David Welsh

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David Welsh
Welsh's townhouse at 59 Melville Street, Edinburgh
The grave of David Welsh, St Cuthbert's churchyard, Edinburgh

Rev Dr David Welsh DD FRSE (11 December 1793 – 24 April 1845) was a Scottish divine and academic.


Welsh was born in Moffat on 11 December 1793 the son of a sheep farmer at Earlhaugh and Tweedshaws. He was educated at Moffat Parish School then the High School in Edinburgh. He studied Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and was licensed to preach in 1816. In 1821 he was ordained as minister of Crossmichael. From there he was translated to St David's Church in Glasgow.[1] Glasgow University granted him a Doctor of Divinity (DD) in 1831.[2]

In the 1820s, Welsh was notable for his attempt to forge an alliance between the evangelicals and the Edinburgh Phrenological Society - then at the height of its influence. However, Welsh was out-manoeuvered by George Combe - the "high priest" of the phrenologists - who prohibited all discussion of religious matters at phrenological meetings. Welsh and his fellow evangelicals then left the society.

In 1831 he was appointed Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Edinburgh. In 1834 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh his proposer being Sir William Hamilton.[3]

Welsh later presided at a major event in 19th century church history. In 1842 he was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland therefore being Moderator during the critical Disruption of 1843. Sadly for the established church, but happily for the Free Church he headed the secession on the day of the exodus. He then chaired the first General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.[4] He is seen on the Disruption Painting by Hill to Thomas Chalmers's right holding the Protest he read to the Church of Scotland assembly.

He was Secretary of the Scottish Bible Board and also Editor of the North British Review.[5]

In later life he lived with his family at his Edinburgh townhouse, 59 Melville Street.[6] He died suddenly on 24 April 1845 at Camus Eskan in Dumbartonshire,[7] and is buried against the western outer wall of the southern section of St Cuthbert's churchyard in Edinburgh.


  • The Life and Writings of Thomas Brown (1825)
  • The Elements of Church History (1844)


David Welsh was married to Mary Hamilton (1797-1873) in Glasgow on 1 June 1830[8]. They had 10source? children, including:

  • David James (1832–1890), Major-General in the Royal Artillery;
  • John Hamilton (1833–1867), merchant;
  • Helen (c. 1835-?), fl. 1874source?;
  • Margaret Mary (1837-1879), who married William A. Porter, secretary to the Maharaja of Mysore; and
  • George Robert (1842-44).


  1. ^ Monuments and monumental inscriptions in Scotland: The Grampian Society, 1871
  2. ^ https://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp2.pdf
  3. ^ https://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp2.pdf
  4. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Welsh, David". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. 
  5. ^ Monuments and monumental inscriptions in Scotland: The Grampian Society, 1871
  6. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directories 1840-47
  7. ^ https://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/biographical_index/fells_indexp2.pdf
  8. ^ Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, vol. vii, p. 390