Church Ministers: Rev David Purves (1853-1883)February 24, 2015
David Purves, the second minister of our church, was born in 1808 in the village of Stenton in East Lothian, the son of Andrew and Sophia Purves. He was educated firstly in Stenton Village School and then at a private School in East Linton, which involved a walk of several miles to and from school every day. At the age of 16 he entered university in Edinburgh where he excelled at Moral Philosophy and Mathematics.
In 1826, aged 18, he was appointed schoolmaster in Stenton, where he made a lasting impression on his pupils. David remained as schoolmaster in Stenton until 1838, when he was appointed school master in Abottshall, Kirkcaldy, continuing there until 1843.
During this period he continued his studies, at intervals, in the arts and theology.
In 1839 David married Anne Knox of Belhaven at Abbotshall Fife. Anne died in 1851, leaving David with 5 children to bring up with the help of his sister Jane.
At the Disruption, having graduated and deciding to go with the Free Church, David accepted a call to the Free Church in Aberdour on the 13th December 1843.
He stayed at Aberdour for 10 years, where he became much loved by the people in his congregation and his peers.
In October 1853, he accepted a call from the Free Church congregation of Maxwelltown Dumfries.
In a review of David’s life in Dumfries, Mr. McDowell of the Dumfries Standard made the following reference to the welcome he received:
“Before many months elapsed, Mr. Purves became well known and respected throughout a wide extent of the country.”
On 19th February 1854, David Purves married Charlotte Johnston in St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh. David and Charlotte had 3 children.
During David’s long term at Maxwelltown, a new church was built, and there were changes in the form of the service. The new church building, which cost £2190, was opened on 15th November 1866 with a congregation 500. There was an increase in private baptism and the Session asked the Moderator to remind the congregation of their duty to bring their children to church. This happened in 1874 and again in 1880.
During this period there were attempts to introduce a harmonium into the church.
Between 1853 and 1878 the church ran a school in David Street.
The church was also involved with the management of the Maxwelltown Gospel Mission.
David Purves continued ministering to the congregation, attending to presbytery business, on his own and, along with his wife, bringing up a large family until 1878, aged 70, he asked the session for an assistant. This request was granted unanimously and 4 assistants served for various periods until 1883.
On the 30th May 1883, David Purves, aged 75, died while attending the General Assembly in Edinburgh. He had been a minister for 40 years. Charlotte died, aged 78, in 1904.
A large funeral in Edinburgh was attended by representatives from Dumfries, Edinburgh, and East Lothian.
In 1884 a tribute to his father “A Ministry in the South” was published by his son Rev. David Purves. BW