History: 1884-1899 Rev Thomas Duncan

In the December 2018 edition of The Lych Gate Magazine Emma Christie traced the building of the Church in the Village and the inauguration of its first minister, The Rev Robert Turnbull; she continues her research through articles in Newspapers.

The Rev Thomas Duncan

At that period in time the Church was known as “The Established Church in Bridge of Weir. The translation of Rev Robert Turnbull to Barrowfield Church in Glasgow was in September 1883.

The Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette: 19 July 1884

On Wednesday Rev. Thomas Duncan, Edinburgh, was inducted to the pastoral charge of Bridge of Weir Parish Church by the Paisley Established Presbytery. The Church became vacant in September last by the translation of the late minister, the Rev. Robert Turnbull to Barrowfield Church, Glasgow. The Rev. James Young, of the North Parish, Paisley, preached and presided, and suitably addressed the new minister and the congregation. Mr Young chose as the text of his discourse Zechariah viii. and 23. At the close of the proceedings, Mr Duncan shook hands with the congregation, who were present in large numbers. In connection with the induction, a dinner took place in the afternoon in the Ranfurly Hotel. There was a large attendance of presbyters and others. Mr Robert Wilson of Manswraes, Bridge of Weir, occupied the chair and the croupier’s duties were ably discharged by Mr Thomas Frame. Amongst the company present were: - The Rev Mr Duncan, the newly inducted minister; Rev Dr Graham, Kilbarchan; Rev J B Dalgety, Paisley; Rev James Young. Paisley; Rev William Lowe. Paisley; Rev. Thomas Carruthers, Bridge of Weir Free Church; Rev. Alexander McLaren, Houston; Rev. Robert Turnbull, Glasgow, late of Bridge of Weir; Rev. Mr Murry, Kilmacolm; Mr R C Guy, Johnstone; Dr Turner. Mr A E Schroder, Mr Hay, Mr McPherson, Mr Armstrong, Mr Dalziel, Mr Stewart, etc

An ample dinner served up in fine style by “mine host” of the Ranfurly, was partaken of. The customary loyal and patriotic toasts having been duly honoured. The Chairman gave the toast “The Health of Mr Duncan.” He hoped Mr Duncan’s coming to Bridge of Weir would be a source of happiness to himself and a benefit to the neighbourhood. He was sure that both the Established and The Free Church Ministers of Bridge of Weir would find plenty of work. They all wished Mr Duncan every success. (Applause)

Rev. Mr Duncan, in responding to the toast, said that that day was a period that he had looked forward to when a student, of having his name enrolled amongst the ministers of the Church of Scotland. At the close of his college career, a call was made upon students to go to the Provinces of Canada. A fellow student and himself had gone out together – a Paisley man. The Rev. Andrew Lochhead, a very estimable and amicable and able man, now gone to his rest. For many years he (Mr Duncan) laboured amongst our countrymen in Canada, and he could only say now that he never regretted having gone across the Atlantic. However humble his endeavours might be in his new sphere of labour, he trusted to work in strict harmony with the brethren of the Presbytery, and he hoped that, with their kindly assistance and with co-operation of the congregation, much good might be done in the district. (Applause). Other toasts followed. A congregational soiree was held in the evening.

Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette: 6 December 1884

Rev. Mr McLaren, Houston, stated that he had been asked to bring application of The Bridge of Weir Church Trustees – who wished their church erected into a Parish Church – before the Presbytery. The Church at Bridge of Weir was making good progress. The Church itself was erected in 1878 at a cost of £2,700. It provided sittings for 430 people, and this could be increased by 150. The attendance at the Church on Sundays was always good, both forenoons and evenings. The population of the district was 1600. Under the ministry of Rev. Mr Duncan, he had no doubt the prosperity of the church would go on increasing. He then moved that the Presbytery agree to the application of the Bridge of Weir Trustees, to have the church erected into a Parish Church, through the agency of the Endowment Committee. Rev. Dr. Graham seconded the motion.

The Motion was unanimously agreed to.

Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette: Bridge of Weir 18 July 1885

The memorial-stone of the New Manse for the minister of the Established Church is to be laid today. We understand by Thomas Inglis Scott Esq of Torr Hall. The ceremony takes place about 3 o’clock.

The Parish Church

At the close of the forenoon service in the Parish Church at Bridge of Weir on Sunday, the Rev. Mr Duncan gave a statement of the progress of the church and made appropriate remarks in connection with that day being the anniversary of his induction twelve months ago. The membership had been increased by 43 and the attendance at the Sabbath School had nearly doubled.

Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette: 22 May 1886

Manse of the Established Church

The “Long Delayed” has come at last. Rev Mr Duncan has after “weary, weary, waiting” taken possession of the manse which has been built for him. A meeting has been held to settle the date on which the supplementary bazaar should be held but nothing definite has been arranged. It will be held in Paisley towards the end of September and it is expected that

The Greenock Telegraph: 4 April 1896

Honour to Local Minister

Bridge of Weir residents will be extremely pleased to notice that the Senate of The University of Glasgow has resolved to confer the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity to the Rev Thomas Duncan minister of Bridge of Weir, formally minister of St James’ Charlotte Town, Prince Edward Island and a member of the Board of Education for that Island. The honour will be formally conferred on Tuesday 14 April 1896.

Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette: 4 September 1897

Bridge of Weir Parish Church.

We understand that the service in the Church tomorrow will be conducted by Rev George G Duncan BD of Glendevon Parish Church (Son of Rev Thomas Duncan) The contributions for the day will go towards the defraying of the expenses connected with the erection of the gallery in the Church and enlargement of the hall. The gallery, we understand is now fit for use and the completion of the hall is only a matter of a week or two. The congregation is to be congratulated on this effort and it is hoped that the results of their endeavours tomorrow may add very materially to their resources.

Evening Telegraph: Friday May 5 1899

Death of Rev Dr Duncan: Bridge of Weir

Rev Dr Duncan minister of Bridge of Weir Parish Church died yesterday afternoon in the presence of his assembled relatives. The deceased had a stroke of apoplexy last Sunday morning whilst preparing for the afternoon service. He never regained conscious. The Rev Gentleman who was 66 years had been minister of the parish for over 15 years and was much esteemed by a large circle of friends. Previous to that Dr Duncan had laboured in Canada successfully for 28 years and for his work there in education matters the Senate of Glasgow University a few years ago conferred on him the Degree of Doctor of Divinity. A widow and grown up family of five are left to mourn his loss. Rev George G Duncan, Glendevon Parish Church is a son of the deceased clergyman and carried off many honours in Glasgow University a few years ago.


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