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Reminiscences of Dollar, Tillicoultry and other Districts adjoining the Ochils
Chapter X - Teachers, Bankers, and Ministers that have been in Tillicoultry Departed Townsmen


IN the beginning of this century a Mr. Burns was parish teacher in Tillicoultry, and the school and schoolhouse were then in the centre of Braehead Street, at present occupied by Mr. John Jack. Mr. Burns left Tillicoultry, and was succeeded by Mr. Kirk (father of Mr. Thomas Kirk, late classical teacher in Dollar Academy) in the year 1810. When Mr. William Christie (one of the three brothers) emigrated to America, about the year 1814, the heritors bought his house, situated at the east end of the upper bridge, for the parish teacher's dwelling-house, and the little house at the east end of it for the school, and thither Mr. Kirk was removed.

For a considerable length of time Mr. Kirk went up to Harviestoun Castle, and gave Mr. Craufurd Tait's family private lessons, and had the distinguished honour of teaching the Archbishop of Canterbury his 'A B C.'

Mr. Kirk was much esteemed in Tillicoultry, but the village was soon deprived of his services, as he was cut off at the early age of thirty-four. A memorial stone was erected to him in the old churchyard, with the following inscription:-

Sacred
to the memory of
Ms.. JOHN KIRK,
late schoolmaster of the
parish df Tillicoultry,
who died the 6th day of
September 1821,
aged 34 years.
Much lamented.

Mrs. Kirk was left a widow at the early age of twenty- eight, and lived to the long age of eighty years.

On the death of Mr. Kirk, Mr. Watt succeeded him, and he was parish teacher when I came to Tillicoultry in 1847. Mr. Watt was an eccentric man from the very first, but latterly became so much so, that his school dwindled away so seriously, that the heritors were compelled to take some steps for the better educating of the youth of the village; and as Mr. Watt couldn't be turned away, they built the fine school and schoolhouse at present occupied by Mr. Watson, and as the infant school, and called it a 'subscription school,' and appointed Mr. W. W. Clugstone teacher. After the opening of this school, Mr. Watt's gradually melted away till he had only one scholar left, and it was said to be very amusing to hear him dismiss this school of one boy: 'Now, go all out in order, and make no noise.'

Mr. Watt delighted in what we Scotch folks call 'lang-nebbit words;' and one day he asked his class (a number were then in it) 'what a mountain was?' when a little urchin at once promptly replied, 'A big hill, sir.' 'No, no,' Mr. Watt answered, 'I wouldn't say that; it is an excrescence or protuberance on the face of the globe.'

As he lived alone in the big schoolhouse, with no one to take care of him, the interior of the house presented a most lamentable appearance; while the schoolhouse was utterly wrecked by the boys. It was a nightly spectacle to see a dozen of boys round him, tormenting the poor man, who latterly was really a fitter subject for an asylum than being nominally the parish teacher.

On Mr. Watt's death, Mr. M'Turk was appointed parish teacher, and the new school and schoolhouse, where Mr. Watson at present lives, were then called what they really were from the beginning, 'The parish school and schoolhouse.' Mr. Clugstone, not having been successful in getting the appointment, started an adventure school for himself, which he continued for some years, but eventually gave it up, and opened a druggist's shop, which he carried on till his death. He was also collector of poor rates for a considerable time.

The Rev. Archibald Browning was settled in Tillicoultry in the year 1818, and almost from the first he managed to combine with his pastoral duties the education of a few boarder-pupils, with whom were associated such day-scholars as the district afforded. The school gradually increased till it demanded his whole attention, and accordingly in 1825 he resigned his ministerial charge. His seminary became quite famous throughout the country, and he had frequently close on forty boarders. He was an excellent teacher, and pupils came from neighbouring villages to attend his classes. The late Rev. Dr. Eadie of Glasgow was one of his scholars, travelling all the way from Alva to be under him. He was afterwards one of his assistant teachers for about three years.

In the Life of Dr. Eadie by Dr. James Brown, the late Rev. George Gilfihlan of Dundee furnished the author with 'Reminiscences of Dr. Eadie,' in which Mr. Browning's name is so prominently and favourably referred to, that I think it will not be out of place here to give a few extracts from them. Mr. Gilfihlan says: 'At college I knew Dr. Eadie somewhat, though slightly. . . . I remember him in the Logic class in the year 1828, a fair-haired youth of eighteen.

My more intimate connection with Dr. Eadie began somewhat later, and resulted from our common acquaintance with a very remarkable man, to whom I owe much, and Dr. Eadie owed a vast deal more,—the late Rev. Archibald Browning of Tillicoultry. I have since that time met with and listened to the conversational eloquence of some of the most eminent men of our age, such as De Quincey, Professor Wilson, Leigh Hunt, and Thomas Carlyle, but I never was more impressed by any of' these than I was the first evening I spent in Mr. Browning's company. His talk was in a very high degree racy, original, suggestive, and stimulating,—full of humour and anecdote, as well as of bold speculation, and glimpses of far-stretching thought. I know not whether young men were more attracted by his fearless speculations, by his frank manners, by his public preaching, or by his private converse. He shone in various departments, being an admirable teacher of the young, a powerful though peculiar preacher, and a very popular lecturer on social and political questions, such as Temperance and the People's Charter. . . . Some of his pupils and assistant teachers, such as the Rev. David Connal of Bo'ness, and the Rev. William Smith of Bannockburn, to whom they ultimately stood in the relation of sons-in-law, and whom, even while widely severed iii political and religious views, they regarded to the last with reverence and love. But Dr. Eathe's debt to him might be called, in Milton's language, 'a debt immense,' and involved a duty of 'endless gratitude,' which we have no doubt was duly paid.

'Mr. Browning taught him first at his day school, assisted him to go to college, received him (after an estrangement which lasted for more than a year, and which was produced, as Eadie often acknowledged, entirely by his own fault) back into favour again, installed him as tutor in his academy, and assisted him in going to the Divinity Hall of the United Secession Church to prosecute his studies for the ministry. . . . It was while John Eadie was an assistant teacher in Mr. Browning's academy that I first really met him. Mr. Browning, while visiting my late lamented brother in Stirling, where I then was, had kindly invited me to spend a few days in his house at Tillicoultry. Here I found Eadie very busy and happy in his tutorial work. I remember spending a long May holiday with him and some of the pupils of the academy among the Ochil Hills, and our chief employment was reading Shakespeare. . . . Eadie had been a good classical scholar at college, and had profited much afterwards in Latin and Greek while assisting Mr. Browning.'

Having lived for many years in Cairnton House (Mr. Browning's property, and adjoining his own dwelling house), I ever found him a kind and obliging neighbour, and our intercourse together as landlord and tenant was always of the pleasantest kind. We had a joint garden, and thus came very much in contact with each other. As Mr. Gilfihlan says, he was indeed 'a very remarkable man,' and occupied a very prominent position in Tillicoultry for the long period of forty years.

Although he lived to a good old age, the heavy bereavements he experienced in the death of the three of his family previously noticed (all grown up), a few years before his own death, would no doubt hasten that event, which took place very suddenly in the end.

Mr. Browning was born in Strathaven in 1785, and died in the year 1858, aged seventy-three years.

Miss Browning (afterwards Mrs. George Paton) carried on a very successful school for some time, being latterly assisted in it by her husband.

Mr. Peter Dow had a school for a great many years at the head of Union Street; Mr. John Stalker had one in Ochil Street; Miss Cameron, and then Mr. Roxburgh, had one in Frederick Street; and Miss Bamage (afterwards Mrs. Dr. Brodie) conducted an infant school for a good many years in the schoolroom of Messrs. J. & D. Paton's works.

When Mr. David Paton built the schoolrooms and schoolhouse in Stirling Street, one of the best teachers Tillicoultry ever possessed was appointed,—the late Mr. M'Gregor, from Tullibody, who proved himself a most efficient and excellent teacher, and who was very much esteemed by every one.

After this the Education Act came into operation, and our present public school was built, and Mr. Watson appointed head master, than whom we could not have got a better man for the situation. This school has prospered greatly under his management and the able staff of teachers that have from time to time been appointed under him; and the attendance is at present very large, and the school in the highest state of efficiency.

I will now just name the bankers who have been in Tillicoultry. Mr. John Sawers was appointed the first agent of the Edinburgh and Leith Bank (afterwards the Edinburgh and Glasgow, and ultimately the Clydesdale), and Mr. John Thomson succeeded him, and was followed by Mr. A. P. Lorrimer, and then Mr. William Gray. The Union Bank had, for long after I came to Tfflicoultry, no branch here, but Mr. Brydie of Alloa sent up some of his representatives twice a week, and transacted business in Cargill's Hotel; and in this capacity the present much-respected head inspector of the Union Bank—Mr. A. B. Henderson—visited us regularly for a considerable time. When the Union Bank opened a branch here, Mr. John Kirk of Tullibody was appointed agent, and continued so till his death, and during all the long years he was in Tillicoultry was very much esteemed by every one. He was succeeded by Mr. William Hunter, our present agent.

When the Royal Bank opened a branch here, Mr. A. P. Lorrimer was appointed the first agent, and at his death Mr. Alexander Wilson was appointed. When the Royal Bank resolved to discontinue their branch here, the Clydesdale bought the fine building the Royal had built, and transferred their office from the building at the foot of Stirling Street (where it had been so long) to it, and appointed Mr. Jasper Robertson, the present agent, to succeed Mr. Gray.

In the old Statistical Account of Tillicoultry parish, the Rev. Andrew Rynd's admission to the kirk of Tillicoultry is put down as 1648.

The following is a complete list of those who followed him, with the years of their ordination.

names

When the Rev. Archibald Browning retired from the U.P. Church, the Rev. James Young succeeded him, and preached for some time in the old Church in Mill Street. The present U.P. Church in High Street was opened on the 4th October 1840, Mr. Young being minister. Mr. Edward Moir precented on the occasion. The Rev. George Hunter was ordained as Mr. Young's successor, on the 20th of August 1844. He died on the 2nd of March 1871, aged sixty-one years. The Rev. William Galletly succeeded Mr. Hunter, and is minister at the present time.

When the new U.P. Church was opened, Mr. Browning formed a congregation of his own (not in connection with any body) in the old church, and preached there till within a week of his death, although he had been in failing health for a good many years previously.

The Rev. Henry Anderson left the Established Church at the Disruption in 1843, and was the first minister in the Free Church here. He was born on the 9th of February 1779, and died on the 12th of August 1845, aged sixty-six years. The Rev. David Smith succeeded him in the Established Church at the Disruption. On the death of Mr. Smith last year, the Rev. Joseph Conn was appointed his successor.

We have in the village, besides the churches already named, the Evangelical Union Church, the Congregational Church, and the Hall of the Christian Brethren.

The Rev. Henry Anderson lived only two years after the Disruption, and was succeeded by the Rev. David Black, who continued minister of the Free Church for a Iona number of years. The Rev. James Brown succeeded Mr. Black; and when he was translated to St. Peter's Church, Glasgow, the Rev. William Miller—the present minister—was appointed his successor.

The Evangelical Union Chapel was opened in August 1853, but the congregation was formed two years before that, and met in Messrs. Paton's schoolroom. Their first minister was the Rev. John Anderson, who remained with them for two years. His successors up till the present time have been—the Rev. John Andrew, Rev. James Strachan, Rev. Alexander Nairn, and the Rev. James Davidson, who is their minister now.

The Congregational Church was built in the year 1876, but the congregation was formed three years before this, and worshipped in the Popular Institute Hall. Their first minister was the Rev. E. D. Solomon, who was inducted in August 1873; and when he was translated to Glasgow, he was succeeded by their present minister, the Rev. Arthur Smith.

The Hall of the Christian Brethren, in Hamilton Street, was built by Mr. Archibald of Devonvale in the year 1864.

DEPARTED TOWNSMEN.

I may here give the names of a few of our townsmen who have passed away since I came to Tillicoultry, and whose deaths have not been otherwise referred to in this book:—Mr. John Cargill, of the Crown Hotel; Mr. John Donaldson, a well-known merchant in Union Street; Mr. Thomas M'Guffie; Mr. William Monteith, and his son Mr. Robert, clothiers in High Street; Mr. Thomas Monteith, clothier, High Street; Mr. John Ure, merchant in Mill Street; Mr. John Monteith, manufacturer old Laird Ritchie, and Mr. James, his son; Mr. Dewar, factor; Mr. Cairns, farmer, and his two sons, Mr. Robert and Mr. John; Mr. M'Turk, teacher; Mr. Graham Paterson, wright, and his whole family of four sons and one daughter,—Mrs. Paterson being left alone to mourn their deaths; Mr. Thomson Dawson; old Mr. Abraham Hutchison; Mr. Shaw, baker; Mr. Robert Philip, turner; Mr. John Paton, wright; Rev. David Black; Mr. Andrew Scotland, manufacturer; Mr. Robert Murray; Dr. Thomson; Dr. Hynd; Dr. Farquharson; Mr. John Moir; Mr. James Alexander, manufacturer; Mr. James Anderson, manufacturer; Mr. John Cowie, merchant, High Street; Mr. Thomas Monteith, manufacturer (Mrs. Walker, post-office, and Mrs. Cargill's father), and his son Mr. William; Mr. James Henderson, manufacturer; Mr. John Henderson, manufacturer; Mr. James Dagleish; Mr. William Young; Mr. Charles Murray; Mr. Edward Meiklejohn; Mr. James Galloway, sen.; Mr. Andrew Thomson, builder; Mr. Peter Paterson, builder; Mr. Robert Cairns, farmer; Mr. Blackney Waddell; Mr. Lockhart Noble. Cree, painter; Mr. William Gillespie; Mr. James Cairns; Mr. Alexander Johnston, the Alloa carrier; Mr. John Robertson. This long list brings forcibly home to the writer of these pages that he, too, must soon follow.

'A few more years shall roll,
A few more seasons come,
And we shall be with those that rest
Asleep within the tomb.

'A few more suns shall set
O'er these dark hills of time,
And we shall be where suns are not,
A far serener clime.

'A few more Sabbaths here
Shall cheer us on our way;
And we shall reach the endless rest,
The eternal Sabbath day.

''Tis but a little while,
And He shall come again,
Who died that we might live, who lives
That we with Him may reign.

'Then, O my Lord, prepare
My soul for that great day:
) wash me in Thy precious blood,
And take my sins away.'


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