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A History of the Parish of Neilston
Chapter XVI. — Succession of Ministers

The succession of ministers in the parish and other churches of Neilston since 1602, has been as follows :—


In 1602, the Rev. Andrew Law.

In 1632, the Rev. John Law. In 1649, this gentleman was deposed, and during the vacancy William Semple, a gentleman from Ireland, preached.

The vacancy does not appear to have been filled up till 1657, when the Rev. Hugh Walker was ordained. This gentleman was “outed,” most probably for non-conformity, in 1662, during Middleton’s odious and contemptible administration in Scotland, which has been previously referred to.

In 1668 (or 1669), the Rev. David Brown was ordained; and in 1701, he was translated to Glasgow. This gentleman preached in the prison of Paisley on Wednesday, 9th June, 1697, being the day before the execution of the several persons condemned for witchcraft through the Bargarran imposture, referred to elsewhere.

In 1707, the Rev. John Millar was ordained.

In 1733, the Rev. Alexander Clerk was presented to the church by Lord Dundonald, and was opposed by some of the people, but the Presbytery sustained the call, which was confirmed by the General Assembly. He died in 1736.

In 1737, the Rev. Henry Millar was ordained ; and died in 1771.

In 1772, the Rev. John Wilson was ordained; and died in 1784.

In 1785, the Rev. John Monteath was ordained, and was translated to Houston in 1797; he died in 1843, in the ninety-first year of his age, and the sixty-third of his ministry.

In 1798, the Rev. William Hood was ordained; and died in 1804. Over this gentleman’s grave a very unseemly squabble took place regarding the inscription to be placed on the tombstone the heritors wished raised to his memory.

In 1804, the Rev. Alexander Fleming, afterwards D.D., was ordained ; and died 10th June, 1844.

In 1845 the Rev. Hugh Aird was ordained ; and died in 1872, very suddenly during the night.

In 1873, the Rev. Thomas Miller, formerly of Lamington, was translated from St. Stephens, Glasgow ; he died in 1878.

In 1879, the Rev. Peter M‘Leod, who had been ordained in 1874, was translated from Dundee. He had formerly been assistant to the Rev. Hugh Aird, and his appointment was opposed by some of the people; but the Presbytery sustained the call, and it was not carried to the General Assembly. This gentleman, by his urbanity, general kindness, and liberality, lived to gain the respect and goodwill of nearly all those who opposed him when he came to the parish. He retired from the church because of infirm health a few years before his death, which took place in 1896, when a mural tablet bearing the following inscription was placed in the church :—

In loving Memory of Rev. PETER M'LEOD,
Ordained, 17th Sepr., 1874,
Died, 17th Deer., 1896.
An earnest preacher of the Gospel,
A diligent pastor and a true friend.
As a token of esteem and affection,
By the Congregation.

In 1895, the Rev. Robert Barr, M.A., the present incumbent, was ordained, having previously been appointed assistant and successor.

Rev. Alexander Martin, M.A. and B.D. This gentleman, a native of our town, after being licensed, acted as assistant in two parishes with much acceptance ; but, in consequence of his health giving way, he was obliged to retire from the active prosecution of the regular ministry.


Connected with the Free Church, the Rev. Mr. Robertson conducted a Mission in Neilston, previous to the erection of the present building, which was opened in September. 1873.

In September, 1873, the Rev. Archibald Ferguson, the present incumbent, was ordained their first minister.


Mr. Alexander Horne acted as missionary in this village for upwards of twenty-three years, and died in 1881; when he was succeeded by Mr. Nicol. now an esteemed missionary in Dairy, Ayrshire.

In 1888, the present church was erected, mainly by the generous efforts of the Honourable Mrs. Mure and other members of that family, when the memorial stone was laid with masonic honours by Colonel Mure of Caldwell.

In IS89, the Uev. David Stewart, the present incumbent, was ordained their first minister.


From the period of the Reformation, ‘24th August, 1560, at which date the Pope’s jurisdiction in Scotland was finally and formally abolished, till 1862, there had been no place of Roman Catholic worship in Neilston; but in that year the present chapel of St. Thomas was opened, and the Rev. James M‘Namara appointed their first pastor. This gentleman, who was much respected in the district, was subsequently removed to Pollokshaws, 1881, where he became Dean, and afterwards Canon, of the Pro-Cathedral, Glasgow. He was succeeded by the Rev. Bernard Tracy, 1881, from Pollokshaws, presently Dean Tracy of St. John’s, Barrhead. The Rev. Dnncan Brown was his successor, and on his removal to Hamilton he was succeeded, 1900, by the Rev. Aloysius Reifenrath, the present incumbent.


In the Established Church, the clergymen have been : the Rev. Mr. Salmon, the Rev. Mr. Mungal, the Rev. Thomas Buchanan, and the Rev. Duncan Cameron, B.D., the present incumbent.

The United Secession Church : Rev. James Tait.

In the United Presbyterian, now the Arthurlie United Free Church, the clergymen have been ordained in the following order : the Rev. Mr. Lowe, the Rev. William Clark, M.A. ; and the Rev. Duncan S. Brown, M.A., the Rev. J. G. Clark, M.A., present incumbent.

In what was the Free, hut now the South United Free Church, the succession of ministers has been: the Rev. Mr. Salmon (this gentleman came out of the Established Church, Barrhead, at the Disruption in 1843, and was consequently the first pastor of the Free ('hurch there); the Rev. Mr. Stewart succeeded him; the Rev. Ivy M'Lachlan being his successor; the Rev. William Young, the present incumbent.

The Evangelical Union Congregational Church.—The succession of clergymen in this church has been : the Rev. Mr. M'Callum, the Ilev. Mr. Davidson, father of Davidson the poet, the Rev. Mr. Andrew, who was translated to Dundee; the Rev. Edward Bruce Kirk, the present incumbent (this gentleman has a very extensive knowledge of astronomy, on which subject he is frequently engaged as a lecturer).

The Wesleyan Church.—In this church the clergymen are changed every three years. The succession hitherto has been: the Rev. Mr. Butcher, the Rev. C. M. Weeks; the Rev. W. F. Howard.

St. John’s Roman Catholic Chapel, Prior Park.—This church was solemnly opened on the 17th October, 1841, and has sitting accommodation for 800 persons. The succession of clergymen has been : Rev. Fr. Bremner, founder, 1841; Rev. Jas. Purcell, appointed at opening, 18411845 (church opened by Bishop Murdoch), built school, 1842; Rev. John Sheedy, 1845-1858, built presbytery house ; Rev. Thos. Keane, 18581869, built Neilston Chapel, 1861-2 (opened 1862, by Bishop Murdoch; Rev. John M‘Ginnes, 1869-1873; Rev. Thos. Frederick Carlin, 1873-1893  Rev. Bernard (now Dean) Tracy, 1893, present incumbent, with Revs. Fr. Henry Edgar and Fr. Fitzgerald, assistants.

Medical Profession of Neilston.

The members of the medical profession who have practised, or are now in practice in Neilston, are :—

Dr. William Young, a native of the town. This gentleman removed to Glasgow, where he became eminent in his profession.

Dr. Charles Ritchie. This gentleman also went to Glasgow, where he obtained considerable eminence. Dr. Ritchie contributed an article to the G'lasgoiv Medical Journal for August, 1828, entitled, “Remarks on the Medical Topography of the Parish of Neilston.”

Dr. Craig, Dr. Jas. Wallace, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. William Wilson, Dr. Thomas Young (brother of the above William Young); Dr. Dunlop (this gentleman removed to Greenock); Dr. Lambert, Dr. Kidd, Dr. George Smith, Dr. James Mason (this gentleman removed to England).

Presently in practice there are: David Pride, M.D. and J.P./and his son, Wallace Ainsworth Pride, M.B. and C.M.

Medical Profession of Barrhead.

Members of the medical profession who have practised, or are now in practice in Barrhead, are :—

Dr. John Brown, Dr. T. C. Adam, and Dr. Robert Colquhoun.

Dr. Joseph Bell, a native of the town, who, after having been in Barrhead for several years, removed to Glasgow, where he gained a high reputation, and for many years was Lecturer on Materia Medica in Anderson’s College, and Clinical Lecturer at the Royal Infirmary, where he was one of the physicians.

Dr. Thomas Young, of Neilston, also carried 011 practice in Barrhead.

John M'Kinlay, M.D.; Dr. M‘Aulay ; Robert Corbett, M.D.; Dr. Anderson; Dr. Lambert (also of Neilston); David Ligat, M.B. and C.M. (this gentleman removed to London); Dr. James Mason (removed from Neilston, and subsequently to England) and Dr. Turner.

The present practitioners are: Dr. John M'Kinlay, J.P. (son of the above Dr. M'Kinlay) ; Robert Corbett, M.B. and C.M. (son of the above Dr. Corbett); Dr. Allan M‘Leod, Dr. Calderwood, Dr. Davidson.

Writers, Past and Present, in Neilston.

William Fernie, notary public; Mr. Auld, Mr. Matthew Anderson, writer and banker; Mr. Robertson, W.S.; Mr. Alexander Robertson-Ferguson, writer and banker; Mr. John Anderson ; Mr. Robert A. Doak, M.A.; David Hunter.

Writers, Past and Present, in Barrhead.

Mr. Matthew Anderson, of Neilston, writer and banker; Mr. Archibald Brownlie, writer and banker; Mr. Joseph Watson, writer and banker; Mr. William Fife, Mr. Jas. B. Paton, Mr. John M‘Kinlay, Mr. Robert Stewart (also bankers) ; Mr. Pattison (who is also Burgh Fiscal) ; Mr. Duncan Watson.

Teachers, Past and Present, of Neilston.

Mr. Eadie ; Mr. John Gardner, M.A., was appointed parochial schoolmaster in 1812, which office he continued to hold till 18G2, when he resigned. He was a superior scholar and a very successful teacher. It is curious to note, as in striking contrast to the interest taken in educational matters in the present day, that the number of scholars receiving tuition when he retired was 92. His retiring allowance was £23 6s. 8d., being two-thirds of his salary at the time, with a further yearly sum of £15, being a sum equal to the annual value of his dwelling-house and yard.

Mr. William Paton was appointed his successor on 1st September, 1862. This gentleman died in 1869, aged sixty-two years.

Mr. Duncan Martin Doak, J.P., was appointed his successor, in 1869. He was a gentleman of great energy and organizing power ; and during his incumbency the national system of compulsory education was introduced into parochial schools in 1872, which had the effect of revolutionising the educational methods of our country, greatly increasing the number of scholars, and enlarging the school accommodation. Mr. Doak died in 1905, when

Mr. D. G. Nicolson, who was at the time headmaster in the Board school in Uplawmoor, was translated to Neilston school. For the first time in the experience of any of the public schools in the parish, a venture was made, Christmas, 1906, by the issue, quarterly, of a magazine, under the designation of Neilston Public School Magazine, which is under the editorship of the headmaster, and is to be supported by the writings of the children of the school as far as possible. The journal gives promise of being a highly useful paper.

Teachers in Barrhead.

Until the year 1876, Barrhead, if not entirely without, was very inadequately supplied with regular school accommodation. But in that year, by a voluntary effort on the part of the principal inhabitants of the town, this defect was made up, and a school of quite a superior character was erected and provided for; and Mr. Rodger, the present esteemed teacher, was appointed master, 1870. With the introduction of the national system of education in 1872, this school was taken over by the School Board, under the management of which it has been very greatly enlarged, and, since 1906, with full equipment and special staff of teachers, has become the centre of the Higher Grade education, with Mr. Rodger as headmaster. This gentleman retired in 1908.

In order to meet the educational wants of the greatly-increased population of the burgh, two additional large schools have been erected— Cross-Arthurlie School, headmaster, Mr. Ferguson; and Grahamston School, headmaster, Mr. M'Conochie, M.A.—each school being thoroughly provided as to staff, space, and other requirements, in accordance with the Education Code.

There is also a large and thoroughly efficient school attached to St. John’s Roman Catholic Chapel, Darnley Road. At the opening of the new addition to this school, on 1st September, 1905, the Rev. Dean Tracy said the school from which they were now withdrawing was opened in Water Road in 1S42, and had the honour of being the first school built in Barrhead.

Teachers in Uplawmoor.

Previous to the Education Act of 1872 coming into force, education in this village was placed upon no very secure or satisfactory basis. There had almost always been a kind of adventure school in the village, and the number of teachers that passed through it was very considerable, mostly Divinity students, there only for a year or two—Mr. Caldwell, Mr. Thos. Sproul, Mr. Dove, Mr. Craig (Dominie Craig) Mr. Kidd, Mr. Pattison, and Mr. Crow. But, about 1858, a committee of the inhabitants and surrounding farmers took upon themselves to collect the money necessary to pay a teacher, and the late Colonel Mure generously granted a school-house and a cottage for the teacher to reside in ; and when the premises were ready for opening, the late Mr. R. C. B. Watt was appointed schoolmaster, he being the first certificated teacher in the village. This gentleman saw the Education Act introduced, and continued as headmaster under the School Board for many years in the new and enlarged school; but in 1890 he retired on the age limit, and died in Pollokshaws, to which he had removed in 1907. Mr. Watt was succeeded in the headmastership by Mr. D. G. Nicolson, who, on being transferred to Neilston, was succeeded by Mr. John Little. He retired in 1910, and was succeeded by Mr. Young from Barrhead.

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