From the "History of the congregations of the United Presbyterian Church, from 1733 to 1900," Volume 2. By Rev. Robert Small.

United Presbyterian Church, Gatehouse (United Sucession)

THE earliest attempt to form a Secession congregation in this place was made in 1816. On 25th June of that year a gentleman in the locality represented to the Burgher Presbytery of Annan by letter that circumstances were favourable for entering on mission work there, and that a number of people wished sermon in connection with the Secession. The Rev. John Law of Newcastleton was accordingly sent to preach one or more Sabbaths in that part of Galloway, and on 29th October a petition for occasional supply followed, with 53 signatures. Supply was kept up with regularity two Sabbaths each month till February 1818, when intimation came from the people that, as they had no convenient place to meet in, preaching would have to be discontinued for the time. A new church was in course of erection at Gatehouse for the parish of Girthon, to supersede the now roofless ruin which stands over two miles to the south, and this may have abated the desire for sermon from any other quarter. Thus the scene closed, not to be reopened till after a break of nineteen years.

The Secession Presbytery of Wigtown arranged on 20th February 1837 to have a preacher sent two Sabbaths to begin mission work in Gatehouse as soon as convenient, and at next meeting Mr Towers of Wigtown stated that he had addressed respectable audiences there on the second. Sabbath of March, and that supply should be provided for the whole of April. After this reports that the station continued to prosper were brought in from time to time, and in the summer of 1838 a site was looked out for a place of worship. Three probationers were now located for periods of six months in succession; Mr A. R. Johnston, who left to be ordained at Duntocher; the Rev. David Hogg, formerly of Rattray; and Mr Alexander Paterson, afterwards of Dalry, in Galloway. The station was congregated on 20th February 1839, with a membership of about 50. The church, with 200 sittings, was to be opened on Sabbath, 24th May 1840, by the Rev. John Young, M.A., of London, and, failing him, by Mr Johnston of Duntocher. The cost seems to have been about £390, of which the Board granted £100, and the people raised £130. The population at that time was about 2000. The village is partly in the parish of Girthon and partly in that of Anwoth, two parishes from which the congregation of Kirkcudbright, eight miles distant, had about 20 adherents, young and old, so that there was some Secession material to draw from. In August 1840 a call was addressed to Mr Walter Muckersie, who, after taking time for deliberation, declined, and was afterwards ordained at Ferry-Port-on-Craig.

First Minister. JAMES FALCONER, from Glasgow (now Sydney Place). The call was signed by 41 members and 36 adherents, and the stipend of £60 from the people was to be made up to £80 by a grant from the Mission Board. Ordained, 5th April 1842; and in 1845 the building was freed from debt, the people raising £80, and an equal sum being granted by the Liquidation Board. On 10th March 1847 Mr Falconer resigned his charge. The membership was now reduced to 36 and the average attendance to about 50. On 20th April the resignation was accepted, the Presbytery recording it as their conviction that the decline had arisen from circumstances over which the minister had no control. They instanced the removal of some who had taken a lively interest in the congregation, and they also expressed disappointment at the want of steadfastness on the part of others from whom better things might have been expected. Mr Falconer was inducted as colleague at Spittal on 11th July 1848, but resigned on account of ill-health, l0th October 1849, and died at Glasgow, 2oth April 1851.

Second Minister. JOHN THORHURN, who under pressure accepted the call, and was loosed from Dunning (Relief) that the way might be opened for union between the two congregations there. Inducted, 14th January 1851. This relationship lasted eight and a half years, and had then to be dissolved owing to a serious act of forgetfulness on his part and deep dissatisfaction on the part of his people. On 23rd August 1859, after being rebuked, he was loosed from his charge, and his name recommended to be put on the probationer list. He itinerated as a preacher from September 1861 to December 1864, and died in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow, on 21st February 1865, in the fiftieth year of his age. Mr Thorburn, so far as we can gather, and as appears from some slight productions of his pen, was a preacher of more than average ability, but somehow ill-fortune attended him in each of his three successive charges.

Third Minister. ANDREW CLARK, from Paisley (Thread Street). Ordained, 23rd October 1860. The stipend from the people was £60, and the call was signed by 40 members and 16 adherents. Under his ministry compacting went on, though there was no very great building up. Mr Clark died at Largs, 16th July 1883, in the fifty-first year of his age and twenty-third of his ministry. There was a membership at this time of 77, and the funds yielded £75 of stipend.

Fourth Minister. ALEXANDER B. DYKES, M.A., from Shamrock Street, Glasgow. Ordained, 27th February 1884, and translated to Gorebridge, 4th October 1887. With a declining population around numerical increase, even under a young minister, was scarcely to be expected.

Fifth Minister. JAMES G. CLARK, M.A., son of the Rev. John Clark of Urr. Ordained, 15th January 1889. At the close of 1899 there were 70 names on the communion roll, and the stipend from the people was £70, which was made up to £206 in all by Supplement, Surplus, and £40 from the Ferguson Bequest Fund. There is no manse, and never has been.  

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