TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Round Church, Bowmore, Islay............................................................................................................................. 4
A welcoming symbol of safety.................................................................................................................................. 4
Kilarrow Parish Church............................................................................................................................................... 5
“A Scotch Village Church and Pastor”..................................................................................................................... 6
Rev. John MacGilchrist................................................................................................................................................... 6
A Well Known Islay Minister.................................................................................................................................... 6
Rev. Dr. John MacGilchrist............................................................................................................................................. 8
Impressive Memorial Service in Cathedral............................................................................................................... 8
Death of Former Govan Minister............................................................................................................................... 9
In Memoriam. – Dr. MacGilchrist........................................................................................................................... 10
A gifted son of Islay.................................................................................................................................................. 14
An Appreciation by Colonel Sillars, Glasgow....................................................................................................... 15
Mrs. MacGilchrist........................................................................................................................................................... 15
A Life of Service – Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist; an appreciation............................................................................. 15
Well-Known City Lady’s Death.............................................................................................................................. 16
Mrs. Beatrice MacGilchrist (Nee Blatherwick)........................................................................................................... 17
Hamilton & MacGilchrist............................................................................................................................................... 18
Wedding at Govan..................................................................................................................................................... 18
Captain M. A. MacTaggart, Islay................................................................................................................................ 18
“HE FELL MOST GLORIOUSLY”........................................................................................................................... 18
The following have been taken from various newspaper articles about the Round Church on Islay and various members of the Hamilton, the MacGilchrist and a MacTaggart families; namely :-
· the Rev. John MacGilchrist (1830-1912) [who married Betsy Hamilton Currie]
· his son, Rev. Dr. John MacGilchrist (1866-1928) and his wife, the Hon. Mrs. Agnes Caroline MacGilchrist (Nee Burns) (1865-1928)
· John Hamilton and his wife, Catherine Pullar MacGilchrist
· Captain A. M. MacTaggart.
(All the articles had previously been photocopied and there were places where the words were unreadable. Guesses have been made to some words that lie within an understandable context, but when this was not possible the missing words have been replaced with […])
Article in “The Oban Times, 25 June 1987”
The famous Round church of Bowmore is one of Islay’s best known landmarks. For over two centuries stormbound ships sheltering in Lochindaal have welcomed it as a symbol of a safe haven as did the famous Sunderland flying boats of World War II Coastal Command squadrons. To generations of Islay folk and island visitors alike it has served as a reminder of the centrality of mankind’s need to worship god.
Commissioned by Daniel Campbell (the Younger) of Shawfield the then Laird, it was built between 1767 and 1769 by the Spalding family as part of the new planned village of Bowmore. It replaced two more ancient churches in the parish, one at Kilarrow (now Bridgend), which was a medieval foundation from which the parish takes its name, and another near Laggan Point at Gartbreck Farm. Both of these were later demolished, and the Round church carries the name of Kilarrow parish Church which tradition associates with that of Malrueva, a cousin of the more famous Columba of Iona.
Erected by 1769, the new parish church was styled after a design in Rome that had caught the fancy of the young Laird during a European tour of Italy. It also owes a debt, at least for the exterior, to an Adam plan for a round church in Inveraray, discarded by Daniel Campbell’s cousin the Duke of Argyll. However, the unique interior and roof shapes are both quite different from Adam’s plans and appear to be the work of Thomas Spalding the builder. The haystack roof support system, held by a central pillar from the floor of the church is without parallel in Scottish Church Architecture, and owes much to the design of more industrial buildings. The massive timber pole which supports the root is reputed to be a ships mast specially transported from Glasgow for this purpose.
Thomas Spalding lived to be over a hundred. He has so impressed the local folk with his building skills, that when on one occasion a lady member of the congregation had fallen asleep during he minister’s sermon and was awoken by the worthy preacher asking her who had built the Tower of Babel, in her confusion she replied: “Tom Spalding built it!”.
Walter Frederick Campbell, the last of the Campbell Lairds renovated the kirk in the 1830s and added a Laird’s Gallery. His wife Lady Eleanor is buried in an impressive marble tomb in the rear of the church. Unfortunately her husband was forced to sell the island afterwards to pay his debts and the twin tomb designed for him lies empty. He sold his estates to the Morrison Family who were related on the maternal side to the Campbells of Islay and are still the largest landowners on the island. Lord Margadale the present Laird, is a regular worshipper at the “Round Church” during his visits to the island. He is also Chairman of the Friends of the Round Church who launched the appeal for the present restoration programme. Other members of the Morrison Family likewise show a lively interest in the church life.
During the ministry of the Rev John MacGilchrist in the 1870s the church was once again renovated and remodelled. The balcony was extended and the present pulpit and pew arrangements introduced. A heating stove with an outside chimney attached was added for the comfort of the congregation. Finances for this work were provided by the Heritors (the local landlords), but the main burden was borne by the Morrison’s of Islay Estate.
In 1927 all church properties were passed over to the General Trustees of the Church of Scotland by Act of Parliament. A that time the Heritors, in preparation put the building into good order, introduced a new central heating system with a boiler house and strengthened the roof supports with a metal brace.
With the introduction of electricity to Islay after the Second World War, electrical lighting and under-pew heating replaced the older systems and the church was re-decorated. The present restoration programme was suggested by the late Tom Crawford, who was Session clerk and organist during the ministry of the Rev Ian Munro. Plans were drawn up and a start made to roof works and fund-raising.
Under the present Ministry, Crerars and Partners became architects for the project. With the assistance of the Historic Buildings Council funds were raised to complete the renovation of roofing, slating and the treatment of interior dry-rot. The stonework of the tower was cleaned and the internal timbers were also treated.
Further fund-raising efforts enabled the exterior harling to be removed and replaced and for the interior plasterwork to be repaired. New hearing and lighting and a complete re-wiring of the building complete the work to date.
The main contractors have been Messrs. Woodrow Builders, Bowmore Islay, SBS Specialist Building Service and Iain Campbell Electrical Contractor. Technical advisors have been Crerar and Partners, Architects, Edinburgh, Gordon MacLeod, Chartered Surveyor of Lochgilphead and Roxburgh and Partners, Consulting Engineers.
The Appeal has been sponsored by Lord Margadale, the late Rev. Donald Caskie, OBE, (the Tartan Pimpernel), Magnus Magnusson, the very Rev Dr F. MacLusky, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the present Moderator the Right Rev Duncan Shaw.
Plans for the final phase of re-decoration are presently underway and we have to raise substantial amounts of money to allow us to complete his work in the Autumn. With this aim in view the Right Rev Duncan Shaw Moderator of the General Assembly himself a descendant of a Bowmore family is to preach on August 2, in the Round Church. This phase includes a new front stairway, treatment of the stonework, inside and outside painting, refurbishing of carpet and upholstery and the addition of a wood and glass screen to facilitate the creation of a foyer meeting room at the rear of the sanctuary.
We hope that all of this can be effectively completed and provide a comfortable and tasteful centre of worship in Bowmore for generations to come.
Article by James U. Thomson – newspaper unknown – date unknown.
Situated near the head of Loch Indaal, in the Island of Islay, Inner Hebrides, is the village of Bowmore. On a high position at the head of the main street stands the picturesque whitewashed parish church of Kilarrow, a photograph of which accompanies this article [Not included]> From its dominating stance it commands a complete view of the whole village. To the west, the waves of the Atlantic can be seen pounding the shore. To the east, along the loch, the romantic whitewashed villages of Portnahaven an Port Charlotte, barely half a mile away can be seen.
Built in 1787, Kilarrow Parish Church , which has services each Sunday in English and Gaelic, is unusual in architecture, being completely round. It is said to have only one rival in this respect – St. Peter’s in Rome. According to the Latin inscription above the entrance, the building was erected by the fifth Daniel Campbell of Islay.
Many theories have been advanced regarding the shape of the building, and the popular belief connects it with the Highland superstition that, with not corners, there will be nowhere for the Devil to hide.
The Rev. John Murdoch was appointed the kirk’s first minister, in 1769, and he was to serve the combined parishes of Kilarrow and Kilmeny, a parish some miles from Kilarrow. However, a number of parishioners were so offensive that he had to seek refuge in the district of Bruthach an Dubhraich, a moor about two miles from his church, until their wrath had subsided. The combination of the parishes continued until 1826, when they again divided.
Bowmore is a quiet fishing village, but it did not escape the sorrows of war. It was a Coastal Command patrolling base of the Atlantic, and on each side of the small graveyard lie the bodies of war dead. I remember witnessing, as a young schoolboy, the regular processions to the graveyards where the men, some of whom were washed up on the neighboring islands, were laid to rest.
One section has 11 graves containing the bodies of nine airmen and two sailors while the other consists of 30 graves, with British, Greek and Norwegian sailors.
The temporary crosses over the graves have been replaced by permanent stones, each bearing the crest of the particular Service, Many of the dead, however, remain unidentified.
Newspaper article from the Christian Herald 1910.
One of the few round churches of Great Britain is the parish church of Kilarrow, Islay, an island off Argyleshire, the roof of which is supported by a centre pillar made out of the mast of a vessel which was wrecked at Lochindaal. There is a saying to the effect that if ever the church is filled it will collapse and bury the occupants, but when we are told that the building is seated to hold 800 more people than the population of the village, we see that the saying is not a superstition, but a sample of the grim humour of the Scotsman. The Rev. John MacGilchrist is minister of the church. This gentleman will be eighty years old on New Year’s Day. He was ordained in 1855, and was four years a pastor on the mainland, from whence he removed to take his present charge. At his jubilee, which was observed last month, the congregation and friends presented him with a cheque and a candelabra, and his daughter with a gold bangle, while long-service certificates were presented at the same time to three Sabbath school workers, Mr. Allan Cameron, Mr. M. MacTaggart, and Mr. Joss, for 46, 25, and 30 years service respectively.
The Late Rev. John McGilchrist
[Article – paper unknown – date unknown]
At Bowmore the scene of his ministerial labours for fifty years. There passed away on Tuesday, 2ns inst., after a brief illness, the Rev. John McGilchrist, retired minister of the parish of Kilarrow. Mr. McGilchrist, who, since his retiral in 1909, had resided in Perthshire, in the beginning of the last month paid a long-looked-for visit to his former parish in the expectation that a sojourn to the island and a (renewal of old acquaintances would) recuperate his declining vigour. For a few days after arriving he was able to move about and receive the welcome of his old parishioners, but, having contracted a chill, his strength rapidly declined, and he succumbed as stated.
Mr. McGilchrist was born in the parish of Dunkeld 82 years ago, and was a member of a family of noted agriculturists there. His professional training was received at the University of St. Andrews. For a short time he was minister of St. Columba Church, Paisley, whence he proceeded to Islay, being appointed to the parish of Kilarrow in the year 1859, and there his life’s work was continued till, on the attainment of his jubilee in 1909 he retired from the active labour of the ministry.
Mr. McGilchrist was a fine type of the older school of Scottish clergymen, whose personalities and influence did so much to mould the characteristics of the Scottish rural population of the generation preceding this.
As a minister he was devoted to his duties. His pulpit appearances were marked by strenuousness and earnestness. He had an excellent knowledge of Gaelic, which brought him into close touch and sympathy with the oldest of his parishioners, to whom that was the vernacular.
For may years he acted as clerk to the Presbytery of Islay and Jura, and for the duties of this office he was specially suited by his wide and accurate knowledge of Church history and law.
In education he took the greatest possible interest, and spared himself neither in time nor in means in doing all in his power to see that the best possible facilities for preparation for the various professions were put at the disposal of his parishioners. From the passing of the Education Act in 182 till the year of his retiral he was unfailingly elected to the school Board of the parish of Kilarrow and Kilmeny and for quite a number of years he held the office of Chairman. Through his prudence and counsel were the steps taken which resulted in Bowmore first of all being appointed a centre for higher education under the Trust for Education in the Highlands and Islands, and latterly under the Education Department the place of the one Higher grade School in Islay. The dux gold medal of that school will remain as a token of the deceased’s interest in it.
In other matters pertaining to the welfare of his parishioners he also played an active part.
To the old Parochial Board, and then the Parish Council, as member and chairman be brought a knowledge of the condition of those for whom those Boards were chiefly create, which proved a great service in the oft-times delicate task of consideration of cases. He was also a member of the District Committee of the County Council. In all these capacities he did admirable public service, his opinions, always urged with firmness and conviction, receiving the respect and support of his colleagues.
On the occasion of his jubilee in 1909, he was the recipient of handsome testimonials of respect and of congratulation from his co-Presbyters, his Kirk Session and his people in general. As became a minister in a parish where agriculture is the first industry, he took much interest in that department of activity, and when he visited the various farms and holdings in the district his criticisms and opinion of condition of stock and crop were always heard respectfully by those most concerned therewith. In this respect he occupied in Islay a position similar to that which his late friend, Dr. Gillespie of Mouswald held in the estimation of practical agriculturists in the south of Scotland.
He was predeceased ten years ago by his wife, and is survived by three sons and six daughters, several of whom hold honourable positions in the professions of divinity, medicine, and teaching.
The funeral was a public one and took place on Friday. The polished oak coffin, covered with beautiful wreaths, the floral tributes of relatives and friends, was placed in front of the choir of the Parish Church, beneath the pulpit, which was appropriately draped in black. Amongst the wreaths was a large cross of white flowers and evergreens with the inscription “From Bowmore Public School in affectionate remembrance of that he did for it.”
There was a large attendance of the people of the parish, with many representatives of the other parishes in Islay. The pupils of the higher classes of the school were all present to pay their last respects to the remains of him who had been so devoted to their educational advancement. The relatives present comprised the Rev. J.. MacGilchrist, B.A. (Oxon.), B.D. minister of West St. Giles, Edinburgh, and the Hon. Mrs. McGilchrist; Mr. and Mrs. M. Mactaggart, Bowmore; Mr. and Mrs. Newlands, Inverness; Mrs. McBean, Shanghai; Misses Catherine Robina, Grace, and Mr. Malcolm McGilchrist; Mrs. C.D. Currie, Mrs. McGibbon; Misses B. and V. and Masters A. And C. Mactaggart, and Masters R. and C. Currie. The service in the church was a solemn and impressive one, conducted by Revs N. McLelland ( the deceased’s successor in the charge), and J. McKinnon, Kildalton; Arch. Anderson, Kilmeny; D. J. Robertson, Jura, and R. McKenzie, U.F. Church, Bowmore.
The organ music, played by Miss Anderson, and the singing of the choir, were rendered with much feeling and expression.
The coffin was borne from the church to the adjoining burial ground by the elders of the church, and reverently lowered by the hands of the male relatives. Prayers in Gaelic and English were made at the grave by the Rev. Mr. Taylor, Bowmore and Dr. Clark, Glassary. The day was beautifully fine, and groups of women and children who could not join in the procession watched from the rising ground behind the church the last tributes of respect rendered to the remains of one who was for so long a familiar figure, honoured and esteemed in the locality.
[Article in Aberdeen Weekly – not dated.]
A service in memory of the late Rev. Dr John MacGilchrist, minister of the first charge of Oldmachar, was held in St Machar’s Cathedral last night. Almost every seat was occupied, and the congregation included many representative citizens. The service, which was most impressive, was conducted by the Rev. Professor Henderson, moderator of the Aberdeen Presbytery; the Rev. Dr George Walker, East Parish Church; the Rev. Dr Esslemont Adams, West F.F. Church; and the Rev. M. Dinwiddie, minister of the second charge of Oldmachar.
The remains, encased in a panelled Japanese oak coffin, rested in the chancel covered with floral tributes , and many wreaths lay on the chancel floor.
The chief mourners were seated facing the chancel. They were Mr. Ian C. MacGilchrist (son), Miss MacGilchrist (daughter), and Mrs. Hamilton (sister). Members of the Presbytery, among whom were the Rev. Dr Cowan, occupied seats in the front of the church, with the Cathedral elders seated immediately behind them. The 3rd Company of the Boys’ Brigade, which is connected with the church, the 13th Company Girls’ Guildry, and the Senior Bible Class, numbering about 120 which Mr. MacGilchrist personally conducted, were present to pay their last respects to their pastor. Mr. G. Bennett Mitchell, brigade president; Mr. J Downie Campbell, brigade adjutant, and several other officers represented the Aberdeen Boys’ Brigade. The Rev. J. K. Wilkin, the Rev. James Lochore, ex-Baillie Wood, and Mr. J. Browning White represented the Aberdeen Council of the Scottish Temperance Alliance, of the executive of which body Dr MacGilchrist was a member. The Rev. C. McGlashan, Strichen, a former minister of the second charge of Oldmachar, was among those present.
Mr. Marshall M. Gilchrist presided at the organ, and opened the service with Chopin’s “March Funebre.” The prayer of invocation was said by the Rev. H. Esslemont Adams and following the reading of the Scripture lesson by the Rev. M. Dinwiddie, the Rev. Dr Walker offered prayer in which thanks were given to God for all His goodness onto His faithful servant departed this life in the faith and love of His Holy Name, and especially for all His mercies unto His servant whom how He had taken to Himself. “We praise Thee for the many gifts with which Thou didst endow him,” Dr Walker continued, “gifts of mind and of heart and of utterance. We thank Thee for the strength and graces bestowed upon him, whereby he was enabled to glorify Thee in the preaching of Thy Word, in the work of Thy Church, and in the advancement of Thy Kingdom in the world. We thank Thee for the courage and fidelity with which he served Thee in many spheres.”
The praise consisted of Paraphrase 66 (“How bright these glorious spirits shine!”), Hymn 325 (“Now the labourer’s task is o’er”), and Hymn 365 (“Abide with me”). Following the benediction, pronounced by Professor Henderson, the choir sang as a vesper the plain song, “Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” and Mr. Gilchrist played the Dead March in “Saul.” The service concluded with the lament “The Flowers o’ th’ Forest.” Played on the bagpipe outside the west door of the Cathedral by Mr. J. Mackenzie, one of the elders.
Before leaving the Cathedral the congregation passed in front of the chancel steps.
The floral tributes were from Mr. I.C. MacGilchrist (son), Miss MacGilchrist (daughter), Mr. Malcolm MacGilchrist (brother) and Mrs. Malcolm MacGilchrist, Mrs. Gardner (sister), Mrs. Hamilton (sister), Mr. and Mrs. J.C.M. MacGilchrist, Principal Sir George and Lady Adam Smith, the Hon. Mrs. Corfield, the Kirk Session, Oldmachar Sunday school, the Rev. Melville and Mrs. Dinwiddie, Miss MacFadyen, the choir and Mr. Gilchrist, the Manse household, 3rd Coy. Boy’s Brigade, 13th Coy. Girls’ Guildry, Life Boys, Women’s Guild work party and Girls’ Guild, the Rev. Charles McGlashan and Mrs. McGlashan, Strichen; Dr Alexander Mitchell and family, Mr., Mrs. and Miss Sandy, Miss Pirie and Miss M.F. Pirie, Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Paull and the Misses Paul, Miss Corfield and Miss R. MacGilchrist, Mr. Simon Mackenzie, Mr. and Mrs. Paton, Grandhome; Miss F.V. MacGilchrist, and Miss Bennett.
The coffin remained in the Cathedral overnight, and is to be taken by train this morning to Glasgow and thence by motor, by way of Govan and Skermorlie, two of Dr MacGilchrist’s old parishes, to Largs Cemetery, where the interment is to take place.
[Article – paper unknown – August 20 1928]
The death took place suddenly at Aberdeen on Saturday of the rev. John MacGilchrist, D.D., minister of the First Charge of Old Machar Cathedral, and formerly of the important charge of Govan Parish. Dr. MacGilchrist had been in indifferent health since the death in May last of his wife, the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist, but he continued to exercise his pastoral duties, and he preached in the Cathedral on Sunday of last week.
Dr. MacGilchrist, who as 61 years of age, was a native of Islay, and his father was minister of the Parish Church of Kilarrow, Bowmore, for many years. While at Glasgow University he was awarded the Gillan Maclaine Arts Bursary and graduated M.A. with honours in classics. He won the Snell Exhibition, and as the holder of that award he graduated B.A. with double honours at Balliol College, Oxford.
In 1894 Dr. MacGilchrist was ordained to Glengarry Parish, Invergarry, and two year later was transferred to the Ross-shire parish of Foddery, Strathpeffer, where he remained for four years, at the end of which period he accepted a call to Skelmorlie, Wemyss Bay. During his ministry there he endeared himself to his congregation, and the close bond of sympathy and understanding that grew up between them led him to decline several calls to larger charges. Among these were one from Inverness, where he was invited to become successor to the Rev. Dr Norman Macleod, and another from the historic West Parish Church, Aberdeen. The growing recognition of his abilities as a minister was demonstrated in 1911 when the congregation of West St Giles Parish Church, Edinburgh, addressed a call to him to succeed the Rev. Dr Alexander Williamson. This call he decided to accept.
While minister-elect of the Edinburgh charge, Dr. MacGilchrist married the Hon. Agnes Caroline Burns, daughter of the first Baron Inverclyde of Castle Wemyss, and the ceremony, which took place in the English Episcopal Church, Wemyss Bay, was an outstanding social event. During the years that followed, the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist evinced a deep interest in her husband’s work and took a leading part in the social activities of the church.
In Edinburgh, as in his previous charges, Dr. MacGilchrist’s ministry was happy an successful, and in that sphere of labour, which is one of the largest in the Church of Scotland, the appeal he made to his people was such that during the two years he remained among them 300 new members were added to the Communion roll and the organisations of the church considerably extended.
Early in 1913 the charge of Govan Parish became vacant, and a unanimous call was presented to Dr. MacGilchrist. In Govan, one of the largest and most important parishes in the Church of Scotland, he gave ten years of devoted service. At the time of his induction there had previously been erected from the parish of Govan six quoad sacra parishes on the north side of the Clyde and about double that number on the south side of the river. In 1913 the membership of the parish church at Govan was about 2000, and with so large a Communion roll the responsibility of the appointment was great. Dr. MacGilchrist fully maintained the dignity of the position, and the big industrial population of the district highly respected him as a leader.
Despite the arduous nature of his own parish work, he found time to take an active part in the administrative side of Church affairs, and towards the close of his ministry in Govan has capabilities in this direction were recognised by the general Assembly in his appointment as convener of the Committee on the Royal Bounty.
In the summer of 1921 the University of Glasgow conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, and occasion was taken at that time by his congregation to pay tribute to his worth. Dr. MacGilchrist was inducted to the first charge of Old Machar Cathedral, Aberdeen, in 1923, succeeding the Rev. Dr Bruce McEwan, and such was the heartiness and unanimity of the call that when commissioners appeared before the Presbytery it was stated that the call had been signed by 2226 of a congregational roll of 2400.
Dr. MacGilchrist is survived by a son and a daughter, the former being in business in London.
[Old Machar Parish Magazine – September 1928]
The news of Dr. MacGilchrist’s sudden death on the morning of the 18th August came as a great shock to the congregation and the community. He had preached with his usual vigour and acceptance at the morning service on the 12th, and had been seen by various members of the congregation and friends in Aberdeen and in the vicinity of the Cathedral on the 17th, to all appearance in good health and it was almost impossible to realise that he had been called from amongst us with such tragic suddenness. His many friends and acquaintances experienced a deep sense of personal loss, and their thoughts went out in loving sympathy to the family, again so sorely bereaved within three months of the death of the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist.
The services in the Cathedral were cancelled for Sunday, the 19th, as a mark of respect for our Senior Minister and in sympathy with his sorrowing relatives.
The Funeral Service was held in the Cathedral on Tuesday evening, the 21st, at 7 o’clock, prior to the interment at Largs on the following day. The crowded attendance of members of the congregation, together with the Presbytery of Aberdeen, representatives of societies in which Dr. MacGilchrist held office, and the Girls’ Guildry and the Boys’ Brigade Companies, testified to the honour and esteem in which he was held in the Church and throughout the community. The coffin was placed on the Choir platform, and was surrounded by a number of very beautiful wreaths from organisations of the congregation, outside bodies and personal friends. The service was conducted by Rev. Professor Henderson, Moderator of Presbytery. Mr. Dinwiddie read appropriate scripture passages, while Dr. Walker, of the East Parish, and Dr. Esslemont Adams, West U.F. Church, offered prayer, in which thanks were given to God for the life and work of Dr. MacGilchrist, and the Divine sympathy sought for the bereaved family. A most impressive service ended with the “Dead March in Saul,” played by Mr. Gilchrist on the organ followed by the lament, “The Flowers of the Forest,” played by Mr. John Mackenzie on the bagpipes. At the close of the service, the very large congregation filed out by way of the Chancel steps to pay a last silent tribute to their Senior Minister.
On Wednesday, the 23rd, the cortege left by the 6.45 a.m. train for Largs. Representatives of the Kirk Session, the Senior Bible Class and a number of other personal friends, accompanied the funeral, while a large party of members of the Session and the congregation assembled at the station. At Buchanan Street Station, Glasgow, from where the journey to Largs was completed by motor, a large number of mourners were present, and the streets of Govan in the vicinity of the Church were thronged with members of Dr. MacGilchrist’s congregation during his ministry there, paying a silent tribute to the memory of their former minister, whose name is still much honoured and respected in the district. Similarly at Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie, a number of mourners had assembled, and accompanied the funeral to the grave, while the blinds in most of the houses along the route at Skelmorlie were drawn as a mark of respect to one who had laboured with such acceptance there early in his long ministry.
In the beautiful and peaceful cemetery at Largs, looking out towards the West and his old island home in Islay, his remains were laid to rest, Mr. Dinwiddie conducting the Committal Service.
On Sunday, the 26th, the Very Rev. Dr. John White, Minister of the Barony Church, Glasgow, a close personal friend of Dr. MacGilchrist’s, preached at the Memorial Service in the morning to a crowded congregation. After an eloquent sermon on the meaning of death and the hope of immortality, he paid the following glowing tribute to Dr. MacGilchrist’s memory:-
The whole Church was deeply moved at the death of your Minister with such startling suddenness; and all the more so that it came so soon after the passing home of Mrs. MacGilchrist, whose services in the Church throughout the North and the South were so manifold. For their double ministry we thank God, who so richly endowed and so abundantly blessed them both.
I recall him as he was at the University: a young man of charming personality, a knightly soul, a most loyal friend, and such he continued to be; a man of intellectual strength and of scholarly gifts, all of which he consecrated to the service of the Church of which he was a loyal and loving son.
He gave full proof of his ministry in six parishes. The Celtic period of his ministry was brief – too brief, for he could have wielded a great influence in the Church in the Highlands had he devoted his strength to it. In Skelmorlie and Edinburgh he is still remembered with respect and affection; but it was the parish of Govan and this Cathedral Charge that provided him with his greatest fields of service and of influence.
Dr. MacGilchrist always took a deep interest in the wider work of the Church; and the General Assembly laid on him the responsible task of administering the Royal Bounty, for which his knowledge of the Highlands and Islands so well fitted him. He presided over the Committee charged with the interests of the Scottish Church in England, and at last General Assembly he was chosen to guide the affairs of the Temperance Committee. His heart was always in this great social movement. His passing on the eve of taking over the work is a serious loss to this Committee, which within a few short years has lost four Conveners by death.
We think of him, however, chiefly as a pastor and a preacher. A man of generous sympathies, of Catholic spirit, of intellectual and scholarly gifts; the parish and the pulpit were his sphere and opportunity. He might have borrowed the words of St. Paul: “Holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” A faithful workman of God, he never wearied in declaring the cardinal truths of the Christian faith, and never failed to leave a helpful message with common folks on life’s common road, burdened with common toils and grieves that are common to all. Many will recall some ministry of comfort he was able to render when life was perplexed, the heart sad, and the home darkened. The preacher has passed, but He whom he proclaimed is for ever and ever.
The Church is poorer by his passing, but we are all richer by the memory and stronger by the example of one who was untiring in the service of the Church; abounding in hope, and hence glad in his work; modest and retiring; as critical of his own as he was appreciative of others’ work; a gracious and pleasing personality; and behind it all, and at the root of it all, a strong, rich faith. There lay the secret of his magnetic influence. It was his great virtue, by the grace of God, so to live as “seeing the Invisible” that he made real to others in his own life the power that is hid with Christ in God
His ministry here is ended. In the midst of his active years, when to all human seeing so much remained for him to do, he passed so quickly from home and Church that we think of him as one who walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. With years of potential usefulness before him , death touched him on the shoulder and he passed; too soon it seemed to us, but God with His clearer vision saw that he was ready for a larger ministry.
“It is not tale of years that tells the whole
Of man’s success or failure, but the soul
He brings to them , the songs he sings to them
The steadfast gaze he fixes on the goal.”
We forget our grief in the joy of reunion that has come to him as he is called to new dignities and the larger trust of fuller service for which he was preparing “For us mourning; for him morning” – the beginning of a day of unending life and fellowship and ministry.
Another voice had been added to the many that bid us press on, with chastened hearts it may be but with stronger faith and higher aims than heretofore in the service of Church and nation that we too may hear the “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”
At the evening service Mr. Dinwiddie was assisted by Rev. Nevile Davidson, Old Aberdeen U.F. Church, with whom Dr. MacGilchrist had worked so closely during the months of last winter when the Cathedral was being repaired.
At the close of his sermon, Mr. Dinwiddie made the following reference to the death of his colleague and the very great loss it meant to the congregation and the Church at large:-
We think to-night of that life begun on an Island of the Western sea, with the ceaseless ebb and flow of the Atlantic washing its shores, not far removed from the Holy Isle of Iona, from where St. Machar, our Patron Saint, set off to the East to found this great Cathedral. We think of him as a student and a Celt, with the music of the Highlands and the fire of the Celt surging in his veins, a master of classics and of the ancient Gaelic tongue. We think of him as eloquent in English, but powerfully eloquent in his native tongue, stirring the Highlanders of Glengarry and Fodderty to know the love of Christ and the power of the Cross. We think of him in the great cities of East and West, by the shores of the Clyde, and here in the North-East, labouring and working and upholding the faith, organising and planning and carrying to fruition great schemes for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom and the betterment of humanity. We think of him as Senior Minister of this parish, deeply interested in its welfare, highly respected and honoured, ready and willing to help in every good cause. I think of him as a colleague, whose inspiration and experience of life, whose counsel and wisdom have been of invaluable help to me during the time we have worked together.
We thank god for his life and his labours, for his gifts and our privilege in sharing the fruit of them, for his sympathy and the comfort and strength he brought to those who sought his counsel and help. And now he has laid down the burden of life by the ebb and flow of the grey North Sea, calling us to follow in the footsteps of Christ, our Perfect Example; inspiring us to uphold the great traditions of this ancient Cathedral and the Church of our native land, and leading us to greater and nobler service of the Lord and Master of usall.
The following notes of the sermon preached by Dr. MacGilchrist at the morning service on Sunday, 12th August, are printed as a memento of his ministry, and for the benefit of the large congregation which listened to it, and got strength and comfort from it:-
On the East, three gates; on the North, three gates; on the South, three gates; and on the West, three gates. – Revelation 21, verse 13.
The New Jerusalem, the Holy City, the City of God, as seen by St. John in this version of the Book of Revelation, was to be a city differing in many respects from cities of the modern world. For example, there was to be no night there, and no curse, and no temple. It was to be, not as so many modern cities are, a source of plague and disease and death, but a source of health and salvation and life. Still more noticeable was its perfect symmetry, “the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal,” On each front there were three gates, twelve in all, signifying the great variety of approach. Further, it was a city that was always accessible – its gates were ever open, for we read, “ The gates of it shall not be shut at all by day, and there is no night there.” From whatever quarter, therefore, the traveller might arrive, there stood before him a gate wide open, and only those who were unclean, or abominable, or liars, were excluded. Finally, the city was one, not many. However various were the paths of approach, they all converged on the same spot; the gates led into the same city, and the streets converged and the travellers met and mingled in the midst, and there were no separate temples, for “the Lord God and the Lamb are the temple thereof.”
Let us consider this City of God in four of its main aspects: its symmetry, its verity of approach, its accessibility and its unity.
1. Its Symmetry.
The city lay four-square; the length and the breadth and the height of it were equal. The seer has a vision of a city of perfect proportions, a city of perfect symmetry in every way. And as is the city, so are the citizens; in the lives of the citizens of the perfect city we cannot imagine any lack of symmetry. There will never by anything ill-shapen or disproportioned. Now one of the things that strikes us most as we look around us in the world, is this lack of symmetry in men’s actual characters. It is not that they are not perfect; we do no look for perfection; it is that they lack symmetry. Yonder, for example, is a man large of heart and generous to a degree, but he has no will-power, no tenacity of purpose. Yonder again is another who has plenty of iron will and determination, but he is lacking in the milk of human kindness and common charity. It has often been remarked that this is an age of specialism. Now specialism may be essential to success, for this an age of keen rivalry, and unless a man devotes himself to one subject, it sometimes seems impossible to get on. You remember the oft-quoted instance of Darwin, who bitterly lamented that in his intense devotion to his science he had become blind to the excellences of literature and art, and yet he had kept a large place in his heart for them. Specialism does show magnificent triumphs, but its effect upon character is often disastrous. Think, too, how some of the most brilliant intellects that have been known have been joined to characters that were sorely depraved. How brilliant in mind, for example, were those sons of genius, Lord Byron and Robert Burns, yet how sadly defective in life and conduct.
Over against this lack of symmetry in human character, there stands the matchless character of Jesus. In describing any great man, we call him wise or benevolent, or brave. But the character of Jesus defies description. He combines in Himself all that is best in the thousand hearts of men. His is the only perfect life, flawless, proportioned, symmetrical. And, that is the life which He invites you and me to enter, “Be ye therefore perfect.”
2. The second thing about this City of God is the Variety of its approach.
The gates face each way, on the East three, on the North three, on the South three, and on the West three. People ask for the high road to the City of God, but in the vision there are high roads from the East as well as West, from North as well as South. Where is the main gate ? There are, answers the vision, twelve gates. Where, then, shall a man enter? He may enter from whatever point he comes. Have we not here a beautiful picture of the comprehensiveness of the Christian religion ? The perfect life may be approached from a variety of sides. In Christ there is something to attract all types of human character. There is a way to Him from North, South, East and West.
The North we associate with cold, bracing weather. The North may be taken as the symbol of a keen, logical, scientific mind, such a mind as calls itself a Seeker after Truth. But is not Christ the Truth ? Does not Christ to-day command the world’s intellect ? Its Universities, its keenest intellects, its Shakespeares, its Miltons, its Tennysons, its Brownings, all owe allegiance to Christ, Who is the Truth. You who call yourselves truth-seekers, then, Christ has a claim upon you. You will find Him to be the Truth.
The South suggests a warm, loving heart. We speak of the “Sunny South.” The South is the symbol of loving devotion. And whoever drew men towards Him with such whole-hearted devotion as did Jesus Christ ? Men left their boats, their nets, their business, their homes, their all, and followed Him. Christ’s love constrained them, and they came to Him by the way of Love.
The East again reminds us of the quiet, calm, thoughtful, meditative disposition.
The typical Eastern is the placid Hindoo. What he wants is peace, and Buddha promises him peace, giving him Nirvana, and destroying his consciousness. How different the peace which Christ gives. He gives peace by filling life full, the peace that her Lord breathed in to the spirit of the quiet, meditative Mary, who sat at His feet, and chose “the better part.”
And on the West, three gates. The West is the home of activity. The most vigorous nations in the world are Western. Were can we find a field so rich for active service as in Christ and His Gospel? “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest.” There is His sphere for the active man.
Christ makes His appeal to the varieties of human character. The same is also true of the varieties of the human experience. In the realm of experience there are “on the North three gates.” The North suggests the cold breath of winter. It is the symbol of all that is chilly and bleak. It is the emblem of sorrow. Is there a way to Christ from sorrow ? Does He not say, “Come unto Me, ye weary and ye heavy-laden”? There is no path that is more trodden that this path of sorrow. Who of us does not know it but too well ? and many would not have reached the City of God at all, had they not dwelt for a season in the land of the shadow. They would never have seen the bright shining of the stars overhead had not the night of sorrows descended upon them. They would never have traced the rainbow but for the rain-cloud. So true it is that sorrow through one of its gates leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.
The South suggests the warm breath of summer, the joy and gladness of life. There is a way to Christ from this region also. When joy and gladness visit us, do we betake us to Christ, the Fountain and Source of all joy ? We ought to, for on the South there are three gates.
The East, again, is the land of the rising sun, the land of those who have the long day of life before them, of those who are young and strong. And Christ says to such, “I appeal to you, young men, because ye are strong.” In Him you will find what will draw out your best energies, and fulfil your noblest ideals.
And the West is the land of the setting sun. Many are dwelling there now. But Christ says to such, “I am the Christ of the aged; in Me you will find complete satisfaction for all your special needs.” And have you not the great promise that “At eventide it shall be light” ? From wherever we may chance to be, from sorrow, from joy, from youth, from age, there is always a way to Christ.
3. The City of God invites us by its Accessibility.
Its open hospitality. The gates of the city are ever open. Through its open gates, men of every nation and people and tongue find ready access, men literally dwelling in the North, in the South, in the East, and in the West. The Esquimaux dwelling in the region of eternal snow, as well as the Negro of the burning tropics. “From Greenland’s icy mountains, from India’s coral strand” – from China, from Japan, from darkest Africa, men are now finding the open gates, and hastening to enter through them into the City of God. The gates of the City of God are always open; it is our gates that are sometimes barred ( the difference between His gates and ours is that His gates always stand open, and ours do not,) hence the old cry, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye doors closed for ages, and the King of Glory shall come in.
4. And through the approaches to the City are many and various, the City itself is ONE, and not many. “And there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” Men are separated from one another here in many ways, but they are united in Him. They forget all the differences that divide them when they meet at the Cross of Calvary. Men find brotherhood, fellowship, union, communion in Christ. The approaches to the city may be many and various, and those who are approaching by different gates may look with suspicion, if not with contempt, on each other; but we believe they will all be led onwards and upwards by the Holy Ghost, till eventually they find themselves standing side by side before the throne of the Eternal in the same home at last. This is the vision with which the Bible ends; and this is the ideal of the City of God towards which we, as Christians, must ever strive.
[Article from The Oban Times, Saturday 20th August 1928.
Rev. Dr John MacGilchrist, minister of the Senior Charge of St Machar’s Cathedral, Old Aberdeen, died unexpectedly last Saturday morning, and no services were held in the Cathedral on Sunday. Since the death of his wife, the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist, daughter of the first Baron Inverclyde, three months ago, Dr MacGilchrist’s health had been causing anxiety to his more intimate friends.
Dr. MacGilchrist, who was sixty-one years of age, was the eldest son of the Rev. John MacGilchrist, of Bowmore, Islay. After receiving his early education at Newton School he proceeded to Glasgow University. While at Gilmorehill he was awarded the Gillian Maclaine Arts Bursary, graduated M.A. with honours in Classics, and gained a Snell Exhibition of Ł133 a year for three years. Proceeding as Snell Exhibitioner to Balliol College, Oxford, he gave further proof of his brilliance as a scholar, and gained a number of prizes.
Returning to Glasgow, Dr. MacGilchrist completed his Divinity course, and soon thereafter accepted a unanimous call to be minister of the parish of Glengarry. After two years ministry there he accepted a call to the parish of Fodderty, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire, and was there for three years before returning south to Skelmorlie. In 1911 he accepted a call to West St Giles’, Edinburgh. He was transferred in 1913 to the Parish Church, Govan, where for ten years he was a most assiduous worker, eventually transferring to St Machar Cathedral, Aberdeen, in November 1923, s successor to the late Rev. Dr Bruce McEwan. Dr. MacGilchrist is survived by a son and a daughter.
“For ten years or thereby the Rev. Dr. John MacGilchrist, whose recent death we deplore, was minister of Govan Parish Church, and during all that time it was my privilege to be closely associated with him in many ways, and the pleasant experience is not to be readily forgotten.
My special sphere of activity included the Govan Parish Literary Society, the Royal Brigade (in both of which I was Hon. President), the Girls’ Guildry, and the Pearce Institute, and at all times and under all conditions, I found in Dr. MacGilchrist a man to admire and a minister to respect. He had all the power and charm of a Celtic temperament, and he was mentally endowed far above the average. His college career proved that. At Glasgow University he was awarded the Gillean MacLaine Arts Bursary, and graduated M.A. with honours. The Snell Exhibition, which he also won, carried him to Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. with double honours. He delighted to live again his Balliol days and his study at the Manse had many photos of groups and incidents there, including his progress in the College boat from “bow” to “stroke”.
I have been proud of the honour that on many occasions he paid me in carrying through with dignity and eloquence, special services, in which I was interested – the dedication of King’s and Company Colours of the Boys’ Brigade, and also preaching patriotic sermons in Glasgow Cathedral on Saint Andrew’s Day. His sermons were literary gems, and his careful study and preparation earned for him his full reward.”
On Wednesday of last week, as the cortege wended its way through Govan for Largs Cemetery, there was a large concourse of citizens in close proximity to the parish, the scene of the late doctor’s ministry until he removed to Aberdeen four years ago. A tearful farewell was given to one who in weal and in woe had proved a guiding spirit and a splendid example to his fellow-countrymen. What added to the poignancy of the general sorrow was the fact that so very recently he had been predeceased by his wife, the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist, whose public and social services are held in grateful remembrance by those who were privileged to come in contact with her.
When conducting a service in Bowmore Parish Church last Sunday, Rev. Wm. L. Levack, of Belmont Church, Hillhead, Glasgow, made reference to the passing of Rev. Dr. John MacGilchrist, whose father, Rev. John MacGilchrist, had been minister of Bowmore Parish for many years. Dr. MacGilchrist had endeared himself to everyone who knew him. In the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford he had achieved distinctions which only few obtain – distinction which would have assured his success in any sphere of life which he cared to enter. Dr. MacGilchrist had been passionately attached to Islay with all the fervid patriotism of the Celt, and he loved its scenery, its traditions, its literature and its people.
“One of our truly great Scotswomen.” – […], in an epitaph well deserved indeed, […] one who knew her in her lifetime pay […]te to the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist.
[…] Thursday, the 24th of May, in Largs cemetery, all that was mortal of Mrs. MacGilchrist was laid to rest. A fitting resting-place, amidst the unbroken peace of hills … base is laved by the silver Firth of […]e. The friends who stood around her graveside bore mute testimony to a life of unswerving devotion and unfaltering service. Drawn from far and near, they included every rank of society. Although they mourned a loved one, yet through their […] they hailed a conqueror. One had only to meet Mrs. MacGilchrist to love her and […] in her loyalty and kindness – all that […] to make the truest friendship. She was a rock when life’s shifting sands proved […]tle and friends failed, a beacon when the […]ht seemed darkest; and when the mists of doubt came down her voice was always ready to encourage and lead safely on.
An illustrious family handed on to Mrs. MacGilchrist her love of religious, social, and philanthropic work; hear zeal, too, and unbounded energy in the carrying out of her […]eals. She was the daughter of the first Lord and Lady Inverclyde, her father being chairman of the Cunard Shipping Line, of which her grandfather, Sir George Burns, was one of the founders. It is claimed that Sunday schools owe their origin to Dr. John Burns her great grandfather, who was minister of the Barony Church, Glasgow.
Before her marriage Mrs. MacGilchrist contributed her inspiration and help to much good work in her native Wemyss Bay and Skelmorlie. When she went with her husband, Dr MacGilchrist to West St Giles Parish Church in Edinburgh she continued to show the same indomitable spirit in furthering the advancement of the Kingdom of Our Lord. But it was in Govan that her greatest work was done during the years of the Great War.
The Govan manse at once became the centre of operations for a division of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families’ Association – one of the largest divisions in Scotland – which had as its president Mrs. MacGilchrist. In this capacity she cared for and looked after some 6000 families of men who were serving their country. An office three times larger was obtained to cope with the ever-swelling flood of work. Mrs. MacGilchrist bore the full brunt of all this on her own shoulders; she did not flinch nor fail. At last a Pensions Office, with its vast organisation and bands of trained assistants, took over this work with the approach of peace. There can be no doubt that the strain of these years led to the undermining of her health.
Besides this, she was a member of many Church of Scotland and other committees, and carried on much useful work in connection with her husband’s various parishes. Her favourite organisation was the Girls’ Guildry, in which she was convener of the Glasgow Centre; while to the Woman’s Guild she also rendered incalculable service.
Mrs. MacGilchrist was the first president of the Women’s Temperance Association of the Church of Scotland, and died while holding this office. Thus, with her passing, the Church and the community lose a noble woman, a great leader, and a kind, devoted friend. Unflinchingly she stove to do her Master’s will, and never spared herself. She triumphed often, but her triumphs were only the signal for fresh effort in some other field.
How well deserved indeed the sweet rest upon that sunny hillside, amidst a peace that seems to breathe – “all done, thou good and faithful servant.”
ST MACHAR MINISTER’S BEREAVEMENT
[Newspaper Article – possibly Aberdeen Weekly – date unknown]
The evening service at St Machar’s Cathedral on Sunday took place in melancholy circumstances, it being announced, shortly after worship had begun that the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist, wife of the Rev. Dr John MacGilchrist, minister of the first charge of the Cathedral, had passed away about half-past five o’clock, after a brief illness.
It was only at a late hour on Saturday night that Mrs. MacGilchrist became suddenly ill, but so serious was her condition on Sunday morning that Dr MacGilchrist was unable to officiate at the forenoon service, where he was to have re-dedicated the restored church organ. The Rev. Melville Dinwiddie, minister of the second charge, took the service and also officiated in the evening, when the sermon was preached by the Rev. Neville Davidson, Old Aberdeen U.P. Church, both congregations worshipping together in the Cathedral.
Following on his intimation of the tragic event, Mr. Dinwiddie offered up prayer, in which he voiced the sorrow of the congregation and the citizens at the death of such a gracious personality; their sympathy with their senior minister in his irreparable loss, and their thanks for Mrs. MacGilchrist’s life of constant usefulness and devotion in social work in the city, and the deep gratitude of the congregation for her devoted service to the church. The Rev. Mr. Davidson also made feeling reference to the sad event at the close of the sermon.
At the close of the service the congregation remained standing while the organist played the Dead March in “Saul.”
The service, which apart from this was as arranged, was strangely appropriate. The anthem was Wesley’s “The Wilderness” – “and sorrow and sighing shall fell away” . . . . “and the redeemed shall return to Zion”; while the vesper was an old fourth century plain song melody- “Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit.”
The Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist, who was sixty-six years of age was the eldest daughter of Sir John Burns, second Baronet of Wemyss Bay, son of the originator of the Cunard Line, and himself its chairman, who was created Baron Inverclyde in 1897, and died in 1901. She was aunt of the present Lord Inverclyde. In 1911 she married Dr. MacGilchrist, who was then minister of West St Giles, Edinburgh, and who came to the First Charge of St Machar’s Cathedral in November 1923.
Her great-grandfather, the Rev. Dr John Burns, Glasgow, was the founder of the Sunday School movement, and her grandfather, the founder of the Cunard Line, insisted on divine service being conducted in all his vessels. From early womanhood Mrs. MacGilchrist took a warm and active interest in church and philanthropic work, and first in Govan and latterly in Aberdeen she was a worthy helpmeet to her husband alike in his pastoral and public duties.
In the various spheres of feminine usefulness in church work she was always keenly interested, and her sympathy with the Woman’s Guild and similar movements in he Church of Scotland was given wide expression to in willing service and generous support. Her voice was frequently heard not only on church agency platforms, but also in support of various social and charitable objects, work of this kind afforded a welcome outlet for the spirit of service and sacrifice which animated her whole life. During the war she did memorable work among wives and families of soldiers and sailors at Govan and at one time had 6000 families on her list.
A woman of kindly lovable traits she will be greatly missed by the office bearers and congregation of the Cathedral to whom she had endeared herself by her gracious manner, her ready sympathy and generous help.
Mr. Stephen Adam, F.S.A. of 168 Bath Street, Glasgow, has just completed a two-light window for Skelmorlie Parish Church, which is to be dedicated on Christmas Day. The window is the gift of the Honourable Caroline Burns, and is to the memory of Mrs. MacGilchrist, the wife of the minister of the parish. The lights depict Maternity and Sincerity. In the one there is the figure of a gracious woman, with children, her expression full of maternal tenderness. In the other light, Sincerity is represented by the stately figure of Truth. On the lectern by her side is an open book with the words “Thy way is Truth,” and underneath is the text “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” There is an effective centre light consisting of the “Crown of Victory” surrounded by cherubs’ heads. In colour as in design the window makes strong appeal. The following is the inscription:- “To the glory of God and in loving memory of Beatrice MacGilchrist, who died March 30, 1908. This window is dedicated by her friend Agnes Caroline Burns.” The late Mrs. MacGilchrist was a daughter of the late Dr. Blatherwick, of Helensburgh, the well-known artist.
Article – paper unknown - 1916
In Govan Parish Church yesterday afternoon, Mr. John Hamilton, Woodstock, Hamilton, was married to Miss Catherine Pullar MacGilchrist, daughter of the late Rev. John MacGilchrist, Bowmore, Islay and sister of the Rev. John A. MacGilchrist B.D., minister of Govan. The brother of the bride officiated, assisted by the Rev. John Maclachlan, St. Kiaran Church, Glasgow, and the Rev. J. U. Ogilvy, M.A., Hamilton. The bride, who was given away by Mr. Alexander Newlands, C.E., Inverness, had two bridesmaids – Miss Bessie MacTaggart and Miss Beatrice (Betsy) McGilchrist, her nieces. Mr. Harris Hamilton was groomsman. The members of the Govan Company No. 2 of the Girls’ Guildry, of which the bride was guardian, acted as a choir, and also formed a guard of honour at the church door. After the ceremony the Hon. Mrs. MacGilchrist received the guests at Govan Manse.
[Article from The Oban Times, Saturday. June 1917]
Green are the swelling machars of Islay to-day, and reddened with the blood of Islay’s choicest sons are the fair fields of France, and now we have that to the toll is added the name of Murdoch A. MacTaggart, a youthful Captain of the Argylls. Some centuries ago Clann-an—sagaairt came to Islay and have ever held their own with ease and those who claim with right to be classed among the foremost agriculturists of broad Scotland. Tall of form, lithe of limb and stout of heart are the MacTaggarts, and young Murdoch was one of them –- a true type of the children of Islay, for in his veins flowed also the blood of the ancient MacVurichs --- a race who never shunned the fray. But yesterday he played with his schoolmates on the white sands of Loch-in-daal,; today, with the other play boys who have Gone West, in a foreign land, he has found a soldier’s grave. We mourn the brave, yet it is ours to know that in spirit they shall ever live, and their names shall be mentioned and their deeds retold to new generations, for to-morrow the tragedy of the hearth shall become the romance of war. Young Murdoch slumbers with his comrades. –“ Clach air carn-cuimhue nan laoch. Gus am bris an la.” --- APPRECIATION by G.C.
Much sorrow is felt throughout Islay because of the news that came last week that Captain Murdoch MacTaggart had been killed in action in France on 16th May. The information was conveyed in a letter from the Colonel in command of the battalion, to Colonel Mactaggart, Royal Bank House, Bowmore, the father of the deceased officer. Colonel Campbell wrote:-
It is with feelings of the deepest sympathy that I write to you of the death of Capt. M. A. Mactaggart of the battalion under my command. He was killed during the fighting which followed the German counter-attack at dawn on the 16th. He has always been one of the very bravest, and in the desperate fight that we had that morning he was one of the great outstanding features. He was hit, but continued to command and lead his men until he fell. I cannot tell you what a loss he is to me.
In a letter of sympathy to Colonel Mactaggart, Brigadier-General H.P. Burn wrote:-
You will by this time have been informed that your son, Captain Mactaggart, was killed in action> he fell in an attack which the Germans made, and, although the attack was repelled at every point, I feat that my Brigade suffered grievous losses, many of which it will be impossible to replace. Among the latter is your son, who was known by all in my Brigade as a very gallant officer. For sometime your son was my Brigade Bombing Officer, but, finding life at Brigade Headquarters to be too quiet for his taste and too far from the firing line, he asked leave to return to his company.
The Major of the Battalion wrote as follows –
He fell most gloriously in rallying and leading on his Company to meet a most determined counter-attack by the enemy on the 16th May> You may be proud of your son, for a more gallant officer never lived. Of all the officers and men we lost no one will be missed more than gallant young Murdoch Mactaggart. Murdoch succeeded myself in command of “B” Company when I became second in command, and a splendid Company Commander he was. He was a very perfect young Highland gentleman, an I feel as though I had lost a son.
These Excerpts are given as a testimony of the high opinion held by the deceased’s superior officers as to his soldierly qualities, and at the same time they convey a tribute to the fighting worth of our County Battalion, which our readers will peruse with feelings of pride in officers and men alike.
Captain Mactaggart was the eldest son of Mr. Murdoch Mactaggart, solicitor and banker, Bowmore, Islay, who was formerly Colonel of the Argyll and Bute Royal Garrison Artillery Volunteers. He was educated at the local school and at George Watsons College Edinburgh. Thereafter he was articled to his father’s business, and had only his final professional examination to take when War interfered with his calling
As a young man, he received a commission as Lieutenant in the County battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Territorial Force, and had attended two camps and taken a course of instruction at Stirling Castle. On mobilisation in august, 1911 he went with his Battalion through training at Bedford, and with his Battalion went to France on 1st May, 1915. After two months’ active service he was promoted to a Captaincy, a month or so after his twentieth birthday, and had the distinction of being amongst the youngest to hold that rank.
He was a born soldier, and put the whole of his thought and energy into acquiring a thorough knowledge and mastery of the principles of military science. He attained the very responsible position of Brigade Bombing Officer, as has been already stated. With his fellow-officers he was a favourite, and his men held him in the highest respect and esteem.
In Islay he was known and beloved by everybody. He had a bright, happy nature, and a smile and hearty greeting for everyone he knew. He was the essence of good nature and frankness. He died as he lived, “ a gallant young man,” and his death is sincerely mourned. The sympathy of the whole community goes out to Colonel Mactaggart, to Mrs. Mactaggart, and to the gallant Captain’s brothers and sisters, and many other relatives.
 Content guessed since original text is nearly illegible