General Index

General Index of Scottish Presbyterian Ministers


This is a digital index containing the names of all Scottish Presbyterian ministers who figure in the sources mentioned below. These are mainly men who served in Scotland, though a few of Scottish origin who only served in other parts of the world, and some who were only probationers, are also mentioned. In the New Zealand source used here there are many men born, educated and even ordained in Scotland whose names are not included in this General Index, because they did not serve in a Scottish Church before going to New Zealand.

When this was originally compiled, I wrote: “There are 50,726 links provided in this Index; and 24,205 names appear. Some men are entered more than once, if their name appears in the Fasti with more than one spelling. Thus Andrew Melville appears both as “Melvill or Melville, Andrew …” and “Melville or Melvill, Andrew …”. Taking these doublets and triplets into consideration, the Index contains the names of approximately 23,244 different ministers.” Since then adjustments have been made and there are now around 100 more ministers.


The sources used are the following:

(1) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, Volumes 1-8. Volumes 1-7 contain an account of the congregations of the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, including a succinct account of their ministers – their background, education, attainments, and family. Volume 8 contains corrections and additions and covers the same congregations in the same order as in Volumes 1-7. This source appears as “FES” in the General Index.

(2) Cameronian Fasti: Ministers and Missionaries of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 1680-1929, compiled and edited by James E. Robb. This is a straightforward list of 165 ministers of that denomination, arranged in alphabetical order, with a brief account of their lives, ministries and families. This source appears as “Cameronian Fasti” in the General Index.

(3) The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, its Congregations, Ministers, and Students, by W. J. Couper, printed for the Scottish Church History Society, 1925, Turnbull and Spears, Edinburgh. This is similar to Robb’s work but is much fuller, including lists of congregations, and students and probationers, as well as ordained ministers. This source appears as “Couper, The R.P. Church” in the General Index.

(4) Annals and Statistics of the Original Secession Church till its Disruption and Union with the Free Church of Scotland in 1852, by David Scott, published by Andrew Elliot, Edinburgh, and dated 1886. This tells the story of the part of the Secession Church which considered itself to have maintained the original testimony of the men who seceded from the Church of Scotland in 1733. It gives a brief account of all the relevant congregations and an account of the men who studied for the ministry. Sometimes this account of the students is only a few words; occasionally it extends to several pages. This source appears as “Scott, Annals” in the General Index.

(5) Annals of other, smaller, original secession churches are now included on this web-site – see under OS Churches for an explanation of these. “OS, Annals” in the General Index refers to men associated with the Associate Presbytery; “UOS, Annals” in the General Index refers to ministers of the Synod of United Original Seceders, 1852-1956.

(6) History of the Congregations of the United Presbyterian Church 1733-1900, Volumes 1-2, by Robert Small, published by David M. Small, Edinburgh, 1904. The layout of Small’s work is somewhat similar to that of Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: ministers’ careers are dealt with in different places – under the various congregations in which they ministered. This source appears as “Small, History” in the General Index.

(7) The Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, Volumes 1-2, by William Ewing. These Annals, along with some supplementary material, are already available on this web-site – accessible through the Menu item: Ewing’s Annals. This source appears as “Ewing, Annals” in the General Index.

(8) The online Register of Ministers of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. This is a digital archive of all church workers of the PCNZ. Only references, relevant to our purpose, are given here. This source appears as “PCNZ, Ministers’ Register” in the General Index.

(9) The Trees displaying ministers’ relationships already available on this site – accessible through the Menu item: Trees. Previously, only Free Church ministers were indexed; now all relevant ministers, whose names appear in the Trees, are referenced in the General Index. This source appears as “……. Tree” in the General Index.

(10) Excerpts from the book, The Wheat and the Chaff gathered into Bundles: a Statistical Contribution towards the History of the Disruption of the Scottish Ecclesiastical Establishment, published by James Dewar, Perth, 1843, and written by James McCosh, at that time Editor of the Dundee Warden and also a Free Church minister (see James McCosh).

These excerpts refer to the fluctuating opinions of ministers who at one time favoured the Evangelical cause but who did not leave the Establishment at the Disruption or who returned to it very quickly. They have been gathered together on this web-site (see McCosh). Items labelled “McCosh” in the General Index direct the researcher to the appropriate item on that page, where a further link to the on-line book is also provided.

We may yet add other sources – but only digital sources will appear here.

Information Provided

The published version of Scott’s Annals does not have an index. One has been compiled for this digital General Index. The published Indexes for Small’s History and the Fasti have been edited, checked, collated and, especially in the case of Small, enlarged for this digital version.

The various sources display information in different ways. Robb’s Cameronian Fasti, Ewing’s Annals, Couper’s The R.P. Church and the New Zealand Register all have information about a particular minister in one place, and in those cases there is only one reference given in each source for the minister. In the other sources, a minister is dealt with under his places of ministry and one reference is therefore given for each ministry. To help in identification, a date and place are given, where possible for each of such references. Generally, where a minister “came out” in 1843 and so, in effect, remained in the same charge, the date and place of his last ministry in the Established Church is given with the appropriate reference in the Fasti; then the date and place of any other Free Church congregations in which he served are given with one reference in Ewing’s Annals, which covers all his Free Church ministries.

In Scott and Small, additional information is often provided about a minister in other places apart from those in which he ministered. This information is of different types. A reference labelled “General” gives general information about a man or his ministry; one labelled “Call” indicates that the reference tells of an unsuccessful call to him, while “Family” indicates that some genealogical information is given under that reference.

One point worth making in regard to Small is that it is necessary to study the context, particularly of the main references. If a man applies for a Colleague and Successor, Small deals with that Colleague’s ministry and only comes back to tell of the death of the former minister when that occurs in Small’s chronological sequence – which may be some pages later.

Some Practical Points

If you are searching for a man you know to have been a Free Church minister in the period 1843-1900, you will find his name in this General Index – but you are advised to go straight to the Index of Ewing’s Annals: here.

If you have been using this web-site to search the Indexes that have been available, then they are no longer where they were. They have been incorporated into this General Index. There is one exception to that: the facilities for searching the Fasti by Presbytery or by Congregation. These are now found in the General Index menu.

Some surnames have various spellings: for example Melvill or Melville; Milne or Miln; and many, many others. Some men changed their surname or used two different surnames or first names. Thus, for example, John Warden became John McFarlan; Alexander Stuart became Alexander Moody-Stuart. Instead of saying: “McFarlan, John – see Warden, John” we have generally, for ease, recorded the information twice, once as “McFarlan or Warden, John …” and once as “Warden or McFarlan, John …”. This is somewhat repetitive but much more user friendly.

Surnames beginning with “M’”, “Mc” and “Mac” are treated in a distinctive fashion. They are arranged alphabetically, irrespective of the form of the prefix. Thus there is not a complete list of surnames beginning with “M’”, followed by a complete list of those with the “Mc” form and then one with the “Mac”s. It is the second element in the surname that counts, in regard to their arrangement here. A glance at the way these surnames are arranged in practice should make all this clear.

It could be argued that in some cases “Mack” should be considered as a prefix, just as “M’”, “Mc” and “Mac” are. This would have the advantage, for example, of allowing us to treat “MacIntosh” and “Mackintosh” as one surname – all derived from the Gaelic Mac an Tòisich. However, we have not done this simply because it was difficult to do this with consistency. There is, however, one case where we have treated Mack as a prefix – the case of a man spelling his name Mackbeth. I couldn’t bring myself to write his name as MacKbeth.

A question arises whether in such surnames the element after the prefix should be capitalised. For example, is it “MacDonald” or is it “Macdonald”? It is impossible to know how the Fasti intended such names to be spelled because, in the body of the text, the names and surnames in the main listing are capitalised, and the indexes are by no means consistent. Moreover, especially in the earlier years, there was not the consistency of spelling that we look for now. Here, in the main alphabetical sequence, the second element of these surnames, is always capitalised.

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