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Stichill Scotland

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Information on the village of Stichill, near Kelso in Scotland.

Rev. George Gunn M.A.
Minister of Stichill and Hume
(Born 1851, Died 1900)

early years | later years

George Enters the Ministry
Eventually, George was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Edinburgh. He preached his first sermon in St David's, Gardner's Crescent (near Tollcross). As well as being an ordeal for him, it was also one for his family who were scattered in obscure corners of the church, proud yet anxious. That first sermon was successfully accomplished with earnestness and courage.

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.
For eighteen months he gave of his all to the work, but he had always had the ambition to have a parish of his own, and when, the parish of Stichill and Hume became vacant, he applied for the charge.
As is usual in Scotland, a leet of candidates had preached before the congregation, and their choice seemed to lie between George and an old college friend of his. In due course he heard that he had been successful and he was 'called' to the charge of Stichill and Hume.

George comes to Stichill
George Gunn's ordination took place on 21st June 1878 in the Parish Church of Stichill. This was the consummation of seventeen years of laborious toil and self-denial. Preached in by the Rev Adam Davidson, Minister of Yetholm, he was ordained by the laying on of hands by the members of the Presbytery of Kelso. Few Manses were more beautifully situated than that of Stichill, and George felt that "this place is too good for me". His mother stayed in Edinburgh to look after the family there, while his sister, Margaret, came down to look after George and the Manse.

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.

Later Life
George never married, putting the needs of his mother and sister ahead of any of his own. He loved collies and always had one called "Laddie" The minister and Laddie were welcomed throughout the parishes. On coming to Stichill, his sporting interests changed from cricket to curling, tennis and walking, but his love of angling continued. Indoors he took up chess and whist. His door was always open to all, and he was prepared to give of all that he had for others. He was often to be found teaching in the schools, and taking evening classes for those at work during the day. He joined the Berwickshire Naturalist's Club in 1879, becoming Secretary in 1898. He wrote widely on agriculture, botany, history and the Church. For nearly twenty years he was a prominent figure in the Kelso Lodge No 58, being installed as Worshipful Grand Master in 1887, Provincial Grand Chaplain of Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles in 1891 and Chaplain to the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1893.

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.

In Memoriam
His life is best summed up in a memorial poem written by T Brotherstone of Humebyres:

In Memoriam
The Rev George Gunn MA
Minister of Stichill and Hume

Gone thou faithful pastor, friend,
E're manhood's tears their course had run,
Only "The Father" knoweth best -
Remember him who needeth rest.
Glorious now is his reward:
Ever with his loving Lord.

Good and upright, faithful, true,
Unselfish, meek, and loving too:
No unkind or stinging word -
Never self-love from him heard

Miss him will the rich, the poor,
Always welcome to their door.

- (With thanks to Stichill Millennium Project for the material on which this is based)

early years | later years

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