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In the Shadow of Cairngorm
XI. The Succession in the Church, with Notices of Three Notable Parsons

Or Romanisin there is little trace in our parish, and even Episcopacy, which had been the established religion so late as the 17th century, is almost forgotten. There are few notices of the earlier Ministers. William de Gawbruth appears to have been Rector at Kincardine in 1464, and David Watersun in 1468, as their names are found as witnesses at these dates. John Glass was reader and exhorter "in the Irische toung" in 1567. After that the succession is well preserved.

I. —- 1580— William Farquharson. 2.—1585—Patrick Grant, presented to the parsonage by James VI.; translated to Advie after 1589, but returned 1624; appointed by the Synod to get a helper 1663. 3.— 1663— Colin Mackenzie, A.M., translated to Contin. 4.1642—Roderick Mackenzie, A.M., translated to Gairloch. 5.—1656—John Sanderson, A.M., was obliged to leave from ill-health. 6. — 1670— Colin Nicholson, A.M., ordained helper 1670; translated to Kirkmichael 1685 deprived by the Privy Council 7th November, 1689. 7.— 1686—James Grant, A.M., translated from Urquhart; deprived by the Privy Conncil 7th November, 1689; died 1693. 8.—1709— William Grant, ordained 19th May, 1709; died 27th June, 1764, in his 96th year, and 56th of his ministry. 9.—John Grant, A.M., 1765-1820. 10.—Donald Martin, A.M., 1820-1838. 11.—James Stewart, A.M., 1838-1862. Born at Dalvey, Cromdale; educated at Aberdeen; settled at Abernethy under the Veto Act. Notable for his scholarship and literary tastes. Was much esteemed in the parish, and a monument erected to his memory. His eldest son, William Henry, retired as Surgeon from the Navy in 1895. 12-William Forsyth, A.M., D.D., licensed at Forres 29th July, 1846. Minister at Ardersier 1846-1853 ; at Dornoch 1853-1863. Translated to Abernethy April, 1863. The only Minister of the Free Church is the Rev. Walter Ross, who was appointed in 1862, and has served since then with much faithfulness and efficiency.

Mr WILLIAM GRANT (1709-1764) was settled in troublous times. Part of the Session Book of his ministry remains. It was remarkably well kept, and shows that the Minister and Elders were strict in preserving order, and stern in punishing offenders against Church law. Mr William preached regularly in Gaelic (then called Irish), and in English, and the texts of his sermons are always recorded. Sometimes, instead of the ordinary service in the church, the day was devoted to catechising, a custom still in use in England. Twice or thrice in the year Divine Service was held in outlying districts, such as Glenbroun and Glenmore. In 1715 we find Mr William complaining to the Baron Bailie of "the heathenish custom of calling fidlers to like-wakes, and other barbarous uses," whereupon the Bailie "statute and ordained that no fidler, housekeeper or any other person, within the said parish be employed in fidling or dancing, or any other barbarous and sinful customs or playes at the walking of dead people, under the faillzie of £10 Scots, ilk person in all kine coming toties quoties, to be uplifted by the Session’s Collector after convictione by and altour being liable to Church censure, and that ilk ane of them be liable in the failzie of £3 money foresaid t.g. they shall disobey the Church censure, to be likewayes uplifted by the said Collector, and appoints this act to be intimate from the pulpit of the Minister." The York Company were at Coulnakyle in Mr William’s time, and, according to Burt, though he has not the courage to give the name, he (Mr William) was able to make some profit by cashing the orders of the Company, and charging 1s per £1 upon money changed by him. Shaw says that he had a mortgage on Congash. His portrait is at Castle Grant. Mr William appears to have had one son, Ludovick, minister of Archattan, and four daughters. Grizel married William Grant, Advie; Ann, m. Alexander Grant, Barrack-master, Fort-Augustus; Margaret, m. Lewis Grant, Lettoch; and Christina, m. Evan Grant, Pert-Augustus.

Mr JOHN GRANT, M.A., 1765-1820.—--Mr John, as he was called according to the custom of the times, was a native of Duthil, of the family of Milton. He was of a long-lived race, his father, Sweton Grant, dying at the age of 86, and his mother, Elspet, at the age of 72. His first charge was Arrochar, in Argyllshire. In 1765 he was presented by the Laird of Grant to Abernethy, and was admitted on the 26th September of that year. He died on the 21st January, 1820, so that his pastorate extended over the long period of 55 years. Mr John was a man of kindly heart, and of much shrewdness and practical ability. He was always zealous for what he considered the interests of his people, and he seems to have done much to establish law and order and to encourage education in the parish. The marble tablet which was set up in the Church to his memory shows the high estimation in which he was held by his parishioners. There are some anecdotes still current which illustrate the character of this worthy man, and throw light upon the times in which he lived. Mr John, like Zaccheus, was little of stature, though he had broad shoulders and a good figure. Once when examining a man who had been ballotted for the Militia, and whom he wished, for his mother’s sake, to get off, he objected to his being passed, saying, "Too short, too short." The man’s pride was hurt, and he answered sharply, "Ye needna say that, Mr John, you’re no one of the Philistines yersel’." During the severe seasons of 1783-84 many of the people were in great straits for food, and it was reported that there had been thefts of potatoes, and even sheep, in the parish. Mr John was much vexed. The next Sunday he referred to the report, and said it grieved him to hear such things said of his people. The times no doubt were hard, and when want pressed and the children were crying for bread and there was none, he did not wonder if things were done which in better days would not be thought of. "Well, if any of you are starving," said the minister, "I have a good stock of potatoes at Croftcroy, and you are welcome to a share of them; only I would rather give them than that you should take them." And, added the good parson, "God forbid that I ever hear again of any of you stealing from some poor devil as ill off as yourselves." Mr John was at one time called to perform a baptism in Tulloch. When he asked the child’s name the answer was Solomon. Now it so happened that the parson, no doubt for good reasons, had a dislike to the name, so he muttered "We have had too many Solomons." "Well, Mr John," said the father, "call him what you please." The parson at once said, "I baptise thee John," and John he was to his dying day. It is curious to find a parallel to this incident in the Far West. Professor Bryce, in his book on the "American Commonwealth," when shewing the force of party spirit, mentions that a certain clergyman at a baptism in New England asked the child’s name. The father replied "Thomas Jefferson." "No such un-Christian name," said the clergyman hotly. "I baptise thee John Adams." Human nature is much the same on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr John was for some time chaplain of the 97th Regiment, and he always took much interest in military matters. On one occasion he set out to visit Glenmore, and perhaps to do a little in the way of recruiting. He was dressed in the bravery of tartans. Passing Chapelton he found Allan Grant before his door cutting sticks. Allan gave a glance at the parson, and then went on with his work. Mr John was offended, and said, "You don’t seem to know me, Allan." Allan looked up, scanned the parson from head to foot, and then said quietly, "It would be no wonder, Mr John, if ye did not know yourself in that dress." It is said the parson never put on the trews and plaid again. Many of Mr John’s parishioners were serving in the army during the French War, and as these were not the days of newspapers, and letters were rare, he used some times after sermon to give information to his people as to the progress of the war. One Sunday he had been telling, with much satisfaction, that Buonoparte was dead, and that there would soon be peace. The report turned out incorrect, so the next Sunday he was quite downcast. "O my friends," said the parson, "it was not true what I told you last Sunday. The scoundrel Buonoparte is alive yet, and doing as much mischief as ever." Mr John was fond of music, and did what he could to improve the church psalmody, which had been in a wretchedly low state. He had employed a teacher of repute from Argyllshire, of the name of Campbell, and his success was considerable. Mr John was anxious to start a class in Kincardine also, and he arranged that Mr Campbell and some of his best scholars should attend there when he next preached, and, said the good parson, "you’ll get my own seat," which was a large table seat in front of the pulpit. The church was crowded. After prayer, Mr John said, "We have a professor of church music with us, and a good class, so, instead of a sermon, we shall occupy ourselves in the praise of God." Now, there was sitting near the pulpit a certain John Stewart, farmer, commonly called "the Baddan," who had a strong, harsh voice, which he was fond of letting be heard, and Mr John, turning to him, said very pointedly, "And you, John, will please keep silent, and not give us any of your bo-heas." Mr John and the Laird of Rothiemurchus were great friends. Once, when visiting at the Doune, he took a stroll by the Spey before breakfast. Near the Druie, he came upon a lot of men busy buckling their floats. They had left their coats and some of their tools a good way behind. The parson, talking to one of them, remarked that it was foolish in them to leave their things out of sight—they might be stolen. "No, no," said the floater, "we’re all honest folk here, but," he added with a sly chuckle, "if we were down the way of Abernethy- ." The parson did not wait to hear more, but hurried off, highly offended. Mr John did much for the improvement of the Cure. He got the Church restored, he obtained a new manse, and he was at considerable expense in laying out the garden and grounds, and in planting the waste places of the glebe. One of his sons was studying divinity, and the old man hoped that he might be his successor. We may imagine him watching the improvements, and saying to himself as he planted tree after tree—" If God please, my son will yet walk in the shade of these trees, and tell to his children who planted them." But this dear hope was blasted. One day the sad news came from Aberdeen that his son had died suddenly. Mr John never recovered from this heavy stroke. One of the last glimpses we get of him is very touching. Under his supervision a new school-house had been erected, of which he was very proud. In his last winter, when very feeble and not able to go far about, he used to visit the school, not above a quarter of a mile off, and sit down by the fire, watching the classes with much eagerness. When a boy or girl did well, the parson had a word of praise, and when passing out he would pat the little ones on the head, and bid them good-bye with his blessing. Mr John married (1775) Christina, daughter of James Grant of Clurie, and had four sons and one daughter—Peter. Captain in the Hon. East Indian Company, died 1810; James Augustus, Chief Secretary to the Government, Bombay, and Senior Judge of the Court of Circuit, Guzerat, long familiarly known at Nairn as "Viewfield ;" George, Captain in Bombay Infantry, died 1819; Sweton, Student in Divinity, died 1810 ;and Helen, who married Alexander Grant of Dellachaple, died 1865, represented by Major John Grant, Dellachaple, Garmouth.

DONALD MARTIN, M.A. (1820-1838).—Mr Martin was a native of Skye, of the old family of the Martins of the Beallach in Kilmuir. He was educated at Edinburgh, where during his four sessions he resided in the house of Lord Macdonald as the favoured son of his father, who was agent to Sir Alexander, the first Lord Macdonald. His first charge was Kilmuir, to which he was admitted 5th October, 1785, in succession to Mr Donald Macqueen, who figures so prominently in Johnson’s Tour. Here, 7th February, 1788, he married Ann, daughter of Norman Macdonald of Scalpay. Three of her brothers rose to high rank in the army, General Sir John Macdonald, K.C.B. ; General Archibald Macdonald, and General Sir Alexander Macdonald, R.A. A fourth brother, Matthew Hume, was the father of the present Lord Kingsburgh, Lord Justice Clerk, who has in many ways shown the soldierly instincts of his race. In 1808 Mr Martin was translated to the Chapel of Ease, Inverness, and in 1820 he was presented to Abernethy, where he was inducted on the 15th August of that year. From his high reputation as a clergyman, his coming was hailed with much satisfaction. But there was one drawback. "He is but a ladie" (laddie) said a contentious critic, objecting to a certain minister on the score of his youth. Mr Martin might have been objected to on the ground of his age, for he was 71, but no voice was raised in dissent. On the contrary, his settlement was in the truest sense harmonious. Perhaps there is no parallel case on record in the Church. But though Mr Martin had passed the threescore years and ten, his eye was not dim nor his natural force abated. He had come of a race remarkable not only for strength of body, for as he used to say he was the youngest and the weakest of seven brothers, but also for strength of character. He had much of the soldier spirit, and seemed born to command. His unfeigned piety won the respect, and his earnest discharge of duty and his unswerving rectitude soon gained him the confidence and the attachment of his people. He was an able Gospel preacher, and in Gaelic an orator of the highest order. The Churches that had been for some time scantily attended were crowded. A solemn awe pervaded the congregation, and many who had lived carelessly, or who had contented themselves with a cold morality, were turned to God and to a godly life. Mr Martin was also most zealous in pastoral work. He distributed Bibles (in connection with the Strathspey Bible Society formed in his time), he held diets of catechising, and he established Sabbath Schools, in which he took much delight. He also called out men of earnest piety to be elders, who greatly helped him in his evangelistic work. As the result, the religious tone of society was raised, and the spiritual condition of the people greatly improved. It is said that Mr Martin had been rather hard and worldly in his early days. The death of his wife (1803) was a turning point in his career. Mrs Martin was held in much esteem, not only on account of her birth and accomplishments, but for her unfeigned piety, as is recorded on her tombstone— "raised by the love and friendship of a sorrowful husband" she had "through a short life of thirty-two years served with unwearied assiduity the interests of Christ and of the poor." When Mr Martin saw that his wife was dying, he was much distressed. Holding her hand, he said with a faltering voice, "Annie, dear, are you not sorry leaving me ?" With a heart tender but true she answered, "That is not what troubles me, but that I am leaving children without a father and a minister without grace." This terrible word went like an arrow from the bow of the Great King straight to the mark. From that time it was noted that Mr Martin was a changed man, and that his preaching had taken a higher character. It was like the crisis in Dr Chalmers’ life. Sometimes to his intimate friends Mr Martin would confess how the world had been too much with him, and that he owed his better spirit, under God, to his saintly wife. In 1826, when there was almost a total failure of the crop, Mr Martin preached a powerful sermon, exhorting the people to consider their ways, and warning them that the bad harvest was a judgment of God, and that if they did not repent worse things might come upon them. Next day he happened to meet Captain Macdonald, Coulnakyle, an old sailor of rather a jovial temper. Captain Macdonald jocularly said—" Parson, that was a terrible sermon you preached yesterday, but your doctrine might be applied to yourself. See, your crop (pointing to Croft Croy) is the worst in the parish, and if your argument be good, you yourself must be the greatest sinner !" The parson, in whom the "Old Adam" was not dead, was at first disposed to resent this attack, but restrained himself and answered mildly—" Whether the crop be the worst or not is no matter, I am the greatest sinner, but I have obtained mercy." Mr Martin used to make Saturday a rest day, a wise custom which other ministers might imitate. Generally he spent part of the time at Grantown, visiting friends and doing business. Once when driving to the village he was accosted by an Irish woman, who asked charity. He gave her sixpence. The sight of the silver, when she only expected copper, touched her heart, and she cried with much fervour, "God bless your Rivirence, and may you be in Abraham’s bosom this verra nicht." "Thank you, my good woman," said the parson, "but you need not have been so patticular as to the time." This saying is somewhat like that of another Irish woman to a minister who had given her a pair of shoes, "God bliss your Rivirence, your sheen I’ll be in Heaven afore ye." Once a parishioner called upon Mr Martin about the baptism of a child. He was a man notoriously ignorant and careless, and the minister took advantage of the opportunity to speak to him seriously. He put several questions, with very unsatisfactory results. At last, in the hope of quickening his conscience, he said, "Man, do you know what people you belong to?" The man had now his chance. The answer came quick and clear. " Yes, Mr Martin, I belong to the good old stock of Tullochgorm." What followed is not known, but Mr Martin seldom failed to turn such opportunities to account. There was a striking instance of this in the case of one of his elders. William Forsyth, Culreach, was a quiet, honest living man, but he had shewn no personal interest in religion. Indeed, he was more notable for strength than for piety. One hot summer day, when the Church was very full, Mrs Grant, Birchfield, who sat in the front seat of the west gallery, suddenly fainted. She was a big heavy woman, said to be over 20 stones, and there was difficulty in lifting her out. But William stepped forward, caught her up in his arms, and carried her out, as if she were a baby. Other extraordinary feats of strength by him are still spoken of. One week William lost his reckoning. He thought it was Saturday, and set out to the moss to bring home some peats. When busy he heard what seemed the Church bell, but he set it down to fancy and went on with his work. When passing the manse on his way home he met the herd boy, the late John Grant of Glenlochy, who said sharply, "The Sabbath is no a day for carting peats." "You little rascal," he answered, "what are you saying?" But he had his doubts. Shortly after he met some people going to Church, and he knew that it was the Sabbath. The shock to his simple mind was severe. He at once unyoked his horse, left cart and peats by the roadside, and returned home with a sad heart. Next day he was early at the Manse and told his tale to the minister. Mr Martin spoke to him as only a true minister could do, and was the means, by God’s blessing, of winning his soul to Christ. Some time after he made him one of his elders, and he continued to his death to bear the character of a humble and sincere Christian. Mr Martin had three sons—Donald, who became a Captain of Artillery, and died at Naples; Norman, who died at Demerara; and Sir James Ranald, whose distinguished career in India and London as a physician and sanitary reformer is well known. Two of Mr Martin’s grandsons rose to high distinction— Major-General Andrew Aldcorn Munro, who was brought up at the Manse of Abernethy, and Field-Marshal Sir Donald Stewart, Bart., K.C.B., whose father, Robert Stewart, was of the old family of Clachglas in Kincardine.

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