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Places of Interest about Girvan
Our Old Carrick Ministers

THERE is a large work in a number of volumes, entitled Fasti Ecdesiae Scoticanae (Calendar of the Scottish Kirk), containing the succession of Ministers in the Parish Churches of Scotland from the Reformation downwards. This laborious work was compiled by I)r Hew Scott, minister of Anstruther Wester, and, despite of some errors, is a storehouse of information respecting our Scottish Ministers of the Past.

In reading over the Calendar of our Carrick ministers, I am struck with the fact that while many of them were doubtless good, self-denying men, very few are in the least remembered now. Scarcely any of them were literary, and most of them apparently never thought of doing aught beyond their weekly routine of preaching a sermon, visiting the parish, and farming their glebe. Now, I cannot help thinking that this was a defect. Dr A. B. Bruce, of the Free Church College, Glasgow, once remarked to me; " that the Ministers of the Church of Christ had a duty to discharge to their parishioners' minds, as well as to their souls, and that it was good and praiseworthy for a minister to write an occasional book on some subject outside of the pulpit circle." Be that as it may, not one of our Carrick Ministers of the olden time (with two exceptions) has written such a volume.

The two exceptions are, the Rev. William Abercrombie of Maybole (1680—88), who wrote an interesting account of Carrick. which has been quite a treasury of information to all local historians ever since. The other exception was Dr James MacKnight, likewise of Maybole (1753—69), who wrote a number of Theological books, notably a Harmony of the Gospels, concerning which a Maybole blacksmith made the naive remark, that "the minister had been trying to mak four men agree wha never cast oot." The worthy Doctor was a prosaic preacher, which fact is embalmed for us in the witty remark of his colleague, one rainy day, in the Greyfriars' Church, Edinburgh—"Doctor, your clothes may be wat, but ye'll be dry aneuch when ye get into the pu'pit."

One of the ministers of Dailly became famous as a landscape painter. His name was the Rev. John Thomson; and although he is usually known as Thomson of Dudding-ston, it was in Dailly he first developed his taste for art The Rev. John Ramsay of Kirkmichael (1766—1801) "was a man of great shrewdness, a searching and practical preacher, and the first who gave a stimulus to farming enterprise in the district He founded and was the first President of the Carrick Farmers' Society. After the settlement of a minister in a neighbouring parish, he said to him, "John, I was your father's friend, and now I am your friend, and I'll gie ye a word o' advice, which ye mauna tak ill. First, Keep aye the fear o' God; second, Keep aye your feet on the Croun o' the Causey; third, Do your duty, and ne'er speir what the folk say o' ye."

Several of our old Carrick ministers are remembered for their liberality. The Rev. Robert Alexander of Girvan (1712—36) left 400 to the Presbytery, the interest of which (now upwards of 20) was "to be applied towards maintaining a Student of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh for four years, to be presented by the Kirk-Session of Girvan to natives of the parish, whom failing, any whom the Presbytery may appoint within their bounds." The Rev. James Gilchrist of Kirkmichael (1691—1710) " left a considerable sum to the Kirk-Session for behoof of the poor"; while the Rev. James Bonar of Maybole (ancestor of the present Bonars of the Free Church) "got a large aisle built to the church for the accommodation of his hearers."

Unfortunately, a number of these old ministers got themselves into trouble through their addiction to Strong Drink. The Rev. John MacCorne of Straiton, for instance, was deposed in 1645, "as he usuallie frequents the aill-house, drinking indifferentlie with all sorts of persons from morning to night, except a little in the midst of the day, when he goes home to tak a sleep." And the Rev. John Jaffray of Maybole was deposed by Archbishop Leighton in 1670 for " profane swearing, fighting and drunkenness." It is but right to add that the latter was a Curate in the time of the Covenanting persecution.

One of the facts regarding our Carrick ministers that we are proudest of is, that the whole nine of them resigned their livings rather than submit to the tyranny of Charles II. For Carrick was covenanting to the core, and her ministers, as was meet, led the way. Some of them survived the persecution, and came back to their old parishes again; but most of them died, in the spirit of the Rev. James Inglis of Dailly (1605—40), who wrote this answer to the Court of High Commissioners—"I sail be as readie by God's grace to suffer as ye sail be to persecute, and one day will make manifest whether ye doe weill or not."

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