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Borrowstounness and District
Chapter XI. Ecclesiastical

1. First Parish Church: Description of Building: Dutch Pulpit: Geneva Bible and Beza's New Testament; Seating Accommodation—2. Ministers 1648-1746—3. Rev. Patrick Baillie : He and the Representatives Resist Captain John Ritchie: Rev. Dr. Rennie—4. Reminiscences of Dr. Rennie: The Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie: His Contribution to New Statistical Account—5. Extracts from the Benefice Lectures.—6. The Secession Church: No Original Secession Church here—7. The Anti-Burghers at Little Carriden: New Meeting House and Graveyard in Bo'ness—8. The Anti-Burghers and their Pastors—9. The Burghers: Their Building Troubles: Formation of United Associates 1820—10. Mr. Harper's Ministry: Succeeded by Mr. Connell: Managers in 1838: Session-Clerks: Secession and Relief Union: Captain Duncan's Bequests—11. Result of Disruption in 1843: Formation of Free Church Congregation: Erection of Church at Thirlestane: Mr. Irving's Labours: Mr. Dempster.


Many of the ministers of the church of Borrowstounness from its erection in 1636 to 1866 were men of outstanding merit in their day. In considering the earlier of these we must remember that, though the Papal Church in Scotland was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1560, and the doctrine of the Reformed Church formally recognised, Episcopacy, owing to the leanings of King James, also existed in a modified form for over thirty years. What happened after its supposed abolition on 5th June, 1592, we have already dealt with in our chapter on the Covenanters, but we recall that a modified form of Episcopacy was once more adopted, and this time with sanction, in 1618. Owing, therefore, to the ecclesiastical changes of those times, we find curious and, unless we remember our history, somewhat puzzling things in Church affairs tight on to the Revolution. Some Presbyterians, while retaining their own doctrine, seem to have consented to their Church being governed after the method of Episcopacy. Hence the frequent references to bishops. In other districts, however, Presbyterians and Episcopalians kept apart, and certain ministers were to be found who altogether refused to be ordained except by Presbyterian ministers.

In our chapter on the Representatives, mention is made of the circumstances attending the erection (1636-1638) of the first Parish Church of Borrowstounness. It was originally built only man-height, but in 1672, a year or two after Kinneil Church was done away with, the Duke added a large aisle for himself and his tenants. In this form it continued until 1776, when, pursuant to an agreement between the town and the Duke's Commissioners, the aisle was taken down and the church almost entirely rebuilt in an oblong figure, sixty-nine feet by forty-eight within the walls. This will probably account for the presence of the Hamilton coat of arms, which can still be seen in the centre of the north wall of the church. The walls and ceiling were, we are told, handsomely "plaistered" and ornamented, but the galleries were heavy and ill-constructed.

In 1820 the south wall and part of the east wall were rebuilt, and the galleries reconstructed and made imiform. Mr. M'Kenzie reminds us that the congregation possessed some curious memorials of the frequent intercourse between Holland and Bo'ness. The pulpit, for instance, came from there, and was, he tells us, a curious specimen of ancient art and taste. The oldest pulpit Bible was an Amsterdam edition of the Geneva Bible reprinted from an Edinburgh edition of 1610, having several of the usual maps and figurative illustrations] and the New Testament was an English translation by L. Tomson of Beza's version, clasped and ornamented with brass. The pulpit is now in the new church, on Pan Brae Road, and Bible and Testament are yet preserved.

The church, he continues, was seated for the accommodation of nine hundred and fifty, but might have accommodated a hundred more if the vacant spaces in the galleries were seated. The Duke of Hamilton had thirty pews, containing one hundred and sixty-nine seats, occupied by his tenants and by the colliers connected with his works. The Representatives let ten pews, containing eighty-eight seats; and forty-five pews, containing two hundred and seventy-nine seats, were private property, but paid an annual feu into the church funds. From £20 to £30 per annum was realised from these seats. There were forty-six pews, containing two hundred ar.d seventy-four seats, which paid no feu, being the free property of private individuals; and fourteen pews, containing ninety-nine seats, were the property of the different societies, while some which were the property of private individuals were let at the will of the proprietors at rents varying from Is. to 4s. per annum. These seats, as will be seen in another place, formed part of the funds of the church.


When the church was opened the minister of Kinneil did duty in both places for about ten years. Bo'ness, therefore, had not a separate and distinct minister until 1648, when John Waughe, A.M., from Lanark, was ordained in the month of November and admitted. He was a student of Edinburgh University. The earlier records of the place contain, as has been seen, many references to Mr. Waughe, and go to show that he was a man- of a vigorous mind. In the Presbytery he steadily opposed the "Protestors," and during the Commonwealth was imprisoned for naming the King in his prayers.1He married, apparently, as his second wife, Dame Christian Forrester, Lady Grange, widow of Sir James Hamilton of Grange. He demitted his charge in 1670, and would have been denounced with others in 1673 had he not gone to Ireland with his family. He died in Edinburgh, March, 1674, aged about fifty-five, and in the twenty-sixth year of his ministry.

The names of Robert Hunter, A.M., formerly of Dunning, and John Inglis, A.M., formerly of Hamilton, both appear in 1672 as having been successively in charge here. Presumably they were Episcopal incumbents. Certainly the next two were, for Mr. M'Kenzie says that during Episcopacy the induction of Mr. James Hamilton, in 1678, and also that of Mr. William Thomson, in 1685, are noted in the parish record.

Hamilton was a St. Andrews student, and obtained the degree of A.M. there in July, 1668. He was offered Dalserf in 1677, but he refused, and was afterwards admitted here. Two men were scourged shortly after for committing an assault on him. He died in February, 1685, in the seventh year of his ministry.

William Thomson, A.M., was translated here from Douglas in 1685 as his successor. We find he got into trouble with the Privy Council in 1689 for not reading the Proclamation of the Estates declaring William and Mary King and Queen of Scotland, and for not observing the thanksgiving appointed for 26th April preceding. But we doubt if these offences were committed here, for it looks as if he had been "rabbled out" of the living here in 1687.

On 30th November, 1687, the brethren of the Presbytery of Linlithgow met at Bo'ness, "and having called upon the name of God, they did constitute themselves in a Presbytery." This was probably the first of the regular meetings of the Presbytery after the liberty, and on 7th December they met again at Bo'ness ''in order to the settling of Mr. Michael Potter to be minister unto the Presbyterian congregation of the Ness."

Mr. Potter was a student at Edinburgh University, where he graduated A.M. in July, 1663. Before he was "settled" here he had much to suffer. In the early years of Charles II. he would have nothing to do with Episcopacy in any shape or form, refusing to go near a Presbytery which was Episcopalian at least in its form of government.

In 1673, however, he was licensed by the Presbyterian ministers and ordained by them soon after to the Parish of St. Ninians. We next hear of his election as schoolmaster of Culross by the magistrates of that place, for which action they were summoned before the Privy Council in 1677. He endured much persecution at the rumoured instigation of the Bishop of Dunblane, took refuge in Holland, was afterwards imprisoned in Edinburgh, and finally was carried to the Bass for preaching at conventicles. He was liberated on an Act of Banishment in March, 1685. On toleration being granted to the Presbyterians he joined in forming the Presbytery of Linlithgow, and was duly called here by them and admitted on 7th December, 1687. Mr. Potter was a member of Assembly, in 1692, and was translated to Dunblane about the same year, having been called to Ecclesmachan also. His son was minister of Kippen, and afterwards became Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow.

Mr. Potter's successor, Mr. John Brand, A.M., also an Edinburgh student, does not appear to have been ordained here until 3rd January, 1694. In 1700 he was appointed by the General Assembly with some others to visit Zetland, and, if convenient, Orkney and Caithness. The visit took three months, and both in going and returning he experienced great danger and considerable fatigue. He afterwards published a description of Orkney, Zetland, and Caithness. Mr. Brand, in 1700, married one Elizabeth Mitchell, of the Parish of Canongate, and had a large family. He died in July, 1738, aged seventy, after a long ministry.

William Brand, A.M., who succeeded, was a son of the preceding, and, like his father, a student and graduate of Edinburgh University. He was licensed by the Presbytery in March, 1736; called here on 1st February, 1739; and ordained on 11th April, same year. He died seven years after in his thirty-sixth yea".


The next minister was Patrick Baillie (or Pat Baillie, as Jupiter Carlyle, one of his pupils, calls him in his Autobiography). Carlyle tells us he "gained an ascendant" over him in Euclid, for Baillie had no mathematics and hot much science of any kind. He, however, admits that Baillie was a very good Latin scholar, and so expert in the Greek that he taught Professor Drummond's class for a whole winter when the professor was ill. It was through Baillie that Carlyle and some other of Baillie's pupils managed to see the execution of the notorious Wilson in the Grassmarket, which gave rise to the Porteous riot. In describing the firing which that day took place by the Guard under Porteous, Carlyle tells of "one unfortunate lad whom we had displaced" being killed on the stair window by a slug entering his head. Baillie was appointed chaplain to Sir William Maxwell of Calderwood, and licensed by the Presbytery of Hamilton in 1738. He was called to Borrowstounness on 8th May, 1746, doubtless under the patronage of the Hamilton family, ordained on 14th May, 1747, and died on 11th September, 1791, in the forty-fifth year of his ministry. It was during Mr. Baillie's incumbency that the long and famous litigation, in which he and the representatives became involved, with Captain John Ritchie took place. It must have been a considerable trial to the minister. One great relief, at least, he had during that trying period, and that was the writing in 1763 of the biographical sketch of his late elder and friend, John Henderson, shipmaster, which is prefixed to the volume of Henderson's "Divine Meditations and Contemplations," afterwards referred to.

The long ministry of Mr. Baillie was followed by an extremely short one of two years. His successor was John Morton, who was licensed in March, 1781, by the Presbytery of Ayr, and presented here by the Duke3 in February, 1792. He was ordained in May of the same year, and died in May, 1794.

We next come to the forty years' ministry of Dr. Robert Rennie. In his young days he had an academy at Dumbarton. In 1791 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Cupar, was presented here by the Duke Douglas in October, 1794, and Douglas, Duke of Hamilton andordained in April, 1795. Mr. Rennie had the degree of D.D. conferred on him by the University of Glasgow, in April, 1820. He died on 29th July, 1833, and lies buried near the south-west corner of the North Churchyard. The tombstone can be seen from the pavement on the Church Wynd. He married, in 1809, Jean, eldest daughter of Will Urquhart, Esq., merchant, Glasgow. She died in London in 1851. The family consisted of William, merchant, and John, writer, both in Glasgow. Dr. Rennie's name is not unknown even to the present generation. A few weeks after his settlement here he was called upon by Sir John Sinclair to contribute the Statistical Account of this parish. This he did with conspicuous ability, although handicapped by his very short residence in the district at the time. Throughout these pages we have quoted largely from the doctor's narrative, and the extracts are all of great interest. Like his predecessor, too, he was much in the law Courts with the Representatives, but did not leave off until he emerged triumphant in the House of Lords.


Mr. Adam Dawson, of Bonnytoun, in his "Rambling Recollections," printed for private circulation in 1868,3 has several references to the doctor. The latter, he says, affected a fineness in speech and deportment little in keeping with a flock chiefly composed of the roughest mining human materials. In his day the Borrowstounness collier conceived that he had a vested right to a share of all the unprotected produce of the parish, from which even the territories of the manse were not exempted. Seeing one of these worthies helping himself to a portion of the beans growing in his glebe, Dr. Rennie remonstrated with the depredator on the subject. "If you will only wait," said he, "till the beans be ripe, I will give you a peck." "A peck," said the other, with an air of scorn; "go, lad, I'll no' tak' yer bow."

Suffering under a dislocated joint, which baffled the skill of the surgeons, the doctor resorted to one Low at Dunfermline, at that time a celebrated bonesetter, who, it was said, restored the bone to its proper place. "And wha may ye be? " asked Low, after the operation was finished. "I am the Reverend Dr. Rennie, meenister of the Parish of Borrowstounness." "Ay, ay," said he of the bones, nothing daunted by the importance of the enunciation, "a minister wi' grey breeksI"

Yet Rennie was a stringent disciplinarian. It is said that at a periodical examination of the Grammar School of Linlithgow he reproved the rector so sharply in the presence of his pupils for some shortcoming which they had betrayed in the matter of the Catechism that it cost the burgh the services of an otherwise excellent teacher.

The Church Wynd when made went through a portion of the glebe. In the doctor's time a question arose as to the distinctive boundary of the glebe with a collier feuar on the Corbiehall side. The collier won his case, and the minister, it is said, had to pay the expenses out of his own pocket.

On Dr. Rennie's death, Alexander, tenth Duke, as the patron, gave the parishioners the choice of three gentlemen as his successor, namely, the Rev. Kenneth M'Kenzie, from Gorbals Chapel-of-Ease, a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. Campbell. Mr. Campbell, it is said, was profuse in his promises to give " cottar tatties," patches of ground on the glebe where his intended parishioners would be at liberty to cultivate their own little plot. Mr. Jackson was to do "something," he did not say what; while Mr. M'Kenzie made "no promises." Mr. M'Kenzie was elected by a large majority, Mr. Jackson only getting three votes. Mr. M'Kenzie came here in 1834. He was a Highlander and a bachelor. When he died his remains were taken to Glasgow for interment. There are still a number alive in the town who remember the ministry of Mr. M'Kenzie. He preached with black cotton gloves on, in the old style, and was said to be a somewhat dry expositor. He was an antiquarian of considerable acquirements, and his history of the parish as contributed to the New Statistical Aooount, which we have repeatedly referred to in these pages, is excellent proof of his learning and industry.


In the "Benefice Lectures," we find the following reference to the Church records of the Parish of Bo'ness:—

I. Records in seven volumes—

(1) 2nd August, 1694, to 11th July, 1712.

(2) 15th July, 1712, to 20th August, 1731.

(3) 27th July, 1742, to 13th March, 1766.

(4) March, 1766, to March, 1808.

(5) March, 1808, to January, 1859.

(6) 7th July, 1867, to 22nd January, 1892.

(7) 28th March, 1892, to date (1905).

II. Blanks—20th August, 1731, to 27th July, 1742; January, 1859, to 7th July, 1867. This volume entirely a wan ting. Nothing known of it.

III. All bound in good condition.

In the "Lectures" there is the following concerning the Bo'ness glebe: —

"During the troublous times prior to the Revolution, in 1688, and owing to the annexation of parishes, acres of rich arable and valuable feuing land were lost to the Church. When vacancies in a charge occurred the Church was quietly dispossessed of lands, and, because no claim had been urged for their restitution within the forty subsequent years, these are now beyond the power of recovery.

"A noticeable illustration of this was recently discovered in the case of Bo'ness. The designing of the glebe and its boundaries, as fixed by the Presbytery on the 22nd January, 1650, are clear and explicit. The glebe as thus designed has from time to time been much encroached upon in various ways.

The Rev. Kenneth M'Kenzie, Minister of Bo'ness, 1834-1867. (From a photograph in possession of Mr. John Steele, Bo'ness.)

In particular, while the north boundary is stated to be the sea, the Duke of Hamilton, the only heritor, has gradually taken possession of glebe land along the whole length of the sea boundary, leasing and fencing it as his own, and claiming its minerals. The effect of this is that the present portion of glebe is shut off from the surface of the foreshore, if not also from the minerals. This is a typical instance of the losses the church has sustained. The church of the present day is much the poorer through the depredations of interested parties in years gone by. Now, why was this allowed to take place? In the days of patronage there was a strong temptation on the part of the minister to say nothing when the party responsible for the alienation of Church property happened to be the patron of the living. Indebted to him for promotion, the minister, forgetful of his duty as trustee of the church, was hindered by a sense of personal friendship from resisting insidious encroachments or from seeking the just restoration to the church of the glebe land which by designation in bygone days had belonged to the benefice. Then, as now, encroachments have been made on glebes by the making of new roads and the straightening of fences, oftentimes without protest. And even when protests were made the reply generally given was that the portions shaved off were very small, and nothing of the kind would happen again. But, unfortunately for the church, such encroachments have been frequent, and still continue."

We are not in a position to discuss the complaint we have just quoted, and all we can say is that, if "shaving," and even more than shaving, has taken place on the Bo'ness glebe, a considerable portion of what is left is now well feued, and yields a goodly return.

The reasons which led up to the 'Secession' and the formation of a new hody by the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine in December, 1733, were mainly two, viz., the "Marrow" controversy and disputes occasioned by patronage.

There was no congregation here of the Original Secession Church, but there did exist a small body of Cameronians, a thing not to be wondered at in a town where, a century before, the Covenanting spirit had been so prevalent. One of the earliest Seceding churches in Scotland was opened in 1738 at Craigmailing, a few miles south from Linlithgow. For years it served a wide district, stretching from Bo'ness to West Calder, and from Bathgate to Kirkliston. There are now in this same area several churches which claim Craigmailing as their mother. Craigmailen United Free Church in this town is one of these.

The Burgher and Anti-Burgher bodies, which broke up the unity of the Secession in 1747, drew many adherents around them in Bo'ness. The former were attached to the same body at Linlithgow, and had not a meeting-place here until 1795. The latter, however, established themselves first of all in a barn at Little Carriden in September, 1762. Two years later they removed to Bo'ness, having acquired a small property there from the Sea Box, which they made suitable for their purposes. This came to be known as the Easter Meeting-house, and was situated on the site of the present Charlotte Place. Its yard on the north side was used as their burying-ground, and until very recently some tombstones were to be seen there. Two of the parties interred were James Paterson and John Drummond.

It was necessary both to collect and spend money for this, so -we find an entry under 23rd July, 1763; "Appoints James Marshal to keep the Box as Cashier, to take in the money offered thereto by the Publick, and to expend the same in paying ministers for preaching, and the charges in building the Meetinghouse ; also David Buchanan and John Cathcart to be key-keepers for the ensuing year, when a committee shall inspect the .accompts of said Boxmaster and Key keepers."

In October following, and still at Little Carriden, it was resolved that the new Meeting-house in course of completion in Bo'ness should be "regulated" as follows:—"The Communion tables to be fixed in the middle of the house 4 feet in breadth. The West end of the house to be seated by Bo'ness people, and the East by those of Carriden, and each party is to put the Communion table in their own end at their own expense. John Paris, Alex. Low, John Cathcart, and Thomas Boyd to apply to the proprietor of the Barn for either taking it off our hands or .sufficiently repairing it that it may not be in ruins before we leave it." Money was evidently badly needed in connection with the new place, as in November it is minuted, " The collectors are desired to be very assiduous in gathering in the •quotas with speed."

After removal to the new Meeting-house we find the congregation exercised about the use to which the yard to the north might be put. At a meeting on 24th December, 1765, "A vote, after some reasoning, was stated if any burial shall be allowed in this Meeting-house or not, and it was carried in the negative by a great majority." And on 2nd May following we read, "The Meeting agree that the inclosed ground or yard at the back of the Meeting-house be sown with barley and grass seeds for this year till they see how they are to employ it afterwards." By 13th June feeling about it had changed, for we find " It was by a majority of votes agreed that it be used as a burying-place, it being thought to promise most advantage to the congregation in that way. John Paris is appointed to dispose of the grass, &c., that shall be on the yard this year, and give in the money to the congregation."

The following is from a " Sketch of Directions " for the managers regarding the graveyard: —

"A Burial-place, consisting of three layers, or seven foot square, is agreed to be sold for ten shillings, and one layer at five shillings. Every person burying an adult to pay 1/6, a shilling whereof goes to the gravedigger and sixpence to the congregation. And for children 1/2, whereof the gravedigger shall have 8 pence and the congregation 6 pence."

Three years after this it was agreed that a book be given to the clerk and kept by him as a register of the burial-yard describing the length and breadth of the yard; also to have the congregation's decision concerning it recorded therein containing the length, breadth, and price of each burial-place, and the purchaser's name and place in the yard, and of the dues of burials therein, likewise of the money paid, both purchase price and dues.

The minutes, so far as we have observed, contain copies of at least two conveyances of layers. The first, dated 8th June, 1772, is to Ebenezer Thomson, shoemaker, in Borrowstounness. The price paid was 10s., and the ground 7 feet in length, and the same in breadth. The boundaries and situation of the burying-place conveyed are carefully detailed. The next conveyance is to John Paris, who is designed as " Elder in the Associate Congregation of Borrowstounness." It is in the same terms as the other, only the situation of the ground is different.


The Anti-Burghers were here some years before they were able to afford a permanent pastor. At Carriden they craved the Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh for "as much supply of sermon that Court can possibly give in conjunction with other vacant congregations; and also the dyet of an actual minister to keep a fast and constitute the Session."

In May, 1765, the members were very anxious to secure the Rev. Richard Jermont, Earlstoun, as their first pastor. They appointed four commissioners to present their petition "and deal warmly with the Presbytery to sustain the call." The Synod, however, did not thing proper to "transport" Mr. Jermont. This was an unfortunate rebuff. A goodly number of probationers preached on trial after this, but no decision was arrived at. Perhaps the members were difficult to please. "Whether or not it is clear they were sorely tried at this critical time, as the following extract of 25th November, 1765, shows:—"The Preses, by unanimous consent, enjoyned the whole members of the congregation to set some time apart for supplicating the Throne of Grace for Light and Direction in our present situation that we jointly seek the Lord's Countenance before proceeding to the momentous affair before our hand, viz., the choice of a pastor."

At last a selection was made, and on 13th August, 1766, the Rev. Thomas Clelland was ordained first minister of the congregation. A minute in July discloses the preparations made for the happy event—" Appoints David Aiken to make a tent against the thirteen day of August, and make it five foot long and four foot wide, and appoints that John Black and John Paris shall provide a scaffold against the ordination, and the tent to stand befor the meeting-house; and the ministers at said ordination to be accomidated by Alex. Lang at the congregation expense.''

The tent was really an open-air pulpit and the scaffold a raised platform. Evidently such a large turnout was expected that it was necessary to arrange for the services being held outside instead of inside the meeting-house.

The difficulty of maintaining Mr. Clelland was great, and the minutes during his pastorate reveal many meetings to consider means of making up deficiencies in his stipend. His-salary was £40, and although a motion was made to allow £2 more, it "was negatived as impracticable in our present circumstances." Later, "the friendly assistance of the Synod in sending £6 and of the congregation of Denny in giving £6 10s. is gratefully recorded." In August, 1794, pastor and people came to the parting of their ways. We then find this, "The meeting appoint two of their number to wait on our pastor and inform him it would be better for him to demitt than for them to make an application to the Presbytery." When interviewed,however,Mr. Clelland told the deputation "hewould lay the state of the congregation before the Presbytery himself without any new representation or petition." In November the Presbytery dissolved his pastoral relations, and at a congregational meeting held thereafter it was agreed that the ministers coming here to afford supply "should be lodged with these members who had the best conveniency for that purpose."

A fixed ministry was not again established for five years, and even then the difficulty in meeting the stipend owing to "the smallness of the numbers who contributed" was very considerable.

At a meeting in June, 1804, we observe that Mr. Carmichael, the new minister, requested the congregation to inform him "at their conveniency whether he might have reason to expect from them the payment of a house rent, say, £5, as asked by him at Whitsunday last year." It is minuted they would have no objections to add £5 or £10 annually more, "but ay and while they were in arrear of stipend (as at present nearly £10) they consider it as impracticable." A year after this Mr. Carmichael intimated that " thro' bodily indisposition he judged it necessary to give in to the first meeting of Presbytery his Demission, and that the congregation should provide accordingly." This minister apparently gave the members much satisfaction, and their conduct towards him at this unfortunate juncture was kindly. We read, "A committee waited on Mr. Carmichael to propose to him to take a voyage for his health, and that the congregation would meantime look out for supply from some of the brethren in the Presbytery, provided he would not give up his charge, but this he absolutely refused." A subscription was then opened for raising a sum of money for him, and this resulted in the sum of twenty guineas being handed him as a donation.

Two more years passed without a pastor. In the meanwhile an effort was being made to raise the stipend to at least £70 per annum, with £5 in name of house rent. This seems strange when we remember their difficulties in raising a smaller stipend. Selection was made in the beginning of 1808 of a Mr. James Thomson, probationer, as minister. A minute relating to his ordination arrangements records, "A proposal was made to open a subscription for defraying the expense of a suit of clothes for Mr. James Thomson." It is not stated whether this proposal was agreed to or not. If it was, no doubt the clerical suit would be given as an act of courtesy and welcome, just as in modern days pulpit robes are presented. We grant that at first sight the circumstances seemed to signify that the young minister was in a state of want. On reflection, however, we have abandoned that idea.

Mr. Thomson was their last pastor. He remained until February, 1812, when he petitioned the Presbytery to be loosed from his charge. The congregation by that time was in a very poor state numerically. Only three minutes appear in the minute-book after this, and from these we gather that some arrangement for sermon was made with the Anti-Burghers of Linlithgow. The charge, anyhow, remained vacant, and the congregation, a mere shadow of its former self, struggled on in a perfunctory way until the amalgamation in 1820.

There is little else to note about the Anti-Burghers, save to show how they dealt with seat-rent defaulters, and built their session-house. As for the first, several people were reported to be "long deficient in their seat rents." It was therefore agreed that every member capable of paying "shall be dealt with in as sharp but prudent a way as possible; and if that will not do, they to be laid before the congregational meeting."

The matter of the session-house emerged after the settlement of the first minister. Frequent meetings were held, and in March, 1769, the congregation having again taken into consideration "the necessity of having a session-house built, agreed by a great majority that one be built at the north-east side of the meeting-house, close to the back thereof, and that the charges thereof be defrayed by a private collection." But the building did not go on for more than a year after that. In June, 1770, the motion was repeated, and again carried, a number of collectors being appointed to collect funds. Five members were also nominated "to be managers of the building, and orders them to get it begun immediately, and with all possible speed get it finished."

The following,, some for shorter, others for longer periods, acted as chairmen of the congregation between 1762 and 1812:—Alex. Lang, James Simson, John Paris, John Cathcart, John Jack, James Walker, John Graham, James Ferguson, William Johnston, George Dick, John Anderson (Kinneil Mills) Robert Henderson, Matthew Foord, Andrew Smith, and John Miller.

dated 9th April, 1794. It narrates that the petitioners are members of the Associate congregation of Linlithgow residing in and about Bo'ness; refers to the clamant condition of the place for want of a pure dispensation of the Gospel with which they could join; mentions that numbers of the old, infirm, and young could not attend regularly at Linlithgow, even in the summer, far less in the winter season, considering the .badness of the roads; states that they are able to maintain the Gospel by themselves as a distinct congregation, judging from the numbers which had attended the occasional sermons here; and concludes with a crave for disjunction. Annexed to the petition is a docquet by which the petitioners appointed James Morton, Alex. Steell, James Paterson, Eben. Thomson, Robert Brown, James Shaw, William Henderson, Robert Arkley, 'George Henderson, James Meikle, and Archibald Hardie, their commissioners, or any two or more of them, to present the petition and prosecute the end thereof. This is signed "Alex. Steell, Preses."

A perusal of the two hundred signatures is illuminating. Many of the old Bo'ness surnames appear—Bairds, Browns, Bells, Boags, Gibbs, Hardies, Hendersons, Heggies, Kidds, Marshalls, Meikles, Robertsons, Rennies, Steuarts, Snaddons, Starks, Shaws, and Thomsons; also such family names, to take a few only, still common in the town, as Marget Allen, Isbell Buchan, Margaret Buchanan, Archibald Ballantine, William Baird, Andrew Bennie, Margret Bell, John Brown, William Brown, Robert Brown, Margret Culbreath (now Galbraith), Robert Dalreympel, David Duncon, Jean Drysdelle, James Deas, Richard Grant, John Grant, Eliza Grindlay, John Hamilton, Betty Hamilton, Richard Lumsden, John Marshall, Robert Mitchell, James Miller, John M'Intosh, John Paris, •Charles Robertson, John Robertson, John Snaddon, Jean Smith, Katren Stevens, Ann Stewart, John Thomson, and Janet Turnbull. The disjunction craved was granted in due course.

Strong in numbers, with men of activity and business •capacity among its members, the newly constituted Burgher congregation appears to have been launched in smooth waters.

Its members may have been enthusiastic and numerous, but their minutes are meagre. The first minute is dated 20th September, 1795, and it is there recorded that the Rev. Michael Garfillan (Gilfillan), Presbytery clerk, ordained James Morton and Henry Stark to the eldership in the forenoon. In the interval of public "worship the session was constituted, when, besides the newly-ordained elders, there were present Ebenezer Thomson and James Buchan, who seem to have been elders; before. Thomson at any rate had been an Anti-Burgher, but appears to have changed. Buchan was chosen session-clerk. We find nothing of the circumstances attending the choice or appointment of Mr. Harper. There is simply a bald minute, dated 24th August, 1796, which runs—Which day the Rev. Archibald Harper having been solemnly set apairt to the office of the holy ministry in this congregation, the session met and was constituted by the Rev. Mr. Belfrage."

Brevity was a strong point with Mr. Buchan, for im recording another session meeting on 30th August he simply says—"Being constitute, all members present, spent some time-praise and prayer, agreed to meet ordinarily on the first Tuesday of every month, closed with prayer."

The winds and seas very soon arose and raged with great violence for years round the little barque of the Burghers. The situation, however, was faced courageously, and in the long-run successfully. All the troubles arose over the erection of the-new meeting-house (now St. Mary's Hall). Nisbet, mason, Edinburgh, had the building contract, and from start to finish he gave the greatest annoyance. The building adjoined the-northern boundary of the parish minister's glebe, and Nisbet in his operations not only put his materials on the glebe lands, but without permission made a road through them from the-north to the south. Just as the foundations were being laicL the Rev. Robert Rennie, the parish minister, raised—and no doubt with reason—an action of interdict in the Court of Session against the managers. Fortunately parties met at once and adjusted their differences, and so the first obstacle was removed-

Under the contract with Nishet the new premises were to be ready for occupancy in August, 1796, but even in the end of September the building was hopelessly incomplete, although he-had been paid most of the contract price. The managers were-therefore forced to apply to the Sheriff for authority to finish the work themselves at the contractor's expense. This had the effect of making the defaulting tradesman bring the building-to a speedy completion. But now came the greatest annoyance of all. Nisbet rendered a large account for extras. Payment was refused, and in 1798 he raised an action for payment in the Court of Session, before Lord Meadowbank. The case was fought by the Congregational Committee, consisting of William Henderson, merchant; Archibald Hardie, baker; James Buchan, merchant; and James Morton, smith. It is of peculiar interest to observe from the papers in the-case that the advocate employed for the committee was Francis Jeffrey, afterwards famous as the editor of the Edinburgh Review, and latterly raised to the bench as Lord Jeffrey. He was then a young man of twenty-six, and had only been two years, at the bar. The case dragged on until the spring of 1799. We-have not seen the final judgment—if there was such a thing. But in the preceding July his lordship, in one of his interlocutors, wished the parties " would return to their original dispositions to-behave properly and liberally to each other," so that we assume the matter was ultimately compromised by the parties; themselves.

In September, 1820, amid much rejoicing in Edinburgh, the Burghers and Anti-Burghers strengthened themselves by a judicious union under the designation of the United Associate Synod. Under this arrangement the provincial bodies, of course, did likewise. So, in December of that year, we find that the whole of the elders of the Anti-Burgher congregation here gave in their accession to Mr. Harper's congregation. The affiliated elders were George Dick, Alexander Aitken, William Duguid, and William Johnston. In the following February the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was dispensed in Mr. Harper's church, when nearly all the former members of the--Anti-Burgher congregation residing in this quarter who had not previously joined Mr. Harper's congregation also gave in their accession. The two congregations were thus united, assembling together for public worship in one place, under the pastoral charge of the same minister, and under the title of the United Associate Congregation.


This was the chief event in the thirty-eight years' ministry •of Mr. Harper, if we except the troublesome litigations already referred to. There was some little business trouble, too, in 1832. That year Mr. William Henderson, who had for long acted most zealously as session-clerk, entered into a lengthy correspondence with Mr. Andrew Allan, teacher, Linlithgow, respecting the Easter Meeting-house. The Linlithgow congregation somehow claimed the property, but Mr. Henderson stoutly maintained that both the Anti-Burgher and Burgher Meeting-houses belonged entirely to the United Associate Congregation. Ultimately the Presbytery appears to have taken the matter up, and decided that, when sold, the proceeds were to be divided between Mr. Harper's congregation -and the East congregation, Linlithgow. The disputed property was, however, let for fifty-eight years to Messrs. James Shaw, Robert Syme, and James Jamieson. Towards the expiry of that term it was sold, and the present Charlotte Place built upon the site. How the proceeds were disposed of does not appear to be recorded.

Mr. Harper fell into feeble health in the autumn of 1833. In the following February the session agreed, at the request of the Synod, to set apart a certain evening for uniting in prayer to God for the conversion of the world. The minute also states —"An additional reason for engaging in that exercise is the present state of this congregation, our respected pastor being in affliction and having for some time past been unable to perform any ministerial duty." In March it was agreed to apply to the Presbytery for a helper and successor, and also to acquaint Mr. Harper with the views and wishes of the session. The Presbytery then granted moderation in a call for an-assistant and successor. Mr. Harper, however, unfortunately died on 5th April, and just on the eve of the election of the Rev. George Hill, late of Warrington. Nevertheless the congregation proceeded to carry out their arrangements, and on the 8th April met and unanimously chose Mr. Hill as Mr. Harper's successor. A call was thereupon made out and signed' by sixty-two persons. The Presbytery sustained the call, but Mr. Hill declined, "having received a call from Musselburgh, which he prefers."

Mr. Harper's long connection with Bo'ness is perpetuated' to this day. His residence was situated at the back of what is now the Union Bank Buildings in South Street, and the place is still known as Harper's Court.

After Mr. Hill's declinature, further procedure was taken. This resulted in a call to Mr. David Connel, preacher of tho Gospel, and his ordination took place on the 13th of January, 1835. His ministry, like that of his predecessor, was comparatively quiet and uneventful, and, curiously enough, it lasted for the like period of thirty-eight years.

Mr. Connel's congregation had a body of managers as well' as a session, and the following extract from a congregational meeting held on 28th May, 1838, gives an indication of those in charge of its temporal affairs at that period. Mr. Henry Hardie presided, and the following were appointed managers : — Wm. Henderson, Henry Hardie, John Anderson, James Meikle, George Paterson, Robert Thomson, Wm. Marshall, Andrew Robertson, John Marshall, James Shaw (sen.), James Duncan, James Syme, John Paris, John Hardie, Robert Syme, James Stewart, George Henderson, and James Paterson; Mr. Wm. Henderson, treasurer and convener. The meeting also appointed the following as trustees, viz. :—Messrs. John-Anderson, John Hardie, James Meikle, Henry Hardie, Andrew Robertson, Wm. Marshall, John Marshall, James Paterson, George Henderson, and James Shaw, tertius. The meeting :authorised Messrs. Wm. Henderson and John Anderson to get legal titles made up to the present church, and also to the Easter Meeting-house, and to do so without delay.

Mr. Wm. Henderson continued to act as session clerk in Mr. Connel's time until the spring of 1844, when he was removed by death. The session minuted the regret which they felt at his death and their gratitude for his long and -excellent services, at the same time appointing Mr. James Meikle as his successor. Mr. Meikle had just a few weeks before been "solemnly set apart by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the session to the office of the eldership." He continued to act as session clerk until his death, which occurred suddenly on 5th January, 1853. Mr. Connel himself then acted interim clerk until October of the following year, when Mr. ^George Henderson was selected to succeed Mr. Meikle.

In May, 1847, the United, Secession, and Relief Synods met .-as one in Canonmills, Edinburgh, and assumed the name of the United Presbyterian Church. This was during Mr. Connel's ministry, but we have not observed any notice of the event in the session minutes. There was, of course, no local Relief Church, and therefore no local union, so that might account for the omission.

A session minute of 9th June, 1847, records that James Duncan, an aged member of session, having died since last meeting, they record their sorrow at being deprived of so faithful and useful a fellow-labourer, and express their gratitude to the Head of the Church for having spared him so long among them. It was at this same meeting agreed to record in the minutes certain documents containing two bequests by Mr. Duncan, who was therein designed some time master, afterwards retired commander, R.N. The first was of the sum of £10, which was to be applied towards liquidating the debt affecting the church. The other amounted to £100 sterling, free of duty. It was to be invested by the session, and the interest or proceeds were to be distributed amongst the poor of the church.


It is unnecessary to recapitulate here the ecclesiastical movements in the Church of Scotland which resulted in the Disruption of 1843 and the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. At that time the Rev. Kenneth MacKenzie was minister of Bo'ness and the Rev. David Fleming minister of Carriden. Both have been described as Moderates of the easy-going type, and as having remained in their comfortable manses to enjoy their easily earned loaves and fishes in peace and safety. Whether their qualities as easy-goers weighed with them or not in their decision we know not, but it is true they did not "come out." Many of the people of both congregations, however, felt it their duty to separate themselves from the Establishment and go into the wilderness with the new body. These people met for divine worship that summer in a yard on the foreshore, used in connection with Mr. Roy's sawmill at the Links. Here, in dry weather, they had the big logs for seats and the blue heavens for roof-tree. In a few months other quarters were found. These were situated in the "Old Barns," in Grangepans, to the east side of Man-o'-war Street, and long since demolished.

To the help of these worthy people came the Rev. Lewis H. Irving, who for conscience' sake had just left his church and manse in the neighbouring Parish of Abercorn. He never became the regular minister of this congregation, but he was instrumental in raising it at first, and superintended its work until a permanent pastor was appointed. Mr. Irving was a man of aristocratic bearing and connections, and his history of the Parish of Abercorn, contributed to the New Statistical Account of Scotland on the eve of his leaving it, still furnishes us with an excellent reflex of his mental qualities and capabilities. He ultimately settled in Falkirk, and devoted his talents and energy to the organisation of the Free Church in this county. Mr. Irving had a taste for drawing and architecture, and this faculty he turned to advantage in drawing plans and making specifications for churches and manses all over the land. The local Free Church Manse is one of the many which he designed, and all his work was done gratuitously. As a preacher he is said to have been a muscular Christian, who at times became vehemently and most alarmingly eloquent. He could speak for an hour on end without notes, and one old Grangepans lady has left her testimony that "she could ha'e sat the hale blessed day and listened to him."

Not until the beginning of 1844 were elders and deacons appointed by the newly formed congregation, and steps taken to build a church. A site was obtained from the Duke of Hamilton—but only on a one-hundred-years lease—at the east end of the Links, and just at the western side of the boundary line between the Parish of Bo'ness and that of Carriden. The new church was neat and commodious. It was not costly, as buildings run nowadays, the total sum spent on its erection being £365 17s. 2d. From time to time, however, during the next sixty-two years it was enlarged, and otherwise much improved.

The foundation-stone of this church was laid on the 20th of August, 1844. Members and their friends walked in procession from their temporary premises in Grangepans to the site at Boundary Street. Here Captain James Hope of Carriden (afterwards Admiral Sir James) delivered an appropriate speech to the audience, and one who heard it has said that the Captain very characteristically expressed himself in nautical language, wishing that they would have a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether.

Beneath the foundation-stone, in a leaden case, were placed copies of the Act of Separation and Deed of Demission, protest by the ministers and elders, copies of the Witness, the Scottish Herald, and the Edinburgh Weekly Register, an almanac, and a list of the office-bearers and managers of the congregation. The stone was then laid by the Captain with Masonic honours. Mr. Irving, as was natural, took a prominent part in the proceedings. He followed the stone-laying with a most impressive speech, and closed the proceedings by fervently imploring the Almighty's benediction on the business of the day.

The first minister of this church was Mr. Alex. P. Dempster. He is said to have been a delicate young man, but possessed good abilities. His ministry lasted for ten years, his death occurring in June, 1854. His successor was Mr. Daniel Wilson, who laboured here with great acceptance for thirty years.

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