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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick
Banchory-Devenick Free Church


This church was erected in 1844 on a site surrounded by trees, about a mile to the south of the parish church. The ground, along with a sufficient space for a graveyard, was given off, gratuitously, from the estate of Banchory, by the proprietor, Mr. Alexander Thomson, who also contributed handsomely to the funds of the church.

The first minister was David Findlay Arthur, who is a native of the parish of New Cumnock in Ayrshire, where his forefathers had been farmers for many generations, and had taken an active part in the struggles of the Covenanters. He was educated at Glasgow University, in which he was for some time class assistant to Dr. Buchanan, subsequently acting as tutor in the family of Captain McLeod, who, with his wife, family, and shepherds formed at the time the sole inhabitants of the island of Rum. Duly licensed by the Church of Scotland, Mr. Arthur acted for some time as assistant to Dr. Main of Kilmarnock, after which he removed to Manchester, to take charge of the Church of Scotland mission station there. At this time the Disruption controversy was agitating the country, and, as a crisis in church matters was imminent, Mr. Arthur refused the presentation to his native parish, which had been offered to him by its patron and proprietor, the Marquis of Bute. When the actual separation came he was still at Manchester, but at once resigned and threw in his lot with the dissenting body. Being ordained at Banchory-Devenick in 1844, he found hard and very trying work before him in his new charge. Dr. Morison and his assistant, Dr. Paul, were both popular in the parish, and as they remained in the Establishment, there were not over fifteen available worshippers from whom to make up a congregation. By faithful attention and kindly acts, however, Mr. Arthur soon succeeded in gathering around him an active and earnest congregation, which he had the pleasure to see yearly increasing. The labour and responsibility devolving upon him at Banchory were great; for, not only had he to discharge the whole ministerial duties of his own congregation, but he had also to attend to the duties of moderator of the session at Cults and Bourtriebush, till regularly ordained ministers were appointed there. He married Miss Brown, daughter of Mr. Brown of Cardens Haugh, by whom he had four sons and one daughter. In 1883, owing to failing health, he was reluctantly obliged to apply to the Presbytery of the bounds for an assistant and successor. The request was at once complied with, the members of the Presbytery embracing the opportunity for expressing the high respect and esteem in which they held their venerable brother. His congregation and private friends, anxious to show their favour in a more tangible form, presented him with an illuminated address and purse of sovereigns. He retired to Cults House, where he lives with two of his sons, who are physicians, enjoying a deservedly large practice there.

James Ironside Still, who had been educated at the University of Aberdeen, and afterwards at the Free Church College there, succeeded as assistant and successor. He is an active and energetic clergyman, and a member of the School Board of the parish. He had the manse repaired, and the church repainted at an expense of some ^500, which he succeeded in raising by means of two bazaars held in the grounds of Banchory House in 188788. The congregation now numbers upwards of two hundred and thirty communicants, and is steadily increasing.


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