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Significant Scots
The Very Reverend Principal Hugh Watt


On the 5th September, 1968, Principal Hugh Watt died at the age of 88. Appointed to the Chair of Church History in New College in 1919, for 30 years he taught generation after generation of students, winning their respect and affection, and retaining both, for they all knew that he followed their careers with unfailing interest and could always be relied upon for friendly advice and encouragement. From 1921 to 1945 he served the College as its devoted Secretary, carrying its load of administration with unflappable cheerfulness and infallible grasp of detail, writing meantime its Centenary History. In 1946 he was appointed Principal and just before his retirement in 1950 he was fittingly honoured by being elected Moderator of the General Assembly.

His contribution to scholarship includes his Representative Churchmen of Twenty Centuries which shows the breadth of his range. But his chief interest was in Scottish Church History and in this field his knowledge was, one may say, uncanny! It is illustrated, but only in part, by his Thomas Chalmers and the Disruption and John Knox in Controversy. A large-scale work on the Scottish Reformation, on which he had been working for many years, is unhappily left in an unfinished state. In the affairs of the Scottish Church History Society, of which he was long a member and to which he contributed a number of learned papers, he took a deep interest, and was its President from 1938 to 1941.

It was a happy gesture, and one that gave him much pleasure, when some members of the Society, many of them his former students, honoured him with a Festschrift, a volume of essays on Scottish Church History, presented on the 60th anniversary of his ordination, a testimony to the inspiration derived from the teaching of their Professor.


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