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NORTH MIDDLETON. A congregation of Presbyterian Dissenters in connection with the Church of Scotland, subordinate to the Protestant Class of Dissenting Ministers in Northumberland, has existed at Great Bavington from the beginning of the 18th century. For many years it was presided over by Rev. Mr Cruser, afterwards by Rev. Mr Whetherstone, who was translated to Bathgate, and then by Rev. James Rutherford, whose ministry extended over more than forty years. At Mr Rutherford's death the congregation applied to the Protestant Class for preachers. A moderation took place in May 1802, when two preachers, Messrs Paton and M‘Nee, were put forward as candidates ; 150 voted for M'Nee, and 87 for Paton. The adherents of Mr Paton declared that dishonesty had been practised, alleging that there were not 150 members in the church, and appealed to the “Class” in May. Meanwhile Mr M‘Nee arrived in Bavington and asked to be allowed to preach. The opposition shut the church doors in his face. Next Sabbath he brought false keys with him, and forcing an entrance, took possession of the pulpit. Joined to such arbitrary procedure, there were rumours of immorality attaching to this gentleman, so that his opponents became more inveterate in their opposition.
Nor was this all: the “Class” having refused ordination to him, and other Presbyterian ministers having also refused, three persons named Galliklie, Matthews, and Colquhoun undertook to ordain him at Bavington on 4th November 1802. The opposition resisted, but they were informed next day that Mr M'Nee had been ordained at midnight in his own chamber. A protest against this pretended ordination was read at the church door next Sabbath in name of the opposition, and application was again made to the “Class,” who reprobated the high-handed conduct of Mr M‘Nee and his party. Towards the end of 1803, the society had an opportunity of hearing ministers of the Associate Burgher Synod, with whose ministrations they were much satisfied. On 19th January 1804, they applied to the Presbytery of Selkirk for supply of sermon. At their request, the society at Bavington was formed into a congregation on 27th August 1804, in connection with the Associate Presbytery, the Rev. Walter Dunlop of Newcastleton preaching on that occasion. Elders were afterwards ordained. The congregation worshipped for a time in the manse at Bavington, and latterly in the barn of W. Coull, Esq., North Middleton. Mr Coull afterwards granted them a site for a chapel, which was built in 1817, with sittings for 200.
In June 1817 the congregation applied for a moderation to Selkirk Presbytery, and promised £70 stipend, with house, garden, sacramental expenses, and increase of stipend as they were able.
ist Minister.—WALTER BELL, called to North Sunderland and North Middleton. Appointed by the Synod to North Middleton in 1817. Died 17th June 1843, in the 26th year of his ministry.
2d Minister.-JOHN MILLER, from Alloa ('Townhead). Ordained 26th September 1844. Translated to Methven in May 1846.
3d Minister.—JAMES ROBERTSON, from East Calder. Ordained 27th January 1848. Died 3d October 1871, in the 62d year of his age, and 24th of his ministry.
The congregation called Mr R. Simpson, M.A., who preferred Stockbridge, (Berwickshire).
4th Minister.—ALLAN Wilson, from Glasgow (Duke Street). Ordained 21st November 1872.
BLYTH. Blyth is a seaport town in Northumberland, 15 miles north-east of Newcastle, 9 east-south-east of Morpeth, and 9 north of North Shields.
This congregation originated with several Scotch families resident in Blyth, who being desirous of having gospel ordinances dispensed to them according to the principles and form of government to which they had been accustomed in their native country, applied for and obtained supply of sermon from the United Associate Pres. bytery of Newcastle, 1820. Church built 1827; sittings, 450. A new church, which cost £2260, was opened 10th March 1863, by Dr Cairns.
Before obtaining a fixed pastor, the congregation called Mr Stobbs, who was appointed by the Synod to Ellon, Aberdeenshire.
Ist Minister.—DANIEL CARMICHAEL, from Stirling (Second). Ordained 26th March 1829. Died 6th March 1860, in the 61st year of his age, and 31st of his ministry.
2d Minister.—JAMES CRAIG, from Mearns. Ordained 12th March 1861.
WALLSEND. Wallsend is a village on the north bank of the River Tyne, county of Northumberland, 4 miles east of Newcastle, and 4 west of North Shields.
This congregation was in connection with the Independents prior to 6th August 1823, when it acceded along with the minister to the United Associate Synod. It was recognised as a separate congregation from Walker, 7th April 1846.
ist Minister.-ROBERT Neil. Received with his congregation from the Independents into connection with the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle, 1823. Resigned and left the connection, 1833. Died 1834.
2d Minister.-JOHN ROBERTSON, previously of Burghead. Admitted 3d October 1837. Resigned 4th November 1845, and became a Baptist.
The congregation then called Mr Campbell.
3d Minister.—DAVID Wilson, from Hawick (East Bank). Ordained 30th December 1836.
HOUGHTON-LE-SPRING. Houghton-le-Spring is a township in the county of Durham, 6 miles south-west of Sunderland, and 64 north-east of Durham.
This congregation originated in village preaching by the Rev. Mr Duncan of Sunderland, 1824. Church built 1825; sittings, 250.
ist Minister.-JOHN MORRIS, from Perth (North). Ordained 8th November 1826. Resigned 1844. Admitted to Sunderland, 14th July 1845.
2d Minister. -ANDERSON DRYSDALE, from Edinburgh (Rose Street). Ordained as located missionary 17th November 1847. Resigned and emigrated to America, 5th April 1853. Returned to this country. Had a boarding-school at Sunderland; afterwards on list of occasional supply. Suspended 11th December 1866.
The congregation called Mr Thomas Baxter, afterwards of Banff; and Mr Peter Whyte, afterwards of Denny.
3d Minister. -ALEXANDER SHENNAN, from Edinburgh (St James' Place). Called to Sutton and Houghton-le-Spring. Ordained 7th March 1855. Called to
Whitby September 1867, but declined the call. Translated to Bathgate 25th November 1867.
The congregation called Mr J. Faulds Henderson, who preferred Innellan ; and Mr James Rogers, who preferred Kelso.
4th Minister.—JAMES MILLIGAN, formerly of Canada Presbyterian Church. Ordained 26th October 1869.
WARKWORTH. Warkworth is a town in Northumberland, 7 miles south-east of Alnwick, and 15 north-west of Morpeth.
A small congregation of Presbyterian Dissenters in Warkworth were desirous of obtaining a successor to their aged minister, and with this view applied in 1826 to be taken under the inspection of the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle, which was allowed. Present place of worship built 1828 ; sittings, 250.
Ist Minister.—JAMES BLAir, from Colmonell, of which his father was minister. Called to Comrie and Warkworth. Ordained 1829. Resigned 10th February 1835, on account of ill-health Received an allowance from the Synod till his death.
2d Minister.—JAMES DUNCAN, from Alnwick (Clayport Street). Ordained 29th June 1836. Resigned 7th March 1854. Emigrated to Canada.
3d Minister.—WILLIAM STEWART, from Newcastle (Blackett Street). Called to Bolton and Warkworth. Ordained 18th October 1854. Demitted his charge 5th July 1870. Became probationer, and afterwards went to New Zealand.
The congregation called Rev. John A. Murray, formerly of Burntisland, but the call was not concurred in by the Presbytery.
4th Minister.-WILLIAM ROGERSON, from Burnhead. Ordained 21st June 1871.
MONKWEARMOUTH, ST STEPHEN'S. Monkwearmouth is a suburb of Sunderland, with which it is connected by a bridge over the River Wear, 13 miles north-east of Durham.
Thirty-four members of Union Chapel, Sunderland, resident in Monkwearmouth, petitioned the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle in 1827 to be disjoined from the congregation with which they were then connected, and to be formed into a separate congregation, with its seat in Monkwearmouth. They gave is reasons for this procedure the inconvenience of crossing the river in a boat, which most of them were accustomed to do, and the strong probability of being able to form a Secession congregation on that side of the water. These reasons being considered good, and no opposition offered by the congregations in Sunderland, the prayer of the petition was complied with. Church built 1827; sittings, 550.
Before obtaining a fixed pastor, the congregation called Mr John Young, who was appointed by the Synod to Albion Chapel, London; and Mr William Peddie, who was appointed to Bristo Street, Edinburgh.
Ist Minister.-CHARLES JOHNSTON, from Rathillet. Ordained 22d July 1829. Died 19th May 1850, in the 54th year of his age, and 21st of his ministry.
The congregation called Mr Kechie, who preferred Earlston.
2d Minister.—John MATHISON, from Dumfriesshire (Thornhill). Called to Largo, South Ronaldshay, and Monkwearmouth. Ordained 18th June 1851.
This was an old Presbyterian congregation, which, after passing through a great many vicissitudes, acceded to the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle, 1832.
Ist Minister.—William RATTRAY, previously minister of the second Secession Congregation, Selkirk (now extinct). Admitted 1832. Died 6th January 1851, in the 63d year of his age, and 36th of his ministry.
The congregation called the Rev. George Dodds, previously of Newcastle, and Mr Forbes Ross, who preferred Sanquhar.
2d Minister.—WILLIAM R. Barrie, from Forfar. Ordained 20th January 1858. Demitted his charge ad July 1861. Joined the English Presbyterian Church, and became minister at Longframlington, Morpeth, 6th November 1862.
3d Minister.-GEORGE SAMUEL from Glasgow (East Campbell Street). Ordained 28th May 1862.
HEXHAM. Hexham is a town in Northumberland, 25 miles south-west of Newcastle, and 39 north-east of Carlisle.
The congregation in Hexham connected with the Church of Scotland called Mr Nixon, probationer, to be their pastor, 1830. The constitution of that congregation was that each member had as many votes in the election of office-bearers as the sittings he held in the place of worship. The sittings being generally low-priced, some of the holders had come in this way to possess ten, and others as many as twenty votes. At the election referred to, the majority of votes were in favour of Mr Nixon, while the majority of the members were against him. His opponents submitted for some time to his ministry, but not being satisfied either with it or their own position, they resolved on freeing themselves from the one and altering the other. With this view they requested the Rev. Mr Young of Bellingham to preach to them. Mr Young complied, and after sermon the persons taking interest in the movement held a meeting, at which they came to the unanimous resolution of applying to the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle for regular supply of sermon. This was granted in 1831, and a congregation in connection with the Secession Church regularly organised in 1832. After renting for a time, first the Moot, and then the hall of the old Roman Catholic Chapel, they purchased a place of worship belonging to the Wesleyans, containing 400 sittings, for £510.
A new church was opened in 1864, costing £1940, and seated for 400, which in a short time was clear of debt.
1st Minister.—John Boyd, D.D., from Glasgow (Wellington Street). Ordained 15th October 1833. Translated to Paisley 19th November 1835. Translated back to Hexham 14th May 1839. Translated to Belfast, September 1844.
The congregation called Mr Watt, afterwards of Aberlady, who declined the call, and Mr Russell, who preferred Buchlyvie.
2d Minister.—PETER BANNATYNE, from Kirkwall. Ordained 19th November 1845. Translated to Blantyre 28th November 1848.
The congregation called Mr William Drummond, and Mr William Main, afterwards of Campbelton, both of whom declined the calls.
3d Minister.-ALEXANDER HENDERSON, previously of St Catherine's, Canada
West. Returned to this country and admitted to Hexham 31st December 1851. Resigned 1854. Settled at Earlston 13th December 1854.
The congregation called Mr A. Thomson, now of Haddington, and Mr James Mill, now of Leith, who declined the calls.
In March 1862 proposals were made for a union between the English and United Presbyterian Churches of Hexham, and a committee of Newcastle Presbytery was appointed to consider the matter. The union was at length effected, and both congregations united in April 1862 under the Rev. J. Wilson.
4th Minister.—John M‘KENZIE Wilson, from Edinburgh (Broughton Place). Called to New Deer and Hexham. Ordained 27th February 1856. Author of “ Popery Unveiled.”
Otterburn is a village in Northumberland, 26 miles south of Jedburgh, and 30 north of Newcastle.
Birdhope Craig, a village 6 miles from Otterburn, is the seat of a congregation in connection with the English Presbyterian Church, but formerly in connection with the Church of Scotland. This congregation having become vacant in 1829, two candidates were proposed, one of whom was preferred by a great majority. The proposer of the unsuccessful candidate withdrew from the congregation after the election, and joined himself to a Secession congregation in the district. Persuaded that he had obtained spiritual benefit by his change, he became anxious that ministrations similar to those he now enjoyed might be extended to his more immediate neighbourhood. He went in person to a meeting of the United Associate Presbytery of Newcastle, and made offer to maintain preachers at his own expense for a year if the Presbytery would make trial of Otterburn as a preaching station. The offer was accepted, and the experiment commenced in 1831. A coach-house was obtained for the place of meeting, and a considerable audience attended the services. Several persons resident in the district, who had formerly belonged to the Secession Church, but, on account of distance from any of its congregations, had connected themselves with other denominations, now attended the station, and in this way a congregation soon came to be formed, the members of which were greatly indebted to R. B. Sanderson, Esq. of Otterburn Den, for the assistance rendered in building a place of worship in 1833, containing 250 sittings.
Ist Minister.—ANTHONY LESLIE CHRISTIE, from Kirkcaldy (Bethelfield). Ordained 22d January 1835. Died 19th May 1862, in the 62d year of his age, and 28th of his ministry.
2d Minister.— JAMES CHRISTIE, B.A. Ordained as successor to his father, 20th August 1862. Called to Edinburgh (Bread Street) 28th August 1865, but declined the call. Called twice to Carlisle; accepted the second call. Translated thither 7th June 1870.
3d Minister.-ALEXANDER BRYCE MUIR, from Beith. Brought up in connection with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and licensed by the Reformed Presbyterian Presbytery of Kilmarnock 31st August 1869. Received on application by the United Presbyterian Synod as a probationer 13th May 1870. Called to Gateshead and Otterburn. Ordained 21st December 1870. Called to Aldershot in 1873, but declined the call.