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Reverend Islay Burns

Rev. Islay Burns trained for the ministry and was called to St. Peter's Free, Dundee, in 1843 which he left in 1864 to become Professor of Theology in the Free Church College, Glasgow. He was a noted scholar and prolific author.

Subscription value in 1865:

£10

Relative to inflation up to 2018:

£1000

Relative to income compared to 2018:

£8000

Personal details and history

Full name

Islay Burns

Date of birth

16-01-1817[1]

Place of birth

Manse of Dun in Forfarshire[2]

Gender

Male

Marital status

Married[3]

Name of spouse

Catherine Sarah Brown[4][3]

Children

William, b.1846; Hannah Burchell, b.1847; Charlotte Alexandrina Chalmers, b.1849; Elizabeth Jane, b.1851; Islay Ferrier, b.1854; Catherine Sarah, b.1856; Robert James, b.1860 and Charles Arthur Hamilton, b.1862.

Home address

Step Row Cottage, Dundee, c.1843-1845.[5]
Seafield Lane, Perth Road, Dundee, c.1846-1847.[6]
19 Thomson Street, Dundee, c.1850 and 1856-1859.[7]
23 Thomson Street, Dundee, 1851.[8]
61 Magdalen Green, Dundee, c.1861-1864.[9]

Age at death:

Place of death:

Sardinia Terrace, Hillhead, Burgh of Partick.[11][10]

Date of death:

20-05-1872[12][10]

Buried:

Sighthill, Glasgow.[13]

Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation

Free Church of Scotland

Political affiliation

Unknown

Clubs / societies

Member of the acting committee, Dundee Auxiliary of the Scottish Reformation Association, 1853-1854.[14] Honorary director/extraordinary director, Dundee Temperance Society, 1853-1859.[15]

Public offices

Related subscribers

Subscriber no.74 – Rev. James Ewing – fellow minister of the Free Church of Scotland.

Career and worklife

Occupation

Minister of the Free Church of Scotland.[16]

Employment

Employed - Free Church of Scotland

Place of work

St. Peter's Free Church, Dundee.[17]

Work address

St. Peter's Free Church, St. Peter Street, Hawkhill, Dundee.[18]

Career to date:

Parish school, Kilsyth. Grammar School, Aberdeen. Marischal College, Aberdeen. Probation years - served Parish of Strathbogie and St George's Parish, Edinburgh. Minister of St Peter's Free Church, Dundee, 1843-1864.[19][20] Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Aberdeen University (1863). Took up Chair at the Free Church College, Glasgow (1864).[21][20]

More information

Islay Burns was born at the Manse of Dun in Forfarshire to Dr William Hamilton Burns(1779-1859) and Elizabeth Chalmers (1784-1879), daughter of the proprietor of the Aberdeen Journal.  His entry in the baptismal register for the parish of Dun, of which his father was minister, gives his Christian name as Ilay.[1]  His parents had ten children. Their first-born, John, died in infancy, but there followed James, 1808(who became a Catholic publisher in London); Margaret, 1810; Jane, 1812; William Chalmers, 1815  (who became a missionary to China); Islay, 1817; Charlotte Grizel, 1819; Elizabeth Christina, 1822; Walter, 1824 (who became a music publisher in Belfast) and another John, 1826 (who also died in infancy).[22]  Islay Burns had a good education, starting at the Parish School, Kilsyth, then the Grammar School of Aberdeen.  He went on to study at Marischal College, Aberdeen, and then at the University of Glasgow.[23] Burns came from a family “who have given many distinguished occupants to the Scottish pulpit”.[24]

After a probationary period, Burns was in the process of resettlement to St. Peter’s, Dundee, which was a church extension charge vacant due to the death of Robert Murray McCheyne. Before the procedure could be completed the Disruption of the Church of Scotland occurred and the congregation “came out” in support of the new Free Church of Scotland. Its assembly instructed the presbytery of Dundee to complete the settlement and Burns was ordained on 7 June 1843. The church was purchased for the use of the congregation rather than having to find a new place of worship.[25] Islay Burns’ father, William Hamilton Burns, Church of Scotland minister of Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, also joined the Free Church of Scotland in 1843, becoming minister of Kilsyth Free Church.[26]

While in Dundee he lived at various addresses close to his church.He married Catherine Sarah Brown, who was born in Aberdeen and was sister to Professor David Brown and Dr. C. J. Brown, on 29 April 1845. The couple had eight children.[27]

In 1863 Burns received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity from Aberdeen University.[28] In 1864 was elected to the Chair of Apologetics and Systematic Theology at the Free Church College in Glasgow;[29] a position which he held for the rest of his life. He died at Sardinia Terrace, Hillhead, Partick, on 20th May 1872 after a long illness at the age of 55.[30]

In the obituary in the Brechin Advertiser Dr Burns was described as having “…a sunny, cheerful, joyous temperament.” In 1870 Dr Burns eldest son, William Burns, died and it was reported that he never really recovered fully from this blow. His large funeral had a hearse drawn by four horses, four mourning coaches and several other coaches and was attended by many, including ministers from various denominations. The service was conducted by Professor Douglas and Rev. R. McNair Wilson from Maryhill.[31]

Not only was Burns a minister and a professor but he was also a prolific author. Possibly, one of his most notable literary works is “Memoir of the Rev. William C. Burns”, a biography of his brother, who was a missionary in China.[32] Other writings include “A Series of Essays on the Tractarian and other Movements in the Church of England” which was published in the “British and Foreign Evangelical Review”, “The History of the Church of Christ” with special view to the delineation of Christian faith and life (from A.D.1 to A.D. 313), “The Pastor of Kilsyth” (a history of his father’s life), “Praxis Primaria; Progressive Exercises in the Writing of Latin” and “The Sanctity of Home – Being Words of Counsel and Incitement to Christian Fathers and Mothers”.[33]

Sources

  1. Old Parish Record. Dun, Forfarshire. Birth. 1817. 281/10 257. ScotlandsPeople website and Scott, Hew. (1920) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p.480. A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  2. Ewing, Rev. William. (1914) Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900. Vol. I : Professors of the Church. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
  3. Old Parish Record. Old Machar. Marriage. 1845. ScotlandsPeople website.
  4. Online Family Tree. Kilsyth nr Glasgow. Chalmers Burns Guthrie Tree. Date ?, Tree B1.6.5 Rev Islay Burns. Ecclegen.com. (Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900).
  5. Dundee Directory, 1844-45. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  6. Dundee Directory, 1846-47. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  7. Dundee Directories, 1850 and 1856-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  8. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee, Liff and Benvie. 282 ED83 p.28. Ancestry website.
  9. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee Second District, Parish of Liff and Benvie. 282/2 ED26 p.1. Ancestry website.
  10. Statutory Registers. District of Partick, County of Lanark. Death. 1872. 646/3 255. ScotlandsPeople website.
  11. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  12. Online Family Tree. Glasgow. Chalmers Burns Guthrie Tree. Date ?, Tree B1.6.5 Rev Islay Burns. Ecclegen.com. (Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900).
  13. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  14. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  15. Dundee Directories, 1853-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  16. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee Second District, Parish of Liff and Benvie. 282/2 ED26 p.1. Ancestry website.
  17. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee Second District, Parish of Liff and Benvie. 282/2 ED26 p.1. Ancestry website.
  18. Dundee Directory, 1844-45. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  19. Free Presbytery of Dundee minutes. 7 June 1843. CH3/91/3. Dundee City Archives.
  20. St Peter's Free Session minutes. 1864. CH3/338/2. Dundee City Archives.
  21. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  22. Scott, Hew. (1920) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p.480. A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  23. Scott, Hew. (1920) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p.480. A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  24. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  25. Ewing, Rev. William. (1914) Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900. Vol. II. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
  26. Scott, Hew. (1920) Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p.480. A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  27. Online Family Tree. Kilsyth nr Glasgow. Chalmers Burns Guthrie Tree. Date?, Tree B1.6.5 Rev Islay Burns. Ecclegen.com. (Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900).
  28. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 13 May 1864. British Newspaper Archive website.
  29. Ewing, Rev. William. (1914) Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900. Vol. I : Professors of the Church. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark and Online Family Tree. Kilsyth nr Glasgow. Chalmers Burns Guthrie Tree. Date?, Tree B1.6.5 Rev Islay Burns. Ecclegen.com. (Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900).
  30. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  31. Brechin Advertiser, 28 May 1872. British Newspaper Archive website.
  32. Ewing, Rev. William. (1914) Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900. Vol. I : Professors of the Church. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
  33. Ewing, Rev. William. (1914) Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900. Vol. I : Professors of the Church. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark and Online Family Tree. Kilsyth nr Glasgow. Chalmers Burns Guthrie Tree. Date ?, Tree B1.6.5 Rev Islay Burns. Ecclegen.com. (Ministers of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900).

Credits

Staff at the Local History Library, Central Library. Staff at Blackness Library.

The information above about Islay Burns has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.