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Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) online

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greatly excelled, not only in the Sabbath services, but in the
courses he delivered on week-days, those on "The Pilgrim's Pro-
gress " being especially rich expositions. He was also an author
of some repute, the best known and most widely circulated of
his writings being " Sorrowing, yet Rejoicing : a Narrative of
Successive Bereavements in a Minister's Family'' (his own),


published in 1839, and passing through several editions. As
early as 1824 Mr Beith wrote a treatise on the Baptist contro-
versy, and afterwards a Catechism the former in Gaelic, the
latter both in Gaelic and English. " The Two Witnesses
Traced in History " appeared in 1846 ; in 1850, " Scottish
Reformers and Martyrs ; " " Christ Our Life " a series of
lectures on the first six chapters of the Gospel of John was
issued in two volumes in 1856 ; " The Scottish Church in her
Relation to Other Churches at Home and Abroad," in 1869 ;
"A Highland Tour with Dr Candlish," in 1874; in 1877,
"Memories of Disruption Times; " and in 1880, "The Woman
of Samaria," besides various other writings of a minor nature.

By some people who did not know the Doctor personally
he was considered to be of a haughty and overbearing disposi-
tion, and to a certain extent there was something of this nature
in his manner, kindly and sympathetic as he was, but in his
earlier years, when he was a parish minister, and that of a
Highland country district, the clergyman was looked upon as
something more than an ordinary mortal, and was to a large
extent not only spiritual, but legal and medical adviser as well,
and no doubt something of the feeling engendered by this,
coupled with his ardent and earnest nature, clung to him in
after life. But, withal, he was " the old man eloquent," as well
as the warm-hearted Christian friend and pastor. To rich and
poor alike he was, in cases of sickness, a constant and kindly
attendant, his ministrations at such times being most

Born at Campbeltown on 13th January, 1799, Mr Beith was
entered as a student at Glasgow University on 20th November,
1811, and after some time spent as a tutor, was licensed as a
preacher on 7th February, 1821, delivering his first sermons
both in Gaelic and English in Campbeltown the following Sab-
bath. In March he was elected minister of the Chapel of Ease
in Oban, where he rapidly became popular and successful ; and
in 1824 first minister of Hope Street Gaelic Church, Glasgow,
where the sitting accommodation (for 1500 persons) was soon
found inadequate for the worshippers, amongst them many of
the leading families in the City. In 1826 he was presented, by
the Earl of Breadalbane, to the parish of Kilbrandon, Argyll-


shire ; and in 1830, by Lord Glenelg, to that of Glenelg,
Inverness-shire, special circumstances in each case making it
manifest that he should accept the appointments ; and in 1839
he accepted a call to be minister of the First Charge in Stirling.

At the time Mr Beith came to Stirling there were only two
Established Churches, the West and the East, and three minis-
ters, the third minister preaching in both churches every Sab-
bath, and dispensing two Communions every year, while the
first and second ministers had only one service each Sabbath,
and one Communion. This arrangement, coupled with the
unsatisfactory state of matters arising out of there being a
general Session for the whole parish, was not to Mr Beith's
liking, and he took steps for the erection of a third church,
which culminated in the building of the present North Parish
Church in 1842. In speaking, at a later period, on the state
of matters above referred to, he said " I might have taken my
stipend, and been contented with this order of things, and
gone on and on and on ; but where would my conscience have
been ? If I was to obey conscience, I must prepare for the
storm. I could then easily understand how other ministers
were so ready to accept calls to go elsewhere ; and I confess to
you, what I never said in public before, that when proposals
were made to me to be removed to Edinburgh, to one of the
charges there, and made three times, the question of conscience
at the time of the Disruption was not stronger with me than
when I was called to decide whether I should go, and quit
the state of things in Stirling, or stay and fight against it, and
try, at least, to reform things. I stayed, and in a short time
gathered about me many influential friends."

As above noted, the present North Established Church was
erected in 1842 by Mr Beith and ten of his friends in Stirling,
and he was again selected to enter an empty church, which,
however, in a year was nearly filled, and then came the Dis-
ruption. Very strongly imbued with Free Church principles,
Mr Beith had done immense service for the cause, not only in
the neighbourhood of Stirling, but further afield, and was one
of the body of over 400 who marched to Tanfield Hall, and his
portrait is included in the historical Disruption picture. Now,
however, his attention was directed to how matters would fare


with his own congregation, and on his arrival from Edinburgh
on the Saturday evening he found they had secured the Corn
Exchange, where service was conducted for about a year, when
what was known as " the little church " was opened, this being
situated on ground now occupied as railway sidings immediately
behind the Baptist Church. Here Mr Beith ministered for
eight years, the necessity, meanwhile, for a larger building
becoming more and more pressing. He himself shrank from
initiating the erection of a third church, but his congregation
took the matter in hand, the result being the building of the
present Free North Church, which was opened on 27th
February, 1853, the collection taken that day amounting to
1360, and entirely freeing the congregation from debt.

In 1850 Princeton University, U.S.A., conferred the degree
of Doctor of Divinity upon Mr Beith, and in 1858 he was
Moderator of Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. The
Doctor regularly conducted two lengthy services every Sabbath,
together with a week-day lecture, taking, besides, a prominent
part, not only in Presbyterial and general ecclesiastical matters,
but in public affairs as well, but, in 1869, following upon a
severe illness, he was induced to avail himself of the services of
an assistant. So popular was Dr Beith that his name served as
an undoubted recommendation of the excellence of his assist-
ants, so much so that in the eight years during which he was
thus aided, no fewer than twenty-one young men were
appointed, some of whom now fill important positions, pro-
fessorial and other.

In June, 1871, Dr Beith's ministerial jubilee was celebrated,
the services on the occasion including a sermon preached by his
relative, Dr Elder, of Rothesay, Moderator of Assembly; a
public dinner in the Union Hall, to which 120 gentlemen sat
down ; a children's meeting in the afternoon ; and a great
gathering in the Corn Exchange in the evening, when Mr Peter
Drummond presided, and addresses were presented from the
Free Presbytery of Stirling, and from the congregation, to-
gether with his portrait, painted by Mr Norman M'Beth,
A.R.S.A. ; a timepiece as a memorial of the love and esteem in
which Mrs Beith (who died in 1866) was held, and a tea service
for Miss Beith. These, however, were by no means the first


tokens of regard which had been manifested for Dr Beith and
his family by the congregation, as in 1843 an insurance policy for
1000 was secured by a single payment, and handed to Mrs
Beith. (In 1841 the Highlanders attending the Rev. Mr Beith's
Gaelic services presented him with an elegant piece of plate,
with Gaelic inscription, expressive of their gratitude for his
voluntary services in preaching to them in their own language
every alternate Sabbath, and in which he had not disappointed
them for a single day since the commencement. Mr Peter
M'Dougall made the presentation.)

Towards the end of 1876 Dr Beith intimated his intention of
retiring from the active duties of the pastorate, and on 26th
April, 1877, Rev. John Chalmers, M.A., of Ladyloan Free
Church, Arbroath, was inducted as colleague and successor.
Dr Beith having removed to Edinburgh, attached himself to
Free St. George's congregation, and died, as already noted, on
Monday, llth May, 1891, being interred in Stirling Cemetery
on the Friday following, a conspicuous monumental column
being subsequently erected over his grave by his family. In
the words of Dryden, as quoted by Dr Ross Taylor, Glasgow,
while preaching Dr Beith's funeral sermon in the Free North

" Of no distemper, of no blast he died,
But fell, like autumn fruit that mellowed long,
Even wondered at because he dropped no sooner.
Fate deemed to wind him up for fourscore years,
Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more ;
Till, like a clock worn out with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still."

Dr. Alexander Johnston.

Died 27th September, 1857.

By the death of Dr Alexander Johnston, Stii-ling and sur-
rounding country lost a good friend as well as a skilful physician.
He was long and deservedly at the head of his profession in the
town, his services being equally available to rich and poor, and


not for a great many years did any one go down to the grave
in Stirling so universally regretted. A general favourite, and
the very beau ideal of a medical man, even in his external
appearance, his venerable grey head according fully with his
profession and established character, he died at the age of 58.
The Doctor was naturally of a lively and even hilarious disposi-
tion, often giving expression to the keenness of his perception
in what would sometimes be called boisterous mirth, but which
was quite natural to him. He was not a mere hum-drum,
orthodox doctor, but had feelings which he could, and did ex-
press in a way exactly his own, and which never gave offence.

Dr. Robert Harvey.

Died 24th May, 1867.

Dr Harvey, eldest son of Mr Archibald Harvey, manu-
facturer, was born in Stirling on 8th May, 1797, and received
his education at the Grammar School, under the super-
intendence of the celebrated Dr Doig. Leaving Stirling when
very young, he went to London, where he obtained the post of
surgeon in the East India Company's service, in the ships of
which he made a number of voyages to the East Indies and
China. On leaving that Company he returned to Stirling, and
commenced practice as a doctor, in which position he was very
popular. Dr Harvey was a general favourite, his genial smile
and happy countenance being in themselves a help to the con-
valescence of his patients.

Dr. David Findlay.

Died 3rd December, 1874.

Dr Findlay was the son of a farmer, and was born in the
parish of Kinclaven, Perthshire, in February, 1821. He was
educated at the University of Edinburgh, and after practising
some time at Denny, came to Stirling in 1849. During an
epidemic in 1874 Dr Findlay had been most assiduous in his


labours, more especially among the poorer classes, and his con-
stant and conscientious attendance to the duties of his profes-
sion so greatly undermined his health that, when the fever
laid hold upon himself, he soon became its victim. Dr Findlay
literally died a martyr to his profession, and by the poor
especially he was greatly missed. By night and by day he was
ever ready to answer the call of distress, and the poorest
patient never appealed for his help in vain. Underneath a
somewhat abrupt and rough manner he had a genial and kindly
nature, so that he was greatly beloved by all the families with
whom his duties brought him into contact. He was a younger
brother of the Rev. Wm. Findlay, of the West Parish Church,

The following lines were written by a friend after Dr Find-
lay's decease :


He rests ; his noble work is done,
Eternal rest he's nobly won ;
With high, with low, with rich, with poor
His memory green will long endure.

He rests ; and many a helpless one
Will sigh in vain for him that's gone
For him who spent his strength to save
The poor and needy from the grave.

He rests ; who toiled night and day
To keep pale death from life away,
To raise the suffering, cheer the sad,
To raise the dying from their bed.

He rests ; who fought on to the end,
In every sense a faithful friend ;
His mind, his life, his all he gave
To keep, to succour, and to save.

He rests ; no more to walk abroad
No more we'll hear his kindly word ;
With sad hearts we his loss deplore

Peace to his spirit evermore.

-J. D.


Dr. William Hutton Forrest.


Died 20th March, 1879.

Dr W. H. Forrest was a native of Stirling. Born in 1799, he
received his education in Stirling and Edinburgh, taking his
degree as surgeon in 1818. A short time afterwards he went
to one of the Southern States of America, where he remained
till 1822, when he returned to Stirling. The Doctor always
had a strong interest in his native town, and did everything he
could for its improvement, and evinced a warm solicitude for
the comfort of its inhabitants. In 1825 he assisted in the
formation of the School of Arts, and for many years was princi-
pal attendant at the Stirling Dispensary. Doctor Forrest may
also be said to have been the promoter of the Stirling Fishing
Club. It was also greatly through his exertions that the town
was provided with a supply of excellent water, in recognition
of which services he was presented, in September, 1857, with
a silver tea service. The Doctor also took a prominent part in
the improvement of the sewerage system of the burgh, which
had formerly been very defective, the effects of that improve-
ment producing a general desire for greater cleanliness. Old
and dilapidated houses disappeared, and more improved build-
ings and streets were formed.

The Doctor was one of those strong-minded and intrepid
individuals, who fearlessly encounter every difficulty, and allow
no obstacle to interfere with the carrying out of any enterprise
for the general benefit which they have entered upon. He
was unflinching in his efforts for the public weal, and went
straight onwards in his course, undeterred by the cavillings of
narrow-minded prejudice on the one hand, or of bitter jealousy
on the other. His aim was uninfluenced by all petty considera-
tions of place or power ; he sought his own good in the welfare
and comfort of the whole community.


Dr. Andrew Beath.

Died 18th December, 1879.

The subject of this notice was born in Edinburgh about tho
beginning of the century, and was at first intended for the
Church. After attending the University he entered the Royal
Navy as a surgeon, serving for two or three years on the West
Indian station. Returning home, he practised for some time
in Edinburgh, and about 1830, along with his brother, he came
to Stirling, and began business in partnership. During the
cholera visitation in 1832, both gentlemen rendered good ser-
vice by attending patients in the Guild Hall, which was con-
verted into a hospital. In a short time they had got into a
large practice, mainly the result of Dr Andrew Beath's popu-
larity and skill. His brother having returned to Edinburgh,
Andrew was left in sole charge of the Stirling practice, which
increased greatly. In 1845, after the passing of the Poor Law
Act, Dr Beath was appointed medical officer for the parish.
In private life the Doctor was the most genial of men, and hav-
ing a fund of anecdote and information about Stirling in for-
mer days, he was an exceedingly agreeable companion.

44 Citizen " Jaffray.

" The Citizen " died on 13th May, 1828, in the 79th year of
his age. His being distinguished by the cognomen, " Citizen,"
arose from his hailing, with great satisfaction, the beginning of
the-French Revolution, and in this name he took more pleasure
than in plain William. He was born, brought up, married,
reared a family, and died in the same house.

But it was not such circumstances that rendered William
Jaffray distinguished : his mind had a wider range, and when
inoculation was attracting attention, " the Citizen " began
experimenting. Having succeeded, he persuaded some neigh-
bours to allow their children to undergo the operation, and
this, being attended with success, afforded him much gratifica-


tion. He also operated on some adults with good effect, and
in this manner was conferring lasting benefits upon his country.
His experience, however, convincing him that inoculation was
not a perfect remedy for smallpox, he hailed with ecstasy the
discovery made by Dr Jenner ; and, being on terms of intimacy
with a medical practitioner in town, asked about the process.
When the medical man demanded of him the use he meant to
make of this knowledge, he answered that he intended to inocu-
late the bairns in Cambusbarron, his native village. " Weel,
then, Wull," said the doctor, "in order to procure a supply of
matter, when you go home you may rub the dog's mouth with
butter, and let the cat lick it." Upon this "the Citizen"
turned on his heel, and after going home, wrote to a Dr Bryce,
in Edinburgh, who furnished him with some of the best works
on the subject, a supply of matter, and the necessary operating

Every Friday, either in the house of a friend or in his own
ware-room, did he wait for hours, for the purpose of supplying
his weavers with work or vaccinating their children. Nor did
he confine his exertions in this good cause to Stirling and
Cambusbarron, but made itinerating tours to the towns and
villages around. In this way he frequently, after walking from
six to nine miles, vaccinated from 80 to 120 children. On these
tours as in all his labours in the cause of humanity his ser-
vices were entirely gratuitous; and his labours were so
abundant, and conducted so successfully, that he was able to
say with truth, twelve years before his death, that he had
vaccinated some 13,000 children, not one of whom, so far as his
knowledge extended, ever took smallpox.

It was very gratifying to " the Citizen " that his neighbours,
in his native village, almost wholly allowed him to vaccinate
their children. There were, however, two families one at each
end of the village who resisted the innovation as a new-fangled
invention to oppose, as they ignorantly imagined, the designs
and workings of Providence ; but his object was accomplished
in a very effectual manner, as, upon the next visitation of the
distemper, each of the two families, although at opposite ends of
the village, was infected, and one in each died, whilst every
other family in the place escaped.


It is very questionable if any poor man ever rendered him-
self so useful to the public, or conferred such lasting benefits
upon society. If the calculation be a just one, that out of
every four children born one died of smallpox ; and that during
the last twelve years of his life " the Citizen " vaccinated 3000
children, which, added to the 13,000 above-mentioned, gives
16,000 one-fourth, or 4000, would be the number of lives this
one man was instrumental in saving. The motive which stimu-
lated " the Citizen " was as generous and disinterested as his
zeal and perseverance were laudable ; for at the time he com-
menced operations the fee for inoculating was half a guinea,
a sum he considered calculated to prevent its general adoption.

So zealous a vaccinator, and one who had so much to recom-
mend him to public notice, was not likely to be long concealed,
although he was stigmatised by the local authorities as a
" friend of the people," and consequently, in their silly judg-
ment, an enemy to the Government and the governors. The
National Vaccine Establishment, immediately after its erection,
opened a correspondence with him. On one occasion a large
package, addressed " To William Jaffray, near Stirling, Scot-
land," and indorsed, " On His Majesty's Service," came to
town. The post-master, anxious for the safety of " the
Citizen," concealed the package, and despatched a messenger to
inform him that he had better get under hiding for a time, as
a suspicious-looking package lay in the Post Office addressed to
him, and indorsed as above ; but what was the surprise of the
post-master when " the Citizen " appeared with his messenger,
and demanded the package.

It is singular that while Jaffray was in open correspondence
with the National Vaccine Establishment (which acted directly
under the Government), and was lauded by them as a patriot
and benefactor to the race, he should be treated, by the
legal authorities in Scotland, as an enemy to social order, and
a wrong-headed fellow, whom it was perfectly right and proper
to put down as a disturber of the public peace. " The Citizen "
from this time was never troubled for his political sentiments,
and was henceforth considered a privileged person.

The Vaccine Establishment created him a corresponding
member, with power to receive and transmit through the Post


Office packages indorsed, " On His Majesty's Service ; " then
they supplied him with fresh variolous matter, together with a
new assortment of instruments for conducting operations, and
shortly after voted him, at the public expense, a handsome
silver cup, richly embossed, with a suitable inscription. After
the lapse of a few years he was constituted an honorary mem-
ber of the Vaccine Establishment, a diploma being sent him,
an honour enjoyed, because deserved, by only a few. Upon
these the old man set particular value, and considered them as

Another exploit of " the Citizen " was the release of a female
negro, brought from the West Indies to assist in taking charge
of her master's family. Between Stirling and Glasgow, whence
her proprietor was to see her shipped off, " the Citizen " -and a
Mr Cunningham, belonging to Glasgow, having understood that
she was proceeding to Jamaica, concluded she was returning to
slavery, detested by both, and came to the resolution of com-
municating to the young woman the knowledge that no one
could set foot on British ground and remain a slave. They
then told her she was quite free, and at liberty, upon arrival
in Glasgow, to follow her own inclinations ; but as she was an
utter stranger, if she chose, they would take her to a Magis-
trate, and have her liberty officially and publicly acknowledged.
Upon her arrival she followed " the Citizen " and his friend,
who, after they had got her liberty publicly recognised, exerted
themselves effectually in procuring employment for her, with-
out which her freedom would have rather been a curse than a

" The Citizen " was the first in his native village, excepting
a young lady, who carried an umbrella, which he exhibited in
his progress to church the first Sabbath after he had it, his wife
keeping at a distance behind, for fear she should be called
proud, and that she might learn the opinion of the neighbours
on* this new-fangled invention. " If I save, by my umbrella,"
said "the Citizen," "my new hat, while my laughing neigh-
bour is getting his drenched with rain, let the winner laugh."

" The Citizen " took great pleasure in teaching blackbirds and
starlings to perform tunes, the reward he sought for this labour
being a large price for the feathered songster, says a cool cal-


culator no ! but that it might be placed in the street of some
populous town to charm the lieges. A great part of his
attention was occasionally given to flowers, which he cultivated
with care for a time, but his thirst for curiosity and novelty soon
gave place to something else, which ere long shared the same
fate, the last hobby being always better than that which pre-
ceded. Bees he admired at first as a curiosity, but was under
the necessity of descending ultimately to what was to him the
ignoble idea of making them the means of profit ; yet it is
questionable if ever they afforded him much good in this way,
as, from his peculiar temperament, he could not bestow upon
them the care required at certain seasons, nor would he allow
any one to dictate to him in this matter. However, he received
from them a large fund of amusement.

Another characteristic of the worthy " Citizen " was, that
when any of his acquaintance died, and he was not invited to
the funeral, he concluded he had been forgotten, and getting

Online LibraryWilliam DrysdaleOld faces, old places and old stories of Stirling (Volume 1) → online text (page 8 of 25)