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The leaders of the "Disruption" of 1843


Commentary by the transcriber - Fionnghal NicPhadraig

This list of the 'Ministers who gave their adhesion to the Free Presbyterian Church 1843' was transcribed from an article in The Scotsman 31 May 1843

The Free Church of Scotland was a Scottish denomination born of the mass migration of over 440[1] ministers from the Church of Scotland in a schism known as the 'Disruption of 1843'. This was by far the largest secession ever from The Church of Scotland - the Established Church in Scotland – and a massive political statement.

The spelling is exactly as I found it in the newspaper record, with the exception of Mc/Mac names where I've replaced the M' with the more familiar Mc/Mac to make it more likely to be picked up by the search engines.I've left abbreviated fore-names exactly as listed.

Though not a lot of detail accompanies the ministers' names, this list does indicate:

  1. Where they were based in 1843
  2. Those who are:
    1. Quoad Sacra Ministers
    2. Assistants & Successors
    3. Ministers of parliamentary churches
    4. Ministers without charges
    5. Professors

Some are not so labelled, so I cannot answer for them. I know no more about these individuals or their lives than is recorded here. I have done my level best not to include any typos but be advised only to use this list as a guide. Guide though it may be, it can be used as a jumping off point for further research or even confirmation of some already carried out.

A Quoad Sacra Parish is one created and functioning for ecclesiastical purposes only

  1. Ministers quoad civilian - 261
  2. Ministers Quoad Sacra - 139
  3. Professors, Ministers of Parliamentary churches, and Assistants and Successors - 44

Total list of adherents to the protest as of Monday, May 29, 1843 - 444[1]
Please note: Though this comment from "The Scotsman" indicates there were 444 adherents, they actually pubished (at this date) only 386, which is the number in our list. Work proceeds afoot to discover the others.

Ministers are great people to have amongst your forebears. They crop up in the local papers, parish magazines, they signed documents &c, in general, they were well known, leaving a wealth of information out there for us to find. In the following few examples, you can see how the above material may be put to use.

A report in The Scotsman - dated, Sat., 20th May 1843, page 3, records an important assembly meeting shortly before the adhesion, where the above-listed Professor Welsh, Edinburgh, had the chair and proposed the highly respected and powerful preacher, Thomas Chalmers, 1780-1847, Professor of Divinity, Edinburgh, as their first ever Moderator.

Three of the Bonars listed, were brothers, Horatio, John and Andrew, all joining the Free Presbyterians.

From the "Scotsman" list

  a   David Crichton, Minister at Inverbrothock, Arbroath  

From the 1841 Census

PiecePlaceEnumeration DistrictCivil ParishEcclesiastical Parish, Village or IslandFolioPageAddress
SCT1841/272Arbroath -Angus9ArbroathArbroath92Gayfield

SurnameFirst name(s)SexAgeOccupationWhere BornRemarks
CRIGHTONDavidM35Minister Of The GospelOutside Census County (1841)Married with a family

This Quoad Sacra Minister is shown - by the 1841 Census - to have his name spelt slightly differently...David Crighton. The census doesn't indicate which church he belongs to, but from the list we learn that not only was he with the Church of Scotland, but he also, 2 years later, gave allegiance to the new break-away church, the Free Presbyterians.


From the "Scotsman" list

  James Lumsden, min. at Barry  

From the 1841 Census

PiecePlaceEnumeration DistrictCivil ParishEcclesiastical Parish, Village or IslandFolioPageAddress
SCT1841/274Barry -Angus6Barry-68Barry Manse

SurnameFirst name(s)SexAgeOccupationWhere Born
LUNSDENJames (Rev)M30Minister Of The ParishOutside Census County (1841)
LUNSDENGraceF25-Outside Census County (1841)

James has been misrecorded as Lunsden here in the census. He won't have been in this Manse much longer as his commitment to the Free Church would lose him all rights to his Church of Scotland home and income. But he did ok. Rev. James Lumsden, D.D., is remembered as a 'disruption elder', he became Professor of Symantic Theology at the Free Church College in Aberdeen and also Principal of the same college.


From the "Scotsman" list

  e    R.J. Brown, Professor of Greek, Aberdeen, professor  

From the 1841 Census

PiecePlaceEnumeration DistrictCivil ParishEcclesiastical Parish, Village or IslandFolioPageAddress
SCT1841/168Aberdeen/Old Machar -Aberdeenshire20Gilcomston-83Golden Square

SurnameFirst name(s)SexAgeOccupationWhere Born
BROWNRobertM48Professor of GreekOutside Census County (1841)
BROWNJaneF50-Aberdeenshire

Although we don't yet have his middle name, we not only know he had one but now know that his first was Robert

From the 1851 Census

PiecePlaceEnumeration DistrictCivil ParishEcclesiastical Parish, Village or IslandFolioPageScheduleAddress
SCT1851/168Aberdeen/Old Machar -Aberdeenshire20Old Machar-14461519 Golden Square

SurnameFirst name(s)RelStatusSexAgeOccupationWhere BornRemarks
BROWNRobert JamesHeadMM58Professor of GreekOverseas - British - HollandMarischal College, Aberdeen (A.M.D.D.)
BROWNJaneWifeMF62Professor's WifeAberdeenshire – Aberdeen

Now we have his middle name and the listed alliance to the Free P's shows us where his sympathies lie

In an interesting record of the 6th general assembly of the Free church, The Scotsman – Sat., 22nd May 1847, page 3, Professor Brown retires as the assembly's 5th Moderator, and nominates Dr Sievewright to be the next. He also is found in the accompanying list.