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Information on the village of Stichill, near Kelso in Scotland.
early years | later years
George Enters the Ministry
His great purpose in seeking an Assistantship in Edinburgh was so that the house in town might be kept on for his mother and the family, with the boys now at University in the city. George could hardly believe his good fortune when an Assistantship became vacant at his own church, St Stephens. George was on the short leet of three who were to preach to the Kirk Session and congregation of the church which they had attended for the last ten years. His family being connected to the church demanded that no partiality be shown, and he was asked to preach again, before being appointed as Assistant.
George comes to Stichill
George's first duty was to make himself known by visiting all of his parishioners in the two parishes of Stichill and Hume. Hume, being more distant from the manse, was visited more often, as he had less chance of casually meeting these parishioners. The spirit of Christian unity and conciliation was George's great characteristic, and he and the Rev David Cairns, from the UP Church in the village, took counsel together in all matters affecting the spiritual and moral welfare of the district. The two families were close friends; the monthly evening services alternated between the two buildings with each Minister happily filling the other's pulpit; there was a joint Sunday School and Superintendent and shared entertainments. There being no church in Hume, the afternoon service on a Sunday was taken alternately by George and the Rev Alexander Cameron of the Free Church in Greenlaw. This happy state of co-operation between the churches continued throughout the whole term of his ministry.
In 1898, with two close friends, he set off on an expedition to the continent to find alpine specimens to add to his garden. He wrote a paper on his excursion, "Botanical Notes of a Tour in Upper Engadine and Southern Tyrol", which he presented to the Edinburgh Botanical Society on 13th April 1899.
As time passed so his brothers and sister had made lives of their own. Of his brothers, one was an advocate, another Minister at Oxnam, near Jedburgh, and the youngest a doctor at Peebles. His sister Margaret had married the Minister at West Linton. His mother now lived in Stichill with George.
On 13th January 1899, at a church social in Stichill he was presented with new puplit robes and a watch and chain. Little did he know that one year on, to the day, would be his last on this earth. That year was to be the busiest of his life, with his ministerial duties by day and his writing by night. He never felt better intellectually, but was more easily tired than usual. Never one to rest, he went off to Westmorland on a fern-hunting expedition with his friends, as an intended holiday, but he returned feeling little better. His friends and family urged him to rest and very reluctantly he agreed. He preached what was to prove to be his last sermon in Stichill on November 5th 1899. The following week he bade goodbye to his flock from the pulpit and went, with his mother, to stay with his brother, the doctor, in Peebles. He died on January 12th 1900.
In Stichill, the Rev Dr Paul of Robertson Memorial Church, and formerly of Roxburgh, preached the funeral sermon on the death; in Lindores, Peebles there was a service for the family and local friends; and at Grange Church, Edinburgh, passages from Scripture were read by Dr Paul, Rev Mr McLintock of West Lothian (his brother-in-law) and the prayer offered by Very Rev Dr Leishman of Linton (near Morebattle). The Choir sang Paraphrases 61 and 66, and as the funeral procession left the church, the Dead March in Saul was played on the organ. The prayer of committal to the grave was said by his life-long friend the Rev James Goldie of Walkerburn.
So ended the life of a man who committed his whole life to others and gave unstintingly of himself whenever need called. He was only 48 years old.
- (With thanks to Stichill Millennium Project for the material on which this is based)
early years | later years
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