History of the Clan Macrae


The Rev. David Macrae of Gourock, and afterwards of Dundee

Rev. David, (son of David, son of James, son of James, son of Duncan, son of Sheriffmuir soldier), who is now [in 1899] one of the best known and ablest of the ministers of Scotland, was born at the Manse of Lathones on August 9, 1837, and taken to Oban when he was only seven months old.  At Oban he spent his boyhood, and received the rudiments of a liberal education, which was afterwards continued at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.  In 1859 he was lamed for life by a fall on Arthur Seat.  A serious illness followed, but he was able to resume his studies the following year.  While going through the Theological course of the United Presbyterian Hall in Edinburgh, he traveled abroad between the Sessions, and to those early travels he no doubt owes in some degree the sympathetic and enlightened knowledge of men and things which has formed so marked a feature both of his public life and of his writings.  He was ordained minister of the United Presbyterian Church at Gourock, in Renfrewshire, on April 9, 1872.  He very soon came into prominence as a leading man in his own denomination, and in 1873 he commenced a movement which resulted in a reform of the United Presbyterian Theological Hall.  In 1876 he commenced another movement for the Revision of the Confession of Faith, which led to the adoption of what is now known in Scotland as the Declaratory Act, first by his own denomination, and afterwards by the Presbyterian Church of England, and more recently by the Free Church of Scotland.  For going further still, and demanding a right to set aside the dogma of eternal punishment, Mr. Macrae was expelled from the United Presbyterian Church, at a special meeting of its Supreme Court in Edinburgh, in May, 1879.  In the meantime he had been called to Dundee as successor to the Rev. George Gilfillan, who died in 1878, and, on being expelled from his own denomination, the call was renewed, Gilfillan's congregation declaring itself ready to leave the denomination with him.  The call was accepted, and Mr. Macrae commenced his ministry in Dundee in October, 1879, when the Rev. Baldwin Brown, Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, traveled specially from London to preach the induction sermon.  In Dundee Mr. Macrae organized a large congregation of more than thirteen hundred members, built the Gilfillan Memorial Church, and labored there for eighteen years.  From this ministry he retired in November, 1897, and is now [in 1899] living in Glasgow.  When leaving Dundee, he was presented with a remarkable testimonial by his congregation, and with a public address from the citizens, which was presented to him in the Town Hall by the Lord Provost.  In 1880, and subsequently, he took a leading part in the movement for the maintenance of Scotland's National Rights, including the petition addressed to the Queen in 1897, and signed by over on hundred thousand Scottish people of all ranks and classes, protesting against "the violation of the Treaty of Union in the unwarrantable substitution of the terms 'England' and 'English' for 'Britain' and 'British,' even in official utterance and in treaties with foreign powers."  Mr. Macrae is the author of numerous books and pamphlets, including The Americans at Home, originally published in two volumes by Edmonston & Douglas, Edinburgh, giving the results of his observations during a long tour in America, from Canada to the Gulf States, at the close of the war, and when the colored people had newly emerged from slavery,—and recording also his interviews with Longfellow, Emerson, Lowell, Henry Ward Beecher, General Grant, Confederate General Lee, and other noted soldiers both of the North and South.  This book, which was most favorably reviewed by the press, both at home and in America, has passed through several editions, and has been translated into French and Italian.  Amongst his other works are George Harrington; Dunvarlich; Diogenes among the D.D.'s, a book of ecclesiastical burlesques, beginning with the "Trial of Norman Macleod for the murder of Moses Law;" Quaint Sayings of Children; voices of the Poets; Reminiscences of George Gilfillan; Lectures on Robert Burns; New Parables; etc.  Mr. Macrae married, on February 23, 1875, Williamina Burton Craig, without issue.