Rev James Struthers Douglas

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James Struthers Douglas M.D. was a teacher, missionary minister and doctor in Scotland and Canada. He was born in 1817 in Dairsie, Fife, Scotland, to John Douglas, a blacksmith of Dairsie, and Mary Turner.

A teacher, he was appointed as a missionary (?under Royal Bounty Com.) to the Presbytery of Toronto Church, Bytown (now Ottawa), on 14th Jan. 1847. It appears that he returned the United Kingdom by 1850.

The John O'Groat Journal on Friday, December 6, 1850 reported:
Enquiry into state of one James Struthers Douglas alleged dangerous lunatic, sometime of Thurso

and on December 20:
Rev. James Struthers Douglas. A missionary under Royal Bounty Com. After long trial on charge of lunacy and examination by doctors and clergy is declared a danger to himself and the public and arrangements (were) made to remove him to a place of safety.

In 1856, when he married Anna Maria Crate, (b. 1839, Camberwell, London d. 12 Apr 1917, Bristol) in either Newington or Walworth,(1) both in London, he had presumably recovered. He believed he suffered from 'Monoism' and was certain that someone was trying to assassinate him by thoughtwave! It was probably delusionally paranoid.

His first child, Anna Maria, was born in Cramond, Edinburgh, in 1856

He was ordained in Edinburgh in 1858 and appointed by the Colonial Committee to be minister of St Andrew's, Peterborough, Ontario, 1858-64. However, he was the subject of a 'Presbyterian Visitation', found wanting and moved to Toronto 1864/65.  Whether then or later, he was found to be suffering from 'monoism' and placed in a secure environment for a while before being returned to Scotland. His 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th children were born in Peterborough between 1859 and 1862; his 6th, Clara Newcomb, was born in Toronto in 1865.

On his return to Scotland, he trained as a Doctor (1867-1870). He then appears in Birsay, Orkney as Minister and Doctor till 1877. Four of his 14 children were born there.

He then decamps to North Yell, presumably before 1875 when his son David Henry Webster was born.

While Minister in Yell, with a family of 14, he had acted as a doctor as well as a minister and when he died, on 18th June 1884 in The Manse, Cullivoe, North Yell, it was wrongly assumed that he had succumbed to an infectious disease, possibly typhoid. The Cullivoe people were afraid of catching the disease and so the Captain and crew of S.S. Ennismore gave assistance and attended the funeral. He was buried in the Cullivoe Cemetery.

1.  Differing reports state they were married on 2 Jan 1856 in Newington and in 1856 in Walworth, both London.
2.  Using Fasti Ecclesia Scoticana as a source has proved problematical as different editions have given differing versions of his life.

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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024