Rev. John Douglas

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John Douglas, (18th December 1853 - 21st October 1920), was the son of John Douglas and Christina Chalmers (See below).  He was educated Aberdeen University, and graduated M.A. in 1874. He then enrolled as a divinity student in New College, Edinbugh, and was living in Rankeillor Street, Dundee when his father died. There does not seem to have been a will and it took a year to wind up the estate which amounted to over £90. Over £22 of this was owed to him by customers of his grocer store, together with his postmaster pay, and his half-yearly salary for acting as Church Officer of the Free Church at Liff.

John was ordained as a foreign missionary in 1878 and was sent by the Free Church Presbytery of Dundee to Nagpur, Maharashtra, in India, and served there for three years before being transferred to Bhandara. However, in 1890 he was re-appointed to Nagpur and remained there until his retirement in 1918.

His report on the Nagpur Vernacular Mission in 1909 gives an idea of his work and the difficulties encountered.

The past year has been the most calamitous one in the whole of my thirty-one years of missionary experience. The city of Nagpur and the surrounding villages have been visited by an epidemic of plague, which has exceeded in severity anything we have ever known. The one bright spot in that dark period was the Charitable Relief Fund, raised by public subscription for the benefit of the families that had been left destitute by the loss of the breadwinner, and distributed by a band of voluntary workers. In this philanthropic effort our own kinsmen had an honourable share, and immense good was done.

All schools were closed during those awful months, and our pupils were scattered far and near, many of them having been cut off by the fell disease. It will take months of hard work to raise the schools to the standard they had reached before the epidemic came, when the roll-books of eleven schools showed and attendance of 606 pupils. An attack of enteric fever in the beginning of August laid me aside from active service at the time when my superintendence seemed most required, and left me with enfeebled energy to reorganise the work after the plague had passed.

During the year new and substantial buildings, to replace those swept away in the flood of three years ago, have been erected on a fine site at a cost of about 2,000 Rupees. they will stand empty, because there is no money to pay the workers. At Dhapawada the work is being carried on with half the usual staff, from the same cause. At Borgaon (Durkheda), where a new schoolhouse has been put up, during the greater part of the year there has been no Christian agent. the school has been kept on by our old and faithful assistant, waiting the advent of better times.

In Patansaongi the catechist has had to do the work of both teacher and preacher. Itinerating work has been largely at a standstill. In the work of charitable relief some of my Christian teachers did yeoman service, helping the Rev J. F. McFadyen in finding out the houses where aid was needed. The present is a crisis when more than ever before we require to hang on that promise, 'Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not'.


The Reverend John Douglas married Jean MacKenzie, daughter of Donald MacKenzie and Christine Ross, on 11th December 1879, presumably in India.

The children of Rev. John Douglas and Jean MacKenzie of Nagpur, India

Rev. John Douglas (4th Feb 1881 - 1931) married 21st Mar 1911 Adam Oliphant Jeffrey (d  2 Aug 1939)  Lived in Strathmartine, Dundee
w. 2 Aug 1939
Dr. Mackenzie Douglas (3rd Aug 3 1882 - 1972) married 1915 Challis Hilda in Ashford lived in Roehampton
w. 1956
William Chalmers Douglas (1884 - 1953) married Maud Wood (d. 1981)
Andrew Douglas born 1886 died in infancy  1886
Robert Douglas (1890 - 1932)
Ross Douglas (1892 - 1917) (1)
Rev. Archibald Matheson Douglas (30 th Oct 30 1893 - 1968) married 1st. Gwendolen Carmichael (died 1929), 2nd Christina Mungall

Rev John Douglas died in 224 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, on 21st October 1920.


John Douglas the elder, was a flax dresser or heckler, probably working in the lint-mill at Milltown of Borenich, close to CroftDouglas

John Douglas and Margaret Robertson moved into one of the dwellings at Balchapel. According to the Old Parish Records for Blair Atholl, they produced at least seven children, and an eighth child, John, who was not recorded in the OPR:

Blair Atholl, 1794: John Douglas in Balintepail and Margaret Robertson his wife had a child born 28th January, baptised 30th, named Christian.
Blair Atholl, 1795: John Douglas in Balintepail and Margaret Robertson his wife had a child baptised 18th October, named Donald.
Blair Atholl, 1798: Isabel, lawful daughter to John Douglas and Margaret Robertson in Chapeltown, born 20th December, baptised 23rd.
Blair Atholl, 1801: Helen, lawful daughter to John Douglas and Margaret Robertson in Bailnteapail, born January 8th, baptised 11th.
Blair Atholl, 1803: James, lawful son to John Douglas and Margaret Robertson in Balnteapail, born Jun 10th, baptised 11th
Blair Atholl, 1806: John, missing from OPR .....
Blair Atholl, 1808: Margaret, lawful daughter to John Douglas and Margaret Robertson spouses in Balinteapail, Borennich was born 28th May and baptised 5th June.
Blair Atholl, 1810: Janet, lawful daughter to John Douglas and Margaret Robertson spouses in Bailntepail, was born 1st June and baptised 3rd.

By 1741, the Douglas family had already left the area. Although Margaret probably died in Borenich, her monument is in the churchyard at Liff and the inscription reads "Margaret Robertson who died 15th April 1823 aged 54 years".

Perhaps the family moved to the Dunkeld area first, as this is where they next appear. On 24th June 1838, John Douglas's daughter Janet married Angus Gillies, who probably worked as a quarrier in the slate pits of Dunkeld. However, by 3rd August 1838 the family was living at Muirhead in the parish of Liff, just to the north of Dundee.

John Douglas the elder died 14th January 1844 and was buried in the churchyard of Liff parish church.

The Kirk Session Minute Book for Liff Free Church records that on 1st April 1844 "John Douglas residing at Muirhead, Liff was appointed by them to fill the office of Church Officer in the congregation". However by December his position seemed to be in jeopardy, as the Minute Book records that "It was agreed that the following persons should not be served with tokens for the approaching solemnity and that in the meantime the elders of the different districts in which they reside should affectionately deal with them as to the sins of which they are reported to have been guilty. viz. Isabella Douglas, Muirhead - guilty of the sin of theft. John Douglas, Muirhead - guilty of conniving to the sin of theft. Whatever the crime, John seems to have been repentant, and by 1847 is being paid as the Church Officer at Liff.

At the time of the 1851 census (Muirhead, dwelling 30), John Douglas was working as a grocer, possibly for David Coupar. He and his sister were looking after Margaret and William Gillies for their parents. It is thought that Angus Gillies and his wife Janet had returned to Argyll, but the census pages are of such poor quality that they are not available on-line (GROS Data Ardnamuchan 505/00 002/00 001 etc). Janet (Jessie) and Isabella appear to be with them, and Flora may be working in a nearby dwelling.

On 18th March 1853 John Douglas married Christina Chalmers of Auchterhouse, daughter of William Chalmers, a smallholder farmer and Janet Anderson. Their only child, John, the subject if this article, was born 18th December 1853.

John's wife, Christina Chalmers, contracted smallpox and died 18th January 1872 at Muirhead. A couple of months later, John's sister Isabella Douglas, widow of David Coupar, died of pneumonia 25th April 1872 at Muirhead. Finally John himself died 13th November 1874, the last of the Douglases at Muirhead of Liff. The death certificate was witnessed by John Douglas, his son, who was now living in Edinburgh.

Notes:
1.  Second Lieutenant Ronald Ross Douglas, 7th/8th Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers, son of the late Rev. John and Mrs. Douglas, of Nagpur, India died 30th August 1917 buried Lissenthoek Military Cemetery. He had been wounded on 28 August, Square Farm (Frezenberg) and died of wounds in the jaw. He was educated at Edinburgh University (1909 - 1913), Arts;




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Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018