The History of Fettercairn
ON the 16th September, 1773,
Mr Kobert Foote, minister of Eskdalemuir, in the county of Dumfries, son of
the Kev. Charles Foote, minister of Kinnoull, was inducted in the face of
great opposition and personal abuse. According to local tradition, the
members of Presbytery were escorted to the church by a guard of soldiers.
This incident in the story, never fully confirmed, might rather refer to the
ordination of Mr Ramsay in 1700, when opposed, as before stated, by Mr Clark
and his supporters. It is true, however, that the carriage which brought Mr
Foote and his friends was assailed with stones, and that, on the path up
"the brae" to the church, they were shamefully insulted and disgustingly
abused by a crowd that stood in line to wait their arrival. On the same day
there arose a storm of wind which shook the ripe corn, and did other
mischief. Many of the people, highly superstitious, looked upon it as a
special visitation of Heaven, and they spoke of it ever after as "Foote's
wind." The call to Mr Foote in February previous had been signed by only
"Episcopal Heritors, two poor cottars, and a few non-jurants." The non-jurants
were the old Jacobites who had refused to swear allegiance to King George.
Mr Foote's excellence as a
preacher, his exemplary life, and his unwearied diligence in the discharge
of his duties, with his kindly bearing towards all, soon gained him many
friends, so much so indeed, that his death was sincerely and universally
regretted. His name continued for many years to be a household word with the
old people of the parish. A new manse was built for him the year after his
induction. He married, in 1778, Jane, daughter of Mr James Smith, minister
of Garvock, and had nineteen children, of whom only five survived him. Of
these were, the Kev. James Foote, D.D., minister of Logie Pert, and
thereafter of the East Church, Aberdeen; the Rev. Alexander Leith-Ross
Foote, D.D., of Brechin; and Archibald Foote, merchant, Montrose. Mr Foote's
publications were, "Sermons with a Memoir," and the "Statistical Account of
the Parish." He died on the 1st of July, 1809, in the 68th year of his age
and the 41st of his ministry.
The elders ordained by him
were: David Law, James Watson, David Mitchell, David Carnegie, David Wylie,
and Robert Falconer, in 1775; also John Watt, in Wanders-hill, in 1779. And,
subsequently, David Alexander, in Hallhill, John Gibb, in Caldcotes, and
William Thow, in Coldstream.
The next minister was James
Keyden, son of the Rev. James Keyden of Dunbog. He was ordained on the 5th
of April, 1810, and voluntarily retired from the charge in 1814, when he
became purser to a vessel in the Hon. East India Co.'s service. He died
unmarried at Lochee, 5th November, 1821, in the 37th year of his age. A
short time before he retired, in 1814, two of his elders, whom he had
ordained in 1811, Mr George Sanderson, factor at The Burn, and Mr Robert
Vallentine, farmer, Bogmuir, waited upon him at the manse to tender their
resignation; alleging that they were dissatisfied with his conduct and
attention to duty. "Very glad to see you, gentlemen," said he, "for I
seriously thought of asking you to resign, and if you did not, to compel
In December, 1814, John Muir,
a native of West Calder, who had been a tutor at Benholm Castle, was
ordained assistant and successor; but demitted in September, 1816, on being
presented to the church and parish of St. Vigeans, where he died in 1859.
The old trees around the glebe were planted by him. The elders he ordained
were: John Falconer, Balnakettle; George Sheriffs, Fasque; George Wallace,
Midmains; and Peter Milne, East Burnside.
Alexander Whyte, A.M. of
King's College, Aberdeen, son of David Whyte, farmer, Clova, succeeded Mr
Muir, and was ordained as assistant and successor to Mr Keyden on 13th
March, 1817. He had been for the three previous years parish schoolmaster of
Auchterhouse, and for some time before a tutor in the family of the Earl of
Airlie. He married, in 1827, Jane Farquhar, daughter of the Rev. James Shand,
minister of Marykirk. She died in October, 1843, leaving a family of two
sons and two daughters. Of their younger son Alexander, a distinguished
naturalist, some account will hereafter be given. Mr Whyte died on the 11th
January, 1858, in the 68th year of his age and the 41st of his ministry. The
memorial tablet in the church has been already noticed. His leading
publications were, "The Duty of Prayer," "Heritage of God's People," "The
Lord's Supper," "Exposure of the Rev. William Nixon's Erroneous Statements
as to Moderatism; and of his Unconstitutional Views as to the Church Defence
Associations and intruding into the parishes of his brethren"; also, "The
New Statistical Account of the Parish." Mr Whyte was a good Latinist, and
dealt largely in pithy maxims and phrases. Of these, the following are yet
visible at Auchterhouse, scratched upon the paaes of a window that had done
duty in the old schoolhouse : "Tunc intravit" (Then entered), "Alexander
Whyte, November 15th, 1813. Alexander Whyte, February 15th, 1817. Nunc
exivit" (Now left). "Patientia, perseverantia. et diligentia, cum magna
eruditione, valde necessariae sunt doctori." (Patience, perseverance and
diligence, with a great deal of learning, are very necessary to the
teacher.) In ordinary conversation he was terse and forcible. At the
writer's first interview, he summarised the career of an old schoolmaster of
his time in the following terms: "Mr ------ ran much, a welcome guest to the
farmers' houses, sipped their tea, drank their toddy, caught cold and died."
At a meeting in the village he said to a young parishioner who was speaking
rather freely, " Young man, it seems to me a very few years since I baptised
you." And on another occasion, when suffering from a severe cold, Dr. Fettes
prescribed a mustard poultice. "Doctor," he observed, "they tell me I have
enough mustard in my constitution already." "Perhaps they are right,"
replied the doctor, "but a little external application may take some of the
inside article out." Although overtaken in his latter years by bodily
ailments, he continued zealously and faithfully to perform the duties of his
Of elders ordained by him
were: James Durie, Nether-mill ; James Mackie, Thorniehill; James Gibb,
Arnhall; and David Jolly, Meiklestrath, in 1845; James Dickson, Greendykes;
and James Renny, Mill of Woodton, in 1857.
The Rev. Adam Inch Ritchie,
minister of St. David's Church, Dundee, was chosen by the congregation,
presented by the crown, and in due course inducted to the church and parish
on the 28th July, 1858. He married, in 1859, Marion-Elizabeth, only daughter
of Alexander Young, Procurator-Fiscal of Dumfries, and sister of the Hon.
George Young, now a Lord of Session. She died, much regretted, 11th January,
1864, leaving a family of two sons and one daughter. Mr Ritchie introduced
changes and effected improvements in the conduct of church matters; and by
his genial and kindly disposition endeared himself to the people. He was
translated to the church and parish of Whitekirk and Tyninghame in March,
1867. Having retired, he now resides in Edinburgh. By his second marriage
with Susan, third daughter of the late James Durie, distiller, Fettercairn,
he has a son, James. Mrs Eitchie died in 1898.
The Rev. William Anderson,
minister of Melville Church, Montrose, in compliance with a petition from
the people of the parish, was presented to the church, and on the 8th
August, 1876, was duly inducted to the charge. In the same year he married
Grace-Isabella, eldest daughter of Captain Daniel Ferguson, of Irvine, and
their family consists of four sons and two daughters. It is gratifying to
note that during the ministry of the present incumbent progress in
theological thought, reforms of church service, and the introduction of a
pipe organ in order to improve the service of praise in God's house are all
commendable features in the present-day ecclesiastical life of the parish.
THE FREE CHURCH.
The rise and progress of the
Free Church in Scotland forms an important part of the ecclesiastical
history of the nation. The movement now known as the "Ten years7 conflict,"
which ended in the Disruption, as in many other places, exerted its
influence in Fettercairn, and perhaps, from a cause which need not here be
assigned, affected the village much more than the rest of the parish.
Shortly before the Disruption one or two meetings were held in a hall of the
Eamsay Arms Hotel, and some leading clergymen as a deputation attended to
expound the principles of the movement. Great excitement prevailed. Mr
Whyte, the parish minister, was present, and did hi& best to caution his
people. A large number adhibited their names to documents prepared for the
securing of adherents. After the Disruption a new congregation was formed,
but it must be admitted that strife and ill-will were serious elements in
its formation; and although the Free Church in a way has effected a revival
of religious work and done much good, yet the unkindly feelings, brought
about and kept up for years between neighbours and friends, was much to be
The first minister was the
Rev. David Paton, who had been ordained in 1841 to the quoad sacra church of
Chapeltown, Glassford, in the county of Lanark, and who had cast in his lot
with the Disruption ministers. He was inducted at Fettercairn in March,
1844. His father was John Paton, manufacturer, Montrose, and grandfather,
James Paton, D.D., parish minister of Craig. He married Catherine, daughter
of John Shaw, writer, Cupar-Fife, and she died in 1898. Their family
consists of one son and two daughters. Having discharged with great
faithfulness his ministerial duties, Mr Paton retired in 1880, and now
resides in Edinburgh. He is descended from the Middletons of Fettercairn.
His father inherited portraits of Charles, the second Earl, by Sir Peter Ley,
and of several other members of the Middleton family, one by Gainsborough.
They are now at Links House, Montrose.
Robert Henderson Abel, a
native of Skene, and an alumnus of Aberdeen University, was ordained as
colleague and successor in May, 1881. He demitted in 1891, and emigrated to
take the charge of a congregation in the town of London, South Africa.
John Ramsay Macmillan, A.M.
of Aberdeen, a native of the Garioch, was ordained as colleague and
successor to Mr Paton in April, 1892, and continues efficiently to discharge
the duties of his sacred office.
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
The first incumbent of the
Episcopal Church at Fasque, in 1846-7, was Mr Teed, who officiated for nine
months, and was succeeded by Alexander Irvine, who died in March, 1852.
The next incumbent was Mr
Charles Aitken from Coatbridge, who laboured with much acceptance and
popularity. He took an active and leading part in the institution and
management of the Fettercairn and District Subscription Library. The state
of his health compelled him to retire, and he died in 1858. During his
incumbency, he was often assisted by Alexander Somerville, a retired
clergyman, residing in Fettercairn. George Frederick Hardman Foxton
succeeded and continued ably in charge till 1871, when he removed to the
Rectory of Gedney Drove, in Lincolnshire. And now, since that date, for a
period longer than all his predecessors together, the Rev. Andrew Holmes
Belcher, A.M., has, with much credit, held the cure.
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