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Significant Scots
Ian Adair Murihead

In Memoriam


The members of The Scottish Church History Society will be saddened in the loss of Ian Muirhead, a distinguished and learned minister and historian who died suddenly at the General Assembly on 21 May 1983. He had been Vice-President and then President of the Society from 1977 until 1980.

He contributed several papers to the Society including “The Revival as a Dimension of Scottish Church History” and “The Problems of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Scotland” and took part most helpfully in discussion at the meetings out of his considerable understanding of historical movements and his ripe judgment. He also contributed to other journals, The East Lothian Transactions, The Expository Times, The Innes Review and The Scottish Journal of Theology. He had much more to offer and the Society looked forward to hearing a paper he had promised for the coming session.

Mr Muirhead was a son of the manse and earned First-class Honours in Mental Philosophy in his M.A. at Glasgow University and distinction in Ecclesiastical History in his B.D. After an Assistantship at Springburn he was inducted to Forfar St James’ in 1940 and did war service with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens. In 1940, he was translated to Brandon Church, Motherwell and then in 1964 was appointed Lecturer in Ecclesiastical History at the University of Glasgow, in which capacity he influenced large numbers of students for the ministry; in the history staff seminars in the university he won the respect of his secular colleagues for the breadth of his historical interests, extending from medieval to modern times, and the wry humour he brought to the debate, spiced with a clarity and objectivity not always to be found in intellectual circles. He retired from his Senior Lectureship in 1979 and was appointed to the linked charge of Brairdaff and Monymusk in Aberdeenshire.

His friendly and approachable manner, together with a real interest and concern for people, meant that he was greatly respected and admired by his students and by the members of his congregations alike, and his knowledge of the church of his fathers was profound. Several times in his life he had to struggle against ill-health and he struggled courageously. At his funeral service, the minister spoke of his modesty and kindliness and laid stress on his insight and understanding, all qualities which have endeared him to those who knew him. Sympathy is extended to his widow and his three sons in the loss of one most dear.


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