Commemorative Wall Hanging in Memory of Anna Riddick

 This beautiful wall hanging can be seen on the south wall of the  church to the west of the pulpit.  The idea for its creation came from the late Anna Riddick, a member of Maxwelltown West Church and also a member of the Dumfries and District Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild.

 After liaising with the minister to decide on a suitable theme and content, it was agreed how the work would be accomplished.

Twelve scenes from the life of Jesus were selected and Anna was delighted when master drawings were created.

To see the work in detail and read more about it, a booklet can be borrowed from the church or follow the pdf link  below:
Maxwelltown West Wall Hanging in Memory of Anna Riddick

Our congregation began in the year 1843 as Maxwelltown Free Church.

The barnyard at Nithsdale
The barnyard at Nithsdale

In that year, Free Church congregations were formed throughout Scotland by ministers and members who left the parish churches in support of the principle of freedom to call a minister without the influence of a Patron.

Our congregation had its roots in the ‘Chapel of Ease’ in Laurieknowe (later Laurieknowe Parish Church) which was a daughter church of Troqueer.

The first meeting-place of Maxwelltown Free Church was in the open air at the barnyard at Nithside (the present Nithside Avenue).

Such was the enthusiasm of the congregation that within six months a church had been built at North Laurieknowe, at the junction of Laurieknowe and North Laurieknowe Place.  Part of that building stands to this day (now Budget Tyres).Laurieknowe

A Manse was constructed behind the church in 1847.

North Laurieknowe
North Laurieknowe

On 8th July 1865, the foundation stone of the present building, to the design of Mr James Barbour, was laid.

The church was built at a cost of £2,190 and was opened in November 1866.

From the 1870s until the 1930s the Free Church Mission operated from the Old Bridge Street Hall under the authority of the Session, the full-time Missionary acting as Assistant to the minister.

The Manse
The Manse

The union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church in 1900 brought a change of name, to Maxwelltown United Free Church.

In the 1920s the present Manse at 11 Laurieknowe was purchased.

In 1929 came the re-union of the Churches when the United Free Church and the Church of Scotland were united and our congregation became Maxwelltown West Church of Scotland.

Today, Maxwelltown West is the fourth largest of the 40 congregations in the Presbytery of Dumfries & Kirkcudbright.

The Millennium was marked by the transfer of the War Memorial Gates from the former Laurieknowe Church to Maxwelltown West, the gates being re-dedicated on Remembrance Sunday 1999.

Ministers of the Congregation

Photo: past ministers

1844-1853: Rev W.B. Clark

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.

1853-1883: Rev D. Purves

The second Minister of our Church (1853-1883) was the Rev David Purves.

David Purves 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. B W

1884-1890: Rev F. Rae

The third Minister of our Church (1884-1890) was the Rev. Frank Rae.

Frank Rae was born in 1856 in Anderston, Glasgow, the second son of Matthew and Henrietta Rae. In 1871 Frank, aged 16, was working as a stockbrokers’ clerk and still living with his family in Glasgow. By 1881 the family was living in Newington, Midlothian and Frank, aged 26, was a divinity student in New College, Edinburgh.

Frank was working as a probationer in Edinburgh when he received a call, which he accepted, from Maxwelltown Free Church. The call was sustained by the Presbytery on 24th December 1883. An account of the Ordination and Induction in 1884 reported a large attendance in “the handsome and spacious edifice of Maxwelltown Free Church,” this before the installation of the unseemly organ pipes.

The Rev. Frank Rae started work in a parish described as “almost rural, but with the fortunate composition of business and professional men, of farmers and other country folk making a happy community.” This description ‘rural’ of Maxwelltown shows a great change from earlier times when it was described as one of the most lawless places in the UK. Frank Rae gained a reputation as a brilliant, cultured and eloquent preacher.

During his short time in Dumfries, not only did he establish himself as a parish minister, but he met and married his wife. On 15th July 1890, aged 34, he married Elizabeth A. Barbour, aged 22, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Barbour. The wedding took place in Belmount, the Barbour Home in Troqueer. The wedding was conducted by David Ogilvy minister of the Free Church Dalbeattie.

Frank and Elizabeth left Dumfries immediately after their wedding when Frank took up the position as minister of the Free Church in Uddingston. The family set up home in Glasgow Road, Bothwell and on the 10th July 1892 their first son Matthew was born. On 21st June 1898 their second son Robert Barbour Rae was born.

Frank Rae settled to life in a parish in a busy industrial area where coal mining and steelmaking were the main industries – a far cry from Maxwelltown. In 1902 Rev. Frank Rae journeyed to Canada on the Tunisian to visit, and by 1906 the Rae family had left Uddingston and settled in Unionville, Ontario, where Frank was Minister of the Presbyterian Church. Frank stayed as minister until the Canadian churches united to form The United Church of Canada in 1925, when, aged 69, he retired. Rev Frank Rae was the moderator of Toronto Presbytery in 1915.

In 1914 Matthew Rae, aged 22, a surveyor, enlisted in the 4th Regiment of the Canadian Mounted Rifles. He was taken prisoner in June 1916. Matthew died in a prisoner of war camp in 1917, aged 24. Matthew is commemorated in Plot A56 Kortrijk (St. Jan) Communal Cemetery, Belgium. He was awarded the 14/15 Star. The Town of Unionville named a park ”Matthew Rae Park” in his memory.

In 1923 Robert Rae, aged 25, married Jean Marie Davidson, aged 22, in Toronto, York, Ontario, Canada. The family are buried in St Johns 5th Line Church Cemetery, York, Toronto. Frank Rae died aged 88 in 1942. Elizabeth Barbour died aged 86 in 1954. Robert Rae died aged 73 in 1971. Jean Marie Davidson died aged 92 in 1991. B. W

1890-1895: Rev C.H. Todd

The fourth Minister of our Church (1890-1895) was the Rev. Charles Hessel Todd

Charles Hessel Todd was born in Kinross on 18th June 1853, the 2nd son of John Todd and Elizabeth Hessel. In 1857 the family moved to Alva, in Stirlingshire, where John set up a wool manufacturing business, which by 1861 employed 33 people.

In 1881 Charles is living in St Ninians, Stirlingshire, with his brothers John and Thomas, John is a wool agent, working for the family business, and Thomas is an arts student aged 27, studying in Edinburgh.

By 1886 Charles had completed his studies for the ministry and been ordained in Ratho Free Church. On 6th November 1890 he was inducted to Maxwelltown, where he was to stay for only four years. During his time in Dumfries, Charles’s personal life went through a very traumatic series of events. On 17th April, aged 36, he married Martha Owen Simpson (30) in Newington, Edinburgh. Martha was the daughter of Patrick and Emma Simpson from Victoria Australia (where Patrick was a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia) and had come to Scotland with her sister, who was married to James Prophit, Minister of St Mungo Parish, Dumfriesshire, and at the time of her marriage she was living with relations in Edinburgh. On 1st February 1891 Martha Simpson Todd was born in Maxwelltown manse. On 2nd March 1891 Martha Owen Todd, aged 31, died in Maxwelltown manse.

The 1891 Census, taken in May, shows Charles with his daughter, Martha’s brother Patrick Carnegie Simpson (a Divinity student) Victoria Hughes (a visitor from England) and two servants, living in the manse. Patrick Simpson had signed his sister’s death certificate and his niece’s birth certificate. In 1885 Martha’s sister’s son Archibald Leigh Prophit died, aged 4, from scarlet fever, and her husband James Prophit, aged 56, died in 1889. Martha moved to Newcastle on Tyne to stay with relations.

Towards the end of 1894 Charles Todd accepted a call from East Aberdeen Church and was inducted to his new charge on 12th February 1895. At the end of 1895, aged 42, Charles Todd married Sarah Prophit, aged 29, his sister in law.

The 1901 Census shows Charles, and Sarah living with two servants in the Free Church Manse, 5 Carden Street, Aberdeen. Martha Simpson Todd, aged 10, is staying with friends in the Free Church Manse in Strichen, Aberdeenshire.

The 1911 Census shows Charles, Sarah, and Martha, aged 20, living with two servants in the Free Church Manse, 5 Carden Street Aberdeen. The family lived at 5 Carden Street until at least 1920 after which they moved to Edinburgh. In 1925 Charles Hassel Todd died, aged 71, at St Raphael’s Home, Edinburgh. Sarah lived at 24 St Albans Road in property owned by Martha until she died, aged 77, in 1933. Martha qualified as a teacher working as English Mistress in Preston, Bath and Edinburgh until she moved to Bristol after her stepmother’s death, Martha died in 1974. B W

1895-1903: Rev R.G. McIntyre

The fifth Minister of our Church (1895-1903) was the Rev Ronald G Macintyre

Ronald George Macintyre was born in Melbourne, Australia, the youngest in a family of five born to Angus Macintyre, a Roman Catholic and Catherine Cameron, a Presbyterian from Invernesshire, Scotland. When Angus, who was a grazier, died in 1864, Catherine moved with the family back home to Kilmallie, Argyllshire, where the family were brought up as Presbyterians. Ronald attended the public school in Fort William.

The census for 1881 shows him, aged 17, living in Kilmallie with his mother. After leaving school in 1880 Ronald started studying law, working in a solicitor’s office until 1883. In his teens he offered himself to the Free Church and started to study for the ministry at New College, Edinburgh. He graduated MA in 1886, BD in 1889, and DD in 1919. He was a student assistant at Edinburgh St Bernard’s FC in 1886, licensed by the Presbytery of Abertarf in 1889 and assistant at Galashiels (1889). In 1890 he was ordained to St Andrews Birkenhead the Presbyterian Church of England.

In 1895 he was called by the Congregation of Maxwelltown Free Church, his induction taking place on 4th July 1895. On the 1st August 1895, aged 31, he married Cristina Cromb, a piano teacher, aged 29, in Edinburgh.

A Glasgow publication of the time described The Rev. Macintyre as possessing all the fervour of the younger Non–Conformist school. In his lecture, “The Sin and Sorrow of Dumfries”, his description of what he observed in the town on a Saturday night was singularly lurid and resulted in many protests, but he continued to insist that intemperance is the chief cause of not only crime but also of poverty and misery from which the working classes suffer so much.

In 1896 the congregation voted 212-95 for the introduction of instrumental music and a Pipe Organ was purchased from Kilmarnock Church. The organ was installed, a new pulpit built and the Church redecorated by July 1897.

In 1896 the Minister founded a Band of Hope, a Christian Endeavour Society for young women and later a similar organisation for young men. In November 1900 the Deacons’ Court minute records that the Union of the Free and the United Presb. Churches had been consummated in Edinburgh. The name of the church would be The United Free Church of Scotland. This was the first step to union.

In April 1903 Ronald Macintyre announced from the pulpit that he had accepted a call to the charge in Woollera, Sidney, Australia. From the start of his training for the ministry he had always been attracted to the idea of a colonial ministry, and now that the call had come it was his duty to accept it. On the 19th June 1903 the Rev. and Mrs. Macintyre sailed for Hobart, Australia on the S.S. Paparoa.

When he arrived in Sydney he became minister of St Columba’s Church Woollera. In 1909 he was appointed Professor of Theology at St Andrew’s College where he was Chairman of the Scots College Council. An astute politician, fund-raiser, theologian, writer and orator with a deep commitment to the Presbyterian Church, Ronald Macintyre was Convener of the Business Committee of the General Assembly of Australia for 40 years.

From 1904 to 1909 he promoted the cause of “Australian ministers for an Australian Church”. From 1916 – 1918 he was Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. During his time as Moderator he was Chairman of the State Recruiting Committee and was awarded the CBE and, in 1928, the CMG for his work.

After the war Ronald worked tirelessly to establish a sound financial basis for union in the Church. From 1927-34 he was M.D. of the Burnside Orphan Homes. Cristina Macintyre died in September 1925. They had no children. In 1935 he married a widow, Alice Mary Parkinson. The couple retired to Springwood. Ronald George Macintyre CBE, CMG, MA, BD, DD, died, aged 91, in 1954, and his wife Alice died in 1957. B W

1903-1907: Rev W.J. Street

The sixth Minister of our Church (1903-1907) was the Rev William J Street

William Jeremiah Street, was born in Edinburgh, Midlothian in 1868. He was the first child of William Street, a joiner from England and Christina Kinross from Peebles.

The family lived first, in 1871, at 11 North Pit Street Edinburgh. The 1881 Census shows William and Christina with William J. aged 13, and Andrew, Margaret, Charles, James and John, living at 18 West Claremont Street, Edinburgh. The 1891 Census shows the family staying at Henderson Row, supporting William who is a Divinity Student and is studying at New College.

William and Christina’s marriage lasted for 46 years. They had 9 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood. William died in 1911, aged 74 and Christina in 1922, aged 82. In 1895, William J. aged 28, married Mary Duncan aged 31, in her home at 16 West Claremont Street Edinburgh. The couple moved to Portsoy where William Jeremiah Street was inducted to his first charge at the West United Free Church.

The 1901 census shows William and Mary with daughter Mary, aged 2, living in the Church manse. Between 1895 and 1903 while living in Portsoy, the couple had 4 children. Christina (born 1897 died aged 7 weeks, Mary, (born 1898), William (born 1901) died aged 4 months, and James (born 1903).

William J. Street was inducted to Maxwelltown West Church on 10th September 1903. During William’s time in Dumfries the congregation started looking for a new Manse, as the existing building required frequent repairs. The Church heating was upgraded by fitting a new boiler and relaying the heating pipes. The young people, with the minister’s support, were active in joint discussions with other churches, and there was also an active cycling club.

In September 1907, William Street accepted a call from Willesden Church, London and left Dumfries. Rev Street stayed in London until 1911 before returning to Scotland after accepting a call to Stevenson Memorial Church in Glasgow, where he stayed until June 1920, when he again moved – this time to Brechin East U.F. Church.

In December 1924, William Jeremiah Street, aged 57, died from heart failure. In August 1948 William’s widow died in Edinburgh, aged 75, from heart failure. Her death certificate was signed by their son James Street, living in Hertfordshire. B W

1908-1914: Rev J.M. Little

The seventh minister of our Church (1908-1914) was the Rev James McNeill Little

Like his predecessor, James McNeill Little was born in Edinburgh. Born on 2nd June 1873, he was the 3rd child and 2nd son of Jacob Little and Margaret McNeil. Jacob was a former Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery and a Chelsea Pensioner who worked as a Compulsory Officer.

James was educated at George Watson’s College and the University of Edinburgh where he studied Classics. He then moved to New College Edinburgh where he trained for the Ministry. He was licensed by the Free Church Presbytery of Edinburgh and served as assistant in Skelmorlie and Edinburgh John Knox. In October 1898, aged 25, James was ordained and inducted to Gateshead-on-Tyne Park Terrace Presbyterian Church.

In Edinburgh on 19th September 1899, James married Jeanie Wark Robertson, aged 25. James moved to Sunderland Trinity in 1902. On 4th March 1904, Jacob Little died from cancer. His grandson, James and Jeanie’s first child, James Robertson was born in October of that year.

James McNeill Little was inducted to Maxwelltown on 23rd April 1908. During his ministry he took the Church to the People by having services in the country areas of the parish and during the summer, open air services in Market Square. James, along with his wife, expanded the involvement of the church with young people through the Men’s Own and the Girls’ Auxiliary.

On 9th April 1909, Margaret Little, aged 70, died in Edinburgh. On 10th of April 1910, James and Jeanie’s Daughter, Margaret McNeill Little, was born in the Church Manse, Maxwelltown.

In November 1914 as the congregation became increasingly involved in the war, James accepted a call to St Mark’s UF Church in Glasgow. In 1916 the couple’s 3rd child, Jean Webster Little was born. During his time at St Mark’s, James served with the Scottish Churches Huts, (1917-18) continuing his involvement with young people. James moved to Nairn High in 1921 where he died, aged 69, in 1943 as the result of an accident.

Jeanie Wark Little died, aged 82, in 1971. James Robertson Little married in 1931 and Margaret McNeill Little (a doctor) married in 1939. Jean Webster Little never married and died in 2006. B W

1915-1922: Rev J. Begg

The eighth Minister of our Church (1915-1922) was the Rev. John Begg

John Begg, the son of William Begg, a Grocer and Spirit Merchant, was born on 17th October 1878, at 3 Rayhill Lanes, St Peters Dundee – the family home. The 1871 Census shows William aged 23, a Ship’s Carpenter born in Wigtownshire and living with his widowed Mother in Glasgow.

On the 1st October 1877, William married Helen Ewing aged 30, the widow of James Smith, Spirit Merchant and Grocer in Dundee. The couple continued to run the Grocery business in Dundee.

The 1881 Census shows the family, with John aged 2, and David Ross aged 9 – Helen’s son. The 1891 Census shows the family still together with David now a Law Student and using his step-father’s name. David and John were attending Harris Academy, Dundee. The Family attended St Peter’s Church Dundee where the minister, the Rev. Alex White, supported John in his calling to the ministry. The 1901 census shows David has left home and John is a Divinity Student.

John studied at Standees where he graduated M.A. in 1900 and B.D. in 1904. He also studied at New College Edinburgh. He assisted at the Stewart Mitchell Mission Glenlivet, 1901/02. He was licensed by Dundee Presbytery in 1904. John assisted Preceton and Dreghorn 1904/05, (where he met his future wife), and Edinburgh Barclay 1906/07. John Begg was inducted to his first charge at St Monance in 1908 where he stayed for 8 Years. In 1909 John, aged 30, married Maggie Jane Hutchison, aged 24, in Dreghorn Ayrshire.

On 25th February 1915, John was inducted to Maxwelltown Church Dumfries where he was to stay for 7 years. John’s years in Dumfries came at a particularly busy time for the congregation of Maxwelltown. The Church was closed two months for repairs. There was continuing pressure from the Government for the Church minister and Organist to help with the war effort. In 1916 the Jubilee of the Church Building was marked with special services and the Session agreed to support a proposal that women be eligible for election as Deacons. In January the Minister was appointed to work with the Y.M.C.A. for 4 months and was given a wallet of notes to buy comforts for the troops.

On 23rd March 1920 a bronze memorial plaque with 44 names was unveiled in the vestibule of the Church. In July 1922, Rev John Begg accepted a call to Queen Street U.F. Church Edinburgh where he was inducted on 15th October 1922. In December 1933 he moved to Skelmorlie and Wemyss Bay and finally, in March 1938, he moved to Monifieth Panmure.

John Begg retired in 1948, aged 70, after 44 years in the ministry. He died in Edinburgh on the 21st February 1964 aged 85. Margaret Jane Begg died in Haymarket Edinburgh in 1971. I have not been able to find any record of the Beggs having any family. B W

1922-1929: Rev J.A. Campbell

The ninth Minister of our Church (1923-1929) was the Rev J.A. Campbell

James Alexander Campbell, the first son of James Campbell, a Steam Ship Manager and Anna Robertson Ritchie, was born on 12th July 1886, at 11 Derby Street, Kelvin, Glasgow – the family home.

The 1901 Census shows James, age 14, living at Fernfield, Minard Road, Partick, with his father, mother, two sisters and a brother. Also visiting the house was Antony Cooper, an Evangelist from Ireland. James was educated at Glasgow High School and Glasgow University, where he graduated M.A. in 1906.

He was a Student Assistant in Glasgow St Marks 1910/11 and was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow. James was then appointed to carry out mission work with the Jewish Committee in Budapest as assistant to Dr. J. MacDonald, where he remained until the outbreak of the war in August 1914. On 20th August 1912 James Campbell, aged 26, living in Budapest, married Jennie Hamilton Cameron, aged 26, from Uddingston. Jennie travelled to Budapest with her husband. At the start of the war they made their way home through Europe with some difficulty.

On his return from Budapest in 1915 James was inducted to the charge of Castlehill, Forres. During his time in Forres, Rev. Campbell served in Europe with the Y.M.C.A. for 6 months when he was attached to the 51st Division. Back home in Forres, along with his Church duties he became a member of the first Education Authority in Forres and was actively involved in the community.

On 22nd February 1923 James A. Campbell was inducted to the charge of Maxwelltown United Free Church of Scotland. During his time in Dumfries, Rev. Campbell took an active part in the Church life, notably in forming a Youth Committee on his arrival in 1923 and re-establishing the Men’s Own. He also took over as Sunday School Superintendent in 1926. During this period a new manse was purchased and many changes were made to the Church Fabric.

From 1923, discussion about the moves towards unification occupied the Session. This included changing the Church name to Maxwelltown West Church. The formal union took place on 2nd October 1929. At the Unification Service on 6th June, the preacher was Rev. Principal Ronald MacIntyre, C.M.G., D.D., Sydney Australia, former minister of this Church.

In March 1929 the Rev. Campbell left Maxwelltown Church to return to Glasgow where he became minister at the new Church of St John’s, Renfield Street. He remained there until his death in 1952. James Campbell died, aged 65, in April 1952 followed by his wife Jennie in September the same year. Jennie’s death certificate was signed by her brother Peter from Carrandale.

1929-1943: Rev J.M. Melrose

The tenth Minister of our Church (1929-1943) was the Rev. J. McW. Melrose

James McWhinnie Melrose, the eldest of four sons of William Melrose a railway signalman and Jane McWhinnie, was born on 1st July 1891, at Mathison Street Glasgow – the family home.

The 1901 Census shows James age 9 living at Fernienenk, Old Kilpatrick Dumbartonshire, with his father now a stationmaster, his mother, and three brothers Robert 7, William 4 and Alex 2. The 1911 Census shows the family still living at Fernienenk. James is a student teacher studying at Glasgow University.

At the outbreak of the war James joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was in action from the battle of Mons in 1914 through till the end of the hostilities in 1918 and rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. During his war service, James was exposed to gas which caused him health problems. After the war James returned to Glasgow and resumed his studies at Glasgow University, where he graduated in 1920, was ordained to the Free Church, and called to his first charge, the John Knox Church in Stewarton where he stayed for 9 years during which time the church repaid a large debt. While in Stewarton, James took a deep interest in the social work of the Burgh.

In 1925 James McWhinnie Melrose age 33, married Lily McNab Kinnear a teacher age 27, in St Mark’s Church, Argyll Street, Glasgow. In 1926 the couple’s only child Frances Isobel was born in Stewarton on 11th April.

After a call signed by 551 members and adherents of Maxwelltown West Church, the Rev. James McWhinnie Melrose was inducted to the charge on 20th December 1929. He quickly became very much at home in his new charge, presiding over the changes brought about by the unification of the Church, including the closure of the Old Bridge Street Mission. In October 1931 the Women’s Guild held their first meeting in the Church. Companies of the Girl Guides and Boys’ Brigade were also formed at this time. The Fabric continued to be upgraded with hearing aids being installed and the organ repaired. Electricity was also installed in the Manse. With the outbreak of war there was pressure to economise on the use of fuel. To achieve this, joint services and meetings were arranged with other churches.

In 1939 Mr. Melrose had to enter a nursing home for a period as his health deteriorated. He recovered sufficiently to resume his duties, but in 1943 after an operation, he died age 52 on 8 th November. The Death Certificate lists the effects of Phosgene poisoning during the 14/18 war as a contributory cause of death. There was a tribute in the Standard on Wednesday the 10th with the funeral notice intimating a service in the church at 2pm and a private cremation in Glasgow on Thursday 11th . In 1990 Lily McNab Melrose died age 93 in Chryston, near Glasgow. B W

Update to James McW. Melrose’s War Record

The official war record for James Melrose obtained from the National Archives is different from that shown in the Church History Records. The following, taken from the Archives records is a time line of his 4 Years in the army.
05-12-1915: Joined the army and posted for basic training, with the army reserve. James listed his occupation at that time as an inspector of munitions and his address as c/o Wilson, Main Street, Shettleston.
04-09-1916: Mobilised and posted to 5th Reserve Brigade, the Royal Field Artillery at Scotton Camp (now Catterick), James, with the rank of gunner.
12-10-1916: Posted to the 64th H division ammunition column with the rank of gunner. It is probable that during this period he suffered exposure to gas which would affect his health for the rest of his life and contributed to his death.
05-01-9117: James Melrose transferred to No2 officer cadet school with a view to obtaining a commission.
17-12-1917: James failed his gunnery exam but passed at the 2nd attempt.
18-12-1917: James was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant.
21-09-1919: James had now resumed his studies for the ministry, but remained in the Army Reserve and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.
18-01-1920: James finished his service in the Reserves. Later in that year he was ordained as a minister of the Free Church. B W

1944-1983: Rev H.G.A. Simmons

The eleventh Minister of our Church was Henry Glen Alexander Simmons 1944-1983

Part One-The Early Days

Henry Glen Alexander Simmons the younger of two sons born to John Glen Simpson, a grocer and Agnes Alexander, was born on the 10th September 1910 in Cambuslang in the county of Lanark.  The family name Glen had been missed from his original birth certificate and had to be altered.

John, 26 and Agnes, 29 were married in Blythswood, Glasgow on December 1902.  In April 1904 while the family were living in Partick, Lanarkshire, John Glen Simmons, Henry’s elder brother was born.  The 1911 Census shows the family living in Cambuslang, where Henry’s father was working as a colliery road man, and Elizabeth Anderson, 35 Agnes’s sister, a dressmaker, was living with the family.

In September 1922 while the family were living in Albert Road, Glasgow, Henry’s brother John died, aged 18.  John and his father were working as Wine and Spirit Merchants.

In December 1922 Henry’s grandfather John Glen, aged 74, a retired colliery under manager living in Cambuslang, died.

On the 27th April 1924 Henry’s father, aged 47, died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary from injuries received in a motor accident.

Henry and his mother continued to live in Albert Road while he completed his schooling.  He then worked in a publishing company for about a year.  About this time Henry met William Burnside who was to become a lifelong friend.  They were both members of Queen’s Park Church where they attended the bible class and were inspired by two successive ministers to enter the Ministry.  First Harry, as he was better known, then William, studied for the Ministry.  Harry went to university where he graduated and then to Trinity College.  He was an outstanding student.

During leisure periods he spent time with William cycling, sailing, walking and enjoying nature and the beauty of God’s world.  He had a great interest in literature and poetry.

While studying, Harry was a Student Assistant at Langside Hill Church which was close to his home.  In 1936 after being licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, he became assistant at Broomhill Church.  In November 1937 Henry Glen Alexander Simmons was ordained and inducted by the Presbytery to Parkhead East Church.

During his time at Parkhead East Church, Harry did War Service with the Church of Scotland Huts and Canteens.

In April 1944, Harry was translated and inducted to Maxwelltown West Church.

Henry Glen Alexander Simmons 1944-1983

Part Two – Dumfries

On the 27th April 1944, six weeks before the landings in Normandy were announced and the Second World War entered its final stages, Henry Glen Alexander Simmons was inducted to the Charge of Maxwelltown West Church, Dumfries. The announcement was the start of a busy time for the new minister.

Harry Simmons was accompanied from Parkhead in Glasgow to Dumfries by his mother Agnes and their Housekeeper Miss Barbara Kennedy.  The family were faced with settling into a new manse in a rural town after life in the city and coping with the stresses of a community and congregation attempting to return to a normal life, after the disruption caused by the War.

Barbara Kennedy (Kenny) was born Barbara Bishop McNeilage the second child of James McNeilage a baker and Annie Miller, in Milton Glasgow in 1896.  Annie died in 1901 and James in 1902 when Barbara was 6 years old.  Barbara was quickly adopted by William and Agnes Kennedy, a childless couple in their early fifties.  Barbara’s name was changed to Kennedy and the adoption was probably arranged by the Church.  Barbara had an older sister Annie and a younger brother John, who were adopted by two spinsters called Brace.  Annie possibly emigrated to Australia, and after joining the army for a short period when he was 18, John went to England where he married and worked as a cook.  He had at least one of a family and died aged 80.  It is not known if there was any contact between Barbara and her family after they were adopted.

Looked after by his mother and Kenny their housekeeper, who also looked after the manse garden, Harry was able to devote his life to being a true parish minister to his congregation, all of whom become his friends, and to the wider community of Dumfries where as a well-known face he took an active part in the life of the town.  Maxwelltown West Manse became a place of welcome for visitors to Dumfries.

In 1952, eight years after arriving in Dumfries, Harry’s mother Agnes passed away aged 78. After a private funeral she was buried in Glasgow.

Barbara Kennedy continued as housekeeper looking after the manse and the large garden.

Harry was an active parish minister, conducting two services every Sunday.  On 25th April 1969 a social was held to mark Harry’s Semi Jubilee as minister of Maxwelltown West Church.

In 1978 after a long illness, Barbara Kennedy, aged 82, housekeeper and friend of the Simmons family passed away in Dumfries Infirmary.

Harry continued to live in the Manse on his own, supported by members of the congregation and friends.  He regularly conducted the two services every Sunday and ministered to the congregation.  After a short illness Harry died, aged 73, in 1983.  His funeral service was held in a full Maxwelltown West Church on 28th April.  He was buried in Cathcart Cemetery in Glasgow.   Church published a commemoration booklet with contributions by members and friends.  Tribute was also published to Harry in the Dumfries Standard as a commemoration of his work in the Dumfries community.       B W



1984-2012: Rev G.M.A. Savage

Biography in preparation.