Walter Ross Taylor

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Rev Dr Walter Ross Taylor photographed in 1884

Very Rev Dr Walter Ross Taylor DD (1805–1896) was a 19th-century Scottish minister of the Free Church of Scotland who served as Moderator of the General Assembly 1884/85.


Thurso Parish Church

He was born in Tain in northern Scotland on 11 November 1805 the son of the sheriff clerk of Cromarty. His mother Flora Ross was sister of Col Walter Ross of Nigg House and inherited the house on his death.[1] The house held feudal superiority over the village of Nigg.[2]

Walter was educated at the Royal Academy in Tain then from 1819 studied at King's College, Aberdeen winning the Hutton Prize as best 4th year student. He then studied to be a minister at the Divinity Hall in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow to train as a minister for the Church of Scotland. He was ordained at Chadwell Street Church in Islington in London in 1829.[3]

In 1831 he became minister of Old Saint Peter's in Thurso. In 1832, the new parish church (pictured) was consecrated.

In the Disruption of 1843 he left the established church to join the Free Church of Scotland.[4] A large part of his congregation left with him. A new church was built almost immediately. A new manse was built in 1850. The church was rebuilt in 1875.

In 1884 he succeeded Rev Horatius Bonar as Moderator of the General Assembly. He was succeeded in turn in 1885 by Rev David Brown.[5]

From 1894 he was assisted by Rev George Herbert Morrison. He died on 5 October 1896 aged 90 and Morrison then took his place, building the Thurso Mission Hall soon thereafter.[6]

The Thurso church was replaced in the 1970s by a new building.[7]


He married twice. His first wife was Isabella Murray, daughter of William Murray of Pitcalzean, whom he married in 1833. Their only son out of five children was Rev Walter Ross Taylor (1838–1907) who was father in turn to Walter Ross-Taylor MP.[8]

His son Walter was Moderator in 1900 and oversaw the critical Union with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland.

In 1887 (aged 82) he married Isabella Macdonald from Thurso.


  1. ^ Free Church Monthly November 1896
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Christian Penny Magazine 1832
  4. ^
  5. ^ Free Church Monthly July 1885
  6. ^ Ewings Annals of the Free Church
  7. ^
  8. ^ Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Taylor, Walter Ross" . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 3. London: Smith, Elder & Co.