REV. PETER MCBRIDE (1797 to 1846)
Peter McBride was born in North Knapdale 1797. His Parents, Mathew McBride and Elizabeth McMillan, were then living in Achantheanbhaile. By 1800, Mathew McBride was the Parish schoolmaster, as well as an agent for the Inverneill Estate. The family soon made a permanent home in Tayvallich.
In his early teens, Peter left home to live with his paternal uncle, the Rev. Neil McBride, who was the Parish minister at Kilmory, on the Isle of Arran. He probably 'received his first serious religious impression" when he was 15 or 16 years of age. He soon entered college in Glasgow (where he studied Greek), and later, the University of Edinburgh. By 1825, McBride was ordained minister of the Parish of Rothesay. When he left the Established Church for the Free Church, the largest part of his congregation followed him to his new ministry. His talent lay in excellent preaching and pastoral work, not only in Rothesay, but throughout Western Highlands and the Hebrides.
After preaching in Knapdale in September, 1846, he sailed in an open boat for the island of Easdale. A fog set in, and the boat was becalmed throughout the night and most of the next day. McBride caught cold, but that evening, he preached to an expectant crowd, then went to bed. He died within days.
REV. DUNCAN MCNAB (1808 to 1863)
Duncan McNab was born in South Knapdale, the son of Robert McNab and his wife, Mary McFarlane. His father was a tacksman and a foxman, and an agent of the Inverneill estate. The family lived at Clachbreck, north of Ormsary. Mary McFarlane probably came from Islay. Rather than being sent to the parish school, his father, along with a couple of other gentlemen, secured the services of a tutor. Being destined for the Church, Duncan was enrolled (at the age of 14) in the University of Glasgow. In 1830, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Inveraray. For 5 years, he worked as a wandering probationer. Finally, in 1837, he found a place in Campeltown.
McNab supported a friendly alliance between Church and state, but he would rather see the tie severed than Caesar ruling in the House of Christ. On the Sabbath before the Disruption, Mr McNab, after finishing his sermon, told his congregation that the crisis had come,and its members must decide what to do. Most took their Bibles and psalm books, and left the church, never to return. From May to the end of October, they worshipped in the open air, rain or shine. By the end of October, 2 churches were opened. The one, the Gaelic, could easily accommodate 1200, and the other, the English,was seated for 800.
In 1856, he was translated to the Renfield Free Church in Glasgow. Unfortunately, by this time, his health was giving way, and he died in 1863.
DUGALD GILLIES, MILLER
With his wife, Flory McCormaig, Dugald Gillies worked as a Miller at Castle Sween. Peter McBride was an old friend of his, and a hard working supporter of the Free Church. McBride served as an Elder and as a clerk of the Kirk Session from 1848 until 1854, when he left for Australia.It seems that he perished in Australia sometime during the winter of 1855 and 1856.
JOHN GRAHAM, FARMER
Like Dugald Gillies, John Graham, a farmer of 700 acres in Dunrostan, was a solid support for evangelism and for the Free Church in North Knapdale. He married Lilly McLullich from Kilberry in 1814, and was the father of several children. By the time Mr. Graham became an Elder of the Free Church in 1854, his wife had passed on (in 1851.) He and his wife are buried in the old chapel at Kilmory Knap. (Note: the date for his death is given as 1851, but he was still active in 1854.) His son Duncan became a Free Church minister.
These early evangelists presented a real challenge to Scotland's Established Presbyterian Church, and led directly to the Great Disruption in 1843. It is noteworthy, too, that they were all of the respectable and educated middle class of Argyll's society. It would have been difficult for the landowners to subjugate any of them.
The next page has a link to the earliest Free Church Kirk Session of North Knapdale. This record is part of the archive of today's Lochgilphead Free Church. In addition, this page includes a link to today's Free Church of Scotland, as well as one to a blog kept by today's Free Church Moderator.
Sources for this page:
"Ecclesiastical Developments: Disruption, Union and Re-Union," Tayvallich and North Knapdale, a History of the Parish in Recent Times. John Smith, 1962. By Alexander Fraser.
Disruption Worthies of the Highlands: another memorial of 1843. Edinburgh, John Greig and Son, 1877.