Cambuslang clergy

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The sequence of the Cambuslang clergy reflects pretty accurately the development of the Christian Church in Cambuslang, Scotland.

The Catholic Church[edit]

The revenues of the Parish of Cambuslang (originally, Drumsagart) were obviously substantial enough for the priests to carry the title Rector. One - William Monypenny - had enough to endow a Chapel to Our Lady. These revenues also supported Vicars when the Rectors were made Prebendaries and were usually absent, attending to their official duties in Glasgow Cathedral. Cambuslang Parish was obviously a step on the career ladder of ambitious clerics who also had political ambitions. John Cameron (of the Lochiel Campbells) became Bishop of Glasgow - and made the Prebendaries of Cambuslang Chancellors of the Cathedral - and went on to hold all the Great Offices of State. David Beaton probably never even visited his Parish on his way up the ladder to become the Cardinal later murdered by soldiers supporting the Reformation in Scotland.

Both Cameron and Beaton were members of the Scottish aristocracy, as were a number of other Rectors and Prebendaries - such as Lord Claud Hamilton - and the “English Cleric” mentioned below no doubt accompanied the many Anglo-Norman adventurers who came to Scotland at the time. The issues associated with the revenues of Cambuslang, and its entanglement with finding a living for young aristocrats, continued beyond the reformation. The revenues were in the hands of the landowners - the Heritors - who therefore nominated the Ministers, according to the Patronage Act, 1712.

The established Protestant churches[edit]

During the years of the Reformation, Cambuslang clergy were sometimes priests of the Episcopalian Church of Scotland and sometimes Ministers of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Several were doughty fighters for Presbyterianism, notably John Howison, while others, such as Patrick Hamilton gave much of their time to (sometimes provocative, not to say scurrilous) poetry. William M'Culloch organised great preaching festivals on the hillsides near his Kirk, inviting one of the founders of Methodism, George Whitefield to preach to upwards of 20,000 people. This “Cambuslang Wark” was part of an extraordinary series of revivalist movements which swept Scotland, England and New England in the 1740s. Subsequently, many of Mr M’Culloch’s Elders opposed the Duke of Hamilton’s nominee, Dr James Meek as his successor, on the grounds that he was unsound in doctrine. Dr Meek was a typical Moderate in the 18th Century Church of Scotland - well educated, ”enlightened”, well-connected - his friend and supporter was William Robertson, Principal of Edinburgh University - and more concerned with good Christian conduct, which often meant good order, than with what he thought of as the more contentious areas of scholastic Calvinist theology. He won the fight and became a much loved minister. He was followed in his place by Principal Robertson's nephew. This was The Rev Dr John Robertson, who, interestingly, died the year before a great split in the Church of Scotland over the long-standing issues, familiar to his predecessor, of Patronage and doctrine. Later Ministers lived quieter lives. The Rev Dr Robert Blair not only helped translate the Bible into Gaelic, but also found time to translate Gaelic Poetry. Robert Sibbald Calderwood wrote "Bible Stories", but also proclaimed his patriotism on the coronation of George V.

Other churches[edit]

In 1799 some Christians who were not prepared to attend the Parish Kirk, perhaps including some remnants of Mr M’Culloch’s Cambuslang Wark, rented a house to hold independent meetings. In 1801, they bought a building, which became known as the Tabernacle, in what is now Tabernacle Lane. David Dale, a Glasgow Merchant who lived nearby, contributed some money for this, and worshipped there himself. Thus began the Congregational Church in Cambuslang. After the Disruption of 1843, a Free Church of Scotland congregation was set up. The Duchess of Hamilton gave land for an Episcopalian Church to serve the needs of English immigrants who had come to work in the Cambuslang collieries and Hallside Steelworks (Newton). Later, Baptists and other Protestant denominations set up chapels, then more substantial churches. Similarly, Catholic immigrants from Ireland and the Highlands were served first by a chapel, then a more substantial church. Meanwhile, the growing population of Cambuslang meant that the Church of Scotland had to set up subsidiary churches - the mission church in Hallside, for example - to accommodate the growing population. These eventually became the separate Parishes of the Church of Scotland - Flemington Hallside Church, Trinity Parish Church and St Andrew’s Church of Scotland, are remaining examples. Smaller Protestant Churches were also set up - Westcoats Evangelical Church for example, and the Gospel Hall.

Clergy of Cambuslang Parish Church[edit]




Post-Reformation ministers[edit]


  • Wilson, James Alexander OBE, MD A History of Cambuslang: a Clydesdale parish. Chapter X Ecclesiastical History Jackson Wylie & Co Glasgow (1929)
  • Porter, Wm Henry Cambuslang and its Ministers (in Mitchell Library - Glasgow Collection, reference GC941.433 CAM 188520 Box 952)