Robert Small.

History of the congregations of the United Presbyterian church from 1733 to 1900.. (Volume 2) online

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FROM 1733 TO 1900








THE second volume, though too long deferred, is less complete than I could
have wished. First, it was intended that a list of all the Moderators in the
various Synods from 1745 to 1900 should appear in the Appendix, but up to
1820, owing to the smallness of the three Synods, the occupancy of the Chair
went for little, and since 1847 the names have been given in faithful array
in the Clerical Almanac, so that it was thought this addition might be
fitly dispensed with. Hence some who attained to this dignity among us
have the fact passed over, though with most of them it is incidentally
mentioned. Second, I would have much inclined to annotate and correct
the list of students given at the close of Dr M'Kelvie's Annals, especially
that part which includes the Antiburgher section. Though both Dr
M'Kelvie and Dr George Brown profess to give the names of the students
who entered the Antiburgher Hall each session, they can have had no
authentic documents to draw from, and must have ever and again made
entries and determined dates by conjecture. We have means for sup-
plementing their defects, but, unfortunately, time is wanting, and also ability
to prosecute the needed inquiries.

The reception which the first volume has met with is more encouraging
than I had ventured to hope for. Interest, of course, has been confined very
much to the United Free Church and, as was to be expected, to the United
Presbyterian section thereof. After two rivers have peacefully coalesced they
may show for a time by the colour of their waters that they had flowed
in separate channels. The bitterest complaint I have met with has
been the reverse of what was looked for. I have been blamed for conceal-
ment of facts one example being that I wound up a minister's course by
simply stating that he was loosed from his charge ; whereas I ought to have
told that the root evil was drink. There are cases in which more may be
read between the lines than is expressed, and balancing between the
feelings of relatives and the claims of truth is like attempting to split
the apple under the terror of wounding the child.

Looking back over the completed work I see many omissions which
cannot now be supplied, e.g. books ignored, owing to the author's limited
reading, or because they did not come within the current of his narrative.
Minor inaccuracies are certain to be discovered. It is as when a wayfaring
man, having passed through a locality, describes it to a general audience,
among whom one or two are natives of the place and familiar with its every
nook and crevice.

Great are my obligations to Mr William Crawford for the invaluable
service he has done me in my disabled condition. But for him and members
of my own family the present volume must have been either held back
indefinitely or given to the press in an unrevised and unfinished state.
Thanks are also due to those brethren \vho have favoured me with com-
munications of which readers will get the benefit in the list of corrections
and additions. R. S.


EDINBURGH, December 1904.





GALLOWAY ......... i

GLASGOW . . . . . . . . .22

EASTERN DIVISION . . . . . . .123




GREENOCK . . . . . . ' . . . 168

HAMILTON . . . . . . . . .211

KELSO . . . . . . . . . 246

KlLMARNOCK AND AYR .... . . 277


KlRKCALDY ......... 352

LANARK ... ..... 403

MELROSE ......... 428

ORKNEY ......... 475

PAISLEY ......... 510

PERTH ...... .... 544





SHETLAND ......... 653

STIRLING ......... 663




I. CONGREGATIONS . . ^. . . . . 725




History of the Congregations of the
United Presbyterian Church


THE first distinct mention of Wigtown congregation in early Secession
records is at the Antiburgher Synod in February 1750. They had given a
unanimous call to Mr John Tennant, whom they wished recalled from
Ireland to be ordained over them. It was decided, however, to continue him
there till next meeting, and by that time he had calls from several congrega-
tions in Ireland. The result was that in August 1750 Wigtown people had
to surrender Mr Tennant to more pressing claims, and next year he was
ordained at Roseyards, in the county of Antrim. When the Seceders about
Wigtown were congregated cannot be ascertained, but the title-deeds of
their property are dated 2ist October 1749, and the church was finished
some time in the following year. The membership was drawn at first from
a wide range, extending to Stranraer on the west, a distance of twenty-six
miles, and taking in a great part of Galloway. The places mentioned as
receiving occasional supply of sermon are Minnigaff, Mochrum, and Kirk-
cowan, and the preacher who appeared oftenest among them was Mr John
Swanston. At the rupture of 1747 they must have taken the Antiburgher
side almost in a body, as these names never again occur in the Minutes of
the Burgher Presbytery of Glasgow. Soon after this the county town seems
to have been fixed on as the seat of the congregation.

First Minister. ANDREW OGILV1E, from Marnock, who, before acceding
to the Secession Presbytery, had been parochial teacher in Botriphnie, of
which Mr Campbell, a man of great evangelical fervour, was minister.
Ordained at Wigtown, in September 1751, the call being signed by 86 male
members, who must have formed a widely-ramified family. They had diffi-
culty for years in supporting a fixed ministry, and hence, prior to 1755, the
Presbyter)' declared him " transportable." The meaning was that they were
prepared to remove him from Wigtown whenever he should obtain a call to
another place. In 1757 the congregation was behind with the stipend, and
this led the members about Stranraer, as is to be related elsewhere, to
propose to Jiave him " transported to that corner altogether." In 1763 the
people, afraid of losing their minister, reported that they had paid up most
of their arrears, and had also adopted a method for ministering more effectu-
ally to his support in time coming. The financial arrangements in old
Secession congregations were seriously defective owing to the ordinary
funds being drawn almost exclusively from seat rents, the weekly collections
going to side purposes. Mr Ogilvie died, 25th April 1783, in the sixty-second



year of his age and thirty-second of his ministry. Of his two sons, who
entered the Hall together, Andrew, the younger, after being eleven years a
probationer, received ordination on 2ist April 1801, with the view of dis-
pensing sealing ordinances in Orkney, but he continued on the preachers'
list till the end. He died, 5th June 1835, in the seventy-fourth year of
his age.

Second Minister. ALEXANDER OGILVIE, son of the former minister. In
the earlier part of the vacancy the congregation called Mr James Biggar,
afterwards of Urr, but he was appointed by the Synod to Newtonarcls, in
Ireland. Mr Ogilvie was ordained, I2th April 1786. The call was signed by
97 male members, 12 of whom were elders. The church had been enlarged
shortly before by the erection of galleries, which increased the sittings to
450. Mr Ogilvie died, 2ist January 1831, in the seventy-third year of his
age and forty-fifth of his ministry. A daughter of his became the wife of the
Rev. Peter Hannay, one of his successors in Wigtown. At a moderation six
months after Mr Ogilvie's death 43 voted for Mr Hannay, and 45 for Mr
Thomas Nicol, afterwards of Pitrodie. Objections to the sustaining were
advanced on the plea of undue influence, and after witnesses were examined
2 votes had to be discounted, which produced a tie, and the call was
set aside.

Third Minister. JAMES TOWERS, from Airth. Called also to Dairy,
Ayrshire. Ordained, 28th November 1833. In September 1836 the com-
municants numbered 307, having increased 75 since Mr Towers' ordination.
Nearly one-third of these were from other parishes, most of them from
Kirkinner, a number from Penninghame, and a few from Sorbie and Minni-
gaff. Fifteen families were from more than six miles, yet the minister
could testify that they attended as regularly as any in the congregation.
The stipend was ,120, with ^10 for sacramental expenses, but there was
no manse. The debt was inconsiderable. The church was rebuilt in 1845,
with sittings for 600. On 6th January 1847 Mr Towers accepted a call to
Grange Road, Birkenhead, a newly-formed congregation, whose call was
signed by 71 members and 47 adherents, the stipend promised being ^200.
The church was opened in the following year, and in 1854 a gallery had to
be erected, which increased the sittings from 600 to 738. Thus Grange Road
grew under the ministry of Mr Towers till it became not only a strong church
but the mother of churches. In 1879 he retired from active service to make
way for a colleague, and died, 29th July 1891, in the eighty-fourth year of his
age and fifty-eighth of his ministry.

Fourth Minister. PETER HANNAY, translated from Creetown after a
ministry there of eleven years, and inducted to Wigtown, his native congre-
gation, on 3rd January 1849. The Rev. Alexander Dalrymple, junior
minister at Tarbolton, had been previously called. The stipend was now
,135, with 24 for house rent. Mr Hannay died, after a brief illness, 26th
May 1855, in the fifty-first year of his age and eighteenth of his ministry.
The congregation had a new manse ready for occupancy, and Mr Hannay
was about to take possession, when the summons came to " the house ap-
pointed for all living." Next year a volume of his sermons was published,
with a Memoir by the Rev. James Inglisof Johnstone. It also contains a
historical sketch of the Secession in Wigtownshire, which appeared ten years
before as an Appendix to a sermon preached at the closing service in the old

Fifth Minister. JOHN STEVENSON, who had resigned Haddington
(West) owing to ill-health two years before. Believing himself restored to
fitness for regular work he had accepted a call to Zion Chapel, Newcastle ;
but when the induction day came he did not appear, and at a meeting


of Presbytery the following week he withdrew his acceptance. He was
inducted to Wigtown, 3rd June 1856. But again the nervjus system yielded
to the strain, and the connection had to be dissolved, gth June 1857. He
then retired to the family residence near Kilmarnock, where he officiated as
an elder in Princes Street Church. He died at Saltcoats, 8th January 1897,
in his seventy-third year. In a few months Mr John Hinshelwood, after-
wards of Hadtlington (East), was called to be Mr Stevenson's successor at
Wigtown, but declined.

Sixth Minister. JOHN SQUAIR, from Nairn. Mr Squair was first called
to three other vacancies in close succession Hartlepool (West) ; Burray, in
Orkney ; and Kendal ; but Wigtown came in, and was accepted. Ordained,
24th May 1859. The stipend was ,150, with manse, garden, and an acre of
ground lying in grass. There was a debt at this time of ,800, contracted
mainly by the building of the manse ; but as years passed it gradually de-
creased, and at last entirely disappeared. Within the last thirty years the
population of the parish has decreased over a third, and at the close of 1899
the membership was 153, and the stipend from the people .175, with the


THE attempt to have a Relief congregation in this place was a blunder from
first to last. A beginning was made by Glasgow Presbytery on I ith February
1834 in consequence of a letter from Mr Reston of Newton-Stewart, Who had
preached by request at Wigtown on Sabbath week, and had a large audience
in the evening. The Court Hall, he ascertained, could be had free of ex-
pense, and " many of the inhabitants expressed their willingness to pay for
supply/' A preacher was sent at once, to remain till the end of March.
Sermon having been kept up for over a year a congregation was organised
on loth August 1835, with 20 names on the communion roll. In the spring
of 1837 the people were engaged in erecting a place of worship, and the
Presbytery promised collections to aid them in the undertaking ; but progress
was hindered for want of funds, though grants were made to Wigtown by the
Synod year after year. In June 1838 it was found that ^55 had been raised
by subscription in the town and neighbourhood, and ^26 had been received
from five sister congregations, but there was a debt contracted of ^174. In

1840 the place of worship was still unfinished ; pecuniary difficulties were
great, and a legal prosecution was threatened. By the end of that year
^343 had been sunk on the building, and ,130 was still to pay. In May

1841 the Presbytery of Newton-Stewart reported to the Synod that the roof
was on, but the windows were not in, the walls were not plastered, and no
seats were fitted up. The end came on 8th July 1843, when the Minute of
a congregational meeting was laid before the Presbytery, at which it had
been unanimously agreed to sell the church, and on 27th August it was
intimated that it had been bought by the Free Church congregation for
200. The debts so far as known were slightly over ^150, but ^4 was
all that remained to reimburse denominational funds after expenses were
paid. At next Synod the Presbytery reported that " the congregation at
Wigtown had ceased to exist." Had it gone on the two U.P. congregations
would only have weakened each other.



THE early Minutes of the Antiburgher Presbytery of Glasgow having dis-
appeared we have no means of tracing the history of this congregation back
to the beginning. The earliest reliable notice is in May 1757, when the
Antiburgher Presbytery of Dumfries had a petition from Stranraer craving
that a probationer might be appointed to continue among them for some
time to assist their minister, the Rev. Mr Ogilvie. This shows that they
formed a branch of Wigtown congregation, though the two places are
twenty-six miles apart. At next meeting they urged that Mr Ogilvie should
either be transferred to Stranraer altogether or that they should be allowed
to call a minister for themselves. A disjunction from Wigtown must have
been obtained soon after.

First Minister. JAMES DOUGLAS, from Wigtown. Ordained, 2nd May
1759, the call signed by 37 male members. Dr George Brown states that,
owing to some dissatisfaction with Mr Douglas' marriage, a number of his
people became Cameronians. There is a reference in the Presbytery Minutes,
of date nth February 1761, to trouble the session of Stranraer had had with
several in the congregation, who found fault with Mr Douglas' father-in-law.
That gentleman had caused an Irishman to be apprehended when the com-
munion was being observed, and Mr Douglas had intimated from the pulpit
the satisfaction of the session with what had been done. The Presbytery
approved of this as just and reasonable, and the parties who had caused the
turmoil^were to be dealt with. Hence, probably, the uprise of Reformed
Presbyterians in the town. Mr Douglas died of fever in October 1772,
in the fourteenth year of his ministry. There was a membership in 1767,
according to Dr Brown, of 240.

Second Minister. WILLIAM DRYSDALE, from Muckart. Ordained, 2oth
April 1774. In 1791, as we find from the Old Statistical History, there were
443 names on the examination roll of this congregation, and they were
scattered over the whole of Rhinns. It was not till after Mr Douglas' death
that their regular place of worship was built, their meetings having previously
been held in what was originally a dwelling-house. A new gallery was put
up in 1800, a token of increase, though a disruption was experienced at the
time of the Lifter Controversy some years before. Mr Drysdale died, loth
April 1810, in the sixty-fourth year of his age and thirty-sixth of his ministry.
His last illness was erysipelas, brought on by exposure to the chill March
winds, and it speedily reached a fatal issue. He was never married.

Third Minister. JOHN ROBERTSON, who had resigned Rothesay a year
and a half before. Inducted, loth July 1811. The people had intended to
make the stipend ^90 ; but now by an enactment of Synod no one was
to be settled in a town on less than ^100. Hence they agreed to name that
sum, and pay the rent of a dwelling-house besides. Mr Robertson in his
second charge had his lot cast among a people deeply imbued with the
Covenanting spirit. The congregation was widely scattered, extending from
north to south thirty-six miles, and from east to west eighteen. This
was a remnant of Antiburgher times. It was when away preaching one
Sabbath at a station eleven miles distant .that Mr Robertson's public work
came to an end. After four months' illness he died on igth January 1835, in
the sixty-first year of his age and thirty-fifth of his ministry. A sermon of
his appeared in one of the two volumes published in 1820 by ministers of
the Antiburgher Synod.

In 1836 the communicants of this congregation numbered 250, of whom
only a fourth resided in the parish. Of the others fully two-fifths were from
the parish of Inch, which comes close in to the town of Stranraer. Leswalt


stands next with about half the number, and then other parishes in the
following order : Portpatrick, Stoneykirk, Ballantrae, Kirkcolm, and Glen-
luce. About 30 families came from more than six miles. The late
minister's stipend was .120, and he had a manse, on which some debt
rested, but the church was unburdened. Instead of seat-letting the con-
gregation met and apportioned among themselves the expenses of stipend.
The highest subscription was ^5, 55. and the lowest is. 6d., the average
being about 155. The people appear thus far to have wrought harmoniously
together, but they were now passing through a period of unrest which lasted
four and a half years.

Soon after Mr Robertson's death the Rev. James M'Crie of Old Meldrum,
a licentiate of Wigtown Presbytery, was brought south to assist at the com-
munion. Nothing followed till the end of the year, when a moderation
resulted as follows : For the Rev. James M'Crie, 38 ; for Mr Adam Lind,
afterwards of Elgin, 24 ; and for Mr Alexander M'Gregor, afterwards of
Kilwinning, 12. This gave Mr M'Crie an absolute majority of 2 ; but when
the call came before the Presbytery a complaint was made that the voting
had been confined to male communicants. The case was referred to the
Synod, by whom the call was set aside.*

In November 1836 Ivy Place congregation called Mr David Croom,
but Mr M'Crie's former supporters kept aloof. Those who knew Mr Croom
in after years do not require to be told that, though he had nothing else in
sight, he was certain in these circumstances to put aside the Stranraer
invitation, and give the people in that place no further trouble. But feeling
kept as strong as ever, and in February 1837 a petition for disjunction
signed by 30 male and 41 female members came before the Presbytery, and
was carried by protest to the Synod. This led to a meeting of a Synodical
Committee at Stranraer on 7th June to endeavour along with the Presbytery
to restore peace to the congregation. After grievances had been fully
ventilated they had a very agreeable conversation with six representative
men from each side, and it was thought that, if meetings for prayer were
arranged for, and the Lord's Supper observed, brotherly feeling might be
restored. However, at the Synod in September the requisitionists were
up again, " adhering to their petition for disjunction as strongly as ever."
They were told that they might apply individually to the session for
certificates of membership, but the Synod could in no way countenance
the setting up of a third congregation in Stranraer. Six months after this
the appearance of Mr John Peden brought the two parties into oneness, and
a moderation was applied for, the stipend promised being ,30 higher than
before, and leading men among the disjunctionists acting as commissioners ;
but Mr Peden had a prior call to East Regent Place, Glasgow, which he
accepted, much to his own regret before many years had passed. The way
was clear now for harmonious action.

Fourth Minister. ROBERT HOGARTH, from Dairy, Ayrshire. Ordained,
6th August 1839. The call was signed by 130 members and 72 adherents,
and the stipend was to be ^130, with manse and garden, which was
ultimately increased ^70. During the first twenty years of Mr Hogarth's
ministry the congregation was much borne down with debt, and yet they
were aljle to show an annual return of nearly ^40 for missionary and
benevolent purposes. In 1844 they made a special effort and reduced the
burden by .200, and in 1859 the last of it, amounting to .540, was cleared
off under the stimulus of ^100 from the Board. On 23rd August 1881 Mr
Hogarth's demission was accepted. He had been laid aside for some time
from all official duty by illness, and, there being no hope of speedy restora-

* See vol. i. p. 715.


tion, he intimated his wish to retire, waiving all claim to the manse or to
any allowance from the congregation. As he intended to leave Stranracr
he believed that it would be better for all parties that he should not hold
the position of senior minister. Though the people would gladly have
retained him among them they acquiesced in the proposal he had made.
Thus the church was preached vacant, Mr Hogarth retaining his seat in
Presbytery and Synod. He now removed to Glasgow, and ultimately to
Stirling, where he died, I2th March 1893, m his seventy-sixth year. Three
of his sons are in the ministry of the U.P. Church the Rev. John P.
Hogarth, Renfrew ; the Rev. William Hogarth, Rigg-of-Gretna ; and the Rev.
Thomas Biggart Hogarth, Clackmannan. The last name reminds us that
their father was a nephew of Thomas Biggart, Esq., of Dairy, Ayrshire, a
wealthy friend and benefactor of the U.P. Church.

Fifth Minister. GEORGE HUNTER, M.A., from Sydney Place, Glasgow.
The stipend was now ,225 in all, and the ordination took place, 2/th June
1882. After labouring in Stranraer for seven years with much devotedness
Mr Hunter offered himself to the China Inland Mission, and was accepted.
The congregation, believing that his resolution had been arrived at under
divine guidance, agreed to the severance, and he was loosed from his charge,
29th October 1889. But Mr Hunter's course in China was comparatively
brief. On his way to a distant station he was seized with malarial fever,
and he died, I2th March 1900, leaving a widow and two children. He was
in the forty-fourth year of his age and eighteenth of his ministry.

Sixth Minister. JAMES S. SMITH, M.A., from Bonkle. Ordained, loth
June 1890. The stipend was the same as before, with a manse. A new
church, with 530 sittings, was opened on Wednesday, i6th March 1898, by
the Rev. William Watson of Birkenhead. It cost about ^4000, and the
collections that day and on the following Sabbath, when Dr Hutchison,
the Moderator of Synod, preached, amounted to 260. The money previ-
ously subscribed was over ^3000, and ,250 was received from the Church
Building Fund. The membership at the close of the following year was
305, and the stipend as before.


ON 3ist July 1793 the Burgher Presbytery of Glasgow received a petition
for sermon from 23 persons in Stranraer. These were the remains of a
little party which had broken off from the Antiburgher congregation over the
"Lifter" question, and to them the Old Statistical History refers two years
before as " Smytonians," and states that, like another class of " sectaries "
in the place the M'Millanites, they were not numerous. In Dr M'Keh ie's
Annals it is explained that their minister, Mr Drysdale, had given them
offence by siding with Mr Smyton of Kilmaurs for a time, and then for-
saking him, but there is no trace of any such thing in the Synod records.

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