Our Church History - Late Nineteenth Century

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Late Nineteenth Century

In 1874 the population in Pulteney was around 5000. The Church seated 950 , the number usually present was given as 350.The number of communicants was 30.There were 10 teachers and 120 scholars in the Sabbath School. In 1876 there were requests for an evening service to be started. Eventually it was agreed that this should happen once a month – once the cost of heat and light had been met the rest of the offering went to the Minister!

By 1878 the debt on the building had finally been paid and sufficient money(£1,000) raised for endowments.

Moves were put in place to establish a separate parish area and on 18th.March 1878 ‘Pulteneytown was disjoined from Wick’. The new Parish boundaries of Pulteneytown were “From the bridge of Wick, southwards along the Parliamentary Rd. to the South West corner of the New Cemetery wall thence eastwards and westwards by the German Ocean and the harbour and river of Wick to the Bridge of Wick aforementioned.”

The Minister in 1878 , Rev.Duff McDonald, was appointed by the Church to Blantyre, Central Africa, to head up the work started by David Livingstone.

Rev. Harley Anderson

The congregation were now free to appoint their own Minister – though the ‘Baird Trust must agree to the first appointment’. The first Minister appointed was Rev.W Harley Anderson in May 1878. Three elders were appointed in July and the Assessor Elders thanked. All three Resigned in November 1878. Another traumatic start for the congregation.

There is little record of activity in the congregation during these next years. Sometimes four years would pass between Kirk Session meetings. It would be 12 years before any other elders were appointed. In 1893 Mr Anderson intimated his resignation from the charge. The Kirk Session recorded their regret that Mr.Anderson had been under the necessity of resigning his charge and their ‘sincere hope that he would find a more suitable charge in the south.’

'Ross's Kirk'

The congregation now entered a new phase for on 14th.May 1894 Rev. Alexander Ross from Aberdeen was inducted to the charge. He was to be Minister for 42 years and the church was to be known as ‘Ross’s Kirk’ – so much so that a Serviceman is reported to have gone to the Catholic Church Service because he thought RC stood for Ross’s Church!

The years of neglect were tackled with vigour. The Committee of Management reported…”The year 1895 will long be memorable in the annals of Pulteneytown Parish as the year in which an extensive scheme of improvement was carried out on the church. The idea of the renovation dates from the Ordination of Rev. Alexander Ross. On 7th. November 1894 a meeting of the Committee of Management, then consisting of three Trustees – Donald R Campbell, Surgeon Dentist; Alexander Wares, Vintner; and William Reid, Commission Agent…was held in the rooms of Mr.Ross, Myrtle Cottage…. gentlemen were appointed to collect subscriptions in Pulteneytown and Wick and Mr.Ross’ undertook to bring the case under the notice of gentlemen connected with the county and friends of the Church at a distance.” The work included, constructing a vestry with lavatory, a new pulpit and choir seat, painting and distempering the inside walls, replacing the windows (except those on the East gable), erection of railing and gate etc. The cost was £375 – of that only £85 was raised locally.

Mr Ross was appointed Session Clerk until ‘a permanent appointment is made’. He was to remain Clerk for over 40 years! In 1900 there were 60 members on the roll. In the same year there were 190 on the roll of Wick Parish.