Rev John Steedman - I have the original painting
John Steedman was born in Orwell, Milnathort, the son of a clock maker. He attended a subscription school and later the University of Edinburgh. After which he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. Most of is life was spent as minister at First United Presbyterian Congregation at Stirling. He marries Catherine Kerr in 1848 and they spend their married life in Stirling. He died there in 1884.
1814 John Steedman was born 22 Feb 1814, (birth entry) son of William Steedman, clock and watch maker, in Orwell, Milnathort, and Bathia Steedman his wife, and baptised the following Sabbath. Presbyterian records show John was educated at the subscription school and later at the University of Edinburgh.
1823 His father William Steedman died 17 Sep 1823 at Milnathort, Kinross-Shire, Scotland. So he was brought up by his mother.
1841 census does not list a John Steedman of his age. However he had studied at Edinburgh University and was licensed as a preacher by the Presbytery of Dunfermline in March 1841. And in November 1841 received a call to Craigdour in Aberdeenshire.
1842. In February 1842 he received a call from the Secession Congregation in Belfast, another from Craigdam and in June 1842 a call from Stirling, which having accepted, he was ordained there in August 1842. The call was from the Ebenezer Erskine congregation, the mother church of the Secession, and around 500 members signed the "call". His commencing stipend was £100 per year, this was increased to £200 in 1852, and further increased in 1854.
John Steedman was said to be (ref. Scottish Clerical Stories by Charles Jordan) " a born public speaker. He had a magnificent voice, with some beautiful inflections in it, and he knew how to make the best use of it. His oratory swayed the congregations he addressed as the trees of the forest are moved by the wind. And he always employed his elocutionary gifts in the service of distinctively evangelical truth." "He was a man of pronounced mental ability and force of character. He was also exceedingly outspoken, and possessed the faculty of dry, caustic humour. In conversation he sometimes dropped remarks of a personal kind, which would have required too much courage for any man of only ordinary frankness to make."
1847 a union was formed between all the congregations of the United Secession Church and 118 out of 136 of the Relief Churches, in what now became the United Presbyterian Church. It was the first Presbyterian body to relax the stringency of subscription, the Synod passing a declaratory act on the subject in 1879. On such points as that of the six days' creation it was made clear that freedom was allowed; but when Mr David Macrae of Gourock claimed that it should also be allowed on the question of eternal punishment, he was at once declared to be no longer a minister of the church. Doctrinally there was little difference between the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland, and between 1863 and 1873 negotiations were carried on for a union, which however were fruitless. But in 1896 the United Presbyterian Church again made advances, which were promptly met, and on the 31st of October 1900 the United Free Church of Scotland came into existence.
Milnathort is described at that time as a market town, in Orwell parish,one and a half miles north of Kinross. Milnathort was the largest settlement in Orwell parish. Orwell itself was a settlement further to east on the north shores of Loch Leven. The parish church moved to Milnathort in 1729. A mile and a half north of Kinross, Milnathort grew as a market town at the crossing of two roads. The roads became turnpikes in the 19th century and the market town started to grow as a weaving community. Both wool and linen were woven here, flax being widely grown in Kinross-shire until the early 1900's.
1848 Married in Stirling on 17 September 1848. The Rev John Steedman of the First United Presbyterian Congregation and Catherine Kinross Kerr, daughter of James Kerr, Writer, both of this parish, by Rev David Stewart.
1851 census shows him living with his wife and 11 month old son William. He is given as a minister of the United Presbyterian Church aged 37 (12 years older than his wife) and shows that he was born in Orwell, Milnathort.
1851 Maggie Steedman, daughter, born Stirling (census information)
1853 Bathia Steedman, daughter born Stirling
1858 John Steedman, son, born Stirling (census information)
1860 Catherine Steedman, daughter, born Stirling (census information)
1861 Eliza J Steedman, daughter, born Stirling (census information)
1861 census shows that John Steedman was not there at the time of the census. Catherine Steedman, age: 35 is given as the head of the household. Her occupation is listed as "Private". She is living at 17 Allan Park, Stirling. with the following members of the family. Maggie Steedman 9, Bathia Steedman 7, John Steedman 3, Catherine Steedman 1, Eliza J Steedman 3 Mo. Their eldest son is away listed in the census entry living with his uncle William Steedman and grandmother Bathia Steedman at 3 Springfield, Leith. The Presbyterian records for 1861 refer to Rev John Steedman journeying south to Algiers with a sick colleague Rev John More who, in fact dies in Algiers in November 1861. And there is also a report of Rev Gowanlock being appointed as successor to Rev John Steedman at Erskine Church, Stirling.
1861 a report in the United Presbyterian magazine states that Rev John Steedman has been unable to carry out his duties at Erskine Church, Stirling as he had been ill. A colleague was appointed to help in the running of the church in Feb 1861.
1866. 13 elders, 13 managers and 300 congregation leave his church to form a new congregation at Allan Park.
1871 census has Bathia Steedman b1851 shown living with her aunt Elizabeth Steedman. While John, his wife Catherine and the youngest children John age 13 , Kate age 11 and Mary J age 4 are living in Stirling. Elizabeth J, born just before the 1861 census must have died between the censuses.
1876 Chronic asthma forces him to retire from the active duties of the pastorate.
1881 census It shows John Steedman, age: 67, born: Milnathort, Kinross and Catherine Steedman 55, his wife living at 12 Abercromby Pl, Stirling. is occupation is given as Minister Of Erskine U P Church Also in the house on that date were:- William Proctor 31 son in law, Margaret G Steedman 29 (daughter), Mary Steedman 14 (daughter), Katie E S Proctor 5 (grand-daughter), Agnes Finlayson 16 (servant). Bathia, now married to William Proctor, is living in the Manse at Oban..
Erskine Marykirk, Stirling
The original Erskine Kirk was founded in the 18th century amid local religious upheaval. The 1740 church was replaced in 1825 with a new church. Ebenezer Erskine (1680-1745), after whom the church was named, came to Stirling in 1731, as third minister of the Church of the Holy Rude. He was one of a group of ministers of the Church of Scotland who broke away in 1733 on matters of theology and principle. A man of radical Presbyterian views he fought and preached against Episcopacy. He is reputed to have wished the continuation of witch hunting. After his breakaway from the Holy Rude Church, he held open air meetings and eventually built a meeting house in the 'Back Raw', as St. John Street was then known. on the site where the Erskine memorial now stands. Erskine was buried at the site of the communion table of the old original church.
Around 1820 the congregation arranged with Allan Johnstone, architect and builder, to have a new church erected between their old one and the Back Walk. In a grand auction they sold off all the building materials of the old building and the money raised went to reduce the mortgage that they had contracted. The new church's interior was acoustically perfect and had a curved gallery, tiered seating and fine plasterwork. In 1859 the congregation agreed to engage Peddie and Kinnear, architects in Edinburgh, to design and build a memorial to Ebenezer Erskine and, in 1860, the church was named the Erskine Church.
In 1934, the Erskine Church became the Erskine Marykirk, derived from the merger between the Erskine and the mission church in St.Mary's Wynd. Over time the congregation dwindled and the Erskine Church was eventually abandoned in 1968. By 1979 the roof had caved in and damp, rot, decay and rubble were everywhere. In 1980 the building was largely destroyed by fire leaving only the facade which was retained and incorporated within a new building for the Youth Hostel. The new youth hostel was opened in 1993 and is a modern fully equipped hostel with accommodation for 126 people and offers travellers the opportunity to stay in the historic heart of Stirling. The Erskine Memorial remains as it has for the past 140 years in front of the Youth Hostel. A permanent reminder of what the site once stood for.
In the 19th century Stirling remained a market town and it did not become an industrial centre. However in 1848 the railway reached Stirling and the town began to grow more rapidly. This was partly because well to do people moved to the town and commuted to work in Glasgow. For the middle class new houses were built west of the old town at Abercromby Place, Clarendon Place, Victoria Place, Victoria Square and Queens Road. New streets were also built north of the old town such as Wallace Street, Bruce Street, Douglas Street and Union Street. In 1871 Stirling had a population of 11,788. By 1881 that had risen to 14,000. In 1913, you have Thomas L. Morton, Ironmonger, listed as living at 12 Abercromby Place.
1884 (death cert) John Steedman, Minister United Presbyterian Church married to Catherine Kinross Kerr, died 20th February 1884 at 2.45 am at 12 Abercromby Place, Stirling. Age 69. Son of William Steedman, watchmaker (deceased) and Bathia Steedman (deceased). Of Chronic Bronchitis of many years. Report by Jessie Kerr, sister in law, of 9 Park Terrace, Stirling.
His will, a fairly length document that was necessary to gain probate, shows that his estate was worth £128, well below the £300 limit that appears to have been the then limit for estate duty.
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