fixed for 22nd December, 1926.
On the occasion, David Russell, Kilmarnock, preached; Edward White, Dromore, conducted the ordination; and James Young, Ayr, addressed the new minister and the congregation.
On 28th July, 1931, a call to him from the Arbroath congregation was tabled at the Presbytery. When the call was disposed of on 22nd September, he was retained in this charge. But two years later, on 20th June, 1933, a call was presented to him from Mains Street, Glasgow. He accepted this at a meeting of Presbytery on 25th July and was inducted there on 13th September, 1933.
Toberdoney: Hugh Alexander Reid MacFarlane
On 22nd June, 1934, the congregation requested the Presbytery for the moderation of a call. They offered an annual stipend of £200, a manse, three Sabbaths’ vacation, and the rates on the manse. This was granted on condition that they bring the stipend up to the minimum within a year. David Walker, Kilwinning, was appointed to moderate a call. On 28th September following, a call to Reid MacFarlane was brought before the Presbytery signed by 62 member and 15 adherents. This was sustained, presented to MacFarlane, who was present, and accepted. He was ordained on 8th November, 1934.
On the occasion, Francis Davidson, Paisley, opened the service; David Bennie, Ayr, preached from Acts 9:10 and 17; Davidson conducted the ordination; David Walker, Kilwinning, addressed the new minister; and Waters Reid, Carluke, addressed the congregation.
During his time here, MacFarlane also supplied the pulpit of the Dromore congregation.
His resignation was reported in May, 1944, and his name was dropped from the roll.
Toberdoney: James Higginson Beggs
It was reported to the Synod in May, 1949, that he had been ordained and inducted here.
He became a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.