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History of West Calder
Chapter XXII. Church Statistics of the various Denominations, with an Historical Account of the Ministers thereof, past and present


Having collected all the information I possibly can on this subject I now proceed4 to lay it before the reader in the following order :—1st, Roman Catholic ; 2nd, Free Church ; 3rd, United Presbyterian; 4th, Established Church.

L Roman Catholic Denomination.

The advent of shale mining in this parish brought many strangers to work therein. Amongst ethers, as already noticed, a large influx of Irish, principally Roman Catholics, who, though a fluctuating and migratory class, still form a considerable body of the mining population. The Church of Rome followed its people, and at first occasional services were held in the masonic old lodge conducted by various priests from Bathgate.

As the direct enquiries made regarding this denomination remain unanswered the following are the only particulars I can lay my hands upon:—The chapel, behind which is an excellent day school in connection therewith with a roll of 213 children, was built in 1877 at a cost of £1,200 with seat accommodation for 520. Adherents, 1000.

The present priest is the Rev A Goldie, called by his flock Father Goldie, and the chapel is dedicated to “Our Lady, and St Bridget.” Our Lady being the Virgin Mary, and Lady day the 25 th March. The legend of St Bridget is not without interest, and I give it on the authority of Chambers.

St Bridget, or St Bride as she is commonly called, a native of Ireland who flourished in the end or the 5th and beginning of the 6th century, and was renowned for her beauty. To escape the temptations to which this dangerous gift exposed her, as well as the offers of marriage with which she was annoyed, she prayed to God to make her ugly. Her prayer was granted ; and she retired from the world, founded the monastery of Kildare, and devoted herself to the education of young girls. Her day falls on the 1st of February. She was regarded as one of the three great saints of Ireland, the others being St Patrick and St Columba. She was held in great reverence in Scotland, and was regarded by the Douglasses as their tutelary saint. The ruins of an ancient church dedicated to St Bride may still be seen in Douglas, Lanarkshire, in the vaults of which several of the great Lords of Douglasdale lie interred in funeral pomp.

II. Free Church

(FREE PRESBYTERY OF LINLITHGOW)

The ecclesiastical agitation which distracted the Church of Scotland for a period of ten years culminated in 1843 in what is known as the great Disruption, when no less than 474 ministers renounced their connection with the establishment along with a great body of elders and members in consequence, of the refusal of the Whig Parliament of the day to acknowledge the well known Claim of Right which amongst other things included a demand for the abolition of Patronage, which had been detested by the people and clergy of Scotland ever since its introduction in 1711 by the Tory Ministry of the good Queen Anne, who somewhat mistakenly approved of the measure “for the love and favour she had to the church and people.” . .

The then parish minister of West Calder, though sympathising entirely with the claim of right, earnestly disapproved of schism in the church, seeing no fundamental question of vital religion was involved in the controversy, or, its possible results, and therefore preferred, though with a sore disappointed heart, to remain true to the down-trodden church of his forefathers in fulfillment of his oaths and conscientious convictions of duty.

Notwithstanding, a number of his elders and members seceeded, for whom he always retained the highest esteem. These formed the nucleus of a congregation who banded together, and, assisted externally, succeeded in building a small church for themselves.

This church was opened in the year 1844 ; but was for a considerable time without a ‘placed’ minister. During this period the services were conducted by the following rev gentlemen:—Mr Miller, who went to New Zealand as pioneer for the Free Church Mission there; Mr Somerville, who took charge of the Logie and Gauldry (Fife) congregations many years ago; Mr Aiken, now of Carlops; and many others.

1869. James Iverach.

The first ordained minister of this charge. Ordained, 1869. Translated to Ferry hill Free Church, Aberdeen.

1875. Donald Taylor.

Born at Leith, educated at the University and New College, Edinburgh. Licensed by the Free Presbytery of Edinburgh, and after being assistant to the Rev William Arnot of the Free High Church, Edinburgh, was ordained to the pastorate of West Calder Free Church in February 1875, and is still minister of the congregation.

The original church, which is now transformed into dwelling houses, being considered too small for the congregation they resolved to erect a new one, which is situated on the Edinburgh road on the eastern extremity of the village and was opened on the 25th of January 1883; cost £2,100; seats, 450; communion roll, 240; elders, 8; deacons, 8. Behind the church, which is handsomly built, is a hall for various purposes. Sabbath school children, 160; teachers, 15. There is also a Free Church Mission congregation at Addiewell, started in 1873. They worship in an iron church which was presented by the Free Barclay Congregation, Edinburgh, and is capable of bolding about 300; communion roll, 90; elders, 3; deacons, 3; Sabbath school attendance, 50 children and 5 teachers. Missionary, Mr John M. Craig.

III. Secession or U.P. Church.

In chapter v. p.p. 51-2 we have Dr Muckersy’s ecclesiastical and other general statistics of West Calder at the seccession in that parish, to which I refer the reader interested in denominational statistics.

Premising that the U.P. Church of West Calder was formerly in the U.P. Presbytery of Lanark, but is now in that of Edinburgh, I have much pleasure in submitting the fullest account I can command of all its ministers, &c.

The U.P. congregation of West Calder originated in the settlement of an unacceptable minister in the parish in 1794, and by disjunctions from the Secession congregations of Longridge in Whitburn parish, and East Calder. A church was built in 1795 ; cost £500; sittings, 470 (afterwards enlarged to 498). Before obtaining a fixed pastor the congregation called Mr Lothian of Port Glasgow, who prefered Ports burgh, Edinburgh. 1798. 1st minister, William Fleming,  From Edinburgh. Ordained, March 29thy 1798 : Died, December 18th, 1845, in the 69th year of his age and 48th of his ministry, A volume of his sermons was published after his death to which was prefixed a memoir by his sons, (Edinburgh : William Oliphant & Sons: 18^6). Mr Fleming was a man of very considerable force of character, a hi!?-raorist, and a conscientious and successful minister, He built up a strong congregation, and is to this day affectionately remembered by some of the old inhabitants who knew him personally. A marble slab now in the lobby of the present U.P. Church bears an interesting inscription which I will give in the appendix to this book, along with copious-extracts from the above memoir; for if these were given here they would simply overshad-dow all that I can relate of his successors.

1846. 2nd minister, Robert McLaurin.

From Coldingham, of which his father was secession minister. He was called to Methven and West Calder and was ordained in the latter, August 6th, 1846. He resigned on November 19th, 1850, afterwards joined the Established Church and became a minister of a congregation at Sandsting, Shetland, afterwards he was engaged in secular employment at Selkirk in 1873.

The congregation after Mr McLaurin’s resignation called Mr Johnston now of Springburn, Glasgow; but the call was not sustained in consequence of the divided state of the •congregation.

1852. 3rd minister, John Thompson, M.A.,

A native of Carlisle. Educated at Glasgow University and licensed by the Glasgow U.P. Presbytery, December 1850. Called to Bank Hill, Berwick ; and West Calder. Ordained to the latter, April 27th, 1852. Translated to St Paul’s, Birkenhead, August 28th, 1858. Now in Westmorland Road, Presbyterian Church of England, Newcastle, to which he was translated, 4th September, 1872. Author of “Religious Aspects of Italy,” 1866 ; "Life and Work of Peter the Apostle,” 1870; and “Life & Writings of John the Apostle,” 1882. He left grateful and affectionate remembrances behind him in West Calder.

1859. 4th minister, Peter Duncanson.

Born at Cairneyhill, Dunfermline, 1834. Educated at Edinburgh University ; licensed by the U.P. Presbytery of Dunfermline, 1857. After having been called to Paisley, Alva, Thornhill, Dunfermline, and West Calder, he was ordained in the last, June 22nd 1859. Translated to Hamilton, October 11th, 1864. On the death of the late parish minister, in 1870, Mr Duncanson wrote a letter of condolence to the family of deceased, dated, Auchingramont J.P. Manse, Hamilton, 2nd June, in which the following creditable sentence occurs:—“He and I always lived on friendly terms as became near neighbours and brother ministers, and I should have liked much, had it been possible, to pay the last tribute of respect to his memory.” His own father died that very year which intensified his feelings and sympathy.

In March 1865 the congregation called the Rev John Thompson, M.A., their former minister ; but he declined the call. It may be interesting to Mr Thompson’s former friends to know that he is doing well in Newcastle, as the following published statistics clearly show:—“Newcastle : Westmoreland Road congregation: elders, 18; members, 523 ; teachers, 41; scholars, 543. Total income for all purposes, .-£995; stipend, £400. A new church was built for this congregation and opened in May 1872. Cost, £6,000  sittings, 850.”

1865. 5th minister, Davicl Sidey.

Formerly minister of Auchtermuchty, Fife, inducted December 27th, 1865. Resigned on account of his health, October 3rd, 1871, having accepted a call to Napier, New Zealand. He published a pamphlet on “ Public opinion in relation to Religion.”

1872. 6th minister, James Fraser.

Born at New Cathcart, educated at Glasgow University, and licensed by the U.P. Presbytery of Glasgow. Was assistant to the Rev Dr James Brown of St James U.P. Church, Paisley, from 1868 to 1871. Received calls to Oxendon Presbyterian Church London, and to West Calder. Ordained to the latter, 30th April, 1872. Translated to East Church, (now Buccleuch St.,) Dalkeith, 10th April, 1877. During his ministry in West Calder a new church was built for this congregation at a cost of £3,500, and seated for 720. Opened 19th November, 1874. It is the first building in the village coming from the south side, and is a handsome structure. Architect, Mr James Fairley, Edinburgh, a native of West Calder. This church and congregation wTere transferred from Lanark U.P. Presbytery to that of Edinburgh by the Synod of May 1875. During the vacancy after Mr Fraser’s translation a new manse was built at a cost of £1,200. Situated close to the new church, and between it and the original manse.

1878. 7th minister, James War drop, D.D.

A native of Whitburn \ educated at Edinburgh; and licensed by the U.P. Presbytery thereof, July 1856. Called to Muckart; and Craigend Perth, and ordained to the latter, November 26th, 1861. Called to Ollaberry, Shetland, 1867, but declined. Translated to West Calder and inducted, 11th April, 1878. Received the degree of D.D. from Edinburgh University, April 1880. Was one of the Synod’s delegates to the General Presbyterian Council which met in Philadelphia in September and October, 1880. Author of “The ‘Revision of the Confession’ Question,” 1877, and “Civil Establishments of Religion condemned by History,” 1883, and numerous other treatises on various subjects, such as “On Animal Psychosis,” “On Polarity in the Distribution of Genera,” “Dr Flint and the Logic of Theism,” and “International Police,” 1885. Dr Wardrop is presently minister of this church. Communion roll, 300 ; elders, 8; managers, 12; Sunday school scholars, 112; teachers, 13.

IV. Parish Ministers of West Calmer.
(Disjoined from Calder Comitis and erected 1646.)

The following account of all the parish ministers of West Calder will be found very full of interest, not merely to the inhabitants of that parish, but to the public in general and to the student of Scottish history in particular. The year 1638 saw Prelacy abolished in Scotland and the Bishops scattered to the four winds. Presbyterianism Was again re-established to the great joy of the people, on the lines of the Second Covenant and the present Confession of Faith. Fearless, active, and determined to uphold and strengthen the church of their fathers, the General Assembly of the kirk proceeded to adapt itself to the genius and wants of the Scottish nation. It was an exciting time and a terrible ordeal. Party spirit and self interest ran high, and many excesses were committed on both sides from over zeal, or personal hatred. Amid all this the kirk steadily pursued her policy of revival and extension, and the year 1643 saw the building —amongst others—of West Calder Kirk, which received its first minister in 1645, quod sacra, and became a seperate parish in 1647, quod civilia. Being entirely parochial neither fairs, markets, nor burgh courts were granted to it. Although, Lord Tor-phichen afterwards secured these in his own right as recorded in chapter xxi. Fast days were, however, appointed to be held at least once a year, which made the communion the great annual festival of the kirk. The Preachings as they were called, commencing on the Thursday were continued on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, usually by various ministers. Sunday of course being the great and solemn day.

1645. Patrick Sheills, A.M.

(Shiels in Wodrow, Shields in Presby. Records.) Mr Patrick Sheills studied and took his degree at the University of Glasgow in 1638, and was presented to Livingston by Walter Murray, Esq. of Livingston, Septem* ber 1641, and ordained and admitted on 9th December of the same year. Called to West Calder, by the people who originally had that privilege, and admitted by the Presbytery of Linlithgow, 12th June, 1645. This was during the troubled reign of Charles I., and, as Mr Sheills lived till 1668 he must have seen the horrors of the civil wars of that period, the terrors and quiet of the Commonwealth, and the restoration of Charles II., with its attendant joys and subsequent disappointments, including the reestablishment of Episcopacy in 1662. He seems to have been thoroughly imbued with the covenanting spirit, having graduated at Glasgow in 1638, the year when the great assembly of the kirk met there, which abolished Prelacy, re-established Presbyterian-ism, and diffused a spirit of religious fervour throughout the west of Scotland, which was felt for generations. Mr Sheills caught the flame of religious zeal from that Assembly, and carried it with him to Livingston and West Calder, where his ministry was so successful that nowhere were the principles of the Covenant more deeply and widely implanted than in those two parishes. Accordingly we find that the parish of West Calder, for its upholding the cause of the Covenant was fined in the sum of £2,958 16s 8d, and the parish of Livingston, in the sum of £1,787 17s 8d, while Middleton’s infamous parliament in 1662 inflicted a fine of £300 on John Wardrop in Livingston. Being a talented and zealous presbyterian Mr Sheills was made a member of the Commission of Assembly in 1647. On the overturn of presbyterianism at the restoration of Charles II., (1660) Mr Sheills bore a noble testimony to Scotland’s covenanted work of reformation by refusing to conform to Prelacy. For this he suffered persecution being suspended by the Diocesan Synod of 1665. This would bring upon him great trouble and loss, and he seems to have died very poor, aged about 50 in the 27th year of his ministry, 4 years of which he spent in Livingston and 20 in West Calder, and for the remaining 3 years I cannot tell where, whether in exile or seclusion at West Calder, nor can I trace where he died though his successor was not appointed till after that event. The fact, however, of his widow claiming the ann suggests a vacancy for the period claimed. His whole library was estimated at xl. L. (£40) and the insight (furniture &c.,) at xx. L (£20) a poor estate indeed. He married Jsobell Sandilands, who died 7th March, 1653, and had James and Marjorie; 2ndly, to Margaret, daughter of Mr J. Headdie, schoolmaster at Dunfermline, who claimed the ann, which was resisted on the ground of suspension, above referred to—but the Lords—after the Revolution of 1688—20th January, 1670, found it due. Being in reduced circumstances she received pecuniary assistance from Cramond parish in 1680 and 1681. By her he had Marie, Marjorie, James, Walter (who was served heir, 20th January, 1670,) Patrick, Elizabeth, and Margaret. Death seems early to have taken away his son and daughter of his first wife ; for their names are repeated in the offspring of the second marriage, unless by mistake. The following quaint entry of the baptism of Mr Sheills’ first-born is from the West Calder Sessions’ Books:—“1650, June 18. Mr Patrick Sheills, minister, had a sonne baptized in the face of the congregation called James.” The battles of Kilsyth (1645), Pliiliphaugh (1645), Dunbar (1650), and Pentland (1666), with their varied fortunes were fought while he was minister of West Calder. The later at R/ullion Green was disastrous to the Covenanters and forced them again to resort to their secret conventicles, of which Calder Muir, and Craig Mailin on the Bathgate Hills were favourite resorts, as also the house of the Laird of Hilderston—William Sandilands, brother to 4th Lord Torphichen—who, as “ruling elder,77 had attended the visitation of Mr Sheills7 new charge in 1645, when “ great satisfaction77 was expressed at his earnest ministrations, which were no sinecure in those days when the spiritual and temporal wants of a whole parish were laid upon one inan7s shoulders. Amongst his duties were preaching (at least three times a week), catechizing (often), visiting the sick (when called upon), releiving the poor (when necessary), visiting all the families in his parish at stated and regular intervals, beside Pres-byterial and other incidental duties. A minister’s working life was arduous in those days, and it took no ordinary man to be a minister married or single.

1668. John Somerrill, A.M.

On the death of Mr Sheills in 1668. John Somervill was settled as Episcopal minister of the parish, being translated from Glasserton Coll, on 17th June. He continued till 1672, when he was translated to Mid Calder, and thence, in 1674, to Cramond, where he in turn was expelled after the Revolution. Thus he was minister of West Calder for about four years. The next two years he spent in Mid Calder, and must have been a close and jealous watcher of his two joint successors, John Knox and William Weir, who were men of a different stamp. There must have been some trouble before the settlement of Mr Somervill in West Calder; as, three years previously, (1665) Mr Sheills had been suspended from the ministry; and his widow, as we have seen, afterward got the ann or remnant stipend &c due to deceased minister's heirs, which had been in dispute. It is also remarkable that at this period there occurs a complete blank in the record of West Calder session books for a period of no less than ten years, viz., from 1664 to 1674, being exactly one year before Mr Sheills was suspended and ending one year after Mr Weir was imprisoned by the restored bishops. The same year that Mr Soniervill came to West Calder, “Lord Torphichen and other heritors of West Calder” were harassed by the Privy Council of State for Scotland for the part they had taken privately or publicly against the prelatical faction and in favour of the Presbyterian. Letters were consequently issued against them to their loss and annoyance, while “Sandilands, tutor to Calder” as he is called by Wodrow had been previously indited, (1662) and fined £1,200. As this line is recorded under (Linlithgowshire) it seems to point to the laird of Hilderston, uncle t© the young Lord Torphichen.

1672. John Knox A.M., and William Weir A.M.

The translation of Mr Somervill to Mid Calder, left the church vacant. It seems rather strange to find two ministers at one time in such a charge as West Calder would then be with its sparce population, and its then miserable pittance of stipend. But the explanation is to be found in the policy of the bishops and the Committee or Council of State under Laurderdale, who adopted the plan of sending the outed ministers in pairs to the vacant parishes with the view of preventing the enormous spread of conventicle preachings, and at the same time keeping the. ministers under survilence and control by confining them strictly to the bounds of the parish to which they were relegated. The following facts tell their own tale and cast a lurid light upon that circumstance. They were outed and indulged ministers, and great favourites with the parishioners. Their wants were few and would be willingly supplied. They had also been brothers in tribulation, and were destined to suffer further trials. Before giving their histories seperately, I may remark that Knox was not called to West Calder but sent there, and in the circumstances seems to have been well received. While Weir received a call, which, as we shall yet see formed part of an indictment against him.

John Knox.

Formerly of North Leith, where he had lived peaceably after his deprivation. On the issuing of the second Indulgence on 3rd September, 1672, John Knox and William Weir were settled as indulged ministers in West Calder. The lives of these two ministers were so remarkable and full of incident that it would take several columns to relate them. Knox had been ordained minister of North Leith in 1665, from which he was expelled in 1662 for not conforming to prelacy. Before that he had been a chaplain in the king’s (Charles II.) army, in loving acknowledgement of which he received a letter from his majesty, dated St Germains, August 31st, 1652, which Wodrow gives in his history, book 3, chapter 8, section 2. Mr Knox’s adventures at that time with the army at TantaKon and North Berwick are more interesting than any romance. He continued in West Calder until 1684, when, on 10th September, he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, who sentenced him to imprisonment. After all his services in the king’s cause, the Council would show him no mercy “unless he would give bond never to preach or exercise any part of the ministerial function in Scotland,” to which he answered “he looked on himself as a minister of Christ, and would never tie up himself from preaching his Gospel.’’ He continued in prison till the following year, when Wodrow gives some further particulars of the Council’s harsh treatment of him, book 3, chapter 9, section 4. He returned to his former parish of North Leith in July 1687; but his health having been broken by the imprisonment and harsh treatment, to which he had been subjected, he died in March 1688.

William Weir.

Formerly of Linlithgow. Indulged with Mr Knox, September 1672, and was called to West Calder the same year. Resisting his majesty’s (Charles II.) supremacy in spiritual affairs, and obtaining his obligations against Episcopacy in his public ministrations he was by authority of the Privy Council, 31st July, 1673, carried a prisoner to Edinburgh, escorted by military, and committed to the Tolbooth. Another account gives the following particulars:—“Ordained by. the Protesting party in the Presbytery minister of Linlithgow on the 6th October, 1653. He took an active part with the Protesters in their public action in the affairs of the church and nation, for which he suffered at the hands of the Resolutioners in 1660. He was one of nineteen ministers (among whom was the whole Presbytery of Biggar) who were, cited to appear before the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale in November 1660. No account of the proceedings of that Synod has ever been published ; in fact, no historian who has ever written, has the slightest idea of what took place at that Synod. Meeting after meeting was occupied with the trial of these faithful brethren. If we were to publish what we have accidentally discovered of the proceedings which took place, it would go far to explain some things hitherto considered unaccountable in the history of the period. Several of the ministers were suspended and deposed, the first to suffer being Alexander Livingstone, minister of Biggar. After the Synod got tired of the disgraceful work in which it was occupied, it put oif the remaining cases till the next meeting in May, 1661. At that meeting Mr Weir was one of those who were removed from their charges for their faithful upholding of the principles of the church. Wodrow tells us the result of that sentence, as follows:—‘Mr Weir, refusing to give up to the magistrate the Church emoluments and registers, was put into the Thieves’ Hole in Linlithgow by Provost Glen. And, after he had been some time in that dungeon, he was carried to a room in the palace, and kept there six weeks; till at length, seeing no remedy, he was forced to make the best terms he could with his persecutors.’ Mr Weir on his settlement as indulged minister in West Calder, refused to conceal his covenanting principles, or to acknowledge the Erastian power claimed in the Council’s Acts, or the ecclesiastical supremacy exercised by the king. It was not lIong till he had to suffer anew for the boldness of his utterances. Wodrow, in the eighth chapter of the second book of his history, has the following passage with regard to the Council’s treatment of him:—‘The same day, July 31st, 1673, the Council or* dered out a squad of the guards to bring in Mr William Weir, indulged minister of West Calder, prisoner to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh.’ I find no more about him in the registers, neither have I any full accounts of the process against this godly minister. Only, I am informed, that he was challenged for taking a call to the parish of West Calder from some of the heritors and the people; and, in his entry to that parish, he had used some expressions, which were dissatisfying to the prelates, anent his adhering to the reformation of this church, and the awful obligations we are under to maintain it; besides, in his sermons he had preached against prelacy and a spiritual supremacy in the magistrate/ Being banished from the country, he retired to Ireland, where he became minister of a church in Coleraine. He returned to Scotland in 1687, on the issue of the edict of toleration by James VII., and received a call from his old parishioners at Linlithgow, to whom he continued to minister till his death on 1st July, 1695. Many of the inhabitants of West Calder had to flee from their homes and take refuge among the moors and mountains. In the list of fugitives published in 1684, of those who had thus to flee, appear the names of James Hardie, near to West Calder Kirk; James Young, weaver, at West Calder; and William Shaw, cordiner in West Calder. Many were fined and imprisoned, of whom no record can now be found. In April, 1685, in the heat of the killing time, when the persecution was at its height, a band of savage Highlanders were let loose on the parish; who for two days went up and down throughout its whole extent plundering everywhere, and committing the most fearful atrocities; but, in spite of all the efforts of the persecutors, the Covenanting spirit of the parish remained unconquered, and the consequence has been, that in no part of the country is the iniquitous system of Prelacy, which patronised thieves, robbers, and murderers, held in such thorough detestation.” It is worthy of note that Mr Weir was taken away by force from West Calder on the last day of July 1673, while we have seen that Mr Knox remained there until 1684. The latter was only indulged minister, however, so that the charge was practically vacant, and remained in this unsettled state till 1675. Meantime, in 1674, a great conventicle was held on Calder Muir, which only resulted, however, in severe measures of repression.

1675. George Robertson, A.M.

Formerly of Kirkurd, Peeblesshire. The indulgence of 1672, commonly called the second indulgence, the first having been granted in 1669, was followed by the Test Act of 1673, professedly directed against Catholics and Presbyterians alike, but only applied against the latter, and was accompanied by the return of the Episcopal bishops to favour and power. The Privy Council, which ruled Scotland, was selected by Charles II., and, guided by his wishes, commenced one of those persecuting periods which disgrace the pages of Scottish history. Mr William Weir, as we have seen, was banished from Scotland, when it was found that imprisonment could not subdue his unflinching spirit, and thus the way was cleared for the settlement of Mr Robertson as Episcopal minister in West Calder, along with Mr John Knox, who, as we have already seen, remained in West Calder until September, 1684. The consequence of this enforced settlement to the parish, and ultimately to Mr Pobertson himself, will be seen in the sequel of events. Mr Robertson’s history, while in Kirkurd, I have not before me, but during the time he was in West Calde/, the marriages were celebrated 'in the church' and these along with the baptisms and deaths are recorded in a bold and beautiful hand of writing, at the end of which occurs another great blank from 1688 to 1705. Mr Robertson came to West Calder in 1675, and although it would be unfair to hold him responsible for the startling events that took place in the parish or kingdom during his curacy, still he belonged to the dominant and persecuting party, and doubtless took his share in upholding its interests and informing on its opponents, either voluntary or when called upon to do so. As it happened, events marched fast and furious. In 1677, the ‘Highland Host’ was raised and let loose upon the Lowlands, at the head of whom Claverhouse and others rose to unenviable notoriety. In February 1679, very cruel and high handed measures were taken by the prelates and Council to suppress those who still clung to the Covenant. “No bishop, no king” was the animating motto and policy of the Stuart kings after the union of the crowns of England and Scotland, and, as a consequence, Prelacy depended on force for its imposition upon the reluctant Scots, who tenaciously clung to, and suffered for dogmatically preferring presbyterianism, especially in the Lowlands. To maintain the policy ventured upon, strong bodies of horse and foot soldiers were sent to various centres of the south and west of Scotland with stringent orders to punish and oppress the Presbyterians. Calder (Mid Calder) was declared a centre, and horse and foot soldiers were quartered upon the inhabitants, who ware treated in a very high handed way by the soldiers, who ordered all within six miles to supply them with provender to be delivered at the price fixed by the quarter master, with pains and penalties for neglect or refusal, which suited the soldiers well, as they could then, and often did, take it for nothing. These soldiers conjoined to those stationed at Borrowstonness had the command of all the country from Cramond Bridge to Stirling Bridge. The oppressions of this period produced, amongst other retaliative events or deeds, the murder of Archbishop Sharp, followed immediately (1679) by the Covenanters’ victory of Drum-clog, when Claverhouse was defeated. This would doubtless strike^terror into the hearts of Mr Robertson and his faction, and perhaps caused him, in fear, to purchase or procure the ‘ swcrd ’ mentioned in his history. But dissent, ‘ disunion 9 some historians call it,— If that historical and indelible curse of Scotland which pawned the crown, betrayed Wallace, made Flodden a defeat, Bothwell a disaster, Dunbar a rout, and which to this day displays itself in so many subtle ways in Scottish ecclesiastical \envyings and bickerings' soon procured for the Covenanters the disaster ot Bothwell Brig, which raised the hopes of Prelacy. The persecution grew fiercer than ever. For no other crime than desiring to worship God as their fathers had done, men were shot down in the fields, and hunted like wild beasts over the moors and mountains. Their loyalty, to which they had clung in the darkest hour, now began to give way. A sect called Cameronions boldly threw of their allegiance denounced Charles as a bloody tyrant, and solemnly pronounced against him and his ministers a sentence of excommunication. Lauderdale gave place to a more bitter persecutor, James, Duke of York, who often amused his leisure hours by witnessing the infliction of the boot and the thumb-screw. Many yielded an outward obedience, driven by their timid souls to take refuge in a lie, others fled to the American Colonies. In these sufferings, the Puritans of England had no small share. About this time a commission was issued to Lord Torphichen, the Laird of Badds, and others, to follow up the persecutions, but these two at least seem to have taken little or no part in the matter. A person named Kennoway, who quartered himself at Swine Abbey in Livingston and. who is described as a profligate, was a willing tool, and his cruel oppressions only terminated in his death or murder, along with one Stewart, who seems to have been his accomplice. This double murder, which was committed in private revenge for their misdeeds, was eagerly seized upon by the Council as an excuse for further oppressions in 1684. Then followed the killing time of 1685, in the brief reign of James VII. of Catholic memory, when men, women, and children for conscience sake had to flee to woods, caves, and deserts, and when deeds of violence disgraced and afflicted the land, exceeding the ravages commited in a former age by Goths, Huns, and Vandals ; for rape, rapine, torture, and murder, were rampant in the name of Christ and the king. But the whirligig of time brought its revenge, and 1688 saw the Revolution, which set William and Mary, protestants, upon the throne. Still the Highland clans held out, but next year brought the death of Claverhouse (Viscount Dundee), and their consequent defeat. The tables were now turned upon the Episcopalians, and as one consequence we find Mr Robertson’s house (manse) was searched for arms.

A sword taken from him, and himself summoned to remove by a rabble (the populace), so he deserted in 1689, when Prelacy was again abolished. And, mayhap in turn brokenhearted, he did not long survive; for he died in July 1691, aged about 46, in the 17th year of his ministry. His inritar and debts were given at ijcliL xS iiij D (£251 10s 4d). He had married, 2nd October, 1685, Anna Naismith.

1690. John Lauder.

(William and Mary regent.) Translated from Dalziel, called 31st August and admitted 14th October. The entrance of Mr Lauder to West Calder marks an interesting period in its history. The people were no longer hunted like game in the moors for attending conventicles, nor driven at the point of the sword to hear the sermons of the hated curates. No ! from 1690 to 1770, a period of 80 years, they were served by ministers of their own choice, a right which Lord Torphiehen (1645) seems originally to have granted them. “Like priest, like people,” is a trite saying for the one act, and re-acts upon the other. Therefore, it may be neccessary to refer to Mr Lauder’s previous history to find why he has chosen to minister to them as a man after their own heart. The story has already been told by a newspaper correspondent, and I beg leave to repent it here:—‘“Mar 3, Anno 1659. The qlk day Mr John Lauder was admitted minister at Dalyell by Mr James hamilton, minister of Camnethan, according to his act of admission by the presbyterie of hamilton April 20, 1659/ Mr Lauder entered upon the duties of his office with earnestness and zeal, and was greatly loved and esteemed throughout the parish. His elders were like-minded with himself, and co-operated with him in repressing vice and advancing godliness. So successful were they in their efforts, that all through the year 1662, nothing worthy of censure was delated to the Session at any of its meetings, In the year succeeding Mr Lauder's induction, the restoration of Charles II. to the throne of his fathers took place, amid the universal rejoicings of the country. The way in which it was regarded in the parish of Dalzell may be seen from the following entry regarding it in the Session records:—‘ July 1, 1660, Sederunt, Mr J. Lauder, Jon Stirling, alexr. king, Rot. Stirling, James Jack, James smaillie, Jon Ait ton, Wm. Robson. The qlk day a thanksgiving ordained by the presbytery of hamilton (observed also throughout the kingdome) for the delyverance of the 3 kingdoms from the 10 yeirs tyranny of Cromwell and the other rebels his adherents, and for the restoring of our king Charles 2. and his nobles, was intimate to be keept heir on Wednesday nixt, which was intimate and observed accordingly/ ~No sooner was Charles restored to the kingdom than he disappointed the expectations of his subjects who had received him so loyally, and overturned the Presbyterian government of the Church. A terrible persecution ensued which lasted for 28 years, against all who remained faithful to the principles of the Covenant, 400 of the most pious of the ministers of Scotland were thrust from their charges, because they would not acknowledge the unscriptural form of Prelacy which was forced upon the Church. John Lauder was one of that noble band who refused to conform to the Prelatical system, and sacrificed everything at the bidding of conscience. We find the following notice of his last Sabbath previous to his expulsion :—‘ Oct. 5, 16G2. The qlk day the said Mr Johne, minister, was thrust from his charge preaching his last sermon and taking his leave of the people, being discharged by act of Co unsell as all the rest of the ministrie admitted since 1649 for not conforming with the bishops.7 Consternation seized the government at the result of their iniquitous decree, and the time for conformity was extended, in the hope that some would be brought to submission. But the ministers stood firm to their principles During the extended time, Mr Lauder resumed his ministry among his flock until its expiry, as appears from the following entry in theSession records:—‘1663. Jan. 4. The councill of state by their proclamation having given liber tie to the ministers included in the act of glasgow forsaid to stay at yr own homes till febrie nixt therefter, to sie if they wod submit to the. present government by taking presentation and collation and if they did not wt certification of the former act, wt all, not to offer to reside in other of the synods of Edr. or St Andrews, our own minister had sermon the said day, Jan. 4. after the proclamation and continued preaching till the expiration of ther licence and the sabboth following, to witt, feb. 1. 1663. after which he continued awhile in the parish, but was charged to remove out of the bounds, anno 1664, by letters of horning from the Duke of Hamilton/ We have no further notice of him till the year 1670, when on the issuing of the first Indulgence, he was appointed on the 3d of March as indulged minister in his old charge of Dalzell. That appointment he felt it to be his duty to accept. His people gladly welcomed his return to them, which is thus referred to in the minutes of Session :—4 Anno 1670. The which yeir by one Indulgence granted by his majestie, as it is called, to some Ministers to returne to there owne charges that are not supplied by another actuall Minister &c. our owne Minister Mr John Lauder returned and had sermon.’ On his return to his people, he resumed his labours among them with fidelity and earnestness : but he was greatly harassed and persecuted by the ruling powers for his adherence to his Covenanting principles. He refused to observe the anniversary of the King’s restoration, for which he was summoned before* the Privy Council on the 3rd and the 8th of July, 1673, and fined in the half of his stipend and the crop for the year. In 1684, he was still more severely persecuted. For refusing to observe a thanksgiving for the deliverance of the King and the Duke of York from the Pye-house plot, and for continuing in his refusal to observe the anniversary of the King’s restoration, he was summoned before the Privy Council at Glasgow on the 8th of October, when his indulgence was declared at an end, he was forbidden to exercise his ministry within the kingdom, and committed to prison in the Tolbooth of Glasgow, until he should find caution, under the penalty of 5000 merks, ‘ not to preach or exercise any part of the ministerial office, or otherwise to depart out of his Majesty’s three kingdoms, nor to return without allowance from the King or Council under the said penalty/ He was afterwards taken to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, and confined there until he was bound over never to preach more without a licence from the supreme magistrate. In 1687, when a measure of relief was granted by James VII. to the Presbyterian ministers, he returned to Dalzell, and was translated to West Calder on 14th October, 1690.” Thus West Calder parish again secured the services of another stern and fearless, Covenanting minister; but not for long. Worn out, and wearied of life it may be, for a minister's trials oft sink deeper to the heart than other men’s from the very nature of the position they occupy between God and man, as delegates of the ‘Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief f he died the following year, 1691, in the 32nd of his ministry. Evidently he died at West Calder, but where he is buried I am unable to tell as his name is not recorded on the minister’s tomb-stone. For aught I know he may have been carried to Dalziel, Ye scene of his former joys, sorrows, trials, triumphs, where most probably his spouse had gone to rest before him as it is not said he left a widow, although we are expressly told he had Issac, Isabel, David, and John.

1692. John Anderson.

William and Mary were still upon the throne, and peace reigned throughout England and Scotland, although they were not without troubles in Ireland and on the Continent. John Anderson was called unanimously to be minister of West Calder on 29th November, 1691, but was not ordained until the 28th April of the following year. He was educated at the University of Utrecht in Holland, which had been founded in the year 1636. Holland was then a Protestant and free country, to which many of our Scottish countrymen had fled during the persecutions of the previous reigns. On his return from Utrecht, when about 34 years of age, we find him living at Borrowstoneness, then the chief seaport of Scotland, which De Foe had visited about this period, and of which he has left a very vivid and full description. It is still a Dutch-looking town and had then a great trade with the Continent through what was known as the Free Towns. It was therefore quite natural that Mr Anderson should arrive from the Continent via Borrowstoneness, and he may probably have settled or 4 lived * there for two reasons. First, if he left any friends in Utrecht he could best communicate with them from thence. Second, that town was within three miles of the seat of a Presbytery, Linlithgow, with w^hich he was in active communication, and by whom he was licensed to preach the Gospel on the 28th October, 1691, just fourteen days after Mr Lauder died. His ministry in West Calder seems to have been peaceful and uneventful, although the year in which he was ordained saw the dreadful masacre of Glencoe, which left an indelible stain on the ministry of the day, who had deceived the king and queen in the matter. Mr Anderson lived to see first Mary and then William laid to rest, and Queen Anne seated on the throne. He died 17th December, 1705, six years before the latter troubles of the Church of Scotland, commenced by the re-introduction of Patronage. He was aged 48, and had been nearly 14 years minister of West Calder. He is the first minister of the parish that I find any record of having been buried in the old churchyard, where, on the ministers* tomb-stone, his name appears first on the list after the inscription To the memory of the learned and truly pious ministers of West Calder, whose amiable spirits departed this life.” His whole books w^ere valued at ijcL (,£200). The Invitar and debts amouted to iijMjcxciijL xiiijS viiijD (£3193 14s 9d) from which we may infer that he was very studious and well to do. He married, 2nd March, 1696, Mary, daughter of Patrick Me Carr a, bailie of Canongate, and had a daughter, Mary; 2ndly, to Janet, daughter of John Gordon of New work, who survived him.

1707. James Anderson.

Mr Anderson came to West Calder in the ever memorable year of the union of England and Scotland into one kingdom with one parliament, and the crown settled upon the House of Hanover, if Protestants. Scotland, while giviug up some privileges and acquiring others, firmly retained its own laws, courts, and Prasbyterian Church. The latter, one of the strongest links of the Union, viz :— “That the Church of Scotland be maintained, as already by law established,” was no vain or empty condition in the minds of those who negotiated the said treaty, which must stand or fall tantus quant us. I cannot trace whether this Mr Anderson was any relation to his predecessor, or where he came from, except that he was licensed by the Presbytery (Linlithgow^) in 1704, and became assistant to the Rev Matthew Selkrig, minister of Crighton. Called to West Calder and ordained there, 5th May, 1707. He remained in West Calder eleven years, and was translated to Falkirk, 26th March, 1718, by which time Queen Anne was dead, and George the first was king.

1720. Andrew Gloug, A.M.

For fifty years and three days minister of West Calder, he had seen the death of two successive Georges and ten years of the reign of George the third. For fully half-a-century he had gone in and out amongst his people, preaching, catechising, visiting, baptising, marrying, burying. He had shared their joys and sorrows, and had almost become a permanent part of the parish; for few indeed of those alive at his death would remember any other minister of West Calder, save old Mr Gloug. He studied and attained his degree at the University of St Andrews, 8th April, 1718; was licensed by the Presbytery of Auchterarder, 2nd June, 1719; and became chaplin to the Laird of Marjoribark’s of that Ilk, then the greatest landowner in West Calder parish, and whose influence ^ probably secured him the call; for patronage was again in full force. The Covenanting spirit was not dead, as we infer from the fact that Mr Gloug was called, 14th October, 1719, although not ordained till 25th February, 1720. The delay may simply have been owing to the winter season. He was 31 years of age when he settled in West Calder, and was in his 82nd year when he died there on the 28th February, 1770. As his name is second on the ministers’ tombstone, it is evident he was interred beneath it. He married, October 1720, Christian, daughter of Thomas Ronald, provost of Linlithgow, and had William, one of the minister’s of Edinburgh ; 2ndly, to Jean Veatch, who died 1st December, 1792.

1770. William Garvie, A.M.

Son of a merchant in Perth. He was the first presented minister of West Calder, patronage having now firmly taken root over the length and breadth of the land, Whigs and Tories vieing with each other as to who held most Kirkands and most ‘Presentments' Patron of the parish being a highly influential and highly coveted title, to the exclusion of patriotism, and in defiance of both people and clergy, turning a deaf ear to the peace of the nation regardless of the protests of assembly ‘ after assembly of the Church. Mr Gar vie, however, seems to have been a scholar of no mean order, and ifc may be noted here that the generally wise and prudent choice of the patrons alone made the otherwise objectionable system tolerable. He studied, took his degree, and heed a bursary at the University of St Andrews in 1761. Was licensed by the Presbytery of Brechin, 28th January, 1768 ; and presented to West Calder by Alexander Marjoribanks of that Ilk, August; and ordained, 28th November, 1770. After being eleven years in West Calder, he was translated to the united charge of Aberdalzie and Duplin, 11th October, 1781.

1782. Alexander Wardrop.

Licensed by the Presbytery of Haddington, 1st December, 1778, and seems to have been about four years without a church, and may have been a tutor or schoolmaster during that time. Presented by the Laird of Mar-joriebanks in April, and ordained, 5th September, 1782. Died, 9th December, 1784, in the third year of his ministery. His name is, however, absent from the ministers’ tombstone, though that may simply be by neglect.

1785. John Willison.

A native of Crawford. Licensed by Presbytery of Glasgow, 29th March, 1780. Became assistant to the Bev John Fullarton, minister of Dairy, and was presented to West Calder by James, Earl of Lauderdale, (who purchased the patronage that year from Alex. Marjorybanks ) in June ; and ordained, 15th September, 1785. Having been about eight years in West Calder, he was translated to Forgandenny, 25th July, 1793.

1794. John Muckersy, D.D.

The advent of this presentee marks a new era in the history of West Calder, as recorded by himself as well as by the Rev William Fleming, the first Secession minister in West Calder. This was during the long reign of George the third, when Whigs and Tories were fiercely battling for place, power, and empire, neglectful of morality as well as the peace of the Kirk of Scotland, which, under the bane of patronage, was being split into fantastic fragments. Even in the rural, landward, and then out of the way parish of West Calder there had sprung up Burghers and Antiburghers (alias oath and no-oath) fiercely contending with and maligning each other, in about equal numbers, while seven quiet and noble Reliefs shed their saintly light on the parish, aided by three stern and fearless Gameronians, who would yield their opinions to none, and held them against all. I cannot, however, find why Mr Muckersy was so unacceptable a presentee, unless on the principle that there is no accounting for taste, and that family quarrels are the worst; for I find he was the son of Mr John Muckersy, minister of the Associate Antiburgher Congregation of Kinkell, and surely one would have expected he was the very man to heal divisions or dissent; but no. Blood was up, and so forty to fifty more joined the former secceeders, thus strengthening and enabling those who had gone before to found a kirk of their own, variously called in history, the Burgher Meeting House, the Antiburgher Meeting House, and latterly the Old U.P, Church, of which not one stone now remains standing, to the regret of nickity-nackity antiquarians like myself, in whose memory there still lingers one pleasing boyish recollection of this chapel, viz., a soiree held their in honour of the presentation of a gold watch and chain, &c., by the congregation to their then minister, the Rev John Thomson. Soirees were then very rare things, as well as gold watches, in West Calder. But to return from this digression, Mr Muckersy was licensed by the Presbytery of Auchterarder, 4th August, 1789, and became assistant to Mr James Lindsay, minister of Kirkliston. Presented to West Calder by James, Earl of Lauderdale, October, 1793 ; and ordained, 9th April, 1794. Had D.D, from the University of St Andrews, 2nd October, 1819. He died, 11th June, 1831, in the 74th year of his age and 39th of his ministery ; and is buried in the Old Churchyard, his name being third on the ministers’ tomb stone. He saw the close of the reign of George III., the whole of George IV., and part of William IV. For many years, he superintended a boarding establishment writh great success in conjunction with the education of his own family. By his first wife, who died 26th June, 1817, lie had John, minister of Mac-quarry or Esk River, Van Diemands Land ; Lindsay, an accountant in Edinburgh ; and William, W.S. Edinburgh. He married, 2ndly, Jean, eldest daughter of Mr John Cook, professor of moral philosophy, St Andrews. She died, 10th November, 1865, in her 92nd year. Publications :—(1.) Translations of M. Gener, being a selection of letters in life and manners, 3 vols., London 1808-12, Svo. (2.) Sermon preached after the death of the Rev Walter Jardine, Edinburgh 1812. (3.) View of French life ature during the 18th century, translations from the French : Edinburgh, 1814. (4.) Revised Rudiments of the Latin Tongue, Edinburgh 1817. (5.) Sermon xl. (Gillan’s Scots Pulpit). (6.) Accounts of Kirkliston and West Calder. (Sinclair’s). So that Mr Muckersy, if not an eloquent preacher, was an author and scholar, justifying the countryman’s remark, that sermons written by Mr Muckersy, and preached by Mr Fleming would be “uncomon sermons,” the latter being earnest and eloquent. These two worthies were capital friends, and are said to have often visited each others Manses, and had many a friendly chat over the “ pies and porter,” for which West Calder was once famed in reality as well as song (Cather Fair). Mr Fleming was the younger of the two, and survived Mr Muckersy nearly fifteen years. I cannot resist recording here an important historical fact relating to the eventual abolition of Patronage in the Church of Scotland, after it had embittered the ecclesiastical and social life of that country for 160 years. It fell to the lot of the Rev R. W. Mackersy, grandson of Dr Muckersy, and now of Craiglockhart near Edinburgh, to be the indirect but active means of exposing and terminating this detested Act. It came about thus :—In the year 1873, while minister of Caledonian Church of Scotland, Holloway Road, London, $the Rev R. W. Mackersy was presented by Sir James Elphinstone. Bart., to the church and parish of Garioch in the Presbytery of Garioch. To spite Sir James, for some imagined offence, and for no other known or apparent reason this presentee was bitterly opposed, and a long and ridiculous trial took place before the Presbytery and Synod of the Bounds, eventuating in Mr Mackersy honourably withdrawing for the peace of the church. So much attention did the comical objections attract through the Scotch and English newspapers, that the Tory government of the day passed an Act of Parliament, abolishing Patronage (1874) to the great joy of the Scottish Kirk. Strange to say this measure was most objected to, and bitterly opposed by the descendants of those who had traded most upon it, or been most violent against it, exhibiting in a startling degree the selfishness, blindness, and perversity of sectarian and party zeal. No new thing in church history, requiring now as then, the strong supplication of the prophet of old:—Pray (not prey) for the peace of Jerusalem. Let them prosper that love thee and thy peace; for why should Ephraim vex Judah, or Judah, Ephraim?

1835. William Learmonth, A.M.

(William IV., Rex). Son of John Learmonth, farmer, Nether Kinneil, Bo’ness, and Janet Robertson his spouse. Born, 1801; and when a boy of twelve or thirteen years of age narrowly escaped drowning in Bo’ness Harbour by falling in when rtanding in a crowd looking at a man-of-war the government of the day had sent to recruit Scotch sailors, in that then important seaport, for the war with Napoleon first. Showing considerable aptitude for learning, the old do-mine of the Kinneil school took a delight in aiding his studies, and stories are still told of the wonderful faculty he had of discoursing on botany and astronomy to his fellows, while labouring in the fields, or riding on the hay carts to Edinburgh Hay market on a summer night. By dint of perseverance and economy he studied at Glasgow University, where he took his degree, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Linlithgow, 9th May, 1832. Before receiving a call or rather presentation, he kept a school as was very customary in those days for divinity and other ex-students, the church being the fountain of education, in which the Kirk of Scotland excelled all other lands. At the time of Dr Muckersy’s death, the patron of West Calder was bankrupt, which led to a curious law-plea therea-nent, between him and his trustee, James Grindlay Esq. The patron presented Mr John Johnston, schoolmaster, West Calder, to the parish, who, being objected to a strong opposition, sprung up against both the legal right of the patron, and the fitness of the presentee. As a consequence, the trustee ex'ercised his right, and in 1834 presented Mr Learmonth, who also received a very favourable call in addition from the‘head’s of families ’ in the parish. This eall he kept and prided himself in to the end of his days. Being of the people and for the people, he was personally against patronage, and was throughout life, as minister and man, more the poor-man’s friend than the rich, in every respect. Being popular and very favourably received, he was ordained to the churck and parish on the 14th May, 1835. His first great trouble as a minister, befell in the year 1843, when, to use his own words, his ‘best elders, along with a considerable portion of his congregation, secceeded, and the following Sunday he preached to half-empty pews with a sore heart indeed ; agitated, in addition to the great controversy of the day, between his unbending love to the church of his fathers and the grief he felt at the seccession of those he sympathised with most, but whom his influence failed to convince that they were making a schism in the church only on a very secondary question of proceedure, and not on a question of vital religion.’ The dye was, however, cast, and he remaind with those who remained true to the Auld Kirk. A step he never after regretted, though he did not survive to see the hated Patronage abolished, which, after all when its deathblow came in 1874, was, as we have seen, violently resisted and the Patronage Act inconsistantly and violently upheld by the very descendants of those whose raison dJ etre for separation it had been, and who unblushingly advocated the retention of its chains upon others (for no higher motive than what may be appropriately be termed ecclesiastical trading purposes) of a burden they themselves held in such abhorance they would not submit to, nor touch with their little finger. But this has passed into current h'story, and need be no further dwelt upon here. He married, 9th January, 1838, H^’en, daughter of John Cochrane (seccession elder, Linlithgow,) farmer, Waterstone, Ecclesmachen, and Janet Smellie Robertson his spouse; by whom he had John, 1840 ; James, 1842, who died 21st June, 1852 ; William, 1843; Andrew, 1844; Janet, 1846 ; and Ellen, 1847. Second marriage to Janet, daughter of the late Mr Gray, teacher, Ayr Academy; who also predeceased him, but left no issue. He died, 31st May, 1870, in the 69th year of his age, and 35th of his ministry, and was buried beside his two wives and son, James, in West Calier Church-yard, where the congregation errected a handsome tomb-stone to his memory. His name is also fourth on the ministers’ tomb-stone. Mr Learmonth w*as author of a publication entitled ‘An Account of West Calder Parish/ embodied in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. I., which has been quoted in this book. As a man he was tall and portly, kindly hearted and jocular. As a minister he was earnest and diligent in all his ministrations, evangelical in his doctrine, Covenanting in his principles and discipline as had been his own upbringing by godly parents.

The old method of ‘visiting the parish’ was one of his strongest fortes, and the greatest picture of his ministry. Wherever welcomed as parish minister, he went cheering the sick, prayed with the dying, consoled the mourners. At home, baptisms, and marriages, he was happy as any. The aged and infirm, he encouraged and guided. The hale and hearty, who bore the burdens of life, he admonished and warned of the ‘one thing needful.’ Nor did he neglect a suitable word to the young, though the system of catechising them was fast dying out through the introduction of Sunday Schools, which he reluctantly adopted. Of his private affairs it becomes that little should be said, save as they affected or re-acted upon his ministerial status. Having gone beyond his depth in giving momentary assistance to one of his own brothers, and at another time to an elder of his congregation, both farmers whose byers had alike been decimated by the cattle plague. He was at length declared bankrupt under the old, stern law, since abolished. His household furniture and all his belongings were sold by public roup. His ‘living’ was sequestrated, all save the augmentation of stipend by the crown. Out of these proceedings arose numerous law-pleas, some of which he gained, some of which he lost, and at length, after fourteen years harassment, he received his glebe and sequestrated stipend, having paid his debts in full, which, with cruel law expenses, amounted to over 60/- in the £. There are those in every parish, as well as in every walk of life, who worship the rising sun/ and in consequence of the blighting influences of poverty, his congregation decreased; and I have seen as few as twenty attend the parish church, forty being, per contra, considered a good attendance. Still he laboured on; hope and prescience never leaving him, and, true to his expectation and prediction, he lived to regain more than ever he had lost, and ere his death he was more popular in his parish even than any time since he came to it. Some years before his death, in consequence of failing strength and the arduous duties upon him by increasing population, his parishioners presented him with a pony and pheaton, and strange as it may appear, it fell to the lot of the only presbyter who had ever twitted him with former loss of popularity, at the presbytery dinner, next after the presentation, to propose his health in reference thereto as well as the marvellous increase of his communion roll. A good clerical joke happened on this occasion. During the complimentary speech a dry remark that the pony (a superior pit pony) had been accustomed pulling out of the pit. Mr Learmonth retorted, to the great amuvseraent of the assembled brethren, ‘aye, aye, Mr W , that is what you and I have been doing ever since we were licensed/ thus raising the pony at once to the level of the cloth and fit for any parson. It may interest those who subscribed to the presentation, to know that this pony, a strong, brown cob, is still alive (1885) and useful, though over twenty years of age, and is in the possession of Mr Learmonth’s youngest son, who prizes it and treates it kindly. The following is a copy of the inscription on the monument already referred to:—“ Sacred to the memory of the Rev Wm. Learmonth, minister of this parish, who died, 31st May, 1870, in the 69th year of his age and 35th of his ministry.

James Andrew, his 2nd son, died, 21 June, 1852, aged 10 years. Helen Cochrane, his spouse, died, 22 March, 1856, aged 43 years, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.

Erected by the congregation. Janet Grey,
his second wife, died, 29th May, 1869, aged 48 years.”

1870. John Davidson Grant.

( Victoria, Reg ini). A native of Aberdeen. Educated at St Andrews and Edinburgh universities;. Called to Calderhead and ordained, 1859. Previous to Mr Learmonth’s death, Mr Grant was chosen and presented as assistant and successor; but in consequence of said death before the induction, Mr Grant was anew presented to West Calder by John Drysdale, Esq. of Kilrie; and inducted by the Presbytery of Linlithgow, 25th August, 1870. In 1874, Patronage was abolished. Yet, as I write, the fury of the Kirk’s enemies in England and Scotland has increased amazingly; and now (1885) the unblushing demand rings from end to end of these islands:—Down with the Kirk of Scotland!—Cancel her title and purloin her patrimonyII Stands Scotland where she did % for truly ‘ history is making itself ’ and 4 we shall see what we shall see.’ But it will fall to some other pen than mine, to relate what part Mr Grant takes at this critical juncture, so I pass on to other matters. A new Parish Church.—The congregation having outgrown the accommodation of the old one, which had also become much dilapidated, was after protracted negotiations erected at West End of Main Street, the congregation contributing <£800 towards the cost. The new church, which is handsome and beautifully finished, is seated for upwards of 600. It was formally opened by the Presbytery, September 7th, 1880. In 1884, West Calder was transferred from the Presbytery of Linlithgow to that of Edinburgh by act of General Assembly. Mr Grant, who is presently (1885) minister of the parish, is assisted by a lay missionary, whom the congregation support. Addiewell, long on his hands as a mission station, has now a minister of its own as will be seen below. The Parish Church Communion Roll (last made up, October 1884) contained 657 members, With 8 elders. There are two Sunday Schools connected with the church taught by 31 teachers and attended by above 400 scholars.

Addiewell Established Church.

A mission in connection with the parish church was started in 1871, which was encouraged and assisted by Dr James Young of Limefield, the services being held in what is now known as Watt Street Hall and afterwards in the Addiewell Hall. In 1873, managers were appointed to assist in the carrying on of the work. Amongst those who officiated as missionaries were the Rev W. P. Cameron of Tweedmouth, Rev John Kerr M.A. of Dirleton, and Rev John Gunson of Kingston Church, Glasgow.

1882. William P. McLaren.

Who had been labouring as missionary for some time, was licensed, May 16th, 1882; ordained, July 12th, same year. The mission then became practically a separate charge.

A handsome Gothic church, built by subscription and the assistance of the Baird Trust and Home Mission Committee, was opened by the Rev Dr Scott of St George’s, Edinburgh, 3rd April, 1885. Coll, £1,550; seats. 500; communion roll, 285 ; population of district about, 3,500, There are the usual church auxiliaries. But it should be stated here that the Sunday School in Addiewell, which I formerly mistook as belonging to the Free Church only, is undenominational and attended and taught by scholars and teachers, protestants, on one common platform, to wit, Established churchmen, Free churchmen, and U.P. churchmen. This is as it ought to be, and points a moral, and adorns a tale. Would to God the clergy could see, read and learn it. And if the 126th Psalm is to be of any more use, this lesson will have to be taught them by the People of Scotland. It may be stated here that an undenominational protestant Sunday School, started by the late parish minister, has been conducted successfully at Mossend Rows for a number of years. Teachers, 10; scholars, 130.


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