Church Ministers: Rev William B Clark (1844 – 1853)February 26, 2014
The first Minister of our Church (1844-53) was the Rev William B. Clark . William Clark, a native of Biggar, was the youngest son of William Clark, a merchant of Biggar, and his wife Janet Brown. William was born in 1805 and was educated at Biggar Parish School. In 1822 he entered Edinburgh University where he studied for the ministry under Thomas Chalmers who was one of the leaders of the Great Disruption of 1843. William Brown Clark graduated Doctor of Divinity and was licensed by the Presbytery of Biggar in 1832. He was assistant minister at Old Greyfriars, Edinburgh until 1839 when he was presented and ordained to the charge of Half Morton. In 1836 he married Janet Brown from Biggar in St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh. They had two daughters, Elizabeth Glover Clark born 1839 and Bethia Barbara born 1842.
In July 1843 the new congregation of Maxwelltown approached the Rev. Clark to ask if he would be willing to be their minister. He immediately became involved in setting up the new church, speaking at the laying of the foundation stone for the new church building under construction in Laurieknowe. Negotiations on his move to Maxwelltown were to take a year before he was inducted in June 1844.
The 9 years the Rev. Clark spent at Maxwelltown was a time of sustained activity. A Manse was built behind the church in 1846; this building is still in use as a private house. The 1851 census shows the Rev. Clark, his wife Janet, his two daughters, Janet’s sister, a governess, a cousin of Janet’s and a servant, living in the Manse. During this time the church also purchased a building in David Street for conversion into a school. The School was managed by the office-bearers and the first teacher was appointed in 1847.
Early in 1853 The Rev. Clark was approached by a Mr. James Gibb representing the newly established Chalmers Church in Quebec, with a view to him becoming their first Minister. The Rev. Clark left for Canada early in 1853, with his family following him to Quebec later that year. The Rev. Clark did not have a happy start to his life in Canada. On arrival there was a dispute about the method of his appointment which had to be resolved by the Synod. He was finally ordained at the end of 1853.
Shortly after her arrival in Canada, Janet Clark who suffered from ill health, died. The Rev. Clark continued as minister of Chalmers Church Quebec for 19 years, until 1874. William married Amelia Torrance, widow of James Gibb’s brother, Thomas, in 1870. In 1889 William was Professor of Church History in Morrin College, Quebec, and in 1889 he became Doctor of Divinity in Montreal. Amelia Died in 1890. The Reverend William Brown Clark died in 1893, aged 88, at the home of his daughter Bethia.
In 1870 when he was minister of Chalmers Church, William’s daughter Bethia married James Moodie, a farmer of Scottish origin. They had 7 children. William’s youngest grandchild, William Brown Clark Moodie, died in France in 1917. Bethia died in 1921 aged 79. Her sister Elizabeth who never married, died in 1919 aged 80. B W