Rev Andrew Kirk, who was inducted on 29th April 1830, followed the Rev
James Scott in the Torphichen charge.
At this time Torphichen Kirk, like many other charges, was still
having trouble with the Patronage system. Since 1740, ministers like the Rev
Ebenezer Erskine of Stirling, his brother Ralph of Dunfermline and Wilson
of Perth were still fighting for freedom from the Westminster Confession
and the rule of Patronage. A
great move was afoot to remove the principle of establishment.
Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries, tension continued between Church and State, (Burghers and Anti-Burghers;
New Licht and Auld Licht; all Seceders and between the Enlightenment
ministers (moderates) and the traditional ‘evangelists’). Tension increased with the new
confidence in the middle class, getting the political vote with the Reform
Act of 1832. This increased
their confidence that they should be able to choose their own minister.
However, the government in London refused categorically to abolish
Patronage and landowners like Lord Torphichen continued to nominate
ministers of their choice to vacant charges.
It was around this time, possibly during the
ministry of Mr Kirk, that William Armstrong the Coppersmith was paid two
pounds six shillings for the Gilded Weather Cock, which, until recent
times, perched above the Bell Cote. This Weather Cock was gifted by Lord
Beaverbrooke. (Where is it now?)
The Rev Andrew Kirk translated to St Stephens,
Glasgow on 19th February 1836 and was replaced by the Rev
William Maxwell Hetherington who was inducted on the 28th April
We do not know much of Mr Hetherington’s
ministry in Torphichen other than that he was one of the evangelicals under
Thomas Chalmers, who was becoming more and more frustrated regarding by the
lack of progress in ending Patronage and other unpopular rules of the
On the 18th May 1843, the General
Assembly met, but instead of there being a formal opening, a petition was
laid on the table containing signatures from the Evangelical party and over
200 members of that party left the chamber following that. Eventually 474 ministers out of 1203
set up churches supported by like-minded members. This was the beginning of
the Free Church of Scotland.
In Torphichen, the Rev William Maxwell
Hetherington formed a Free Kirk and within the year the first ever stone built
Free Kirk was built, this being the present St John’s Hall. In the same year, the Rev William
Branks was inducted as the Church of Scotland minister in Torphichen, he
died in 1879.
Mr Hetherington became the first Free Kirk
Minister in St Andrews on the 21st February 1844 and was
succeeded by the Rev John Duns in 1844. On the sixth anniversary of the
opening of the Free Kirk, Mr Duns invited the Rev Andrew Bonar, minister of
Collarce, to preach in the Free Kirk. This was on the 2nd .
August 1849 and within 5 days of the one hundred and second anniversary of
the death of his great, great grandfather, the Rev John Bonar in the old
Manse in the Kirkgate. The Rev
John Duns was the main force behind the plans to build the well which
stands in the square and which was constructed in 1851.
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